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As the village is in a Gaeltacht district, its official name is the Irish Na Dúnaibh. The name is ambiguous and could refer to the wealth of hill forts in the area, or it could be a hibernicisation of the English name, to describe the sandy dunes connecting the peninsula to the mainland.
Downings used to be a significant fishing port with a substantial herring fleet. Today, however, the economy survives on tourism, and only three crab boats make a traditional living from the sea. Situated as it is in Sheephaven Bay, one of the safest anchorages on the northwest Irish coast, Downings has begun to cater for international game fishermen, the northwest of Ireland being on the migration route of bluefin tuna and other game species.
In 2007, local divers recovered a bow gun from the S.S. Laurentic. The gun is now mounted beside Downings pier.
The dunes that connect the Rosguill peninsula to the mainland are also home to the Rosapenna Links course designed by Old Tom Morris, and although the original hotel and clubhouse that was patronised by the likes of John Wayne and Errol Flynn burnt down in the sixties, the new buildings seek to emulate the charm of the originals.
Downings is the start and finish of the Atlantic Drive, one of the most dramatic scenic routes in Ireland.
- Downings village. Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2011-12-19.
- Downings townland. Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2011-12-19.
- Placenames (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) Order 2004.
- IFI website
- "Maxi Curran takes up reins as U-21 manager". Donegal Democrat. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
Curran from Downings and a member of Jim McGuinness’s senior management team, takes over from McGuinness who stepped down at the end of last season.