Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland. Situated in the Northwest of Co. Donegal, Glenveagh encompasses some 16,000 hectares in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. Such a great wilderness is the haunt of many interesting plants and animals. These lands were managed as a private deer forest before becoming a national park in 1975. With the completion of public facilities Glenveagh National Park was officially opened to the public in 1986.


“A National Park exists to conserve interesting plant and animal communities and associated landscapes in their natural state and, under conditions compatible with that purpose, to provide for appreciation of them by the visiting public.”



Visitor Centre


The Glenveagh Visitor Centre is located on the northern end of Lough Veagh, near the edge of the National Park. Its award-winning design incorporates a living heather roof mimicking the surrounding landscape causing minimum disturbance. The extensive displays contained within provide an introduction to the parks natural and built history as well as providing information on walking trails, events etc. Guides on duty will also be happy to provide visitors with information about the park and surrounding area as well as tickets for the park buses.


The visitor centre provides the following facilities:

Code of Conduct

Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle is a 19th century castellated mansion and was built between 1867 and 1873. Its construction in a remote mountain setting was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat. Photo of The Castle

It was designed by John Townsend Trench, a cousin of its builder and first owner, John George Adair, with whom he had been raised in Co. Laois. The designer appears to have imitated the style of earlier Irish Tower-houses adding an air of antiquity to the castle. The building stone chose was granite, plentiful in Donegal but difficult to work and allowing for little detail.

The forbidding architecture of the castle is quickly forgotten amidst the varied comforts within. Henry McIlhenny, the last owner of the castle, served the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Curator of Decorative Arts and his expertise in this field is evident throughout the castle. Through time, each room acquired a different character, some roughly in keeping with the period of the house, others freely inventive.

Few of the great houses of Ireland are preserved in this condition, with their original furnishings, and in Glenveagh Castle one catches a glimpse of a lifestyle belonging to an earlier age.

Access to the castle is by guided tour which last approx 40 mins

Getting Here

Glenveagh National Park is located 24km north-west of Letterkenny and can be reached via the villages of Kilmacrennan or Churchill.

Access from Letterkenny is by the (N56) road through Kilmacrennan, turning left on to the Gweedore road (R255), or alternatively via Church Hill, and past Gartan and Akibbon lakes (R251). This route passes close to both Newmills and the Glebe Gallery.



National Park

Admission to the National Park and Visitor Centre is free. The Visitor Centre and Restaurant do accept Visa/Debit cards, but not American Express. (sorry no cash back available).

Bus Tickets

Cars are not allowed beyond the visitor centre however a shuttle bus service is available to take visitors to the castle and gardens.

Please note that the last bus leaves the Visitoer Centre going to the Castle at 16.45, and the last bus from the Castle going to the Visitor Centre is at 17.45.

Adult €3.00 (return)
Concession €2.00 (return)

Single Tickets are available at the Castle for €1.50

Castle Tour

Adult €5.00
Group/Senior €3.00
Child/Student €2.00
Family €10.00

Admission to Glenveagh castle is by guided tour only and takes approx. 40mins.

Garden Tours

Garden Tours on request: Adult €5 Concession €3


For information on self guided walks in the park, go to the 'Walks' tab on the left of the page.

Opening Arrangements

The National Park is open to the public for walking and cycling all year round, apart from Good Friday and Christmas Week.

Park services (visitor centre, bus, castle) open 9am - 6.00pm March - October, 9am - 5pm October - March

Those wishing to take the guided tour of Glenveagh Castle should note that during the summer months demand can be high and therefore early arrival is advisable.

Dogs are permitted in the park but must be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted entry to buildings, Castle Gardens & park buses. (Guide dogs are permitted in all areas)


Glenveagh Gardens

Many famous Irish Gardens are set in natural landscapes of great beauty and nowhere else is the contrast between the luxuriance of the gardens and a rugged and exposed environment as marked as at Glenveagh. Situated at the foot of a steep, wooded hillside sloping down to Glenveagh Castle on the windswept shore of Lough Veagh, the uncompromising conditions of high rainfall and acid soil have been successfully exploited and the gardens feature a range of exotic plants from places as far afield as South America, Tasmania and China. The acid soil is particularly suited to the growth of rhododendrons, of which there is a fine collection.

Much of the general layout of the gardens dates from the ownership of Cornelia Adair whose work provided the basis for more recent plantings.

Photo of Castle

The transformation of Glenveagh into one of Ireland’s foremost gardens, imaginatively designed and supporting a rich variety of rare and tender plants, was the work of Henry McIlhenny, who personally supervised it’s development from 1937 until 1983. Mr McIlhenny began collecting plants from all over the world, and his knowledge of plants and sense of artistry were augmented by expert landscaping advice firstly from James Russell and then from Lanning Roper.

In 1983, the OPW assumed responsibility for the gardens and they were opened to the public in 1984.

A tour with 18 numbered stops has been developed through the gardens and an accompanying guidebook may be purchased at the visitor centre. You should allow at least one hour for the full tour, but if you have insufficient time to complete it, you can return quickly to the start from most points.

When visiting the best time of year to see the gardens is in May/ June for rhododendrons or in August when the walled garden is at its most colourful.

Guided tours of the gardens are available by appointment with the Head Gardener. Tel: 0761 002 692

Nature and Outdoor Learning Centre

Our Nature and Outdoor Learning Centre is here to inspire an interest in and develop children’s appreciation for the natural world. The programme has been designed with National Schools in mind, covering many aspects of the Primary Science Curriculum, however the service is open to all groups of children and young people from 2-16 yrs. Our aim is to make learning fun and if there is a particular topic in which your group has interest, this can also be incorporated into the days activities.

We promote active learning and believe firmly that all the senses should be provoked in order to achieve more effective learning of key environmental issues. Therefore all our sessions take a very hands on, practical approach, where we hope to make learning about Nature and the environment exciting, fun and relevant.

We can also offer all our activities on an outreach basis, where our Outdoor Team can visit your school, youth group or children’s meeting place and bring as much of your chosen programme to you as we can. Please call us or e-mail for full information.

For more information please contact Clare Bromley on 0761 002 547.


Fishing on Lough Veagh

Season: 15th July - 30th September

For permits and further information please contact:

IFI Glenties, Owenea Angling Centre, Glenties Hatchery, Glenties, Co.Donegal

Tel: + 00 353 (0) 74 9551141 (Office hours 7am - 1pm)



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Lyme Disease & Ticks

Lyme Disease is a disease that is carried by ticks.

A tick is a parasite that bites, attaches itself for up to a week, and swells as it feeds.

What to do if you find a tick…

For more information see:

Health Protection Surveillance Centre: Lyme disease page Click here>


National Parks & Wildlife Service, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2. Phone: +353 1 8882000 Fax: +353 1 8883272