County Donegal

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County Donegal (pronounced /ˈdɒnɨɡɔːl/, /ˌdɒnɨˈɡɔːl/Irish: Contae Dhún na nGall) is one of the twenty-six counties of the Republic of Ireland and one of the thirty-two counties of Ireland. It is located in the Province of Ulster, and is named after the town of Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall). The population of the county is 147,264 according to the 2006 census.[1] In terms of size and area, it is the largest county in Ulster and the fourth largest county in all of Ireland.

Throughout history, it has sometimes been referred to as County Tirconaill, County Tirconnell or County Tyrconnell. The former was used as its official name during 1922–1927.[2] This is in reference to both the old túath of Tír Chonaill and the earldom that succeeded it.

Uniquely, County Donegal shares a border with only one other county in the Republic of Ireland, County Leitrim. The vast majority of its land border is shared with the Northern Irish counties of County Londonderry, County Tyrone and County Fermanagh. This apparent economic 'isolation'[3] has led to Donegal people maintaining a distinct cultural identity[4] and has been used to market the county with the slogan Up here it's different.[5] It has been labelled the "forgotten county" by its own politicians, owing to the increasing regularity with which it is ignored by the government, even in times of crisis.[6][7]

Much of the county is seen as being a bastion of Gaelic culture and the Irish language, the county holding the second-largest Gaeltacht area in the country with a population of 24,504.[5] Despite Lifford being the County town, the largest town is Letterkenny. Both Letterkenny and the nearby city of Derry form the main economic axis of the North-West of Ireland.[8]

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