Donegal Annual 2015
The 2015 Donegal Annual, which has just been printed, marks another milestone in the numerous achievements of the Co. Donegal Historical Society since its foundation in 1946. Sixteen articles span the county, followed by book reviews, a list of officers and members, plus the schools’ competition.
Notable to begin with is that of Helen Meehan’s. She has been a regular contributor for the 24th consecutive year and in this edition she looks at the astronomical features of pre-Plantation Donegal. On a related theme, Ross Cooper focuses on the stone circle at Beltany near Raphoe, regarding the winter solstice. Raphoe does well in this year’s edition. Myra D. Kavanagh writes about Sarah Porterfield’s emigration to the USA in 1741 and Frank Sweeney details a tragic incident at a fair day in the town in 1850. The area around Raphoe is known as the Laggan and Sam Hanna documents the Laggan Army and Land Leases 1642-1665.
Mervyn Watson shows the significance to the county of cultural tourism in the early 1900’s, greatly helped by the extensive railway system and the increasing number of new hotels.
Hibernian Sunday Schools in Donegal, 1809 -1847 are examined by Seán Beattie, the Editor of the Annual.
Music to the ears of many readers will be Eddie Ward’s article on “The Rose of Arranmore.” It’s poignant to read the real-life story of Grace O’Donnell, the islander who inspired this lovely song.
Brian Lacey’s feature reminds us that it’s the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St. Colmcille.
Several buildings also come under the spotlight. Port Hall, near Lifford, built in 1746, played an important role in recent history. Martin McGuinness came here to meet members of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet. A previous owner of the house, Anthony Marreco, founded Amnesty International in 1961 while he was living there. Belinda Mahaffy has thoroughly researched the history of this house on the banks of the River Foyle. (N.B. The house and grounds are not open to the public).
Donald Munro remembers life in a Glencolmcille rectory while nearby Malinbeg is the focus of Seán Ó hEochaidh’s Irish language diary from a visit there in 1935, edited by Lillis Ó Laoire.
Michael Kennedy writes about Inishowen’s wartime coast watchers 1939-1945.
The cover of the Annual is a photo of the look-out post at Malin Head, taken by Adam R. Porter of Buncrana.
Born in nearby Greencastle in 1786, Gen Frederick Young founded the senior battalion of the Gurkhas and Rachel Magowan relates his achievements.
Around the 1870’s, Hugh Dorian of Fanad chronicled the everyday life and customs of the area. Rev. Raymond Blair’s article summarises letters and other writings by him, giving a fascinating insight into a vanished world.
The longest article in this year’s Annual is Notes on Medieval Donegal by Tomás G. Ó Canann. He begins by informing readers that in the 12th century the abbey of Assaroe at Ballyshannon was known by its Latin name of Samaria, from the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.
The history of Donegal continues to fascinate the inquisitive mind and here we have a gem of a publication. Full credit to the Editor, Seán Beattie and his editorial team. All information about the Society is on its website at donegalhistory.ie
Beltany stone circle, Raphoe
The cover is the look-out post at Banba’s Crown, Malin Head, courtesy of Adam Rory Porter, photographer, Buncrana.
Aphort, Arranmore island. In centre is the football pitch.