All the Gritty Details!

Often wondered the ins and outs of what really happens to our roads once it freezes?


One of the men behind Donegal County Councils all important winter maintenance Brian Burke, ‘grits’ to the point and explains that contrary to popular belief it’s not just about throwing salt on the roads.


Timing is everything, says Brian, Duty Engineer with Donegal County Council.

“In relation to the process of how we do our winter maintenance on a daily basis, Met Eireann produces the forecast for us everyday, they are the national weather service provider in Ireland and they do it for each local authority.

“So we would get the forecast for any given day and interpret whether there is likely to be frost or not on any given night.

“Met Eireann download this information onto a package called Vaisiala and what that basically does is it produces a series of graphs from our the forecast model and our different weather stations, it’s up to us then as duty engineers to interpret the graphs to determine if we need to grit and were we grit.”

A direction then goes out to our crews throughout the county and this often means that our staff have an early start so that the gritters are ready for a 6am start.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is has my route been gritted, says Brian.

“Donegal County Council grit approx 1000km of road each night that we need to and if all routes need gritted we send out all 21 gritter’s to get the job done.

“It would be impossible to grit every road in Donegal, so we try to ensure that all main roads are sufficiently gritted based on a pre agreed list of routes each year.

“In practical term this generally means the gritting and snow ploughing of priority routes, which are clearly identified in advance of each winter. The primary responsibility for road safety remains at all times with drivers of vehicles and while the council endeavours to maintain the major routes in a passable condition, each driver must exercise sufficient caution to take account of the prevailing road conditions.”


Brian praises the phenomenon of twitter and Facebook, saying that long gone are the days that we need to rely on word of mouth to find out if the roads have been gritted.

“We notify the public via our Twitter, Facebook, Donegal County Council winter weather web site and also via our new winter maintenance mapping viewer.

“It’s great that we have so many avenues to tell people if we are going to be out gritting. Our new mapping system also lets people check to see if their route is being gritted, it’s so precise it lets you zoom right into your own street. And even if you don’t have Twitter the local media share our messages. I think that’s called trending on Twitter, he laughed.”

  • Priority 1 routes are — routes which are essential to be kept serviceable in all weather conditions as far as reasonably practicable. (All National, Primary & Secondary Network in Donegal).
  • Priority 2 routes are — routes which are desirable to be kept serviceable in normal winter weather conditions, as far as reasonably practicable e.g. principle public transport routes or the main commuter routes.
  • There is over 6000km of road network in Donegal – that’s the same distance from Donegal to New York City.
  • Our Twitter has 2,048 followers, follow us @RoadsDCC and @Donegalcouncil
  • Salt is not normally spread when:
    • It is raining due to the risk of wash-off
    • On dry roads, as moisture is required to turn salt into de-icing solution
    • In the middle of the night and on roads with fewer vehicles as traffic is required to turn salt into de-icing solution.
  • The overall number of call-outs for the winter of 2012-2013 was a total of 100 compared with 48 in 2011-2012.
  • In 2013 Donegal County Council spent over €1.25m on Winter Road Maintenance

Landscape Character Assessment of Donegal


 Landscape Character Assessment of Donegal.

Have your Say 

Donegal County Council is carrying out a Landscape Character Assessment of the County that pulls together the following 4 separate assessments: 

  • Seascape Character Assessment
  • Historic Landscape Character Assessment
  • Townscape Character Assessment
  • Landscape Character Assessment (types)

As part of this process the Council is seeking views and comments from the public on the Donegal Landscape; these can be submitted by the following methods:


Post:                  Central Planning Unit, Donegal County Council, CountyHouse, Lifford

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There are also a series of public participation events where you can talk to a member of our team and learn more about the process, these are scheduled during the month of February as set out below:




Carndonagh Public Services Centre

Monday 10th February 2014


Donegal Public Services Centre

Tuesday 11th February 2014


Letterkenny Public Services Centre

Monday 17th February 2014


Dungloe Public Services Centre

Tuesday 18th February 2014


Milford Public Services Centre

Monday 24th February 2014


Ballybofey Community Library

Tuesday 25th February 2014


The Donegal Landscape is important as a place to live, work and play and the Council is inviting the public’s views and opinions on all aspects of the landscape of Donegal including it’s people, culture, use, buildings, features and history. 

Views and comments can be made by 4.30pm on 14th March 2014.  

For further information, please contact either: Alana Green or Collette Beattie, Central Planning Unit, Donegal County Council, Tel: 0749153900 



New website helps businesses make a decision at the touch of a button, now that’s SPACEial.


The SPACEial Northwest Project is launching a new innovative website that allows users to make business or investment decisions at the touch of a button.

The online project – is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme and is being led by the North West Region Crossborder Group with Donegal County Council as its lead implementing council.


The project uses a combination of statistics, remote sensing and GIS technologies to identify changes in the rates and levels of urbanisation.
It also sets out to identify, capture, locate and map the key determinants of growth and to build up a picture of what is happening within the urban boundaries or what is driving these changes to occur.

Not only is the project a website and map viewer it can also help people to make simple everyday decisions like deciding where people send there children to school or where to avail of local sporting facilities.

The SPACEial NW project works by using predictive analysis and examines the impact that variables have on the changing levels of urbanisation and more importantly the impact that such factors could have on settlement patterns in the future.

It is envisaged that by providing greater insights and understanding to past patterns this will enhance the ability of policy makers to predict the outcome of different policy actions, and the achievement of a more sustainable vision for urban and rural communities in the future.


Central to this it will also help improve the quality of comparable data and information to assist with spatial planning, policymaking and service delivery in the North West Region Cross Border Area for many years to come.

The SPACEial NW project is being launched on Wednesday January 22 at the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny from 10am to 4pm.



Key Speakers include Mr. Niall Cussen, Senior Planning Advisor, Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government & Dr. Chris Boomer, Development Plan Manager, Department of Environment, Northern Ireland.


You can find out more about this project by visiting our website, following us on twitter @SPACEialNW or by contacting the Research and Policy Unit, Donegal County Council, Lifford on 074 91 72569.

Official opening of N56 Cloghbolie to Boyoughter Road Scheme

A major improvement to the National Road network in Donegal, the N56 Cloghbolie to Boyoughter Road Scheme will be officially opened on Tuesday 21st January 2014, by the Mayor of Donegal, Councillor Ian McGarvey.


The new 3.3 kilometre carriageway eliminates one of the most sub-standard sections of the N56 and in particular the infamous “Meenacarn Bends” between Dungloe and Glenties just north of the village of Leitirmacaward’ and significantly improves travel times for motorists travelling on the N56.

The Cloghbolie to Boyoughter Road Scheme which is just now completed, is the first section of the broader N56 Dungloe to Glenties (Kilraine) Road Scheme to be constructed. The overall scheme is a 26km long pilot Type 3 Single Carriageway project. It starts at the southern end of Dungloe at the Little Bridge and continues generally in a southerly direction passing through the village of Leitirmacaward and through Glenties Town to terminate at the R262 Regional Road junction at Kilraine, south of Glenties. A combined cycleway/footway has been included over the full length of the scheme (excluding Glenties Town).

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said:.. “This new carriageway will reduce journey times for road users and improve access to West Donegal. It will also introduce a dedicated cycleway and footpath to the benefit of other road users. Congratulations to the NRA and Donegal County Council for completing this upgrade of the Cloghbolie to Boyoughter section of the N56.”

Councillor Ian McGarvey, Mayor of Donegal stated…. “It is a tremendous privilege and honour for me to have the opportunity to officially open the N56 Cloghbolie to Boyoughter Road Scheme. This project represents an important step in improving the accessibility of West Donegal and is to be welcomed wholeheartedly. The inclusion of the cycleway provides an excellent facility for local people and visitors alike. Improvement of the county’s roads infrastructure is critical and I welcome the continuing support of the NRA for the project. I look forward to further improvements on this and other routes in the county in the coming years.”

Fred Barry CEO, National Roads Authority stated, “The N56 between Cloghbolie to Boyoughter is one important step towards improved safety for all road users; pedestrians, cyclists and motorist. We remain focused on completing the entire upgrade between Dungloe and Glenties, as funding becomes available. I would like to thank Donegal County Council, our NRA team and the residents for their collective efforts on delivering this important addition to the N56.”

“Again, this scheme is an example of what the National Roads Authority is trying to achieve throughout the county, on its national secondary low volume network, that combines access for all road users utilising the existing road that fulfils a local need in a timely manner.” said, Fred Barry CEO, National Roads Authority


The scheme has been developed based on the design philosophy which is to focus in the first instance on online widening resorting to fully offline works only where online widening is not feasible.

The T3SC is a new design standard for low volume single carriageway roads and has been introduced by the National Roads Authority to provide an alternative option for improvements to these routes that takes into account both the low traffic volumes and the receiving environment.

The Preliminary Design for the Scheme and the Statutory Processes were carried out by the National Roads Office in Donegal Town. Fox Building & Engineering Ltd from Omagh were the successful contractor for the Cloghbolie to Boyoughter section and they completed the works in June 2013.


The existing road is mainly a bog rampart road and features such as hard strips, shoulders or verges are rarely present. This forces large vehicles to keep speeds very low to reduce the risk of toppling off the road edge. Ground conditions tend to be bedrock (mostly granite) overlain with thin layers of glacial deposits overlain with blanket bog. In many instances peat deposits are too deep to make excavation a viable option, further adding to the complexity and costs of improvement works.

Overall the scheme will address the narrow cross-section and poor alignment of the existing N56. The provision of designed overtaking sections within the scheme will lead to an increased level of service and reduced journey times which will be of benefit to the general economic development of West Donegal.


The provision of a combined Cycleway/Footway along the scheme is compatible with the Government’s smartertravel policy and the National Cycling Policy Framework. It will encourage a shift to more sustainable transport modes and provide a valuable recreation/tourist amenity.

The scheme will enhance the accessibility of West Donegal, which is recognised as rural disadvantaged area under the Government’s CLÁR programme. Also the scheme will provide improved access to the West Donegal Gaeltacht region and Donegal Airport.

Any queries or requests for further information should be referred to the Council’s National Roads Office in Donegal Town;

National Roads Office
Public Services Centre
Donegal Town
Tel 074-9724500

Sarah to host workshop at Business Connections Event

Sarah Meehan Image

Sarah Meehan, who has been to the fore in the marketing and promotion of the successful Donegal Gathering is set to host a workshop for businesses at the Business Connections event in Donegal Town on February 6.

Sarah, a native of Letterkenny and one of the few people, who have been working with the Donegal Gathering from the outset, highlights how she got involved with what has become one of the most successful branding initiatives in recent years.

“Donegal County Council employed me as Marketing Officer for Donegal Gathering. I have been working on the project for two years now. It is an amazing project to be working in and I have loved having the opportunity to put my skills to work promoting Donegal. Initially, I was responsible for setting up the website, social media strategy and advising on the branding process. This then evolved into managing and driving the website, social media and the PR.’

‘Indeed the Donegal Gathering has been a huge success; the website has had in excess of 150,000 hits from every continent on the globe. There are Donegal people all over the world and they are so interested in knowing what is going on in the county; but for me the success comes down to one simple fact. We have a great product, Donegal! I believe that the strength of this product can be attributed to two critical ingredients; the warmth of the people and the beauty of landscape. I am always struck by how impressed visitors are when they come here. Many of my closest friends are people who came to study in the LYIT and have put down their roots here upon completion of their studies. I feel that this is a testament to my point.”

Sarah thinks that the Donegal Gathering can only get stronger as there really is no place like home.

“Donegal County Council has confirmed that the Gathering website will continue throughout 2014 and beyond. One of the biggest lessons that we have learned from the year of the Gathering has been the benefit that the entire county can enjoy from having a co-ordinated platform that can convey all that is positive about this county. From my own family, I know how important it is for so many to feel that they can keep in touch with what is happening at home.’

While supporting many projects Sarah is set to host a workshop at the Business Connections event which helps young entrepreneurs set up their own business and helps existing businesses grow.

She is set to give an insightful talk at the event on February 6 and highlights why marketing is key for a business to strive in today’s society.

“Marketing is crucial for any business regardless of the industry. The heart of any business success lies in its marketing, it is an important aspect of growing your business, and is an investment that will pay for itself over and over again. Strategic marketing of a company’s products, services and brand can mean the difference between success and failure.  Many businesses think that you need a large budget to market a product, but there are many low cost marketing options out there.”

Sarah encourages all business owners and entrepreneurs alike to come and avail of the free workshop.

“The event is a fantastic opportunity to bring young entrepreneurs together from both North and South of the border.’

‘This is a great opportunity for anybody who is interested in business, setting up a business or indeed those who are in business. It is also a great opportunity to actively make new valuable business connections.’

‘There will be an array of guest speakers on different relevant topic areas relating to business. Daniel Browne from Ocean FM and myself will be speaking at the workshop. We will be talking about marketing campaigns and how to maximise your marketing budget. “she added.

The event is free but places are limited so book now –

For more information on Business Bootcamp -