Saturday, December 27, 2008


A quickie news update! I'm over home for Xmas, got a wee bit of internet access using the sister's laptop.

Donegal Woman helps out Homeless Irish in Manchester:

Man's body found on Bundoran beach:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Time to promote the town a wee bit! If your shopping make sure you check out Donegal Town shops for locally made goods and try and help support Donegal and the North West. Also, the Craft Village always has some good and interesting crafts people selling locally made goods.

And if you don't find anything you like, pop in say hello to Johnny McCabe and ask him when Pavesi's next gig is. And then stop over at Tom's Aroma Coffee shop and have a really great slice of Orange Cake and a cuppa tae or coffee (their Americano coffee's really good). Now don't all rush out there at the same time, as I plan to drop in there on Tuesday or Wednesday, if you see me say hello, just leave me a feckin' piece of Orange cake would ye.

As I'll be at home you not going to see much activity on the blog as I'll be busy enjoying a Donegal Christmas and won't be on the inner-tubes or interweaves or what it's called. ;)

So, ho, ho, ho, and a Merry, Safe, Enjoyable, Happy, Fulfilling, Sound, Mighty, Great Craic, Fantastic, Christmas and New Year's to you.


PS: Speaking of shops, anyone know of a better listing of Donegal Town shops that the 3 I linked to in the first line?


First the good, or nicer news! :) The first solar power public street lights in Donegal are being testing in
The pilot scheme includes 15 solar panel lights on the N56 at Meenacuing in Gweedore and lighting on a section of the N13 Derry to Letterkenny route.

And remember Alan Doherty from Letterkenny, born without a chin whom had a new chin created for him in NYC? Well his doctors are going to reveal how they did it:
On Friday, a team of surgeons, headed by Dr Elliot Rose, at the world-famous Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York will explain to the world's media how they constructed and shaped a chin for Alan.

Alan, who still speaks through a voicebox operated via a keyboard, hopes to return with his mum to join the rest of their family at home in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, for Christmas.

Numerous acts of wanton vandalism in Ballyshannon:
Residents in the Cluain Barron, Erne Dale Heights and Park View areas of Ballyshannon are being held to ransom, by a bunch of reckless vandals, who have no respect for people or property, according to a Ballyshannon Town councillor.
Thousands of euros worth of damage was caused over the weekend when black and red spray cans were used to deface the local Gaelscoil, walls, sides of houses, cars and even iron gates ...

On a positive note, the Church that was vandalised in St. Johnston has received numerous offers of support and assistance:
A Presbyterian church in St Johnston, County Donegal, has been inundated with offers of support after its hall was attacked last week.

And some petrol station somewhere in the county may have been pumping petrol that's not petrol!
“This was a brand new Suzuki Swift that I had taken for test drive. I was coming back from Derry and stopped at a petrol station in Donegal to fill it up with €20 worth of fuel before returning it to the garage. They were certainly not pleased to see it coming back to Sligo on the back of a lorry.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missing Trawler Found!

Some good news for Christmas, a fishing trawler that was reported missing after it left Killybegs and didn't show up Rossaveal in Co. Galway has been found!
A trawler and three crew at the centre of an intensive search off the west coast have arrived at Rossaveal Harbour in Co Galway.

The crew told the Coast Guard the vessel had developed a problem with its fuel system, and had drifted without power for 24 hours.

They said they managed to restart the engine shortly before the boat was found by rescue services yesterday ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter views.

Winter is here! And here's a view out near Barnes of the Loweymore River:

Lonely Barnes Tree

Water from Lough Derg destined for Dublin?

Jeannie sent me on this, in Dublin's quest for more drinking water as in some years time there will be critical shortages. Dublin had been considering tapping the Shannon for future supplies, and then Lough Ree. Now they're considering Lough Dearg, not the one on the Shannon, but the one in Donegal:
A final decision has yet to be taken but the extraction and storage of water from Lough Derg for use in the capital came up trumps on three of the six criteria examined. It is also considered that the infrastructure involved would have no significant impact on habitats in the area. I suspect that local interests might not agree although nobody doubts that water for Dublin and its inhabitants has to be found somewhere.

Had anyone heard anything about this?

Thanks to Pitmatic for the pic! :)
Lough Derg Cross of Saint Patrick Island

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Santas protest the state of roads around Adara:
SANTA'S helpers used every mode of transport imaginable to highlight the difficulties their boss will face to deliver presents in a coastal town.

The surface of the six kilometres stretch of road from Ardaghy to Ardara in west Donegal is so poor that strangers turn around, believing they have taken a wrong turn, according to the Ardara Parish Council.

New "World Class" Breast check center to open at Letterkenny hospital in 2 weeks:
A Donegal cancer group says it’s hopeful that Breast Check will be rolled out in the county early next year. However, Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) believes local people are fortunate to have world class expertise on hand at Letterkenny General Hospital’s new Breast Care Unit, which officially opens in a fortnight.
Speaking to the Letterkenny Post, DACC Chair, Betty Holmes also expressed disappointment at the withdrawal of funding for the Action Cancer Mammography service in Belfast, which women from across Donegal have been availing of for the past year.

And the Pork contamination issue has affected jobs in Glenties. I'm not sure from the article what the long term prospects for the owners and employees at the factory there, but maybe we should think of getting a nice Donegal Ham to eat on Boxing Day:
All 30 factory floor workers at Glenside Bacon in Glenties in Donegal were on protective notice by yesterday evening.

Director John Molloy said his business faced ruin if he was forced to dispose of over 10,000 hams in storage.

Pig farmers in the northwest were thrown a small lifeline with news that a processor in the North was back in business. Donegal farmer, PJ McMonagle, said the reopening of Grant's factory, which has a large number of suppliers south of the Border, would get the ball rolling again ...

An arson attack at St. Johnston's Presbyterian church's community hall leads to €30,000 in damages when the chair-lift for wheel-chair users was set on fire:
A PRESBYTERIAN church faces a repair bill of up to €30,000 after a weekend arson attack on its community hall. Vandals set fire to a disabled chair-lift at the hall in the village of St Johnston in Co Donegal.Local church member Ian McCracken said he did not believe the attack was sectarian. "I think it was vandalism but unfortunately the vandalism seems to us to be a bit more directed towards Protestant property

The fellas who did that deserve lumps of coal for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Miller's Hill Development!

Looks like Michael Kelly's development on Miller's Hill (behind the car park) is really taking a chunk out of Miller's Hill. Anyone remember sledging down the hill in the winter-time (on fertlizer bags)?

Thanks to Mark Fearon Photographer on Flickr for the pic:

Big hole in Donegal

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Fears of heroin in rural areas with Killybegs being mentioned as a "hot" spot:
A brief survey by the Sunday Independent last week indicated that north Donegal appears to be one of the few places that heroin had not taken hold ... Fishing towns and villages are being hit by the drug, as young men involved in the fishing industry, from Killybegs in Donegal to Duncannon in Wexford, appear particularly badly affected.

Fear-mongering or a real problem?

Donegal man to try and live without money for a year:
Starting tomorrow, Boyle, now living in Bristol, plans to "put his potatoes where his mouth is" and become the ultimate "freeconomist", living entirely off the land and the waste products of society. Fuelled by unshakeable idealism - and his conviction that money really is the root of all evil, or at least the root cause of the profligate wastefulness of society - Boyle is determined to complete this seemingly impossible experiment.

Financial regulator says YOU could save up to 400e on your house insurance:
Consumers can save up to €400 a year by shopping around for home insurance, according to the latest cost comparison from the Financial Regulator.

Homeowners can also avail of a wide range of discounts on insurance by providing as much information as possible, the regulator has advised.

Mary O’Dea, consumer director, said consumers may not be aware of the range of discounts available from some companies. These include discounts: for having no previous claims, or being claims-free for five years; if someone over 50 is living in the house; for non-smokers; having an alarm; and having home and motor insurance with the same company.

Go to for more details, and the Irish Times has more coverage

The HSE had provided funding that was used to pay for screening with a Belfast based charity. This has been pulled and will be replaced with a service called BreastCheck later in 2009.

... " We provided additional appointments over and above our appointments to Northern Ireland women – our core service users - to assist the HSE to meet the needs of some Donegal women as an interim arrangement. We appreciate that news that the service has been withdrawn by the HSE will come as a disappointment to many women in Donegal."
Local TD Joe McHugh said this was just another example of the promised 'integrated health service' between North and South simply not happening.
He commented: "Action Cancer provided a service for women, irrespective of age. It was a great service in that the strategy was based on early detection. BreastCheck is to be rolled out next year but unless you are a woman aged between 40-54 you will not be screened. There will be many women outside this age group who will be very concerned about this decision."

More coverage from the Irish Times.

And more on the budget crunch stuff, 2 Coast Guard stations will not be closed:
Malin Head and Valentia Coast Guard stations have been saved from threatened closure.
More from the Indo:
Fianna Fáil TD Cecilia Keaveney campaigned to keep the coastguard station open.

She said: "The people recognised how important this facility was, and it was terribly important as a signal from the government as to whether there was a future for Inishowen and the wider Donegal area.

"If they were going to close down something because it was impossible to upgrade it then that was going to be a terribly bad sign for our infrastructure."

And Arranmore's lifeboat station celebrated 150 years of service:
The crew of the Arranmore lifeboat spent Saturday out at sea on a training exercise and at 6am yesterday morning they responded to a medical emergency, fetching a doctor from the mainland to attend to a sick person on the island.

But by yesterday afternoon it was the turn of the 560 islanders to show up and demonstrate their appreciation for the voluntary service, which was established on the island in 1883 with funding from a Dublin clergyman who requested that a lifeboat station be established on the coast of Donegal.

Last year the boat was launched 51 times and 55 lives were saved making it the busiest lifeboat station in Ireland.

Monday, December 08, 2008


OK, first a funny news story for a change! A Donegal man got in trouble in Oz, he and a friend were at a car race, enjoyed a few beers, and took the pace car for a spin around the track! :)
A 24-year-old Donegal man will front court on December 16 charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after he and a friend, also believed to be from Donegal, took a joyride in a pace car at a recent harness racing meeting in the town of Williams, Western Australia.

The two men were believed to be heavily inebriated when they took it upon themselves to run onto the track and commandeer the pace car which they then proceeded to take twice around the track while waving at the crowd.

“These two guys were at the races and they had a skinful of drink on them when they thought it would be a good idea to take the pace car for a spin for a laugh.

Everyone's shopping across the border, Derry loves it, Donegal shopkeepers feel like they've gotten a lump of coal for Christmas:
Derry's City Centre manager Sean Trainor said that one in five visitors were coming from from Donegal and further afield. He added: "This is expected to rise to one in four in the coming weeks. The strong exchange rate is expected to continue and businesses are cashing in on that at the moment.

RGDATA, THE group representing family-owned grocery stores, has sought an emergency meeting with Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan over sharp falls in its members' business caused by cross-Border shopping, writes Paul Cullen , Consumer Affairs Correspondent

It says retailers in Border counties in the Republic are facing a crisis because shoppers have taken their custom northwards, lured by the promise of cheaper prices. Shops in towns close to the Border have lost up to half their business, it claims.

... "Retailers in Border areas feel that the Government has one hand extended seeking extra taxes, levies and higher rates, while the other hand is throttling their ability to compete with businesses just 10 miles up the road due to Government-imposed tax increases."

Bernard Farren, a convenience store owner in Buncrana, Co Donegal, told The Irish Times that west Donegal was decimated by the flow of shoppers spending their money in Derry and Coleraine.

"Big stores in Letterkenny are so empty, they've become frightening places," he said. It was "absurd" that the Government was increasing the VAT rate when consumers were retreating from spending. "Then there is the added attraction of retailers discounting early with some products down by 40 per cent, making the city an even bigger attraction to bargain hunters."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Medical Hall

Great pic from Mark Thompson, on Flickr, of the tile outside the Central Hotel. Back when the Central was a Chemist?

Donegal Town 1
Originally uploaded by Mark Thompson Design

Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's that time of year

It's winter!

Frozen Bog Puddle

Update on the Astoria Ballroom Fire

The Donegal Post report that Gardaí suspect someone start the fire and say they are close to finding out whom are a groups of "youths" are who were seen acting suspiciously just before the fire started:
Gardai are closing in on louts suspected of causing a €1.5 million blaze that destroyed the old Astoria ballroom in Bundoran – one of the best-known dance halls during Ireland’s showband era.
A number of people have been questioned and gardai said yesterday(Tues) that they are “following a definite line if inquiry.”
Two firemen, Damon Fergus and Tommy Hourihan, were treated in hospital for minor burns suffered while fighting flames which leaped more than 30 feet into the air.
Fireman from Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Donegal town and Belleek took several hours to bring the blaze under control. Flames re-ignited in the smouldering and had to be damped down again on Sunday evening. Garda forensic experts have examined the scene.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The roads are wile bad! Updated

If your driving be careful, there seems to be a load of black ice on the roads:

And with many collisions, and cars just going off the roads:

And a bad, bad accident in the Gap in the (Friday) morning:

Update from RTE, a 24 year old was killed in the accident:

News, and Xmas lights! :)

Christine has great pics of the Xmas lights on the Diamond, and of the big demonstration in town the other day:

News coverage of the demonstration from various news sources:
More than 6,000 teachers, parents and pupils marched through the town on Saturday in support of the campaign against what successive speakers called "draconian measures" recently announced by the Government.

Protesters, including dozens of retired teachers, marched past Tánaiste Mary Coughlan's main constituency office on their way to the town-centre rally in The Diamond. They carried hundreds of banner proclaiming "Hands off class size" and "Don't make children pay" ...

Former minister of state Pat the Cope Gallagher, the Tánaiste's Fianna Fáil Donegal South West constituency colleague, was among the marchers but he didn't join the platform party.

He said: "I want to gauge the level of concerns and bring that back to the Minister for Education. I feel it's the very best I owe my constituents. I want him to know how the cuts are affecting people."

More coverage at:
'We as a society are not prepared to sacrifice our children's Education because of the greed of developers during the Celtic Tiger years'
A massive crowd of between 7 and 10,000 people marched through the streets of the town against the cuts which include the pupil/teacher ratio being increased,book grants axed, and substitution cover for teachers being abolished. The effect of these cuts will mean further hardship for pupils and also for families already under pressure from the economic downturn.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmasy Stuff!

A list of a heap of Christmasy things to do around Donegal this year:

Pablo the eskimo (an expensive Christmas oranment) was stolen from Bundoran, but the theives had a change of heart and returned it. A case of goodwill after a bad deed, or scared the Gardai were closing in?
... Pablo the painter and worth €3,000, with Santa Park boss Michelle Wilmot in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Pablo was recovered shortly before midnight on Thursday following a phone call by one of its "kidnappers" to Michelle at her home in Bundoran.

She followed the caller's directions and found Pablo, covered with waterproof wrapping, near public toilets at St Aidan's Catholic Church, five kilometres away in Kinlough, Co Leitrim.

His left hand was broken and lay alongside him in the package, but Michelle said it was possible to repair the figure.

The discovery ended a five-day search for Pablo after youths broke into the Bundoran Santa Park, and took the eskimo away from the toy he was painting in a scene along with three other helpers at the entrance to the Santa grotto.

"The thieves must have felt the heat was on after all the publicity. I got the call from a man -- he sounded quite young -- and he told me where to go. I told him I was glad they were returning the figure and I hoped they realised that what they did was very wrong.

"There was a message with Pablo saying they were mortified by what they did, that it was a drunken prank that got out of control. They offered to make a donation to the charity which benefits from the park, Irish Autism Action," said Michelle ...

News! Updated!

Donegal man wins the Polar Express Half Marathon:
It is minus 15 degrees. The snow on the ice cap is 75cm thick and the hills are agony. This is Greenland. This is torturous. Conor McLaughlin had begun training for the Polar Circle Half Marathon back in May. The 30-year-old had been running for about six years and had decided to up the ante somewhat.
Update: He's from Inver:
When Inver man Conor McLaughlin began his training for the Polar Circle Half Marathon back in May, nothing could have prepared him for what lay in store when he eventually landed in Greenland.
Well done Conor! :)

People are surging across the border to buy petrol:
A strong euro has sent motorists flocking to petrol stations on the Strabane side of the border, with some pumps recording a massive 500 percent increase in sales over the past month.

For the first time in almost a decade, fuel traders in the north are competing with their southern rivals and are once again enticing punters away from forecourts across the border.

The Travellers Rest Petrol Station at Lifford Road dropped its prices to just 85.9p per litre of petrol, up to ten pence cheaper than some parts of Donegal. The price compares favourably even to retail giants such as Asda who announced a cut in prices to 90.0p per litre.

More about rebuilding railways in Donegal:
In 2007, Donegal County Council allocated a small budget to allow preliminary investigations into the possibility of extending Ireland's train network to Tyrone and Donegal to begin.

Following that initial probe, the Council is now hoping to establish a feasibility study and eventually a business plan with a view to attracting funding for the ambitious project. Recently they began lobbying local authorities for £30,000 each to put the feasibility study together.

Dinny was "kicked" out of the Dail for protesting the closure of the Army barracks in the Northern part of the County:
Dinny McGinley (FG, Donegal South-West) furiously accused Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea of trying to play politics with the Army and repeatedly demanded that he prove whether he is "a man or a mouse", by visiting the barracks in Rockhill and Lifford, two of the four barracks in the Border area to be closed, involving the transfer of 650 troops.
More from the Letterkenny Post:

Eirgrid is planning on improving the electrical infrastructure of the county with a new 100KM power line:
EIRGRID IS to lodge a planning application within two weeks for a new high-voltage power line in Co Donegal.

The 100km line from south of Killybegs to Letterkenny is one of a series of regional upgrades for which EirGrid is to seek planning permission over coming years as part of its strategy to double the capacity of its network.

The Donegal Post has much more details:
The Y-shaped connection – running 66 kilometres towards Letterkenny and 33 kms on the Glenties-Gweedore spur - is one of a series of regional upgrades for which EirGrid is to seek planning permission over coming years as part of its strategy to double the capacity of its network.
At 110KV, the proposed new line is one of the lower capacity lines ESB/Eirgrid are hoping to install. There are already two 110KV lines linking the northwest to Northern Ireland - one from Letterkenny to Strabane and one from Corraclassy, Co Cavan, to Enniskillen.
ESB/Eirgrid says the line, to be carried from Binbane on seven-metre high wooden poles and steel pylons, will provide extra capacity in the northwest and facilitate domestic and local development in County Donegal ...
The new planning bid follows rejection of another application six years ago.
That proposal was turned down following objections by the Alternative To Pylons(ATP) lobby group.
The group said it is renewing its objections to the Glenties-Gweedore spur in the new application but not to the line to Letterkenny. Members of the group last night(Tues) quizzed ESB/Eirgrid staff who made a presentation to locals in Dore Community Centre.
ATP spokesperson Deirdre Brennan said: “The ESB and Eirgrid have been running to An Bord Pleanala seeking advice on their plans. It’s like the Bord was being used as a consultant. “We’re only now getting to see the proposal but so far as ATP is concerned it’s more of the same old same old.”
She claimed the spur to Glenties and Gweedore will create major environmental damage which could be avoided if the line was installed underground.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Astoria in Bundoran is gone!

I saw this earlier in the week but didn't have time to post it, but Sean sent it on to me so I thought I'd better post it! The old Astoria Ballroom in Bundoran burned down over the weekend. The Garda think it might have been started and are looking for youth seen acting "suspiciously" nearby shortly before the fire started. Many, many, many, bands or showbands played there over the years, and Meatloaf played there on his first trip to Bundoran in 1990 (he came back this year and played in a big tent off Astoria Road).

I'm sure many's of you auld ones have memories of going clubbing there! I'd never been there meself, actually I don't think I've ever been out in Bundoran? I guess I should rectify that at some point.

Garda probe after famous dancehall gutted in blaze:
GARDAI are investigating the cause of two weekend fires, one of which destroyed one of the country's best-known dancehalls.

The Old Astoria Ballroom in Bundoran, Co Donegal, which is owned by well-known hotelier and football manager Brian McEniff, was gutted by the blaze ... two firemen were treated in hospital for minor burns suffered while fighting flames, which at one stage were leaping 30 feet into the air.

Fireman from Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Donegal town and from across the border in Belleek, Co Fermanagh, took several hours to bring the blaze under control after it broke out shortly before 11.20pm on Saturday night.... The fire was reported by revellers on their way home from nearby pubs when they saw smoke pouring from beneath the doors of the famous dancehall which had been closed since 2006.

A spokesman for Bundoran fire service said that by the time the first crew arrived in less than six minutes "the whole building was ablaze".

Gardai are investigating reports that some youths were seen acting suspiciously near the building a short time before the blaze was reported. Owner Brian McEniff, manager of Donegal's 1992 All Ireland GAA champions, said: "Gardai ordered a number of youths away from the area the night before and some more were reported in the vicinity not long before the fire."

More from the BBC:
And the Irish Times:
Gardai are investigating reports that youths were seen acting suspiciously near the building a short time before the fire broke out. The building had been closed since 2006 when part of it was used as a bar.

Anyone got any tails or stories to tell about the Astoria or going to the Astoria? Or anyone got any pics I can post?

Irish Showbands has an old pic of it, looks like it might have been a postcard?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Town as seen from The Old Castle

When I was home in September I stopped into The Castle to say hello to Christina. And I took a few pics while I was there!

First one is looking onto the Diamond:

Next is looking out the back toward the Post Office and The Gap:

And one taken from the Castle Grounds onto Bridge Street:

And not forgetting one of the Castle:

As you can see the weather was pretty good, it was sunny most of the time I was home. There were a few wee showers, but nothing major until I headed up to Dublin where it was just bucking lashing.