The Four Masters obelisk
The impressive Mountcharles sandstone monument in the centre of the town was erected in 1935 from the funding by local solicitor P.M. Gallagher. It honours the four men who helped write the celebrated Annals of the Four Masters, Brother Michael O'Cleary and laymen Peregrine O'Clery, Peregrine O'Duignan and Fearfeasa O'Maolconry.
It serves as a full account of Gaelic Ireland from its origins until the end of established Gaelic order when the last of chieftains fled in 1607 from Rathmullan, Co. Donegal in what is known as the Flight of the Earls. To read the Annals would take you several months and set you back about e900 - not quite a breezy holiday read if you're thinking about it! With every second building named after them, you may be wondering where exactly are the Annals of the Four Masters today? They're now kept by the Franciscans in Switzerland, but details can be obtained from the National Library on Kildare Street in Dublin as well as from the Four Masters bookshop.
'Four meek men around the cresset,
With the scrolls of other days;
Four unwearied scribes who treasure
Every word and every line.
Not for fame or not for fortune,
Do these eager penmen dream.
Oh ! that we who now inherit
All their trust, with half their toil,
Were but fit to trace their footsteps
Through the Annals of the Isle;
Oh ! that the bright Angel, Duty,
Guardian of our task might be,
Teach us as she taught our Masters,
In that Abbey by the sea,
Faithful, grateful, just to be!'
These days the Diamond area is used to celebrate the homecoming of local heroes such as the victorious Donegal Gaelic football team. From the sublime to the ridiculous, it has recently played host to Irish Eurovision phenomenons, Jedward. Farmers' markets and fayres occur here on a regular basis. The chroniclers of medieval Ireland my not approve of everything they'd see before them today, but in the town of the Four Masters, they are not forgotten and we'd like to think they'd be proud to be in the heart of the action of this thriving historic town.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide around the town and wish you a happy and weather-friendly visit while exploring this beautiful part of the world.
Looking for more heritage information on the town? The two best books to have (and are gratefully acknowledged as key sources for this guide!) are: Joe McGarrigle's 'Donegal, past and present' and Malachy Sweeney's 'The Sands of Time; a history of Donegal Town and its environs', both of which you should be able to get in The Four Masters bookshop.