Over four decades with Donegal County Council

Peadar Thomas

Peadar Thomas who retired from Donegal County Council last week after 42 years service

Peadar Thomas is no stranger to our highways and byways but just last week his journey with Donegal County Council came to an end as he retired after 42 years with the local authority.

The popular Donegal Town based engineer has been associated with several sections within the council but is perhaps best known for his development of the roads, particularly in south and west Donegal.

Peadar began his career in the Road Design section at council headquarters in Lifford.

“I was there for four or five years and loved it. It was before the big money came with the NRA (National Roads Authority) jobs but the jobs we were undertaking at that time gave you a feel for the whole of the county. In fact it was probably the first time I realised how big this county was!”

He then moved on to the Sanitary Services section for the next 13 years and specialised in working with the extensive Group Water Scheme networks.

“All of that work was very community based as the schemes were being run on a voluntary basis by local committees. It was up to me to go out to these committees and get them to get their schemes off the ground, agree on a design, who was getting connections and stuff like that.”

He said two schemes in particular came to mind, the South Letterkenny Rural Scheme and Leitirmacaward that between them served over 1,000 houses.

“I remember totting up just how many houses were being served by group schemes at that time and it came to over 10,000 that was nearly one in every six houses in the county.”

Peadar then moved on to the Killybegs Engineers Area where he took over road maintenance.

“Between it and when I took over the Donegal area I saw a lot of major road jobs that transformed the south of the county. You had the likes of Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Ballintra, Laghey all by passed by the NRA but I suppose when I look back, my biggest involvement was in Killybegs with the development of three new roads there – the Shore Road, the approach road coming into the town and the Industrial Road.

“We basically ended up with a bypass around Killybegs and it was all done by ourselves in the council.”

Peadar added there was always plenty to do when you considered the different works in the various towns, the development of car parks such as the one at the quay in Donegal Town which opened up the bay area for many other uses.

“I’ve enjoyed the council from start to finish. I never woke up thinking ‘I don’t want to go to work today’. It has gone so fast because I’ve enjoyed myself. I have to say the one thing that made life easier was the workers I’ve been with over the years. The council workers are great and are very dedicated to their jobs too.”

Peadar is in no doubt that while much has been done there’s still plenty more to do.

“We need big money to transform the road network in the county. In my position I have to look at the big picture. The people in Malinbeg are just as important as the people in Donegal Town – you’re not going to keep everyone happy but you have to juggle what I have as best I can.”

Peadar was guest of honour at functions in Lifford and Donegal Town over the past few days to mark the end of his career but he promises he will still be a busy man.

“I’m going to take it easy for a month but I’ve a few things up my sleeve,” he said.


Peadar Thoams with his wife Madeline and daughter Suzanne at his retirement function

Peadar looking forward to his retirement with his wife Madeline and daughter Suzanne


Key Facts:

  • The 6,274km of road network in County Donegal consists of 148km of National Primary Roads, 156km of National Secondary Roads and 770km of Regional Roads leaving 5,200km of local road network.
  • According to the last Census figures the most popular means of travelling to work was by car (driver) with this mode accounting for 64.2 per cent of all journeys.



Getting ready for the 100th anniversary of Easter 1916

Michael O hEanaighIt may still be just under a year away but Donegal County Council is already preparing plans to mark the historic 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

At national level a body called Ireland 2016 has been set up to coordinate activities. Ireland 2016, led by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will develop, coordinate and deliver a programme of activity to honour and remember those who fought and those who died in the 1916 Rising, to reflect on the legacy of that period and to look towards our future

At local level Donegal County Council, through its Commemorative Strategy Group, is in the process of compiling a comprehensive programme to mark the anniversary next April.


Michael O’hEanaigh, Director of Community, Culture and Development Planning, is also the county coordinator for the local events says the eventual programme aims to represent the culmination of their combined efforts in conjunction with a cross section of community and voluntary organisations, as well as the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

“This commemoration provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our past, to examine the issues in a dignified way and, in those moments of reflection, seek to better understand the motivating factors which led to the founding of this great Nation.

2016 Commemorations 379 x 269“Our commemoration will endeavour to voice the various stories surrounding the Rising both here in Donegal and at national level, in a space removed from that time. It will provide us with an opportunity to examine what occurred one hundred years ago, but will also allow us to think about what we, as a nation, want to achieve over the next one hundred years – and the kind of society that we want for our children,” he said.

A meeting will be held at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny on Tuesday next, May 19 at 7.30pm to facilitate ground up initiatives so that local communities and interested parties can get involved and put their own shape on the commemorations as we move towards 2016.

All welcome and interested participants are kindly requested to register their interest to attend by emailing Anne McElchar at amcelchar@donegalcoco.ie

It is envisaged these will include the development of a number of flagship projects to provide an appropriate legacy and to this end organise a series of commemorative lectures focusing on various themes or events of the period.

Mr O’hEanaigh revealed that there were a number of proposals in the pipeline to embrace the 1916 Rising on a number of levels.

It is also planned to carry out an audit and compile a listing of published and unpublished material relating to the period and make these available on the Donegal County Council website, the Library Service website and other relevant sites.

It is also hoped to provide a core collection of relevant fiction and non-fiction books in public library collections; facilitate schools competitions relating to the event; eencourage and facilitate research on the period in particular on the role of Donegal, Donegal people and their material culture; promote and support appropriate commemorative events that are being organised locally and nationally.

The committee are also looking to develop an Education Study Pack on theme of Donegal in 1916; organise a weekend festival of Irish and English folk music as well as encourage Heritage Week events relating to the Rising in particular those that consider the social, cultural, economic and political environment of the decade.

“Donegal’s anniversary celebrations will provide an open invitation to everyone, of all ages, both here and overseas, to join in a year of commemoration, conversation and exploration – through the arts, through historical research and exposition, through the Irish language, through education and children’s events – from which a new and more expansive sense of Irish identity can emerge, he said.

A full programme of events in Donegal will be published shortly.



Council continues to fight against litter and illegal dumping …

Martin Roarty, Litter Warden Letterkenny Municipal District

Martin Roarty, Litter Warden, Letterkenny Municipal District 

There’s no let up in Donegal County Council’s campaign in the war against litter and one of the men on the front line is litter warden, Martin Roarty.

He is responsible for covering a huge district which takes in the old Letterkenny and Milford electoral areas in what is now the new Letterkenny Municipal District.

With its huge urban-rural dynamic it presents quite a lot of challenges but Martin can see progress and judging by the response to the Big Donegal Clean Up campaign in April, he is confident people are keen to make sure their areas are kept clean.

“I’ve had almost 40 groups looking for assistance looking for everything from skips to clean up packs as well as more calls than ever to our mobile clean up units to come along and collect the fruits of their labour.”

The objectives of the clean up campaign are to reduce litter pollution and to encourage community involvement in the solutions.

“There’s been a noticeable increase in the number of community groups taking part and it’s good to see that people want to keep their areas clean.

“Dog fouling is an ongoing challenge that needs to be tackled but perhaps the most frustrating thing is when you go to collect bags at an illegal dump you discover there’s very little of it what you would call household refuse; most of it is cans and bottles that could have easily been disposed at one of over 50 bottle and can banks scattered throughout the county,” he says.

Martin is very appreciative of the co-operation he receives from the many community groups, tidy town committees, Coillte and Community Employment scheme workers throughout the area.

“They are a major asset in the fight against litter. CE Schemes in places like Rathmullan, Ramelton, Kerrykeel and Milford for example are doing trojan work and you just have to look at the finished product to see what an important contribution they make.”

Martin’s work also covers Letterkenny and he is very happy to be well supported in the Cathedral town by the likes of John McCandless and Noel O’Donnell who help coordinate and collect in a number of areas.

Coming into the summer months Martin and his colleagues throughout the county are aware of the importance of making sure Donegal’s pristine Blue Flag beaches and the routes along the Wild Atlantic Way are maintained rubbish-free.

“The Blue Flag beaches and the Wild Atlantic Way are important and tell visitors a lot about who we are. Let’s make sure they get the right impression,” he adds.

Donegal County Council’s Director of Water and Environment, Joe Peoples, praised the efforts of Martin, his colleagues and indeed all groups saying their help was invaluable.
“Their continued efforts certainly go a long way to help keeping our county in pristine condition particularly as we welcome visitors from all around the world and want to reassure the public that the council is committed to re-doubling its effort in the pursuit of those who are responsible for littering our county,” he says.



Key facts


  • If you want to make a complaint about illegal dumping or litter in your area call the Council on (074) 9153900 and this will be investigated.
  • You can also make a complaint out of hours by calling the EPA Hotline Dump the Dumpers 1850 365 121 or online at donegalcoco.ie.
  • The Council has a team of 5 Litter Wardens and three mobile litter units who work with the public and local communities to keep Donegal litter free.
  • If you are caught dumping rubbish you could face a Fixed Penalty Notice of  €150 or prosecution through the courts.
  • The Council has been active in prosecuting those responsible for littering and illegal dumping and in 2014 issued 166 fines and 9 cases are currently before the courts.
  • See more http://www.donegalcoco.ie

Busy time ahead for the Regional Cultural Centre

Regional Cultural Centre Building

Regional Cultural Centre’s iconic building in Letterkenny

The Regional Cultural Centre (RCC) in Letterkenny is one a number of great cultural and leisure facilities developed by Donegal County Council. It is operated as part of the council’s Cultural Services that also includes libraries, museum, archives and the arts office.

The building has attracted some very positive media attention since it opened in 2007. The distinctive glass and aluminium structure designed by Letterkenny based MacGabhann Architects won best building in the Irish Opus Architecture and Construction Awards 2008 and according to the Irish Times: “Letterkenny’s impressive new arts building places Donegal in an international context rather than on the periphery”.

According to RCC Director Shaun Hannigan the RCC has tried to organise a quality programme of activities suitable for all ages in the centre itself and around County Donegal, for the past eight years.

Shaun Hannigan

Shaun Hannigan, Director at RCC

“This includes free year-round art exhibitions, music concerts, film screenings and community and educational events.”

He is keen to point out that it is very dependent on a wide range of partners in order to be able to deliver these activities.

“It ranges from financial support from the Arts Council and Donegal County Council to project partners within Donegal County Council and with other arts, community and public organisations like An Grianán Theatre, Earagail Arts Festival, Music Education Partnership, Glebe Gallary, An Gailearaí and The Nerve Centre.”

Art exhibitions are one of the main parts of the programme and Shaun says that he is delighted that they are fortunate to have one of the best art galleries in Ireland in the RCC.

“We have been able to put on some major exhibitions over recent years including summer shows as part of the Earagail Arts Festival like Victor Vasarely in 2008, Hungarian Art in 2009, Contemporary Art of the Donegal Diaspora in 2013 and Patrick Scott last year.

“We have also commissioned exhibitions on social issues like Sharing Stories an IFI funded cross-border film project, Local People a PEACE III funded art and social history exhibition and Lived Lost Lives an art project on youth suicide in Ireland.

“We’ve also done a lot of educational exhibitions, the annual Suil na nOg Junior Cert Art with Donegal Art Teachers Association, the LyIT Graduate Show and Contemporary Art for Children to name a few,” said Shaun.

Music is another key part of the RCC’s work. Donegal Music Education Partnership is based in the building and both organisations work closely together.

“Again we’re fortunate that the RCC is one of the finest small music venues in the country and works well as both a 140-seater and as a 220 standing venue. We organise 20-30 high quality traditional, world, jazz, classical and indie music concerts each year and we have been lucky enough to feature some of the biggest names in folk and roots music from around the world,” he said.

The RCC has a very busy and varied programme in the coming weeks and months.

“We are all flat out for the next while. On the music front we have the second annual experimental music festival Distorted Perspectives from April 30 to May 3, Friday’s headliner is Ulrich Schnauss from Germany and Moon Duo from the USA top the bill on Saturday. We are delighted to have two of the world’s finest female artists visit in May, the multi-award winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis on Wednesday 6th and country singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier on Friday 15th. Upcoming exhibitions include a new installation by Richard Noble from April 30 – May 1, the first Remote Photo Festival directed by Paul McGuckien from April 30 to May 23, and Still, We Work in partnership with National Women’s Council of Ireland from May 12 – 23.”

Julie Fowlis

Gaelic Singer Julie Fowlis performing at the RCC in May

And if that was not enough there are a couple of upcoming festivals.

“Two of our big annual events are coming up, the18th annual Bealtaine Festival for Older People that we organise with the County Library and other partners will be held throughout the month of May and the Earagail Arts Festival will be from July 10-26 this year with the inaugural Donegal Folk & Roots Festival taking place over the first weekend”.

For further information on Regional Cultural Centre events see www.regionalculturalcentre.com