Arts Officer looks forward to 27th annual Earagail Arts Festival

Traolach O'Fionnain, Arts Officer Donegal County Council

Traolach O’Fionnain, Arts Officer Donegal County Council

The 27th Earagail Arts Festival which began last Friday, July 10 offers over 100 performances, exhibitions, films, readings, talks, seminars and special  events for children, in three main geographic areas Letterkenny/Ballybofey, Iarthar Dhún na nGall and Inishowen.


This event, now the mainstay in the county’s cultural calendar, was initiated by Donegal County Council in 1989. It continued to be managed and delivered by Donegal County Council until 2004 when a limited company, Earagail Arts Festival Management Company Ltd., was set up by the Council to run the festival on its behalf. The festival is now year-round enterprise, managed by three full and part-time staff. At festival time, this increases to ten, plus an additional forty, invaluable festival volunteers.  The current Festival Director is Paul Brown.

The festival was begun by Traolach Ó Fionnáin who has been Arts Officer with Donegal County Council since 1988. He outlines the reasons why it came about.

“The Council initiated the festival to provide an annual, high profile platform for the work of local, Donegal artists; to provide a context in which to programme high quality work by visiting artists – both from other parts of Ireland and from overseas – and to provide an exciting, impactful arts event for local and visiting audiences, that would be on a par with similar arts festival events in Galway, Kilkenny and, at that time, in Sligo,” he says.

Looking at this year’s schedule of events Traolach is happy that it contains a rich and varied music programme which started with last weekend’s inaugural Donegal International Folk and Roots Festival in Letterkenny.


Can't Pay Won't Pay in An Grianan Theatre during this years festival

Can’t Pay Won’t Pay in An Grianan Theatre during this years festival

“There is also brilliant theatre in the shape of Róise Goan and Caitríona McLaughlin’s tribute to the cottage hand-knitters of West Donegal, ‘She Knit The Roof’, which will happen in the Old Crolly Doll Factory in Crolly from Wednesday to Saturday, July 22-25; the LUXe landscape theatre’s night-time promenade show, ‘Imramh na Gealaí’, on Oileán Árainn Mhór and at Glebe House and Gallery, Churchill on Wednesday and Saturday, July 15 and 18 and of course,  not forgetting Bread and Roses Theatre’s comic farce of hyper-inflation in 1970s Italy, Dario Fo’s classic ‘Can’t Pay ? Won’t Pay ! ‘, which can be enjoyed at An Grianán Theatre, on Thursday and Friday, July 16 and 17.”

Traolach also points to some must-see visual arts offerings such as the stunning Gilles Caron and Omar Yashruti photographs of Derry, Belfast and Beiruit, showing at the Regional Cultural Centre;  Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s wonderfully evocative Donegal Photo Album at Donegal County Museum, The Glebe Gallery Churchill’s selection from the Art Collection of Trinity College, Dublin and the hugely anticipated return of the An Cosán Glas artists collective’s magical night-time sculpture trail show, Loinnir,  to Trá Machaire Rabhartaigh, Gort a’Choirce, on Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19.

He is excited about the future of the Earagail Arts Festival and how it is developing in various directions.

“The festival continues to fulfil, and indeed further develop, its arts development remit within Donegal and the North West region, through commissioning new work across various art forms, by opening up collaborative opportunities for Donegal-based and visiting, international artists and continues to produce significant works in spectacular settings and locations for which Donegal is renowned, such as Oileán Arainn Mhór, Fort Dunree, Ards Forest Park, Trá Mhachaire Rabhartaigh, Glebe House and Gallery, and others,” he said.


Key Points:

  • The festival, which runs to Sunday, July 26, is a venue-based music and arts event with eclectic and alternative music, visual arts, circus and theatre programmes alongside the spoken word, film, family and children centred events and workshops.
  • Events are held in venues from purpose built theatres and galleries, to village halls, forests and beaches, creating a unique cultural experience in the most unlikely of magical places.
  • Earagail Arts Festival is a bilingual (Irish and English language), multidisciplinary arts festival.
  • You can find out more at (074) 9168800; by e-mail: or on the web at
  • Booking for all festival events is via An Grianán Theatre Box Office at (074) 9120777 or online through the festival website .





Here comes your Brown Bin

Dearn McClintock, Waste Regulations Officer with Donegal County Council

Dearn McClintock, Waste Regulations Officer with Donegal County Council

The month of July will see the introduction of the ‘Brown Bin’ for household food waste in ten more towns throughout Donegal. In essence this comes about as another part of the Waste Management (Household Food Waste) Regulations 2012 comes into effect. This requires all householders in Ballyshannon, Ballybofey-Stranorlar, Buncrana, Bunbeg-Derrybeg, Bundoran, Carndonagh, Donegal Town and Lifford to separate their food waste and make it available for conversion into compost. This means separating the food waste and placing it into a ‘Brown Bin’, provided by your waste collector. The system has been up and running in Letterkenny since this time last year. Waste Regulations Officer, Dearn McClintock, explains that the purpose of the regulations is to divert food waste, which is biodegradable, away from landfill, where it causes odour and nuisance, to facilities which are authorised to treat it and turn it into a high quality compost. “All EU states are obliged to comply with the EU Waste Framework Directive, which amongst other things provides for the removal of biodegradable wastes from landfills. “This is to protect the environment now and in the future from the consequences of the decomposition of wastes such as food that results in highly polluting leachates and greenhouse gases such as methane.

Brown Bins have been introduced to 11 more towns in Donegal

Brown Bins have been introduced to 11 more towns in Donegal

“By removing food waste from landfills the production of these pollutants is considerably reduced, which in turn reduces the cost of running the landfills now and for next 40 years. This does not just benefit us today but will be a worthwhile legacy for our children in the future,” he said He also explained the householder will be required to keep their food waste out of the ‘residual’ bin and present it for collection by their waste collector. Many will ask what goes into this bin and where does it go? “All food waste including meats and dairy products go into this new bin. The householders’ waste collector will advise them what can and cannot go into the food waste bin. The food waste will be composted and the final product will be used for soil conditioning either on gardens or back on farmlands,” said Dearn. He added that all the householder should have to do is contact their waste collector and ask for a food waste bin. For householders on fixed rate charges there should be no increased cost. For Pay as You Throw customers they will have to find out from their waste collector what is available. There are new regulations due regarding household waste charges, which should lead to the householder being rewarded for their efforts in separating out the waste fractions in their homes. These regulations should be in place by mid-2016, he added.

What should I put in my brown bin?

What should I put in my brown bin?

Key Facts

  • Anyone with queries on the introduction of the service should contact either their own waste collector or the Council on (074) 91 53900.
  • From July 2016 the regulations will apply to a further 19 towns and villages.
  • It is a condition of the Waste Collectors Permits to provide this service (Brown Bin) and for appropriate treatment/processing. The Council has been engaging with the collectors to ensure their compliance.

Ancient bell and shrine completes historic return next Monday

St. Conall's Bell and Shrine

St. Conall’s Bell and Shrine

It’s a journey that began almost 1500

years ago and next Monday the ancient St Conall’s Bell and Shrine complete the final leg as they make their way back to their place of origin, west Donegal.

But these are no ordinary artefacts and this is no ordinary occasion.

The bell and shrine have been engraved in the folklore and tradition of a coastal community that has preserved not only memory but the very essence of these holy treasures.

It was unveiled to the public by Minister Joe McHugh on June 19, this itself an historic occasion but behind the scenes the work to get to this stage had been going on for almost two years.

Inishkeel Island off Portnoo is acknowledged as the relics original starting point. Access to it on foot is restricted to certain tides and weather conditions but for centuries it has been a place of pilgrimage as a result of its historical connections with St Conall.

He founded a monastery there and in the process brought Christianity and learning to the people of south-west Donegal and beyond. It was a powerful symbol in a new era for this area in particular

The bell in question was used to rally the faithful to mass and various other ceremonies. The same could be said of its much anticipated arrival at the nearby Dolmen Centre next Monday, July 13.

Of course this bell and shrine has been on a long journey to get back to this point. It was held firstly by the abbots on the island, improved upon with the addition of a bronze mount and patterns before it was encased in a beautiful ornate gold, sliver and crystal shrine

It next moved into the care of the O’Breslin Clan who protected it for hundreds of years before they fell on hard times. The relics were purchased by Major Nesbitt of Woodhill House, Ardara but on the night he died, January 3, 1845 it is reported that they went missing.

It is believed they made their way across to England where they passed through the hands of a number of collectors before they were purchased by Augustus Franks in 1889, who recognising their historical significance, presented them to the British Museum in London

Over the years enquires came from the county about the artefacts, particularly around St Conall’s Day on May 2, the opening of the pilgrimage season. Committees were formed, representations were made but there was no indication the artefacts would ever appear again in Donegal.

Then a number of years ago a new committee, spearheaded by the late Malachy Mahon and his wife Brenda, began a process of liaising with the British Museum, and then Donegal County Museum for approximately 18 months, to see if the matter could be revisited.

Judith McCarthy with Helen Meehan and Una McGarrigle from Donegal Historial Society and Brenda Mahon from the local St. Conall's Bell and Shrine Committee

Judith McCarthy with Helen Meehan and Una McGarrigle from Donegal Historial Society and Brenda Mahon from the local St. Conall’s Bell and Shrine Committee

Donegal County Museum curator, Judith McCarthy met the couple and between them the various challenges in bringing these priceless items to the county were overcome.

“The British Museum previously had the bell and shrine in an exhibition entitled ‘The Treasurers of Heaven’ and on its website the items are listed as one of the highlights of their collection,” she explained.

The curator, who just marked her 21st year at the Letterkenny facility last weekend, added while the British Museum was also keen to facilitate items such as these returning to their place of origin this also meant a host of stringent conditions and a regime of protocols that they hadn’t had to deal with up to this.

“These included fixing a timetable that would suit all parties, copious amounts of paperwork and reports covering everything from security, fine art couriers, environmental conditions and display facilities to name but a few and if these initial hurdles don’t pass the scrutiny of the British Museum’s curators, conservators and security advisors they don’t leave.”

Fortunately Donegal County Museum can boast the highest standards. It has achieved accreditation in the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland and it’s also a designated museum under the National Cultural Institutions Act.

“All of the environmental and security conditions we have to fulfil anyway and that requires training and expertise within our ranks and we’re funded by our local authority to have that,” she said.

The Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney

The Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney

Next Monday’s one day display at the Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney also had to fulfil certain criteria which, according to Judith, she was able to complete with the assistance of the local committee who were organising the event there.

“In order for the bell and shrine to go to the Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney we had to comply with similar conditions on the understanding it was only going to be for one day but thanks to all parties working together, we were able to ensure it could happen.

“Taking artefacts like these outside the confines of the museum is a big deal for all concerned,” she added.

The curator acknowledged the assistance such an event received thanks to the generous donation from Tim Kelly of Kelly Communications as well as the financial outlay from Donegal County Council to support the overall project.

“All of this has happened as a result of the local committee, the British Museum and the Donegal County Council playing a role. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes that the public might not realise and this was a massive undertaking for all concerned. We had to loan the Dolmen Centre the proper display case and ensure it meets all the required criteria set out by the British Museum.

“I have to visit the facility and ensure the display and the security in place meets their requirements too.”

But all the hard work over such a long period of time has been worthwhile, said Judith.

“It’s been a great learning curve for me and staff at the museum, Assistant Curator, Caroline Carr, Jacqueline Abbas and Mervyn Whyte. The visitors have been overwhelmed too by the fact they can see such historic artefacts. It’s certainly increased visitor numbers and that in turn should also help bring people back here again in the future.

“I am very pleased to have been able to facilitate these items coming back to Donegal and that people have had the opportunity to see objects that they might never had an opportunity to see,” she said.

St Conall’s Bell and Shrine will be available for public viewing in Letterkenny until 4pm this coming Saturday, July 11.

The artefacts will then be going on display at the Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney between 10.30am and 5pm next Monday, July 13 and then going straight back to the museum in Letterkenny before leaving the following morning for their journey back to the British Museum and bring to an end what could only be described as an historic occasion for everyone connected with this event.






Donegal Sports Star Awards June Review

Sam and Chloe Magee competing in the European Badminton Games in Baku

Sam and Chloe Magee competing in the European Badminton Games in Baku

Magees make it big in Baku

by Declan Kerr 

Undoubtedly the headline grabbers in the Donegal Sports Star Awards June review were Raphoe  siblings Chloe, Sam and Joshua Magee who brought back bronze medals from the European Badminton Games in Baku. Sam medaled twice first with Joshua in the Men’s Doubles and then in the Mixed Doubles with Chloe. It was the first time that the country’s best known badminton family had scored such a significant international success.

Mark English’s good year continued as the ‘Overall 2014 Donegal Sports Star Award’ winner was second in the 800m at the European Athletics Team Championships in Greece and he was also a member of the Irish 4 x 400m relay team that finished third in the competition. It was their best ever result in the championship finishing sixth out of 12 teams.

The Letterkenny man also finished seventh in an 800m race at the New York Diamond meeting in New York in a time of 1:46:12.

Other June highlights included Trentagh’s Martin Harley returning to the winner’s enclosure after a thrilling success on Goldream in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. And for the first time the Donegal Ladies won the All-Ireland U-21 B title thanks to a super 4-12 to 2-7 victory over Roscommon in Sligo with Milford’s Amber Barrett scoring a remarkable 2-9. The Donegal International Rally saw double success for the county as Letterkenny man Rory Kennedy navigated Garry Jennings to victory in the main event of the weekend while Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett won the National category for the first time.

Meanwhile Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan edged closer to the National Rally Championship title by winning the Raven’s Rock Rally in Waterford in their Ford Focus WRC. Declan Gallagher won the Modified Category in his Toyota Starlet. Bonagee Utd’s Noel O’Donnell, a 2014 Donegal Sports Star Award winner, was a member of the Republic of Ireland Deaf side that won their opening European Championship Group Qualifier 6-0 against Poland in Germany. The Irish then lost to Ukraine before qualifying for the quarter-finals by defeating Hungary 4-0.

At the beginning of the month Letterkenny AC’s Brendan Boyce matched his season’s best at the IAAF Challenge in La Courna with 1:26:47 for the 20km to finish 45th overall. However, the Milford native wasn’t able on this occasion to dip under the Olympic standard time of 1:24:00. Cranford AC’s Eoghan Moore took a bronze medal in the U-14 Javelin at the Ulster Track & Field Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast. Also at the same venue there was medal success for Lifford AC’s Mark Doherty Shot (senior silver), Kathleen Craig Triple Jump (U-19 gold), Alan McGinley 800m (U-17 gold), Niall Quinn U-15 800m (silver), Olivia Cuskelly U-14 2000m Walk (gold), Shane O’Donnell U-15 Hammer (silver),

There were also medal at these Ulster Championships for Letterkenny AC’s David Smith who took gold in the U-14 800m and bronze in the Long Jump; Imogen Hards won silver in the U-14 200m and bronze in the 100m; Donal Farren bronze in the 800m and Edward Grant lifted gold in the U-15 Shot Putt.

Lifford AC’s Brendan O’Donnell, the 2014 Donegal Sports Star Best Secondary Schoolboy’ Award winner, won the Hammer for the second successive year at the annual Tailteann Games Inter-provincials at the Billy Morton Stadium in Santry. And at the same venue Inishowen AC’s Fergal Cox was first in the Javelin. In the Ulster Masters Finals at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast there were 15 medals for Lifford AC. In the M45 category Mark Doherty took gold in the Javelin and Weight Throw while he won silver in the Shot Putt. Gary Gallagher won gold in the M40 category in the Long Jump; silvers in the 110m Hurdles and 200m and bronze in the High Jump. In the M45 category there was gold for Brian Breslin in the High Jump, 110m Hurdles and Long Jump while he also took silver in the 400m. In the M40 category there were three golds for Isabel Breslin in the High Jump, Shot Putt and Long Jump and rounded it off with silver in the 80m Hurdles.

At the end of June Carndonagh’s Labhaoise Clarke won her seventh Irish boxing title in style defeating Mary Geraghty, Fibsboro in the final.

Carn’s Michael ‘Owen’ McLaughlin had an excellent win over Roberto Valenzuala in Boston with the fight being stopped in the fifth round. The St. Eunan’s U-14 Boys side won a national Feile na nGael title but Naomh Conaill Ladies bid for a first All-Ireland Gealtacht title ended in disappointment for the Glenties outfit who lost the Junior Final in Ardara 3-10 to 1-8 against Moycullen from Galway.

The Donegal U-14 Girls booked their place in the All-Ireland B Final with a 2-11 to 0-13 victory over Roscommon in Bawnboy, Cavan. On the last Saturday of the month the Donegal senior football side booked their place in the Ulster Final for the fifth successive year with a 1-9 to 0-10 victory over Derry in Clones with the help of a second half Marty O’Reilly goal. Earlier Rory Gallagher’s side had cruised to an easy 2-11 to 0-8 victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds in a quarter-final tie with the goals coming from Paddy McBrearty and O’Reilly while skipper Michael Murphy converted a number of super frees.

But there was a shock defeat for the county minors losing 0-11 to 0-10 against Derry in the provincial semi-final played in Clones. Earlier Declan Bonner’s boys had cruised to an easy 2-11 to 0-8 quarter-final win over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds. The Donegal senior ladies did a demolition job on Down in an Ulster Football Championship quarter-final winning 10-35 to 0-4 with Yvonne McMonagle hitting 6-5 and Geraldine McLaughlin finishing with a personal tally of 2-14.

Former Fanad Gaels and Donegal player Paddy McConigley was a member of the Kilkenny side that defeated Scotland in Edinburgh to win the British Junior Football Championship for the first time ever. McConigley also helped his club Railyard to secure a place in the Kilkenny Senior Football Final.

In Gymnastics there were gold medals for the Senior and Junior Finesse Gymnastics Display Club teams at the Dublin Gym Fleadh at the UCD Sports Complex while there was success for the Gweedore team of Michael O Gioballain, Sean and Noel O Gallchoir finishing first at the inaugural ‘Galf as Gaelige’ at the Dunmurray Springs course near Kildare Town. The Gweedore men came out on top against 11 other teams from the Gaeltacht regions as well as Irish speaking participants from other parts of the country.

Raphoe’s Alexander Tinney and Ben Wallace were selected to play for the Irish U-16 side at the Volvo 6 Nations Tournament in Holland on July 16th.  St. Eunan’s clinched the U-14 county hurling double with an 8-12 to 2-2 victory over McCumhaills in the championship final at the O’Donnell Park. The Donegal senior hurlers lost 3-17 to 5-7 in the Ulster Senior Championship at Celtic Park.

In Martial Arts the North West Shotokan Karte Club enjoyed a successful weekend at the English Open Championships in East London. There were gold medals for Inishowen Ulster Karate Federation members Clem McColgan and Joseph Feeney at the European Championships in Liege, Belgium while there was silver for Dara Gill, Conor Doherty, Caolan McColgan and bronze for Shauna McGlinchey and Erin McCole.

North West Snooker Club’s Aidan Devenney won the County title defeating Johnny Connors in the final in Donegal Town. On the June Bank Holiday Monday after a great battle Finn Harps bowed out of the FAI Senior Cup 4-3 on penalties against Premier side Longford Town in Ballybofey in a second round replay. The game had finished 0-0 following extra-time.

Thereafter it was a very poor month for Ollie Horgan’s side whose 12 match unbeaten start to the League of Ireland First Division season ended as Athlone recorded a 1-0 home win over Ollie Horgan’s outfit. Harps also suffered defeats at the hands of fellow promotion contenders Wexford Youths in Ballybofey and Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

The Donegal U-14 Girls won the Gaynor Cup Plate Final in Limerick. Letterkenny Rovers won the U-12 Champions League Final with Nathan Plumb getting the only goal in the local derby against Bonagee Utd at St. Patrick’s Park in Drumkeen. In the middle of te month there was disappointment for Shay Given and Seamus Coleman as the Republic of Ireland could only draw with Scotland 1-1 at the Aviva putting a massive dent in the Donegal men’s ambitions of qualifying for the European Championships.

Greencastle FC won the Inishowen Junior League Top Four Cup Final 4-2 against Sea Rovers at The Warren. And Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin was a member of the Republic of Ireland U-17 side that played in the European Championship qualifier group games in Iceland.

Letterkenny referee Marty McGarrigle was honoured locally by his peers after taking charge of a Junior International in March between the Republic of Ireland and Poland at Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway. Also honoured were his linesmen Milford native Joe McHugh and Inishowen’s Eamonn Doherty and Danny McLaughlin.

Letterkenny 24/7s Siobhan Gallagher won the Firmus City of Derry Triathlon while at the start of June there were County Cumann Na mBunscoil titles for Scoile Croine Dungloe; Scoil Fionnan Falcarragh and Scoil Mhuire Na Doiri Beaga at the Donegal Finals in McCumhaill Park.

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