As the second largest national park in Ireland, Glenveagh means “glen of the birches.” Located about 9 miles from Letterkenny in the northwest of County Donegal, this more than 40,000-acre national park is filled with picturesque scenery of mountains, lakes, woods, wildlife, a castle, gardens, numerous walking trails and more.
Henry P. McIlhenny, of Philadelphia, was the last private owner of the estate and castle before he bestowed it to Ireland in the 1980s. Glenveagh National Park opened to the public in 1984 and the castle opened in 1986.
Families will love to explore along any number of the walking trails, some as short as a half-mile or 40 minutes or as long as two hours at 5 miles. Or explore the trails by bicycle. GrassRoutes Electric Bike Adventures rents electric and hybrid bikes at the main parking lot by the Visitors Center on weekends in April, May and June and daily in July and August. Fishing is permitted in Lough Veagh between mid-July through September, but permits are required.
This national park is massive, but no matter how you explore it, you will marvel at its natural beauty. Families could easily spend just a few hours or all day at Glenveagh National Park. Read more about Glenveagh Castle here.
Located near the edge of the park families can purchase bus tickets to the castle here and find an abundance of information about the park and its trails. Trail maps are provided. There are restrooms, baby changing stations and a restaurant here.
The National Park is open daily year-round, but may close during extreme weather conditions. The Visitors Center is open from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. with the last bus to the castle at 3:45 p.m. from November through mid-March, and from 9:15 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with the last bus to the castle at 4:45 p.m. from mid-March through October.
Things to Know/Bring
Entry to the park is free; however, there is a charge for the buses and castle entrance.
An onsite restaurant is located at the visitors center (a smaller cafe is located at the castle) from May through September and serves scones, sandwiches and a lunch buffet.
Free parking is available.