Historic Bundoran

History of Bundoran

Genealogy has become increasingly popular in recent years. If you require assistance with tracing your Bundoran and area family roots please contact Bundoran Community Library and the Magh Éne Historical Society. They probably won’t be able to answer your questions fully but they should be able to assist in pointing you in the right direction.

Read more about specific times and events in Bundoran’s history at the bottom of the page.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

Bundoran or as it is known in Irish “Bun Dobhrain” which means the foot of the little water was actually up until over a century ago two separate villages. Bundoran was the village west of the bridge over the River Bradog, this area is now known as the West End. East of the bridge almost a mile away, was the village of Single Street. In between these two separate communities lay the historic townland of Drumacrin.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

The area of Drumcacrin is now part of what is today’s town centre. It was only after the opening of the railway station in 1866 which was called Bundoran that the two distinct communities developed and merged to what we know nowadays to be Bundoran.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

Single Street was where the majority of the local native population lived. Across the bridge in what is now the West End, was the area of residence favoured by the more affluent classes.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

The first official mention of Bundoran was in 1777 when Viscount Enniskillen built Bundoran Lodge, his summer residence. This building still exists to this day and is now known as Homefield House. The Viscount seems to have started a trend amongst his contemporaries as more and more of them discovered Bundoran and visited it to enjoy the seaside location and the associated health benefits. Indeed such was its popularity that Bundoran became known as the Brighton of Ireland.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

With the advances in travel, in particular the railway, Bundoran’s popularity spread across the class barriers. With the opening of the railway link to Belfast and onto Dublin more and more people from the east coast of Ireland discovered the appeal of Bundoran and returned year after year. It was during this period that Bundoran emerged as one of Ireland’s most popular seaside resorts. Hotels and lodging houses started to spring up around the town. The best-known hotel and indeed one of Bundoran’s best landmarks the Great Northern Hotel was constructed by the Great Northern Railway Company during this period.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

Bundoran as a destination remained popular throughout the 20th century and its appeal has been further enhanced by developments in recent years of the Waterworld Complex and building of new hotels, self-catering apartments and houses. Following this period of renaissance the town now boasts the largest accommodation base in the north west of Ireland and a host of activities, entertainment and attractions for all the family all year round.

Historical Picture of Bundoran, Co. Donegal

It is also world renowned for its wealth of surfing breaks – both beach and reef and now hosts five I.S.A. approved Surfing schools with all inclusive packages. No matter what time of the year the Bundoran of today will exceed your expectations-Music Festivals, Surfing, Equestrian, Walking, Biking, Sea-Weed Baths, Waterworld, Leisure Centres, Angling – or if you just simply want to relax, you will find all the time in the world to do it !!

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The Growth of Tourism in Bundoran

Finner Camp Handover

On Friday February 17th 1922 Finner Camp, just outside Bundoran, was handed over from the Bedfordshire regiment of the British Army to the local Irish military forces in the area. Captain Jim Murphy from Bundoran took over the camp and handed responsibility of it over to Brigadier General Seamus Devins from Grange, County Sligo. On…

Halifax Crash

The story of the Halifax Crash at Bundoran (excerpted from “Voices of the Donegal Corridor” by Joe O’Loughlin) On Sunday morning of the 23rd January 1944 a Halifax aircraft number LK704 of 518 Squadron took off from the air base at Tiree, Scotland on a Meteorological Reconnaissance flight over the North Atlantic Ocean. Reliable weather…

Railway in Bundoran

Text reproduced with kind permission of Marc Geagan and taken from his book “Dancing By The Sea – A Journey Through Time in the Bundoran Area”. On September 30th 1957, at 2.30pm on a Monday afternoon the last train slowly pulled out of Bundoran station. Hundreds of tearful onlookers gathered to witness the historical event. Ninety-one…
Hurricane Debi strikes Bundoran on Saturday September 16th 1961

Hurricane Debi 1961

On September 16th 1961 Hurricane Debi devastated much of the west coast of Ireland, including Bundoran as is evident from the picture below. The strongest winds were recorded at Ireland’s most northerly point Malin Head. This extract, taken from Wikipedia, tells the story of the day. Republic of Ireland Notable wind measurements[8][9][nb 2] Location Maximum…
Royal Humane Society Silver Medal

1850 Rescue on Bundoran Beach

(Extracted from an article by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times, March 20th 1997) According to The Royal Humane Society records, the incident happened at 7 a.m. on September 25th 1850. Miss Mary Kane and her sister Kate just had a swim and “barely changed a wet for a dry garment” when Miss Kate heard a cry…
Right of Way

Right Of Way

It was once nearly not so easy to get to the beach from the promenade as a business man once bought the land in the area and began to build a wall in order to prevent people from going to the beach. In this extract from the book “Dancing By The Sea – A Journey Through…

Storm Of 1988

February 9th 1988 was a momentous day in the history of Bundoran as the town woke up to the havoc wreaked by an overnight storm which was the catalyst for many of the improvement works that we know today, and indeed the beginning of the notions of Waterworld – Ireland’s Premier Indoor Aqua Adventure Playground….

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