Letterkenny (Irish: Leitir Ceanainn, meaning “hillside of the O’Cannons”), nicknamed “the Cathedral Town”, is the largest and most populous town in County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. It lies on the River Swilly in East Donegal and has a population of 19,274. Along with the nearby city of Derry, Letterkenny is considered a regional economic gateway for the North-West of Ireland. Letterkenny acts as an urban gateway to the UlsterGaeltacht, similar to Galway‘s relationship to the Connemara Gaeltacht.
Letterkenny began as a market town at the start of the 17th century, during the Plantation of Ulster. A castle once stood near where the Cathedral of St. Eunan and St. Columba, County Donegal’s only Catholic cathedral, stands today. Letterkenny Castle, built in 1625, was located south of Mt Southwell on Castle Street. County Donegal’s premier third-level institution, the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), is located in the town, as are Saint Eunan’s College, Highland Radio, and a Hindu temple. Letterkenny was also the original home of Oatfield Sweet Factory, the confectionery manufacturer; however, the factory was closed and the building was knocked down in 2014. The town is renowned for its night-life, with enterprises such as Club Voodoo, The Grill, and The Pulse regularly attracting international names. The Aura Complex, near O’Donnell Park, includes an Olympic-standard swimming pool, the Danny McDaid Athletic Track and an arena capable of hosting top-level events. The town also boasts the location of rebel Theobald Wolfe Tone‘s 1798 landing and subsequent arrest at Laird’s Hotel.
In 2015 it was judged to be the tidiest town in Ireland.