Doe Castle – Medieval Fortress on The Coast of Atlantic (History & Travel Tips)

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If you are a fan of medieval architecture and ancient castles, Doe Castle is just the place for you to go. Located in the County Donegal, this castle mimics the architecture of the Scottish Tower style, and used to be a great historical stronghold.

It is a remarkable place to visit with one’s family, friends, or even by oneself if you are a heritage tourism enthusiast. You can tour the castle, take pictures, enjoy snacks and take in the beauty of the Atlantic coast. Here’s everything you need to know about it: 

Doe Castle is rich in unique architectural landmarks located on the grounds. These include circular stone gate piers at the entrance of the Castle and turrets/battlements which bring an aura of grandeur and historical significance to its architecture.

The Entrance view of Doe Castle.
The Entrance view of Doe Castle. Kevin Forkan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Origins and Initial History (15th-17th century)

The central structure of the castle was most probably built somewhere in the middle of the fifteenth century. The palace was originally built for an Irish Chief who became displaced due to the British invasion. 

From then on, it became the territory of Clan Suibhne (Clan Sweeney). The castle was already pretty well protected as it is surrounded by water on three sides. The one side facing land was protected by carving a deep moat out of the stone. It was later fortified with a bawn wall (defensive outer wall) equipped with gun loops. It is believed that people who survived the Spanish Armada were given refuge in the castle by the MacSweeneys. Young Red Hugh O’Donnell is said to have been raised here. 

he modern keep and older ruined walls at Doe Castle.
The modern keep and older ruined walls at Doe Castle. Patrice78500, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Through Invasions & Captures (17th Century Onwards)

Over the years the castle has undergone many changes. In the seventeenth to eighteenth century, Doe Castle was captured and recaptured several times by both the Irish and the English armies. It survived sieges and cannon fires, until peace was established in County Donegal in the 18th century. 

British Army officer General George Vaughan Hart in his Garden.
British Army officer General George Vaughan Hart in his Garden. Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The fort was renovated and expanded by British Army officer General George Vaughan Hart who was a member of the parliament in County Donegal from 1812 to 1931. He, in the early 19th century, converted the castle into a country manor and fortified it with crenellated battlements. Visitors can spot his initials over the doorway located towards the east of the keep.

Current Times

In the current times, Doe Castle is a renowned tourist destination. The grounds are open for visiting every day from sunrise to sunset. Guided tours of the castle are available between Friday and Sunday in July and August, which is the peak tourist season. This summer, however, only the grounds are accessible for touring due to the pandemic while the keep is out of bounds. 

Doe Castle's view of the interior walls with green grasses in the middle.
Doe Castle’s view of the interior walls. Joseph Mischyshyn / Doe Castle – View of NE & SE interior walls

Doe Castle is a great place to visit with your family or friends for both educational and recreational purposes. Tour guides are present to walk you through the castle’s territories and provide you with a highly informational and amusing account of the castle’s rich history. Surrounded on three sides by water, this castle has a pleasant, refreshing view for you to enjoy as you take the tour.

Recent Times and Conservation

The castle came into the ownership of the Land Commission in 1932. Two years later, it came under the protection of the Office of Public Works. The government agency executed elaborate restoration work in the late 1990s.

Doe Castle's view near Sheephaven Bay.
Doe Castle’s view near Sheephaven Bay. Chris Gunns / Doe Castle

Interesting Doe Castle Facts

  • Brian McFadden, a renowned Irish singer-songwriter, proposed to his ex-wife, Kerry Katona at the castle in 2001. The singer’s grandfather had done the same years ago in the very spot.
  • The site of the castle was also known as Tuatha Toraighe and later as Na Trí Tuatha meaning Three Territories. It later came to be known as just Na Tuatha.
  • Doe Castle is rich in unique architectural landmarks located on the grounds. These include circular stone gate piers at the entrance of the Castle and turrets/battlements which bring an aura of grandeur and historical significance to its architecture.

Visiting Doe Castle – Tips and Tricks

Doe Castle is a remarkable tourist spot for recreational and informational visits, we have just the tips for you to make your tour as perfect as it can be. Let’s take a look:

A beautiful waterfront view of Doe Castle.
A beautiful waterfront view of Doe Castle.

How to get to Doe Castle?

Doe Castle is situated on the coast of Sheephaven Bay on The Wild Atlantic Way off the R245 in between Carrigart and Creeslough. With no transit lines to the area, you can get there by car very easily via N15 and N56, or the R250. From Donegal, it would take you a little over an hour to get there. There is ample parking space so you would not have to worry about parking either!

If you opt to go via public transport from Donegal, the taxi fare should cost you around €114.20 – €148 ($137-177 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The best part about Doe Castle? It is super cheap to visit! The grounds can be toured totally free of cost. If you wish to take a guided tour of the interior of the castle, it would cost you €3 ($4 USD) per person for age 14 and over. You can visit the souvenir store and coffee shop right next to the castle to make purchases.

Parking space at Doe Castle at the end of the road.
Parking space at Doe Castle. Sue Mischyshyn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

The tour itself does not take very long – 40 minutes at most. You may explore the area and visit other sites in the vicinity if you wish to spend a longer amount of time and enjoy the scenery around.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • To refresh yourself after the tour, enjoy a pleasant cuppa while relishing the splendid Atlantic view at Doe Castle Coffee, the cafe located right next to the castle.
  • The castle is best visited on sunny days as rainy days would prevent you from enjoying the grounds. 
  • Be sure to read the information plaques on the walls of the castle as they contain some highly enlightening information!

Quick Video Tour of The Main Doe Castle Areas

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