The Donegal by election result will send a shiver through Fianna Fail as they saw their candidate's share of the vote drop by 60 per cent.

Sinn Fein won the seat, their first time in over 50 years to win a seat in Donegal with Fine Gael beating out Fianna Fail for second. Pearse Doherty will now defend the seat in just a few weeks time.

In the 2007 election Fianna Fail elected two of the three members of the parliament for the area with 50 per cent of the vote in what is their strongest constituency in Ireland.

This time they go to just 20 per cent of the vote. A low turnout revealed that a large percentage of their voters stayed home.

If that 20 per cent were matched in the upcoming general election, they would fall from the 77 seats they secured in 2007 to around 30 seats.

But they are likely to do far less well in other areas of the country rather than Donegal, where they can still count on a strong historical vote.

The election is shaping up as a disaster for them given this result as they will not match the 20 per cent support they reached in Donegal elsewhere in the country.

Sinn Fein will take a lot of solace in their vote but Donegal would be one of their key constituencies where they had an attractive candidate and a good on-the-ground operation.

However, it would be possible to see them reach close to fifteen seats in a general election if the voting transfers fell their way, putting them in a whole new era in Irish Republic politics, especially if party leader Gerry Adams is elected.

The big question mark in Donegal is over the poor Labor Party vote. Earlier trends had shown their candidate around 17 per cent but he ended up at ten per cent, a disappointing performance.

However, Donegal was never going to be proper territory for the Labor Party which is much more at home in an urban environment.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael will be happy enough with their performance, beating out Fianna Fail for second place.

It is a good result for party leader Enda Kenny who has had problems of his own of late.

But it is Fianna Fail candidates all over the country who will ponder this weekend what the future holds for them. Based on Donegal it does not look very pretty.