Family relations, neighbours and friends gathered last Thursday night in the Country Inn, Ballinakillew, to celebrate two great characters of yesteryear.
Hugh and John Gallagher, though unrelated, were great lifelong friends and very popular local yarn spinners.
The night was organised by this writer, with the local support of Ashling Walls and Michael Gallagher.
I began the night by explaining the rich tradition of rambling that existed in rural Donegal up until the 1970s, where neighbours gathered in each other’s houses to play cards and tell yarns. To celebrate the memory of Hugh and John, a night of yarns, stories, local songs and dances was put together.
Special guest storyteller, Gene Sheeran, from Rossinver, had the whole pub in raptures of laughter with his comical tales. Anne Shannon also enchanted everyone with her sweet rendition of two Percy French numbers. Michael Gallagher and Mary Kerrigan performed the traditional clap dance.
There were also contributions came from Phonsie Travers who told some very funny local yarns. John Gallagher’s daughter, Maura, recalled some of her father’s yarns, while her daughter, Donna Corcoran. then performed the popular classic ‘Paddy McGinty’s goat. Later in the night, Inga Bock, even gave a rousing rendition of a Scottish drinking ballad!
There was also a special screening of video footage filmed by Michael Gallagher of his uncle Hugh, in the Country Inn Pub in the mid-1990s. Again the large crowd in the bar and lounge was hushed as they watched and saw the local seanchaí, Hugh Gallagher, tell yarns and perform local humorous songs such as ‘The Town of Ballintra’.
Due to the success and interest shown locally, I hope to organise the night as an annual rambling night of songs, stories and yarns.