Donegal Beaches Best in Ireland
County Donegal, on the fabulous north west coast of Ireland has retained all our 13 Blue Flag Beach awards making it the Irish county with the most Blue Flag Beaches 2013 (see below for Blue Flag criteria).
The Donegal beaches achieving this prestigious award 2013 are: Bundoran, Carrickfinn, Culdaff, Downings, Killahoey (Dunfanaghy), Lisfannon (Buncrana), Marblehill, Murvagh, Fintra, Narin/Portnoo), Portsalon, Rossnowlagh, and Shroove.
County Donegal has hundreds and hundreds of miles of coastline and probably more beaches than any other county in Ireland. There are sandy beaches dotted all along our coastline: some tiny, hidden away gems for you to discover; others huge swathes of silvery golden sand where one can walk for miles enjoying the fresh, unpolluted sea air and scenery.
There are beaches known for their beauty: Ballymastocker beach on the Fanad peninsula was once voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world; others known for their superb surfing; others for their family suitability with gentle seas lapping their shores; and others just waiting to be discovered.
Time to head to Donegal to enjoy just a few of these beaches ~ there are way too many to get to see in a week or even a fortnight. But of course that is always an excuse to return!
SLIDESHOW OF JUST SOME OF DONEGAL'S BEACHES
CRITERIA FOR BLUE FLAG BEACH AWARD
):"1) Environmental Education and Information
Information about the Blue Flag must be displayed.
Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
Information relating to local eco-systems and environmental phenomena must be displayed.
A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed.
A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed.
2) Water Quality
The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis.
No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter faecal coli bacteria (E.coli) and intestinal enterococci/streptococci.
The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical and chemical parameters.
3) Environmental Management
The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach.
The beach must be clean.
Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach.
Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained.
Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided.
The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean.
The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal.
There should be no unauthorised camping, driving or dumping of waste on the beach.
Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled.
All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained.
Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored.
A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area.
4) Safety and Services
An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach.
First aid equipment must be available on the beach.
Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place.
There must be management of beach users and events to prevent conflicts and accidents.
There must be safety measures in place to protect beach users.
A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach.
At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have wheelchair and accessibility features.
Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality."
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
TRADITIONAL IRISH SODA BREAD
One of the many lovely memories I have of being on my holidays in Donegal as a child is the older people making bread. My grandmother, my aunts, and my grandfather’s cousins would bake one or two scones (as they were called soda bread) a day. It always seemed a very social occasion as there were always people around, chatting whilst the work was done. The chatting was mostly in Gaelic (Irish) of course and although I could scarcely understand a word they said, I nonetheless enjoyed those times.
The best part of course was getting to eat the results. My grandmother used to tell me not to eat it until it had cooled but I would and believe me, there is little that tastes as yummy as warm scone with a slather of homemade butter dripping off it (and probably down your chin)!
That was the other thing that made the scone so delicious ~ the liberal use of real homemade butter: salty and soft and delicious stuff it was too. After the butter was made ~ a job that involved a lot of churning of the milk and a job that anyone who happened to be around (visitors included) would get a turn doing as the conversation went on, what was left after the chunks of butter were removed was basically buttermilk and would be used to make the scones.
My grandmother and aunts would fashion the butter with butter paddles (wooden, ridged small paddle like instruments) into pretty shapes and patterns. I used to love doing this ~ producing the most oddly shaped lumps of butter I am sure. Nowadays it is very difficult to get good homemade butter. I was most excited some time back to find a local shop was selling homemade butter. I bought some immediately and came home impatient to try it. It was awful. Lardy and pale and not at all like my grandmother’s homemade butter. It went in the bin.
Sometimes now I will use a butter curler and make little curls of butter that somewhat resemble some of the designs my grandmother and aunts used for their butter. Of course it will never taste the same but it just reminds me of my childhood. (If you too would like to waste some time making butter curls just get yourself a butter curler, dip it in a mug of hot water and lightly drag it along a pound of butter to get little curls of butter).
As a child my grandmother very rarely (if indeed ever) made her scones (bread) using wholemeal flour. In those days if they wanted a brown scone they would have used roughly 3 parts white flour and 1 part bran. Nowadays we use wholemeal flour generally with some white flour to lighten it.
I mainly remember white scone and the delicious current scone where a handful or two of currants, sultanas or raisins would be added to the dry mix prior to the buttermilk going in. My grandmother had a big range in her kitchen and the scones would be baked in there but in earlier times in Ireland the scone would have been baked in a lidded pot over an open fire. Even in later years I remember my great-uncle baking his scones in a pan with a lid on top of his range ~ he maintained it tasted better.
So back to making a scone. There are a number of things you need to know before you begin.
The two most important things you should know is that you must work very quickly once the buttermilk is added to the dry ingredients and to handle the dough as little as possible and NEVER kneed it. I put the dry ingredients into the bowl, have my baking tray beside me floured and ready to go, and the oven heated to the correct temperature so ensuring that in probably less than a minute after I have added the buttermilk to the dry ingredients the scone is in the oven.
I pile the dry ingredients into the bowl, make a dip in the middle and pour in most of the buttermilk then instead of using my hands I cut through it with a dinner knife until the mix is coming together. I then put a little wholemeal flour on my hands and bring the mixture together and put it into my baking tray where I fashion it into a slightly flattened circle. Then I quickly cut a cross in the top using a bread or serrated knife and straight into the oven (this allows the bread to expand beautifully in the oven).
Toward the end of baking (about 5 minutes from the end) I turn the scone over in the oven to make sure it is cooked through.
Once the scone is baked (tap it on the bottom and it should make a hollow sound), I wrap a clean, dampened tea towel around it to ensure the crust is not too hard.
NOTE: Many people find it hard to get buttermilk to make a scone (loaf of soda bread) and this is a problem because the bread really does benefit from it’s use. I ran out of buttermilk one day and hadn’t time to go to the shops to get more so I improvised and it worked out pretty damned well. Of course I had read suggestions before about adding vinegar to milk and the like but none of the ideas I had seen appealed to so I simply used natural yoghurt (which tastes a little like buttermilk) and added milk to it to thin it down a little.
Traditionally none of the variety of extras you see in recipes today would have formed any part of the recipe. Eggs were used to eat not to add into a bread mix; butter most would most certainly not have been added; and nor would sugar either. So my recipe sticks to what would have been the ingredients in traditional Irish soda bread. And the recipe below is so simple and quick and so delicious that you might be tempted never to buy shop bread again!TRADITIONAL IRISH SODA BREAD
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes INGREDIENTS
12 oz (340 g) wholemeal flour
4 oz (113 g) plain white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Bextartar (Cream of Tartar)
12 fl oz (354 ml) of buttermilk (or if not available, use natural yoghurt thinned a little with milk)
For other conversions go HERE
NOTE: I don’t add salt to my mix as I think the baking soda is salty enough but others may prefer to add a pinch of salt. UTENSILS
Dinner knife (to mix the ingredients rather than your hands)
Bread knife or other serrated knife to cut the dough
Dampened tea towel (I use a glass cloth as there is no lint on it. I put it under the tap and then wring out with my hands and it is ready for use) METHOD
1. Heat the oven to 180 c (350 f)
2. Have your baking tray floured and ready to use
3. Place all the dry ingredients (wholemeal flour, white flour, teaspoon of Bextartar, teaspoon of bread soda) into your bowl
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients
5. Pour in most of the buttermilk and mix with the knife, cutting through it to bind it together
6. If needed use the rest of the buttermilk ~ you want a mix that is soft but not dry
7. Put a little flour on your hands and press the dough together
8. Place on the baking tray and fashion into a slightly flattened circle
9. Cut a cross through the dough to a depth of about quarter of an inch
10. Place the pan into the oven immediately and set the timer for 40 minutes
11. After 40 minutes turn the bread over for the final five minutes
12. After 45 minutes tap the bread on the bottom to make sure there is a hollow sound which tells you the bread is ready
13. Wrap the scone in the dampened tea towel and place on a cooling wrack until cold
14. If making, now is the time to make your butter curls!
Please be prepared for your walk up Errigal this Sunday (3rd of March 2013) for the 2nd Annual Errigal Tweet Up
The Donegal Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT) has been informed of this event and each walker should ensure they are fully equipped and ready for the Errigal tweet up. Brian Murray o
While is most likely, and certainly hoped, no incidents will occur, walkers should still be aware and ready. Many more accidents happen coming down the mountain than going up so ensure maximum care is taken and pace yourself accordingly. Do NOT spend too long on top of Errigal and if cold it is best to take lunch at a stone shelter there.
Injuries, if they do occur, tend to be ankle or knee injuries which may require stretcher extraction. DMRT will do a stretcher carry off if necessary and/or have the Sligo S61 Helicopter assist if available. More serious injuries obviously require swift extraction of the injured person.The DMRT Duty number is 0871310055 and should be called if an injury/ medical emergency occurs. Make a note of this number and keep it with you on the day. 112 & 999 are emergency numbers too and the caller should ask for "Donegal Mountain Rescue Team" when answered.
Each walker should do everything they can to ensure their own safety and use common sense. The following is a list of items/clothes all walkers should have on the day.
RECOMMENDED GEAR IF EVEN IF CONDITIONS GOOD AT ERRICAL CAR PARK
Each person should have the following:
~ Waterproof coat and trousers,
~ Good Boots,
~ Walking socks carry spare pair.
~ Hat and Gloves
~ Fleece midwear
~ Wickable inner wear
~ Cotton not recommended next to skin e.g. T shirts/Jeans, Polyester better
(Walkers can add or take off clothing as conditions dictate).
~ Flask with hot beverage
~ Some food,
~ Walking Stick
~ Small ruck sack
The old church ruins
Do you believe in ghosts?
I am not sure whether I do or not. However, something we caught on camera some years back makes me wonder.
Outside Letterkenny, near Gartan and the birthplace of Donegal’s saint, St. Colmcille, we were taking photographs of the old church ruins there together with the graveyard, the Holy Well of St. Colmcille and of course the views.
The land there was given to St. Colmcille in the 6th century by his friends and neighbours and here in the 6th century he built a monastery. Nowadays the only remaining parts are bits of the old boundary walls. It is here too that many of the O’Donnell Chieftains are buried. The ruins of the old church contains some slab stone graves together with a small alter where people leave rosary beads and the like whilst saying prayers for the owners of the trinkets left, asking for blessings for the person. The church itself was probably built by Manus O’Donnell in the 16th century.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon with a crystal clear blue sky and I was up at the top of the graveyard taking photographs and enjoying the fabulous views over Lough Akkibon below.
My husband was down at the old church taking photographs and after a while he called me down to check something out.
I made my way down through the graves to the church below and my husband. He held out his camera to show me the screen on it.
There on the screen was what appeared to be a ghostly figure.
We were a bit sceptical about it thinking that perhaps the sunshine had caused it.
However he took more photographs and the figure appeared in everyone he took at that one place. I hen stood where he had been standing to take the photographs and nothing appeared on my screen other than the church behind.
We did this for a little while, taking it in turns to photograph the same picture over and over again and the exact same thing happened each time: the figure appeared on his screen but not on mine.
Below is two of the photographs ~ one with the "ghost" and the other taken by me from the same spot, without.
So, is it a ghost? You decide.
Errigal Tweet Up Time!
It's time for the 2nd Annual Errigal Tweet-Up folks!
Once again a group of people will take part in the highest tweet-up in Ireland walking up the highest mountain in County Donegal, Errigal. Errigal stands 2,464 feet (751 meters) high so this is no mean feat!
This year funds will be raised in aid of The Mark Pollock Trust. (@mpollocktrust) and your old mobile phones accepted for The Little Angels School in Letterkenny. Non-climbers can help raise money by bringing their old mobile phones (more below).
A little about Mark from his website The Mark Pollock Trust
"For over a decade Mark Pollock was known as an inspiration, an adventure athlete competing in the world’s harshest environments despite being completely blind.
As part of regaining his identity after losing his sight he chose to take on spectacular challenges. He has survived the sub-zero temperatures of Antarctica as he raced to the South Pole over 43 days. He suffered the scorching heat of the Gobi Desert, completing six marathons in one week in “The Race of No Return”. He has competed in races on the frozen Arctic Ocean at the North Pole, through the desert lowlands of the Syrian African Rift Valley to the Dead Sea and at altitude at Everest base camp. He also has two Commonwealth Games medals for rowing under his belt.
In mid-2010, Mark’s business was thriving with a full calendar of motivational speaking events ahead. He was in the process of writing his second book and he was due to be married.
On the night of the 2nd of July 2010 everything changed. He fell from a second story window fracturing his skull, some ribs and breaking his back in a number of places. Mark was taken to intensive care where injuries such as bleeds on his brain and a suspected torn aorta one by one healed becoming less and less significant beside the fact that Mark could not feel or move anything below his belly button. An MRI confirmed damage to his spinal cord where two of his vertebrae had burst in the fall. Mark was transferred to the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville in England, where spinal surgeons stabilized the bones in his spine with metal rods.
Mark spent 7 months suffering an onslaught of kidney and heart infections, which brought weeks of temperatures and pain and a 3 stone weight loss. Mark’s bones eventually healed but medicine can do nothing to repair a damaged spinal cord and Mark was discharged to The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Ireland in February 2011
The climb will also benefit The Little Angels School in Letterkenny who supply a much needed and valuable place for children and young people with learning difficulties. From The Little Angels
"Little Angels School is a multi-denominational school which caters for students with moderate, severe and profound learning disabilities and students with Autism. Pupils range in age from 3-18 years. There are twelve classes, five junior (4-12yrs approx.) and five senior (12-18yrs). Little Angels School also has a Pre-school for pupils with Autism
Climbers and hikers can bring along their old mobile phones and the money raised from selling them will go to The Little Angels School.
Even if you are not doing the climb you could come along to the carpark any time between 12 noon and 4pm and give in your old mobile phone ~ maybe even gather up old phones from friends and relatives and bring them too ~ every cent raised for The Little Angels is desperately needed so let's all row in and help by bringing our old phones.
Slimming World Consultants will be providing the climbers/hikers with what will be a very welcome warm & healthy soup and some of their members will even be attempting the climb.
The Mountain Rescue members will be in attendance.Please tweet this blogpost to your followers (adding @Errigaltweetup to your tweet) and link it to your facebook page so that as many people as possible join in.
My blogpost on last year's (the first) Errigal Tweet-Up HERE
Directions to the meeting point in the carpark below Errigal HERE
START AT: The carpark at the foot of Errigal
DAY & DATE: Sunday, 3rd March 2013
TIME: 12 noon
Any further information TEL: 086-3540300
NOTE: Everyone takes part at their own risk.
"A Wile Goose Chase"
A great idea for raising funds for Cancer Care and Coronary Care took place in Inishowen on Sunday and Monday this week (2nd and 3rd of December).
Early on Sunday morning, a very cold wintry morning I might add, we got up and got ourselves organised for a day out photographing and filming the "The Wile Goose Chase"
Arriving at the tiny hamlet of Glengad just before 12.30 when the walk was to begin, we were met by a small crowd of local people who had turned up to support the walk.
I spoke to one of the organiser, Majella McDaid to find out how it all came about and she told me of two local people who had died at the start of this year, one from cancer and one from a heart attack. The small community was saddened by their loss but instead of wallowing in their sadness they decided to turn it into a positive and the idea for fund raising began.
They ran a barndance, an American Wake and they bought a number of goose eggs, marked each one with a number and then took bets on which would hatch first. Later they sowed corn which would feed the geese and they had a "Corn Cutting Day" where people came to see how corn would have been cut in days gone by ~ no tractor to pull machinery but rather a very fine young carthorse owned by one of the organisers, John McColgan.
The resultant corn did duly feed the hatched geese, all thirty one of them, and they were raised at an old thatched cottage, the property of Majella McDaid. This thatched cottage now serves as a meeting place for the community to decide on their fund raisers and on Sunday there was a lovely smell of burning turf coming from the old chimney stack on the cottage.
The "Wile Goose Chase" (wile being the pronunciation of wild here in Donegal) was taken from old times too when farmers would walk their geese to market (and in some cases, to boats leaving for the UK). A farmer and his dog would walk his flock of geese the many miles into a local town where there was to be a mart and as in those days, the organisers of the "Wile Goose Chase" prepared their geese for the journey by first walking them through some warm tar and then into sand to give them a kind of rough sole on their feet thus ensuring that their feet would not be sore after such a long walk.
I counted 24 geese gathered and ready for the walk and was told the other seven were taking the easy way to Malin and travelling in the back of an old cart which was being pulled by the carthorse and which would walk with the people gathered the four and a half miles to Malin.
The plan was that the geese would be kept overnight in Malin and complete the final stage of their walk the following day (Monday) to be sold at the mart in Carndonagh and all funds from the sale would go into their fundraising pot ~ which up to the weekend totalled some €18,000!
I noticed the geese were all wearing high-viz tubes on their necks ~ something that seemed to annoy some of them if their pulling at it was anything to go by. I asked Majella was that was about and she said it was to do with the "Be Seen, Be Safe" garda and R.S.A. campaign which encourages people to wear high-viz jackets when out walking.
We stayed around in the freezing cold for a while to take pictures and also film a short interview with me and two of the organisers (we will add this to youtube shortly).
Once they had set off we took ourselves off to nearby Culdaff to have lunch ~ and some very much needed warmth ~ in the famous McGrorys. You can read about that lunch HERE
After a couple of hours we headed over the road to Malin town expecting to be there ahead of the geese and expecting to have to wait around in the cold but were delighted to see they were already there.
On the green in the centre of Malin the geese were enjoying food and water and making much of their arrival back on grass (which geese love) and the addition of feeding & watering. Some of the geese were even attempting, in vain, to get into the water boxes.
There was much flapping of wings and loud "honking" as the geese revelled in their freedom and excited children were running around after them and having photographs taken with them.
The walkers and organisers had mostly all taken themselves off to a local bar where tea and sandwiches awaited but for one of them, John McColgan (jnr) this had to wait as he was left taking care of the carthorse, Dora. The children took the opportunity to be up close to such a big horse and she stood quitely, accepting the tiny hands petting her huge muzzle. I commented on how quiet she was and John confirmed that she is indeed a very docile horse. She had only recently been trained in harness to pull a cart and had taken to it no bother.
It was by now very cold and the rain which had threatened all day but thankfully held off for the walk, began to fall so we took our leave and escaped into the warmth and cover of the car to head back home.
As we were leaving the green in Malin we noticed two people "walking" two tiny ponies out the road and of course, camera every ready, I wanted photos of them. We drove out the road after the girls walking the ponies and asked if I could get photos. They agreed and we pulled over into the carpark beside us to get the pictures.
The ponies are called Barcley and Poncho and were decked out with their Christmas red "reindeer ears" which made them look even cuter than they already are. I asked about the ponies and Bronach McClean (one of their walkers) told me that they are miniature Shetland Ponies and that one is 5 months old and the other 6 months old. Which is roughly the same age as the geese we had just left.
Bronach and her friend Aoife Ferguson (the other girl in charge of the ponies) posed with Barley and Poncho for the photographs and Bronach had a little bother with a rather lively Poncho who seemed to be the naughtier of the two foals, stamping his tiny hoof! (Photographs below the Wile Goose Chase photos below).
So between a "wile goose chase", good food, and Shetland Pony foals we had an unusual but still fun Sunday out here in beautiful Donegal.
UPDATE: The mart. Majella emailed me to tell me that the goose who got the highest bids achieved a remarkable €260.
If you wish to donate to Cancer Care or Coronary Care in Donegal go to the "Wile Goose Chase" facebook page HERE
(Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge).
A google map below shows you the area of County Donegal we were in.
2nd December 2012
Yesterday, on a fairly nippy winter morning we travelled to Glengad, Inishowen to see the start of the ‘Wile Goose Chase’
, a locally organised charity event which involved walking 31 geese the 7 km (4.5 miles) from Glengad to Malin town on the first stage of their trip to market in Carndonagh the following day. After speaking to the organisers and taking photographs we decided to skip the walk and take ourselves off for lunch and being so near Culdaff, where else could we possibly go but the famous McGrory’s.
McGrory’s (bar, restaurant, events venue and hotel), which has been in the same family since 1824, is famous not only for its food and hospitality but for the range of musicians they bring to their “Backroom Bar” which includes many famous bands and singers.
However, it being only 1pm obviously there was no live music, only food (and drink, of course, should you be in the mood). We were promptly brought menus as we settled into a very comfortable seat in the warmth of the old fashioned bar.
There is a Bar Food Menu together with the day’s Specials Board which offers an extra 2 or so starters and mains. All their seafood and meat is locally sourced which is always a good thing in my opinion and especially in County Donegal where we have an abundance of the finest seafood easily available and excellent livestock.
I chose my starter and my main from the Specials Board: ‘Warm Duck Salad’ (€6) and ‘Baked Hake with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto Crumb’ (€16 which includes one side order of choice ~ I chose the mashed potatoes). My husband chose from the Bar Food Menu:’ Seafood Chowder with Brown Bread’ (€6.80) and ‘Bacon & Cabbage with Mashed Potato and Creamy Leek Sauce’ (€12).
The starters range in price from €4 - €9 (the €9 is for half a dozen fresh oysters) and the mains range in price from €10.50 - €22 (steak being the most expensive dish).
After ordering from our very pleasant waitress we sat reading the Sunday papers enjoying the warmth inside while able to look out our window on the wintry day outside. After a short wait out starters arrived.
My duck was tender and super tasty and the salad was fresh and crisp. Of course I had to taste my husband’s seafood chowder and we declared “right up there with the best”. The chowder is packed with fish and shellfish AND the mussels were tender and properly cooked.
Our waitress returned to collect completely empty plates and after a short wait our mains arrived.
My husband’s choice of bacon and cabbage turned out to be a very large portion of slices of bacon steaks, lots of perfectly cooked Savoy cabbage, mashed potato and leek sauce. For €12 this is some dish. In fact as it turned out he was unable to finish it: it would have been enough on it’s own without the starter of seafood chowder ~ but in fairness, we were
starving when we arrived.
My hake was perfectly cooked and topped with pesto flavoured crumbs and sun dried tomatoes. The mashed potato was creamy and tasty and there was also an accompanying small dressed salad on the plate.
After all this food neither of were able for a dessert but had we been able to we could have chosen from a choice of about five desserts all of which are priced at €4.50.
There is a Childrens’ Menu where all dishes are €5 which, very fairly, includes a jug of juice.
There are good options for vegetarians and gluten free dishes are available together with gluten free bread which is not something you see on many menus.
McGrory's also have a separate restaurant which opens on a Friday and Saturday night during the season but only on a Saturday night off season. I had a quick look at the dinner menu (served 6pm – 9pm) and the starters range from €4.75 - €8.95 and the mains €12.50 - €21.95.
McGory’s is wheelchair friendly (bar etc. on ground floor and a lift to the bedrooms) and has a separate loo for wheelchair access.
The bill for our lunch, including one cappuccino, came to €44.60.
I can guarantee you will not leave McGrory’s either hungry or feeling fleeced: their food delivers and delivers at a very reasonable price too.
McGrory’s TEL: + 353-74-9379104
email: firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE
(Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge).
The 'Made In Donegal' crew on Rathmullan Beach
A group of students from Ohio University in the USA came to Donegal this summer specifically to make a documentary on Donegal and the countys relationship with growing and producing good and sustainable food for our people and for use in our eateriers.
The photograph to the left here shows the crew of 'Made in Donegal' taken on Rathmullan Beach. From the left: Matt Monachino, Amanda Olszewski, Joey Buccini, Sonya Paclob and Kelly Matousek. (Photograph courtesy of Kelly Matousek).
The documentary, Made In Donegal, is an informative and beautifully filmed production and well worth a watch. And of course I agree with their statement: "Donegal should be a destination for visitors to the country as well as for people who are looking for fresh ingredients.
Kelly Matousek, the producer of 'Made In Donegal' gave me the background to how this film came about:
"Through Ohio University in the United States, twenty students were split up into four separate production teams and studied abroad in Co. Donegal, Ireland over the summer of 2012. With past ties to the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny, program director Frederick Lewis organized this program where students would be expected to create a short documentary in six weeks and tell a story about the topic of their choice. Co-director Sam Girton and teaching assistant Annette Drapac were also along for the ride and participated in eight orientation sessions with the students before leaving for Ireland. During these orientation sessions, students were able to meet each other, create friendships and discover who was interested in similar topics.
Made In Donegal is a short documentary film that focuses on the local food culture and economy throughout County Donegal. It focuses on some of the county's local producers, buyers, and local advocates for the rebuilding of a sustainable food model in the county. Ohio University is located in Athens, Ohio and is in a location where local food is growing in importance to the community. The six students, including Sonya Paclob, Amanda Olszewski, Matt Monachino, Kelly Matousek, Joey Buccini, and Alex Bolinger, grew a love for this movement because of its similarities to Athens and truly connected with the cast of the film.
After all of their hard work, the students believe that Donegal should be a destination for visitors to the country as well as for people who are looking for fresh ingredients. From country markets to top class restaurants, Made in Donegal is a film that not only presents facts about County Donegal, but also reveals the massive potential for the county’s future in food. Kelly Matousek, a producer and camera assistant for Made in Donegal, honestly believes that Ireland has some of the most accommodating and passionate people she has ever met. Released three days ago, the film can be found online for anyone to watch and for everyone to share. The students are working on showing this film in various theatres in Donegal as well as the Athens International Film Festival in 2013. Please support the group's production, watch the film at www.facebook.com/MadeinDonegal, and enjoy
Click on the link and sit back and enjoy seeing views of beautiful County Donegal together with seeing the produce of Donegal and the people who advocate and support the production of good food and produce available to us all in Donegal.
Made in Donegal crew enjoying Rathmullan Beach (Photo: Karen Matousek)
Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere
A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to someone who was telling me all about gold panning in Donegal. It seems it is the latest fun thing to do. Of course me being me, I am always hugely interested in things to do in Donegal, try them out and then write about them.
I loved the idea of gold panning and it’s not as bonkers an idea as some might think. According to surveys carried out Ireland is very rich in gold and Donegal has the highest presence of it.
So we purchased two gold panning dishes, loaded the car with other bits and bobs to assist us in our gold panning (see “THINGS TO TAKE WITH YOU” below).
We took an old road we found between Glencolmcille and Ardara and drove along there until we found a river. The main idea of taking the old road I have to admit is that I didn’t want to be standing beside a river panning for gold and loads of cars going by, occupants gazing out and thinking “bonkers!”.
Our gold panning river
As it happened we picked the perfect spot. In the hour or so we were there only two cars passed by and each time I grabbed my camera and pretended to be engrossed in photographing the pretty stream there. Mind you, what they thought of me standing IN the river in my wellies as opposed to standing on the dry banking to take photographs can only be imagined. That said, I got some very nice photographs taken from the middle of the river.
"Mr. Grumpy" gold panning
You know the saying “the grass on the other side is always greener”? Well I had that thought after a while panning on one side of the river and decided that the other side might be better. Luckily it wasn’t a very deep river, more of a big stream really. So of course I had to get to the other side to see if I would have better luck there.
I grabbed husbands arm and asked him to escort me over. He was not amused at being dragged away from the spot he had chosen but he gave in and off we went. At-a-very-very-slow-pace. The stones were very slippy beneath our feet and my tightening grip on his arm caused even more grumbling from himself.
Then of course in the middle of the river the water was much deeper and I was seriously in danger of getting a couple of wellies full of water. I decided I might just go back to the banking I had just left.
The grumbling grew louder and he insisted that as I had dragged him away from his spot I would not just continue to the other side!
So there I am, in the middle of this rushing river, slipping all over the place, clutching for dear life on to the arm of a very annoyed husband, my gold panning dish in the other arm and my beloved camera around my neck causing me huge stress that I might slip and it would get wet. And I can only imagine the expletives that would come from the mouth of himself were that to have happened. Not I might add about me getting soaked but rather first, the damage to the camera, then his getting drenched. And of course it would all be my fault. Well I might have been slightly to blame I suppose.
Luckily however we made it to the other side safe and dry. Only for me to decide that I liked the first side better. You can imagine what he said when I mentioned this.
Half way across I dropped my panning dish! Well you try crossing a slippery bottomed river strewn with a variety of rocks in your wellies whilst clutching your panning dish and an angry husband and terrified of slipping lest you drop your precious camera!
Off it sailed down the river as I watched, unable to dash after it lest I slipped and toppled in. Mr. Grumpy, for that is the name I gave him during our to-ing and fro-ing, abandoned me and took off after it catching it when it got lodged in some rushes at the side of the river.
Gold panning with gusto!
Safely back to our original spot and harmony somewhat restored, I began panning with gusto. I had thought the water would be freezing but it was actually warm.
I had been planning to take my Marigolds with me in case the water was cold but my husband pointed out that my fears of looking bonkers would come true were someone to pass and see me in a river with bright yellow rubber gloves on. I suppose he had a point.
Things were going well, but then we were attacked!
They came from nowhere, unnoticed at first, until their savage bites alerted us.
We stood up from our bent panning position to see thousands, well dozens, of tiny midges who had honed in on the mobile feasts who had arrived with signs we couldn’t see but clearly declared loudly to them “DINNER!”.
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! We made a note that next time we would have insect repellent with us.
After a while you sort of get used to being eaten alive and we continued with our gold panning a while longer.
Tiny bits of gold. And some pebbles!
I got really excited (as I do!) at one point when I found a large gold nugget. Until my husband pointed out that it was just a stone. I insisted it was a gold nugget. Sadly, he was right. But it did look like a gold nugget to my over-enthusiastic eyes anyway.
We managed to get lots of little bits of gold ~ not enough to retire on mind you but still the thrill of finding any gold was great. Surveying the little pile of gold we got I fully understood how Charles Stewart Parnell
reportedly had to pan for seven years to get enough gold to make a wedding ring for his beloved Katherine O’Shea! Now that was true love!
Mind you, so too is putting up with my over-enthusiasm, mercurial temperament and inability to settle in one place and do one thing for any length of time I suppose. No wonder he occasionally gets grumpy!
Relaxing in a gold panning dish!
And if the worst comes to the worst and you don't find gold and give up on the idea ~ I'm sure someone will be happy to take over the dish.
We left one of ours outside last night and straight away one of our cats took up residence in it and is today lying in it sunning herself!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Scroll down for google map indicating roughly the area we went gold panning in. I took the location from the sat. nav.
THINGS TO TAKE WITH YOU
1. Your gold panning dish (obviously!). We got ours in O'Neills
in Dunkineely (€17).
2. Insect repellent.
3. A small shovel ~ a child’s beach spade will suffice, but better still a hand trowel as the tip is slightly pointed and you can dig down deeper with it.
4. Some kitchen roll to put your gold on to dry out whilst you continue panning (please take the used paper home with you when you have picked your gold off it ~ no litter!
5. A small box in which to deposit your gold!
1. Watch this YouTube video which shows you how to pan HERE
2. Wear wellington boots.
3. Be careful ~ the stones beneath your feet are probably very slippy.
4. Pan at the edge of the river where there is a sandier textured edge.
5. Dig down as deep as you can and shovel that into your panning dish and begin panning.
6. Open out a bit of kitchen roll and hold it down with a heavy stone ~ you can then pick off any bits or flakes of gold you find and leave it there until you are leaving.
I was on the Shaun Doherty show on Highland Radio today in relation to the FREE holiday in Donegal
we are offering to celebrate the launch of our new site HOLIDAY DONEGAL IRELAND
Whilst there I brought some photographs of Donegal for Shaun to view and us to discuss. You can see those photographs HERE