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The Glenties has won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition five times in 1958, 1959,1960, 19 and has won a medal many other times. Evidence of early settlement in the area is given by the many dolmens, standing stones and earthen ringforts dating from the Bronze Age.

The area became part of the baronies of Boylagh and Bannagh in 1609, which was granted to Scottish undertakers as part of the Ulster Plantation.

The rest were given an option of going to America on a ship provided or entering the Workhouse in Glenties. In April 2006, IRA informer Denis Donaldson was shot dead by the Real IRA at a remote cottage near Derryloaghan, 8 km from Glenties.

Bord na Móna bought 1,200 acres (490 ha) of bog in 1937 to be drained and cut for peat.

Glenties was a regular stopping point on the road between the established towns of Ballybofey and Killybegs, and grew from this in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The town was developed as a summer home for the Marquess Conyngham in the 1820s, because of its good hunting and fishing areas.

A memorial to the 'Navvy Poet', Patrick Mac Gill, who was born in Glenties, is located on the bridge over the river in the center of town.

A 40-bed Fever Hospital was later added to care for the sick and dying. On 29 June 1921, a group of Black and Tans were ambushed on their way to Ardara at Kilraine by the insurgents, resulting in the death of a Constable Devine.Glenties is a Municipal District, which returns six local residents to Donegal County Council.Currently there are two members each from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, one from Fine Gael, and one independent.By 1943 a railway had been extended from Kilraine across the Owenea River to the bogs at Tullyard.Machine cutting commenced in 1946, utilising German made cutting machines.