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6,839 (2011)

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Monday 9:33 PM


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62 m


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Inish adventures moville buncrana co donegal

Buncrana (/ˈbʌn.krænə/; Irish: Bun Cranncha, meaning "foot of the (River) Crana") is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. It is beside Lough Swilly on the Inishowen peninsula, 23 kilometres (14 mi) northwest of Derry and 43 kilometres (27 mi) north of Letterkenny. In the 2011 census, the population was 6,839 making it the second most populous town in County Donegal, after Letterkenny, and the largest in Inishowen.


Map of Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Buncrana is the historic home of the O'Doherty clan and originally developed around the defensive tower known as O'Doherty's Keep at the mouth of the River Crana. The town moved to its present location just south of the River Crana when George Vaughan built the main street in 1718.

The town was a major centre for the textile industry in County Donegal from the 19th century until the mid-2000s (decade).

A drive to and around buncrana county donegal ireland

O'Doherty's Keep

On the northern bank of the River Crana as it enters Lough Swilly sits the three-story O'Doherty's Keep, which is the only surviving part of an original 14th-century Norman castle. The first two levels of the keep were built after 1333. In 1601 the O'Doherty's Keep was described as being a small, two-story castle, inhabited by Conor McGarret O'Doherty. In 1602 the third level was added and it was upgraded by Hugh Boy O'Doherty as an intended base for Spanish military aid that hoped to land at Inch.

The keep was burned by Crown forces in 1608 in reprisal for the rebellion of Sir Cahir O'Doherty, who had sacked and razed the city of Derry. After Sir Cahir O'Doherty was killed at the Battle of Kilmacrennan, he was attaindered and his land seized. The keep was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, who then leased it to Englishman Henry Vaughan, where it was repaired and lived in by the Vaughan family until 1718.

In 1718, Buncrana Castle was built by George Vaughan, it was one of the first big manor houses built in Inishowen, and stone was taken from the bawn, or defensive wall, surrounding O'Doherty's Keep to build it. It was erected on the original site of Buncrana, which had grown up in the shadow of the keep. Vaughan moved the town to its present location, where he founded the current main street and built the Castle Bridge (a six-arched stone single lane bridge) across the River Crana leading to his Castle.

During the 1798 Rebellion, Theobald Wolfe Tone was held in Buncrana Castle when he was captured after the British/French naval battle off the coast of Donegal, before being taken to Derry and then subsequently to Dublin. On 18 May 1812, Isaac Todd bought the entire town of Buncrana, also the townlands of Tullydish, Adaravan and Ballymacarry, at the Court of Chancery on behalf of the trustees of the Marquess of Donegall. His nephews inherited the castles, and they later became known as the Thornton-Todds. The castle remains as a private home today. In the forecourt there is a memorial rock in honour of Sir Cahir O'Doherty, and a plaque dedicated to Wolfe Tone.

When John Newton and his shipmates on The Greyhound found a haven in Lough Swilly on 8 April 1748 after a devastating Atlantic storm, he saw his survival as divine intervention, the answer to prayer. The refuge of the Swilly and Buncrana area laid a spiritual foundation for a reformed later life. In 1764 he became a Church of England clergyman and subsequently, as curate at Olney in Buckinghamshire, an anti-slavery activist and renowned hymnist famous for writing “Amazing Grace”.

One of the oldest remaining inhabited residences in Buncrana is a Georgian property called Westbrook House, situated at the entrance to Swan Park just north of the town center of Buncrana. The house was built in 1807 by Judge Wilson, who also built the single-arch stone bridge (referred to as Wilson's Bridge) leading to the house and the entrance to Swan Park.

20th century

In October 1905, Buncrana was the first town in County Donegal to receive electricity. It was generated at Swan Mill which continued to provide electricity for the town until September 1954 when Buncrana was brought under the ESB Rural Electrification Scheme.

On 30 July 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Buncrana was captured by the Free State forces from Republican forces without the loss of life. The Free State forces held the railway station, telephone and telegraph offices and all the roads entering the town. At 4:00am a sentry stopped a car on the outskirts of the town and on discovering it contained the Republican commander, with five armed volunteers, arrested them. At around 7:00am the Republican forces' position was surrounded and were given fifteen minutes to surrender. They complied, were arrested and their weapons and ammunition seized. Later that day, 100 Free State troops commandeered a train at Buncrana station and proceeded to take Clonmany, Carndonagh and other locations on the peninsula.

Buncrana was the object of public attention in 1972, when after Operation Motorman it became the place of refuge for many Provisional Irish Republican Army members from Derry. In 1991, a local Sinn Féin councillor, Eddie Fullerton, was murdered by loyalists from Northern Ireland.

In March 2016 Buncrana town came to public attention after the tragic deaths of five people after their car slipped of Buncrana Pier into the waters of Lough Swilly. Davitt Walsh was also on a trip to the town, when he saw the tragedy unfold, and he jumped into the water to try and rescue the family who were trapped in their car as it sank. The father, Sean McGrotty, managed to pass his four-month-old daughter through one of the car windows. Davitt swam to shore with the baby, saving her life. However, no other members of the family were saved.


Buncrana Town Council was the Local Authority for the town and provided an extensive range of services in the area. These services ranged from planning control, to the provision of social housing, to the upkeep and improvement of roads, maintenance of parks, beaches and public open spaces. The Town Council was abolished in June 2014 when the Local Government Reform Act 2014 was implemented. Its functions were taken over by Donegal County Council in 2014. Buncrana is in the Inishowen Municipal District, which elects councillors to Donegal County Council.


Buncrana is part of the Donegal (Dáil Éireann constituency) since 2016. Previously it was part of the Donegal North-East constituency of Dáil Éireann.


Buncrana is located on the eastern shore of Lough Swilly in north County Donegal. The main urban area of the town is situated between the Crana River to the north and the Mill River to the south. The principle street follows a rough north-south route and is divided into the Upper and Lower Main Street by the Market Square. The Main Street has a one-way traffic system. The River Crana is crossed by three bridges: Castle Bridge (which gives vehicular access to Buncrana Castle and pedestrian access to Swan Park), Westbrook Bridge (officially, Wilson's Bridge) and Cockhill Bridge. The Mill River, south of the town, is crossed by two bridges: Victoria Bridge (known locally as the Iron Bridge) which is the main point of access to the town and the Mill Bridge which is at the end of the Mill Brae road at the south end of the town.


The underlying bedrock includes Fahan slate formation. The river valley of the Mill River flows over a narrow band of Culdaff limestone with a sill of metadolerite along the rivers southern embankment extending from the estuarine zone inland. Sandy gravels and clonglomerates overlie bedrock. The geology was formed during the Lower Carboniferous Period. The local soils throughout the area range from shallow to moderate depth peaty podzols and established podzolics types with a moderate percentage of loam and sandy clays.


Buncrana, like the rest of Ireland, has a temperate oceanic climate, or Cfb on the Köppen climate classification system, characterised by cool summers and mild winters. Ireland's position in the Atlantic Ocean means that its climate is strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream, which keeps it a few degrees warmer than other locations at the same latitude.

These are the average temperature and rainfall figures between 1961 and 1990 taken at the Met Éireann weather station at Malin Head, about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northwest of Buncrana:


Buncrana railway station opened on 9 September 1864, was closed for passenger traffic on 6 September 1948, and finally closed altogether on 10 August 1953.

The nearest railway station is operated by Northern Ireland Railways and runs from Londonderry railway station via Coleraine to Belfast Central railway station and Belfast Great Victoria Street railway station. The strategically important Belfast-Derry railway line is to be upgraded to facilitate more frequent trains and improvements to the permanent way such as track and signalling to enable faster services.

Buncrana is connected to the rest of the national road network via a regional road, the R238. This connects it to the N13, the national primary road that connects Letterkenny and Derry (it becomes the A2 when it crosses the border). The town is considered the gateway to Inishowen and lies on the "Inishowen 100", an approximate 100-mile route around the peninsula that passes various scenic sites.

Local bus company McGonagle Bus and Coach operates an hourly bus service from Derry to Buncrana and vice versa. The company took over the route from Lough Swilly Buses in April 2014 after Lough Swilly ceased trading. The buses run every hour at ten minutes past the Hour, each way. Timetable


The results of the 2011 Republic of Ireland census put the population of Buncrana at 6,839. The town had 2,531 private households, 25.3% were made up of one person living alone, 16.9% were couples without children, 34.9% were couples with children, 15.6% were lone parent families and 7.2% were classified as "other".

Around 90.9% of residents were recorded as Catholic, 4.3% were of another stated religion (e.g. Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Orthodox or Islam). The percentage of residents with no religion was 4.1%.

28.8% of the town's residents were 'foreign-born'.

Of people aged 3 and over, 30.0% could speak Irish.

The percentage of people over the age of 15 whose full-time education had ceased who possessed a third level degree (NFQ level 7 or higher) was 19.0%.

There were 3,359 males and 3,480 females in Buncrana during the 2011 census.


Buncrana has a relatively strong tourism industry, and it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the northwest of Ireland. This is possibly due to its close proximity to Derry, and also for its wide range of retail stores. It also has well-developed tourist facilities, and it serves as the main town on the Inishowen peninsula, which also helps with sustaining the tourism industry in the town.

Lisfannon beach, a Blue Flag beach, sits on the shores of Lough Swilly just south of the town, and is an important recreational beach that is popular with locals and day-trippers from Derry.


Buncrana is home to many sports clubs, including clubs for soccer, Gaelic football and hurling, athletics and watersports. Football clubs based around Buncrana include Buncrana Hearts F.C., Cockhill Celtic F.C. and Illies Celtic. Buncrana Hearts and Illies Celtic play in the Inishowen Football League and Cockhill Celtic play in the Ulster Senior League.

Gaelic Football is also a popular sport in Buncrana, and the club caters for teams from Under-8 level right up to Senior level. They play their home games at the Scarvey,the team is vey successful underage, winning at least two inishowen titles the last few seasons and winning four county championships since 2000, reaching under-14 final for the past two seasons as well as the under 15s last season.

Buncrana Golf Club has the oldest 9-hole links course in Ireland.


Three buildings in Buncrana are recorded on the Record of Protected Structures, namely the Drift Inn (formerly Buncrana Railway Station), Buncrana Castle and Swan Mill.


Buncrana has a vibrant music scene with a host of local pubs or bars having live music most nights of the week. Roddens Bar, O Flaherty's and The Drift Inn are always good for a mix of traditional, rock and country music. The annual Buncrana Music & Arts Festival takes place every 23 July in the town.

The Buncrana Music and Arts festival returned to the town in 2010, after a five-year absence. The festival included successful performances from The Coronas, The Undertones and Altan. It has recurred each year since.

Buncrana is also famous for producing traditional music artists. Dinny McLaughlin, Paul McClure, Ciaran Tourish and Tom Byrne are all natives of the town, and have performed to critical acclaim all over the country.


The two main local newspapers that serve the Inishowen area, the Inish Times and the Inishowen Independent, have their offices in Buncrana. Local issues in the town and peninsula are also covered in the Derry Journal. The local radio station is Highland Radio and it is based in Letterkenny.

Buncrana receives all the Irish national television and radio stations from the Saorview television network from the local Fanad television transmitter. Due to its close proximity to Derry/Londonderry, before the 2012 digital switchover, the town could receive the five main UK television channels from the Londonderry or Limavady television transmitters since the mid 1950s.

Tidy Towns

In 2012, Buncrana won a Silver medal in the national Tidy Towns Competition. The work of the Buncrana Lighthouse Restoration Project was also recognised when they received a Heritage Award.

Youth facilities

Buncrana Youth Club is open seven days a week and provides various services such as arts, sports, drama, music and computers. It also operates summer camps and provides coaching, personal development and peer education.

Buncrana Youth Drop in is located in the Plaza theatre on the Main Street and is usually open from 7pm til 10pm and provides a safe place for young people with such facilities as a pool table, internet access, TV, gaming consoles and a small shop. It also runs workshops and other youth projects.

Buncrana Youth Club and Buncrana Drop in are both affiliated with Donegal Youth Service.

BreakOUT is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth organisation in County Donegal that has a local group in Buncrana. The group is open to ages from 14 to 23. The group has run various projects to promote LGBT causes in Buncrana. In 2011, positive slogans to combat homophobia were drawn on the Main Street footpath. The group meets at the Inishowen Development Partnership building on Saturdays from 7pm to 9pm.


Buncrana is served by three secondary schools: Crana College, a vocational school managed by the Donegal Education and Training Board and Scoil Mhuire, a voluntary secondary school under the trusteeship of CEIST (Catholic Education Irish Schools Trust)and Coláiste Chineal Eoghain (an Irish secondary school in Tullyarvan Mill). Crana College was set up in 1925, while Scoil Mhuire developed in 1933. As of September 2011, Crana College had 540 registered students, while Scoil Mhuire had around 700. The town's main primary schools are Scoil Íosagáin and Cockhill National School. Other smaller primary schools include St Mura's National School and Gaelscoil Bhun Chrannacha.

Buncrana Community Library opened in 2000 in a refurbished Presbyterian church. It won the Public Library Buildings Awards 2001 for the best small library in the converted, extended or refurbished category.


  • Ryan Bradley (Gaelic footballer), (1985–Present), 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Winner with Donegal
  • Daniel Devlin, (1814 – 22 February 1867), prosperous businessman and City Chamberlain of New York City
  • Hugh Doherty (footballer), (1921 – 29 September 2014), Professional Irish footballer (Celtic, Blackpool, Derry City and Dundalk)
  • John Doherty, (1798–1854), radical trade unionist
  • Eddie Fullerton, (1935 – 25 May 1991), Sinn Féin councillor assassinated by the Ulster Defence Association
  • Danny Hutton, (born 10 September 1942), singer with Three Dog Night and head of Hanna-Barbera Records from 1965 – 1966
  • Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, politician
  • Ray McAnally, (30 March 1926 – 15 June 1989), actor whose filmography includes The Mission, My Left Foot, and A Very British Coup
  • Michael McCorkell, (3 May 1925 – 13 November 2006), Lord Lieutenant of County Londonderry
  • Frank McGuinness, (born 29 July 1953), playwright and poet whose work includes Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
  • Patrick Stone, (14 March 1854 – 23 December 1926), member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
  • Mark Timlin, (17 November 1994 – Present), Professional footballer (Derry City and St Patrick's Athletic)
  • Twin towns – Sister cities

    Buncrana is twinned with two towns. It twinned with Campbellsville, Kentucky as both towns had a large Fruit of the Loom plant. The plant was a large source of employment in Buncrana before it moved its operations overseas to Morocco. Buncrana is twinned with the following towns:


    Buncrana Wikipedia

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