The site of Donegal Castle at the mouth of the River Eske was chief seat to the great clan O'Donnell; the original tower house is believed to have been built in 1474, but existing detail suggests a mid 16th-century date. In 1566 the castle was visited by Sir Henry Sidney, who described it as "...one of the greatest that I ever saw in Ireland in any Irishman's lands and would appear in good keeping one of the fairest". It was burnt in 1589, partly demolished in 1595 and remodelled after 1623. During the Williamite wars the castle was successfully defended against the Jacobite forces. It subsequently fell into decay during the 18th century.
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