Glenveagh National Park now is managed by National Parks and Wildlife Service but originally passed through the hands of several owners.
The ancient name for Glenveagh was Derryveagh which means ‘forest of oak and birch’.
The Park covers 16 000 hectares of land with ranges of rugged, brackish coloured mountains with peaks one behind the other of every shape and size. There are vast stretches of bleak moorland, heather covered rock formations, boglands, rivers and lakes. It is home to one of Ireland’s herds of red deer.
The largest of the lakes is Lough Veagh and running alongside it are the grounds of Glenveagh Castle and gardens. The castle sits on a promontory which projects out into the lake and is protected by a windbreak of trees, some of which are 100 years old and 100 feet high
Glenveagh National Park was brought into being when John George Adair bought several small holdings in 1857 to 1859 but in 1861 he brought the wrath of many on his head when he evicted 244 tenants, men women and children. Some were helped to emigrate to Australia, some were able to go to relatives and others were forced into the workhouse.
John George Adair built the Castle around 1870 hoping to outdo the castle and gardens of Queen Victoria at Balmoral. When he died in 1885 his wife took over the running of the estate. She continually improved the castle and the gardens and became a well-known society hostess.
After her death in 1921 Glenveagh became an army garrison for three years. In 1929 it was bought by Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter of Harvard University who enjoyed entertaining literary and artistic friends. Unfortunately his ownership didn’t last long as he mysteriously disappeared while on a visit to Inishboffin Island in 1933.
The next and last private owner was Mr Henry McIlhenny from Philadelphia who bought the estate in 1937 and spent much time restoring and making very beautiful, the castle and gardens. Travelling back and forward to the States caused too much strain so it was he who, in 1975, sold the Glenveagh Estate to the State and the Irish nation.