Congratulations, Cllr Ciaran Brogan

Last night saw the AGM of Letterkenny Town Council, and the end of my term as Mayor. Councillor Ciaran Brogan was elected to the position, and Cllr Dessie Larkin was elected Deputy Mayor.

I’ve had a fantastic year as Mayor; I’ve been able to represent the town across the country (and abroad), and have been in a position to push the agenda of the town council. I detail more of this in my speech, which you can read here.

It’s also about a year since I started this website. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and support it has received, both locally and across the internet. I’d like to thank Damien, Simon (1), Simon (2), James, Michele, Mick at Slugger O’Toole, Irish Election, United Irelander and all those who have linked to the site over the year. I’ve also spent a lot of time on the North West discussion board at, which has a very high standard of Donegal-focussed debate.

My year as Mayor has been, by times, controversial, interesting and frustrating, but it has always been very rewarding. I’ve learned an awful lot this year, and I hope I can continue to serve the people of Letterkenny long in to the future.

Thank you to everyone who has helepd me throughout this year. Your continued support is very much appreciated!

Celtic Cross & Cathedral Car Park

Last week, in one of my last official acts as Mayor, I officially launched the environmental improvements at the Cathedral Car Park, the centre-piece of which is the new Celtic Cross (which was the source of much controversy earlier this year, more info here).

The cross is an absolutely stunning piece of work, towering over an area which has seen huge improvements over the last three years. It was a great honour to officially unviel the cross, and launch the new car park. This area of the town is an area the Council are very proud of, and rightfully so. In my speech, I paid particular tribute to all the council staff who have worked on the project, between designing, planning and building.

Redmond Herrity is an exceptionally talented artist and sculptor, and this piece will be a testament to his skill for many decades to come. If you’re in Letterkenny, check it out (it’s located outside the Cathedral, which can be seen from all around the town).

Dinny McGinley announces retirement from Politics

Fine Gael look set to pin their hopes on Ardara based Cllr. Terence Slowey in their bid to retain a Dail seat in the Donegal South-West constituency at the next general election.
On Wednesday, Deputy Dinny McGinley announced that he will not be standing next time.
The news came as a surprise to many people, especially as McGinley has been very vocal on a number of issues in recent weeks.
Source: Letterkenny Post

Best wishes to Dinny McGinley on his retirement. I’ve met Dinny a number of times at events across the County, and have always found him to be a first-class public representative and a genuine gentleman. He’s also been quite the thorn in the side of Fianna Fail during the term of this Government!

This all leads to make the situation in Donegal South West very interesting. Fine Gael meet on Sunday (June 11th) to select their candidates. Much talk will focus on how this impacts on Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty, and who Fine Gael will put up to attempt to retain their seat. Fine Gael have yet to decide on whether they will run one or two candidates in Donegal SW, a decision which will certainly impact on the race.

Most speculation points to Cllr Terence Slowey taking the nomination. Slowey is indeed very popular, and is another very genuine person. I would wish him every success. If Fine Gael look to run two candidates, that opens the interesting prospect of a young candidate, with (County) Councillor Barry O’Neill and (Town) Councillor Brendan Travers both seeking the nomination. These Councillors, both in their early twenties, both from Ballyshannon and both elected in 2004, have performed strongly in polls to date.

From this distance, it would seem that O’Neill has the edge. But I wouldn’t rule out Travers yet; any time you can get a father and son team elected to the same authority, it’s clear you have a hard working team on your hands.

Update: Fine Gael are running one candidate. It’s Terence Slowey, who beat Barry O’Neill, Brendand Travers and David Morrow at the convention last night.

New Street Signage for Letterkenny

It was once said to me that “whoever put up the signs in Letterkenny, obviously knew where they were going”. It’s true to say that Letterkenny was very poor for signage, both directional and informational.

We’re trying to do something about that. We’re working to improve the directional signage for drivers at all the major junctions, and have commisioned over 100 new place name signs to be erected throughout the town. These signs have come out really well, and are starting to be erected around the town. Here’s an example, from Castle Street (which runs from the Cathedral to the top of the Market Square). This sign is located on the wall of the grounds of the Convent.

New Letterkenny Street Signs - 1

The signs are made from cast Iron, and are then hand painted. In particular, the Town Crest has come up really well. These signs should be appearing at all public spaces in the Town over the next few weeks.

I think they really match the character of the Town, in particular the area from the Cathedral to the Square, where the Town Council has been investing money to improve the area. On a side note, we should be officially unveiling the new Celtic Cross (yes, that Celtic Cross) at the Cathedral Car Park on June 21st.

Of course, not everything always goes perfect. It doesn’t take much to wreck a picture-perfect area of the town. In the interest of balance, this is the image that greeted me just beside where this new sign was located:

New Letterkenny Street Signs - 2

This would be annoying, and disgusting, at the best of times, but this is of course June, which means Tidy Towns judging. I’ll be in touch with the council first thing in the morning to try to get this sorted out. Letterkenny Town Council puts a lot of resources in to fighting litter throughout the year, so I would be confident this bin will be fixed quickly.

Update: I passed the bin above at 9:10 am the next day (Friday) and it has been repaired and cleaned perfectly. Many thanks to those involved from the council side. Quick to respond as ever!

Update: Here’s a photo from Brian McDaid, for the launch of the new signs

New Street Signs
Cllr Damien Blake with Joe Gallagher, Michael McFadden, Raymond Shiels and John Buchanan, launching the new street signs.

New Business Park Road Opens

Just back from the official opening of the new Business Park Road, which will link the new roundabout at Pramerica / Windy Hall on the Kilmacrennan Road with the IDA Business Park at Lisenenan and through to the Kiltoy/Gortlee area. The road will be a great relief for traffic in the area, and will take a load of the minor road which linked the area through Gortlee previously.

The road is properly open- when the tape was cut, the road was opened to all traffic and will remain open, unlike some other road openings (I’m referring to some outside Donegal over the last few years).

But nothing ever passes off smoothly….

Letterkenny Business Park Road Opening

The photo above shows Sinn Fein councillors Gerry McMonagle (in Blue jacket) and Tony McDaid working to change a tyre on Cllr McDaid’s car. Tony had the dubious honour of having the first breakdown on the new road!

Donegal Action for Cancer Care Demonstration

Most of you in Donegal will be aware of this, but I post here in case anyone has missed it.

The Donegal Action for Cancer Care group (DACC) are hosting a major rally and demonstration here in Letterkenny on Sunday, May 14th at 2pm. The march is going from the Market Square to the Town Park, where there will be a rally with a number of speakers (no politicians though).

I have supported the campaign for Cancer Services here in Donegal before, both on this site (1, 2, 3) and in other places, and I will be supporting the march on Sunday.

Some reports in the local press are expecting up to 10,000 (this article from the Democrat has some details) to attend on Sunday, and numerous groups have rolled in to support the march. I believe that 10,000 is a reachable number, and I would call on anyone who can make it on Sunday to turn up.

The Gardai and Council have been working with the group, and the Quality Court hotel on the Main Street are giving their Multi Storey car park free for the use of the march.

There’s not really much more to say about this. Current provision, and current plans for provision for Cancer Services in Donegal are totally sub-standard. All we are asking for in Donegal is equality of service.

Update: This Highland Radio Article has details on the preparations, such as traffic restrictions and parking plans around the town.

Letterkenny Comedy Festival 2006

Letterkenny Comedy Festival Brochure

We’re still waiting on the final details, but just to get the word out, plans are almost finalised for the first Letterkenny Comedy Fesitval, which takes place at the end of July (weekend of the 29th and 30th).

Daithi Ramsay (in An Grianan Theatre) has been working on this for a good few months now, and has a number of great acts lined up to play in different venues around the town (not just in the Theatre).

More details should follow, hopefully this week. This is another great event for what should be a big summer in Letterkenny, with the Donegal International Rally in June, Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in August and the Letterkenny Reunion, at the start of August.

Update: Found online: Arj Barker is coming for the Comedy Festival, according to listings on his website.

Update: More acts found on their own websites: Emo Philips, Doktor Coca Cola McDonalds, PJ- Naked Camera and Kitty Flanagan

Update: Another act coming to Letterkenny: Brendan Burke

Update: The festival is officially being launched on Wednesday, June 21st. It will be called the Smithwicks Comedy On Tap festival. I’ve seen the draft programme, and it’s great. More details here as soon as all is confirmed.

Update: Line-up and listings are now available. Here’s some detail from the An Grianan theatre website:

Thurs 27 July

Cock & Bull
8pm, An Grianan Theatre Tickets €22

Arj Barker, David O Doherty, Dave McSavage with mc John Moloney
9pm, The Casbah, Main St, Letterkenny. Tickets: €16

Jason Byrne, Kitty Flanagan, Paddy Taylor with mc Gunther
10pm, The Orchard Inn, High Rd, Letterkenny. Tickets: €16

Jim Jeffries, PJ Gallagher, Colin Cole with mc John Henderson
10pm, The Central Bar Courtyard, Main St, Letterkenny. Tickets: €16

Fri 28 July

Apres Match
8pm, An Grianan Theatre, Tickets €22

Steve Hughes, Angelo Tsarouchas, Ian Coppinger with mc David O Doherty
9pm, The Central Bar and Courtyard, Tickets: €18

Jason Byrne, Arj Barker, Sarah Millican with mc Dave McSavage
9pm, The Cavern Veranda, Lower Main St, Letterkenny. Tickets: €18

Kitty Flanagan, Neil Delamere, Brendan Burke with mc Sean Collins
9pm, Sister Sara’s, Port Rd, Letterkenny. Tickets: €18

Reg D Hunter, Kieran Toland, Brian Joyce with mc M.C. Colum McDonnell
10pm, The Casbah, Main St, Letterkenny. Tickets: €18

Danny Bhoy, PJ Gallagher, Andrew Lawrence with mc Karl Spain
10pm, The Orchard Inn, High Rd, Letterkenny. Tickets €18

Sat 29 July

Emo Philips plus David O’Doherty with MC Gerry Mallon
7pm, An Grianan Theatre, €22

Reg D Hunter, Kieran Toland, Brian Joyce with mc M.C. Colum McDonnell
7pm, The Orchard Inn, High Rd, Letterkenny. Tickets €18

Arj Barker, Reuben, Eleanor Tiernan with mc John Moloney
8pm, Sister Sara’s, Port Rd, Letterkenny. Tickets €18

Angelo Tsarouchas, Kitty Flanagan, Anne Gildea with mc Ian Coppinger
9pm, The Casbah, Main St, Letterkenny. Tickets: €18

Steve Hughes, Kevin Gildea, Dr Cocacolamcdonalds with mc Bernard O Shea
9pm, The Cavern Veranda, Lower Main St, Letterkenny. Tickets €22

Danny Bhoy, Sean Collins, Carol Tobin with mc Andrew Stanley
9pm, The Central Bar and Courtyard, Letterkenny. Tickets: €18

The TV Set
9:30pm, An Grianan Theatre. Tickets €22

Adam Hills, Sue Collins, Dave McSavage with mc Günther
9:30pm, The Orchard Inn, High Rd, Letterkenny Tickets: €18

Update: All tickets are now available from Ticketmaster, on this special page