Mayor rejects Lonely Planet comments

The mayor of Letterkenny has leapt to the defence of the town for the second time in three days after it received stinging criticism from an international travel guide.

The mayor of Letterkenny has leapt to the defence of the town for the second time in three days after it received stinging criticism from an international travel guide.

Mayor Gerry McMonagle has rounded on the Lonely Planet guide after it described the town as “having a complete lack of soul” in its 2012 edition.

The criticism comes after Monday’s Irish Businesses Against Litter (Ibal) survey which placed the town a disappointing 49th out of 53 towns and was one of only four towns classified as littered.

The mayor has clashed this week with Ibal criticising the methodology used. He said yesterday that the Lonely Planet’s description of the town was contradictory but admitted the criticism of the town’s recent planning history was justified. He said Letterkenny has a vibrant young community and culturally offers as much as any town in the country.

Describing Letterkenny, the Lonely Planet guide, which was edited by travel writer Fionn Davenport, said: “Ruined by the excesses of the Celtic Tiger era, Letterkenny is a market town run amok. Mindless development has resulted in numerous faceless retail parks lining the roads, traffic problems and a complete lack of soul. However, as Donegal’s largest town, it’s buzzing with students and young professionals, and there’s a good choice of restaurants and accommodation.”

Responding to the description, Cllr. McMonagle said: “I would say Letterkenny certainly has soul. We have a very vibrant nightlife in at the weekend, very good restaurants and we also have a strong community spirit and people who are excelling at sport. I don’t know how we haven’t got a soul - I totally disagree with that. There is certainly some justification in the (comments about) planning. I have spoken about this in the past. We planned for developers and not for a community and we are living with the result of that now and we are trying to address it but that does not necessarily take away from the soul of the town.”

Addressing the county as a whole the Lonely Planet Guide was more complimentary saying the landscape “easily rivals anything Connemara or Kerry has to offer” and describing it as “proudly different and fiercely independent”.

The guide also listed the county’s top beaches as: Tramore at Dunfanaghy, Carrickfinn, Portnoo, Portsalon, Culdaff and Rossnowlagh. Bundoran has in the past been heavily criticised by the guide but this year’s edition highlighted the town’s “superb surf”.