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Lifford (Leifear in Irish) is the county town of Donegalmarker, Irelandmarker. It is the administrative capital of the County and the seat of Donegal County Councilmarker, although the town of Letterkennymarker is often mistaken for fulfilling this role. Lifford is located in the Finn Valley area of East Donegal where the River Finn meets the River Mourne to create the River Foylemarker. The town grew up around a castle established there by Manghus Ó Domhnaill, ruler of Tír Chonaill (modern County Donegal), in the 16th century, and later became a British army garrison until most of Ireland won independence in 1922. It is situated across the River Foylemarker from Strabanemarker, County Tyrone, Northern Irelandmarker, and is connected to that town by Lifford Bridgemarker. Lifford has achieved national recognition in the 2008 Tidy Towns Awards as the best newcomer to the competition in Category 'C'.


Lifford came into the possession of Sir Richard Hansard during the Plantation of Ulster in 1607. One of the conditions of his grant was that a ferry crossing be provided over the River Finn. This service continued until 1730 when the first bridge linking Lifford and Strabane was built.

In the 19th century a curious custom existed when if, by the end of the Assizes in Lifford or Omaghmarker courthouses, a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict in a case, they were sent to the "verge" of the county to be dismissed. In some of the cases of counties Donegal and Tyrone this would have been the middle of Lifford Bridge.
Lifford's Main Street.
The present bridge was constructed by engineering company McAlpines in 1964, jointly funded by Donegal County Council and the old Tyrone County Council (the present Strabane District Council was only formed in the early 1970s). During The Troubles in 1968, an attempt was made to blow the bridge up. However, it was only closed for a short time and today remains an important road link.


Lifford Town has a population of 1,448 as of the 2006 census of Ireland. This is an increase from 1,395 on 2002, showing an increase of 3.8%. The town population divides up as 671 male and 777 female residents.Lifford is part of the Parish of Clonleigh with a population of 3,357, the parish is sub-divided for electoral purposes into two separate Electoral Districts, Clonleigh North, population 1,328 and Clonleigh South, population 2,029.


Lifford is in the Dáil Éireann constituency of Donegal South-West. It was formerly in Donegal North-East, but due to the population shift within the County an electoral boundary review in 2008 moved the town and environs to Donegal SW. The town also moved from the Letterkenny Electoral Area to the Stranorlar Electoral Area as part of that boundary review.The town is represented by one councillor with Donegal County Council, namely Gerry Crawford (Fianna Fáil). Councillor Crawford from Porthall has been elected Donegal County Mayor and Chairman of the Council for 2008.

Places of Interest

Lifford has several noted buildings. One is the Old Courthouse & Museum, located across from the HQ of Donegal County Council in the Diamond area of the town. The museum houses a permanent display of O'Donnell clan documentsand artefacts, as well as minute books from various institutes in Donegal. Also noteworthy is Cavanacor House on the outskirts of the town - which is the ancestral home of the 11th President of the United States of America, James Knox Polk. His great, great, great grandmother (Magdelene Tasker) was born here in 1634, she later married Capt. Robert Bruce Pollock and emigrated to the USA. King James II dined at Cavanacor House on his way to the siege of Derry in 1689.
The Old Courthouse, Lifford.
Another building of note is the Prior Endowed School. It was built in 1880 to cater for local Protestant children with monies bequeathed by Miss Eleanor Prior from Ballindraitmarker. The Prior school closed in 1972, being amalgamated with the Royal School in Raphoemarker to create the "Royal & Prior Comprehensive School". The school and grounds were first taken over by the then Irish Department of Posts & Telegraphs, and later (from 1974) by the Irish Defence Forces for use as a military barracks. It is currently occupied by ‘A’ Company, 28 Infantry Battalion of the Irish Army.



Lifford is home to a number of sporting clubs, including

  • Naomh Pádraig GAA Club (which plays in the Donegal Senior Football Division 4), they play their home games at McDermott Park in the Roughan.
  • Lifford Celtic Football Club (which plays in the Premier Division of the Donegal Junior Football League), their home ground is at Greenbrae Park.
  • Deele Harps Football Club (which play in the First Division of the Donegal Junior Football League), They play their home games at the Lifford Athletic Club grounds in the Roughan.
  • Lifford Athletic Club train at the their athletic track & grounds in the Roughan.
  • The Three Rivers Shotokan Karate Club, The karate club train all age groups from beginner to black belt in the Lifford/Clonleigh Community Resource Centre on the Gallows Lane.



Lifford is known as the ‘Gateway to Donegal’, this is because it is the first town you enter in Donegal when travelling from Dublin on the N2 (A5/A38 through Northern Ireland). Two national primary routes, the N15 to Sligomarker via Stranorlarmarker, Donegal Townmarker and Ballyshannonmarker and also the N14 to Letterkennymarker take travellers to all parts in the County. There is also the R265/R236 national secondary route to Derry Citymarker.Lifford has several daily bus services operated by Bus Éireann to Dublin Airport / Dublin City Centre (Busárasmarker). They also serve Letterkenny and Ballybofeymarker, where connections can be had for travelling onwards to Sligomarker with its train and bus station.


  • In 1792 the 6 km (4 mi) Strabane Canalmarker was constructed from the tidal waters of Lough Foylemarker at Leck, to Strabane. The canal fell into disuse in 1962. In June 2006 the Strabane Lifford Development Commission awarded a £1.3m cross-border waterways restoration contract. The project was launched by President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, in Lifford and involves the restoration of 2.4 km (1.5 mi) of canal and two locks to working order. Work is due to start on the Lough Foyle side of the canal in the summer of 2006.


See also

References official website for Shay Given

External links

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