A community project in Gaoth Dobhair hopes to show visitors later this month how much the Gaeltacht parish has to offer.
“Goitse go Gaoth Dobhair” involves local people and businesses, pubs and community groups, who are putting on special offers, events and entertainment, and inviting people to join them.
Goitse go Gaoth Dobhair runs June 27th to 29th at venues across the parish. Organisers are also asking everyone in the parish to invite a couple of friends or relations to Gaoth Dobhair for the weekend.
“Invite people,” said Danny Brown, editor of the west Donegal Gaeltacht newspaper Goitse, and one of 20 people on the organising committee.
“Tell them the craic is going to be 90 -- because it is,” he said.
The roots of Goitse Gaoth Dobhair are in another Donegal Gaeltacht initiative, the Dearg le Fearg language equality campaign that saw thousands of people march in Dublin and Belfast, calling for services to be provided in Irish and for implementation of the government’s 20-year strategy for the language.
Donegal people kept meeting after the marches were over. When Largo Foods announced plans to move Gaoth Dobhair manufacturing operations to Ashbourne this summer, one of the group members suggested organising a weekend to bring people to the area.
“It would be a positive thing to give a wee injection to the local economy,” Danny said. “It’s not going to create jobs, but it might save one or two and give hope to people here.”
The committee thought that with the expected influx of Irish speakers for the weekend, they should hold a symposium as part of the event, to identify ways forward in terms of keeping the Gaeltacht alive. The symposium will include workshops addressing areas that research has already identified as key to the Gaeltacht’s future: employment, education, raising children through Irish and language policy. Seosamh Mac Donnacha of NUI Galway, co-author of the 2007 report, “Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht”, will chair the symposium.
There will be lots to keep visitors and locals busy on the weekend. On Friday, June 27th, there will be two plays at Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair and a trad session at Teach Hiúdaí Beag. On Saturday, June 28th, the symposium, “Caidé mar is féidir an Ghaeltacht a shábháil?”, runs from 10am to 1pm at Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge; there’s a food and craft market from noon to 3pm at the Crannóg. Derrybeg; a family day at Ionad Naomh Padraig, Dobhar. from 2-5pm; a golf competition at the Gaoth Dobhair Golf Club from 8am to 2pm; and later in the evening music at Teach Hiúdaí Beag,Teach Sheáin Óig, Teach Mhicí, Teach Jack and Óstán Radharc na Mara.
On Sunday, June 29th, there will be a mass on Gola Island at 3pm, part of the weekend-long Féile Ghabhla; a trad session at Teach Mhici at 1pm; and the popular Rock agus Roam outdoor activities.
“The whole philosophy behind the thing is that this is something the community is doing on their own to help themselves,” Danny said.