A building which was a landmark to travellers making their way to West Donegal is soon to be commemorated in a night of music and dance.
The Tannery, which was located just outside Mountcharles, was originally built as a tannery in the 1600’s to serve the fishing ports of Burtonport and Arranmore.
Strange as it may seem to the present day reader, Killybegs was not even on the radar in fishing circles in those days. The port as we know it today had not been developed and the main fishing areas tended to be in the west of the county and off the islands.
In more recent times, the old building was developed as a craft shop and later became a successful coffee shop and bistro.
Over the years, it evolved into a great traditional music venue where both visiting musicians and lovers of tradition could enjoy the music in an alcohol free environment.
Mickey Mullen told the Donegal Democrat, “It was a natural venue for music and a great setting for those who just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere without the distraction of alcohol.
“Over the years, many visiting musicians passed through the venue, it wasn’t strictly confined to traditional Irish. I remember on one occasion that we had visiting musicians from Kentucky who successfully blended their native bluegrass sounds with the best of traditional Irish. It was really a magnet for many visiting musicians to South Donegal.
“Many travelling to the strong traditional music areas of Kilcar, Glencolmcille and even the islands would stop off for a session and, before you knew it, you could have up on 20 musicians playing there.
“There was nothing rehearsed about the whole thing. People just arrived in the door with their instruments under their arms. It really was a great atmosphere.”
Mullen added that it was unique in that there was no alcohol involved as there is in such gatherings today.
“People didn’t need it - they were just themselves, singing, playing and telling yarns.
“Unfortunately, even though the building was ‘listed’, it was demolished to make way for alterations to the main road.
“It was a tremendous asset but, like a lot of things, you only miss them when they are gone. Venues like this are sadly missed.
“We have organised a get-together for the many people that have experienced this great facility in South Donegal and through the Donegal Democrat we are inviting people from all parts of the county and country to join us in a celebration of the legacy that the Tannery left with us on July 5th next in Inver Community Centre.
“I can guarantee a great night of music, storytelling and dance - just like it was in the old days.”