Schools’ Competition 2023

The story of my old photograph

We are delighted to announce the County Donegal Historical Society Schools’ Competition for 2023.

The theme for 2023 is ‘The story of my old photograph’

Competition Details

A photo can give us a glimpse into lives past, long forgotten events, forgotten places and memories that are personal or shared with the community. They will help our understanding of history, culture and identity.

Your Task

Find an old photograph from a family album ( before 1970 if you can, please) and research the story and the history behind the photograph. Maybe the story of the person, building, monument, tradition, event, piece of equipment, etc.

Present your research imaginatively and creatively.


Primary school student categories: Senior school: 4th – 6th classes only

Full class groups, one whole class entry. In small schools with a mix of ages in one classroom, the classroom can be a whole class entry.

Individuals, single student entry.

Please, no small groups. A whole class, whole classroom or individual only.


Hard copy entries only, in the form of a standard A4 project book or scrapbook.

One photograph per individual entry. A max of 5-10 for class entry depending on class size.

For individual entries, please give details of name, age and class as well as school contact details and a contact teacher.

Please do not include the original photograph – a good quality copy will suffice.

Judges will be looking for originality as well as evidence of imagination and creativity.

Entries must be delivered/posted to the

County Museum, High Road,Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Closing date for entries is Friday 1st December 2023.

Prizewinners will be notified in January 2024.

Any queries to Pat Shallow

Field Day : Ballindrait 3rd September

We are meeting for our next Field Day in the car park of Ballindrait Presbyterian Church on Sunday next at 2.30 p.m.

From here we will have a walking tour of Ballindrait Village, guided by local historian Belinda Mahaffy.

Ballindrait village is located where the main road from Raphoe to Lifford crosses the Burn Dale.

At approximately 3.30 p.m. we will proceed up the Raphoe Road and first left to Guystown House (with railings at entrance) where Vincent Gallagher will tell us about its associations with members of Rev James Porter’s family.

At approx 4.30 pm, we will proceed to the Diamond area in Raphoe where Belinda Mahaffy shall give a short talk on the history of Raphoe.

The long term weather forecast is good so hopefully we will have an interesting afternoon.

Non-members are welcome to join us and the event is free of charge.

Should you wish to join the Society you can find details of how to join us here:

Membership Newsletter August 2023

We invite all current and past members of the County Donegal Historical Society to join us for the official launch of the latest Donegal Annual 2023 at the MacGill Summer School in the Highlands Hotel, Glenties, on Saturday 19th August 2023 at 4.00pm. The launch will be performed by Dr Joe Mullholland.

During the past year the Board of Management of the County Donegal Historical Society has undergone some personnel changes. President Raymond Blair, Secretary Una Mc Garrigle, Acting Secretary Séan Bonar, Treasurer Helen Meehan, PRO Eamonn Mac Intyre, and Assistant PRO Bobby Mc Daid have recently retired from their respective Officer positions after many years of voluntary service to the Society. We thank them for their dedication and service.

These Officer positions have recently been accepted by incoming President Joe Gatins, Secretary Hugh Devlin, Treasurer Natalie Lough, Assistant Treasurer Michael Meehan, PRO Sean Mc Clafferty, and Assistant PRO Connie Duffy. All other Board members remain as before.

Please note Membership Renewals for 2024 can now be paid in a number of ways: The fastest and most sustainable way is via our new website ; by Bank Transfer to AIB Account Number IBAN: IE48AIBK93718502711018 BIC: AIBKIE2D, or by forwarding a payment by cheque to County Donegal Historical Society, PO Box 13629, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Please note that payments should no longer be sent to Una Mc Garrigle. For any queries, please contact the Society via

Launch of Donegal Annual 2023

We are delighted to announce the publication of Donegal Annual 2023, our 75th issue of the Annual since we were founded in 1946. The Donegal Annual 2023 will be officially launched at the MacGill Summer School, on Saturday 19th August.

To mark the Decade of Centenaries, four contributors have written articles on the Irish revolution -Méadhbha Ní Bhaoill on Eithne Coyle and her contribution to the struggle for independence; Niamh Brennan has examined the role of Joseph Murray as revolutionary, garda and teacher; Caroline Carr highlights the role played by women in the period and Helen Meehan looks at the true facts of the armed struggle.

Col. Declan O’Carroll has an extensive article on the Bartons of Portsalon while William Roulston recalls the family links of the artist Paul Henry to Letterkenny. Spas were popular in the county in the past and a former President of the Society, Rev Raymond Blair delves deeply into the history of the Donegal Town spa. Myra Cavanagh looks back at the visit of Sir Charles Lewis Gieseke to the county in the 1820s on a scientific expedition while Peter Childs examines the role of the kelp industry in the county.

Brian Lacey reminds readers that the 1,400th anniversary of the birth of St Eunan will be celebrated in 2024. Professor Nollaig McCongáil highlights the role of P. T. McGinley in the Gaelic Revival. Two American historians are included too – Geoff Cobb writes about a Donegal-born sculptor who had a brilliant career in America while Tom Cannon turns to DNA in his study of names in south Donegal. Seán Browne examines the historic links to Doonan Fort with the Cannon family. Martin McGinley strikes a lively note in his article onfiddling in the Laggan. Aidan O’Hara examines place names while Anthony Begley reminds readers that this is the 175th anniversary of the Ballyshannon Orphans’ Scheme, which saw female orphans being sent to Australia. Tributes are also paid to two deceased historians, Eddie O’Kane, Lifford and Derek Fleming, Letterkenny. Seán Beattie, the editor, presents new sidelights into the history of the deserted island of Inishtrahull, which is six miles north of Malin Head, which is rich in folklore.

There are also book reviews and an excellent bibliography of recent publications in Donegal from Kevin McCaul and staff in the County Library. In a very colourful production of 160 pages, Donegal Annualis richly illustrated with photos, maps, and historic documents, some of which are previously unpublished. The Donegal Annual remains at the cutting edge of research in County Donegal and this is essential reading for everyone with an interest in the history of the county.

The Annual is on sale in local book shops or from our sales team on . Price 25 euros, postage extra.

Ballyshannon Famine Orphan Memorial

20 August 2023

175th Anniversary of departure from Ballyshannon

As part of Heritage Week 2023, local historian Anthony Begley will be our guide for a memorial event to mark the 175th anniversary of 19 girls from Ballyshannon, Belleek and Kinlough areas shipped from Ballyshannon Workhouse to Australia in 1848 and how they survived.

Meet at the Memorial beside Ballyshannon Workhouse, West Rock Ballyshannon Co. Donegal F94 AC61

Sunday 20 August, 3pm – 5pm

Launch of Donegal Annual 2023

19 August 2023

The Society is delighted to announce that Dr. Joe Mullholland, Founding Director MacGill Summer will host the launch of our new volume of the Donegal Annual 2023.

The event will be free to attend and will be held at the MacGill Summer School, Highlands Hotel, Glenties, Co. Donegal on Saturday 19 August 2023 at 4 pm

This will be our 75th volume of the Donegal Annual which we have published since our foundation in 1946.

Our new website

Welcome to the new website of County Donegal Historical Society. You will have been redirected here from our old website at

Bookmark us : Use ctrl+d to save our new address to your Internet browser’s Favourites folder.

Website Legacy : We recognise that the previous website has been able to garner a range of information on the Society and its members over many years so we have transferred all of the information from the old website to our new site. Use the Search function on each page to search our new site.

More updates : this new format will be more flexible, allowing our members to contribute articles and so that we can provide you with more updates on the work and events run by the Society.

Index of Annuals : as part of this new website, we have included the table of contents for each Donegal Annual published since our foundation in 1946. Use the Search function that you will find on each page to search for keywords that are of interest to you.

Security : Our new website will provide a more secure way for us to communicate with you; notice the padlock 🔒 next to our website name in your browser.

Accessibility : The overall “clean” design for this phase is to make this site accessible by using plain black text and white background with medium sized-fonts for easier reading by all visitors. Some photos have descriptions added for screen-readers and more will be added over time, this is work in progress. The design is also chosen so that the website contents can be read without change on any device whether PC, tablet and smartphone.

Membership : With a more secure website, we have been able to introduce electronic forms for membership allowing both our new and current members to register and pay for membership online.

Future Plans : We have many plans for this new website for the near future. Come back to see how things progress.

Feedback : We hope that you enjoy this new facility, send your comments to us at

Our President 2022

Uachtarán Chumann Staire agus Seanchais Chondae Dhún na nGall.

President of the County Donegal Historical and Folklore Society.

The outgoing president of the Donegal Historical Society, Seán Boner (left) presents new holder of that office, Rev. Raymond Blair with his chain of office following Annual General Meeting in Ballybofey

The President of Donegal Historical Society, Rev. Raymond Blair, was born in Cavan Upper, Killygordon, in 1960. Raymond received his primary education in the nearby Cooladawson National School. A keen interest in history developed from an early age as a result of the fascinating stories which his father, Joseph, used to tell him about happenings in the locality over the years. His secondary education was obtained at the Royal and Prior Comprehensive School in Raphoe, whose headmaster at that time was Mr Cookman, who himself served as President of the County Donegal Historical Society. 

Raymond then went on to study History at Trinity College Dublin, and this course of study deepened his fascination with Irish History; it particularly stimulated his interest in the interaction between landlords and tenants in 19th century Ireland. In due course, he went on to study Theology at the Reformed Theological College in Belfast, and then served as Pastor in Galway for over 20 years, before moving to minister in Limavady in 2011.

Raymond is the author of “The Best of Frances Browne: Poems, Stories and Essays by the Blind Genius of Stranorlar.” He has also written many articles for the Donegal Annual and contributed to several other historical journals. He has a special interest in the life and career of John George Adair, the notorious landlord of Derryveagh, and has unearthed some significant new material about that colourful and controversial character.

Married to Carole (from Bangor, County Down) since 1995, he has four daughters – Eileanoir, Labhaoise, Rosaleen and Iona. In undertaking the role of President, Raymond hopes that his own enthusiasm for the history of Donegal will motivate others to get more involved in exploring the fascinating story of his native county. In the words of Lord Acton, “History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”

Field Days for 2022

Sun. 24th July : 3.00pm
Dungloe & Area (Guide: Sean Boner)
Meet at the public car park

Sun. 7th August : 3.00pm
Glencolmcille Area (Guide: Paddy Gillespie)
Meet at Glencolmcille Folk Village car park (towards sea)

Sat. 27th August : 3.00 pm
Stranorlar Area
(Ballybofey &5 Stranorlar Historical Society members)
Meet in the Church of Ireland car park on the golf course road

Sat. 3rd September : 3.00pm
Newtowncunningham & Area
(Guide: Sean McClafferty)
Meet at All Saints Church of Ireland parish car park

Emerson Lecture

At time of print there is no speaker available.
Field days and lectures are free and open to members of the public.
Please check final details of all the above events nearer the date, on the
website/local papers/Facebook, as some may change or vary slightly.

VISIT US ON FACEBOOK or Events here on this website

Annuals & Collections Discounted

Annuals and Annual Collections available at a discount.

We have a surplus stock of Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 Hardbacks,  and Paperbacks, of which storage of these, in a suitable environment, has become a problem.

Therefore, it has been decided to offer them, to you, at a much-reduced fee.

These books are widely respected as many distinguished historians have contributed to them.  Actually, these Volumes have become “Collectors items”

Now is your opportunity to purchase whilst stocks last.

Please feel free to contact me, if you have a query, or indeed have trouble with printing the order form, as attached.

Aside from posting these books, I can arrange to have them collected here, by appointment.   (Call 0872261378) as they are quite heavy.