We stayed about a mile east of the town the first night. Our lovely hostess met us where the Bus Éireann motorcoach had left us, in the pedestrianized town square.
Later in the evening, we walked back into town for dinner, and I felt pretty jumpy walking back through the darkness to the house. There were no streetlights, so we used our phones to alert drivers to our presence. Each time a car's engine approached, and we saw the headlights emerging from the night around a curve, I shrunk against the forested shoulder, prepared to throw myself out of the road. Fortunately I didn't need to. Our hostess told us that rural bus service is unreliable and expensive, which means that low income people like herself can't afford to use it much. Sometimes she'll get a taxi home from town, especially if she has a lot of groceries. She said she didn't have a bike right now, I think she either sold it out of necessity or it was stolen.
She told us about the government's efforts to encourage more people in rural areas to switch to sustainable transport, which I was interested to hear about because I had learned that there is more bike commuting in Irish cities than in the countryside. I can't recall seeing any transport biking in Donegal, though I did see a regional bike map on a sign in the town center. We had a good laugh at the idea of politicians taking part in a reality show where they would live without cars to see what challenges people actually faced.
The next night we stayed at the Donegal Town Independent Hostel just north of the town center. This time we had sidewalks for most of our walk, but they were narrow and the street was wide and traffic was swift. I could see why I had heard that Donegal being spread out; there didn't seem to be much reason why there was a large gap between our hostel and the town, but houses seemed kind of scattered through the fields. This is what it looked like walking into town, crossing the River Eske.