Tell us why you love Donegal, the Donegal Diaspora Project asked people who came to the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny. And the answers came in speech and prose, drawings and happy cheers.
For a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, people of all ages who live in different parts of the county came to the cultural centre to take part in the initiative. There were tables and chairs set out around a large, airy workshop, where people wrote and drew on the pages set out for them. Over the course of the afternoon, 35 people stepped into a video booth set up behind heavy black curtains, where they shared their thoughts of Donegal. Rathmullan House provided a tasty lunch of lamb stew, seafood chowder and brown bread.
Sally Murphy, who is managing the diaspora project for Donegal County Council, called the exercise, “a living snapshot: What do you love about Donegal?” Some of the videos, writings and drawings will appear on the project web site.
One man said that as soon as he saw the Swilly and Rathmullan in the distance after returning from a journey, he knew he was home.
A group of young children in the video booth praised Donegal’s beaches. “The beach in Donegal is sandy and the sun is always shining,” said one.
After he took his turn in the video booth, Donegal Mayor, Fine Gael Cllr. Noel McBride said he loved Donegal “because of the warmth and hospitality of the people who live here, the landscape, miles and miles of golden, sandy beaches, the quality of our culture, music and art.
“What more would you want?” he asked.
One of the people who filled out a page wrote, “Because the sun comes out at least once a day and when it does there is no more beautiful place on earth.” And another, “Because it’s awesome.”
There was a drawing that looked almost like a graph, with outlines of the county’s most distinctive peaks, including Errigal, Muckish and Barnesmore. Donegal is “the tops”, the respondent wrote.
The Donegal Diaspora Project is about the county reaching out to those people around the world who are from Donegal or who have an interest in Donegal. Sally said participants’ spontaneity was important to the initiative. It is “vivid and engaging, but it needs to be real,” she said.
“That’s the heart and soul of it,” she said. “That’s what we wanted the project to represent from the very beginning.”