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About Raphoe

Raphoe is a small town situated on the lower slopes of Mongorry Hill in the fertile area of East Donegal known as 'The Laggan'. The name is most likely derived from the Irish 'lag' or 'lug' which means a flat or hollow place. Raphoe derives it's name from 'Rath Bhoth' meaning 'Ringfort of the Huts'. The early monks constructed their huts from clay and wattle and surrounded them with a strong fortified mound.


Raphoe is regarded as 'The smallest cathedral city in Europe' and this appears to date back to a petition dated July 15, 1600 to Pope Clement the Eighth from the city of Raphoe.


Although originally a monastic settlement, Raphoe is now essentially a Plantation Town. The scheme for plantation placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of urban settlement. The town was a large nucleated settlement which provided service facilities such as a Church, School, Inn or "Tap-House" and, in particular a weekly market.


Raphoe was one of 25 original sites designated to be corporate towns by the plantation commissioners in 1609. The focal point of the plantation town was the market place or "Diamond".


The 'Diamond' does not refer to the shape of the marketplace. It can follow any plan, although all occur at road intersections. A patent to hold fairs was granted to Bishop Andrew Knox in 1630. The Market House, built in 1874, with the purpose of collecting toils from farmers on fair days once stood in the centre of the Diamond.


Raphoe was designated a 'Heritage Town' by Donegal County Council in 2000 and contains several fine examples of ecclesiastical and Georgian architecture.