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August 28th 2002

| Front Page | And Another Thing | Cross Bencher | Sport | Other Stories |

Marking the Blind Rocks

“They’ve always been considered treacherous and really dangerous” said local boatman, Alrick Thompson, referring to the rocks off Doorin which, at full tide, lie just below the surface of the water and would tear the bottom off any boat unfortunate enough to go over them.

In the 1800s a marker pole was raised on the rocks to warn boats, but this was removed during the first World War as a security precaution. The pole lay where it had been cast under water until recently when a local group floated it and Jodie Gysling towed it up to the slipway at the big pier. There it lay for a while.

Then a decision was taken to put the marker back on the blind rocks. So towed behind Ned O’Donnell’s rib, on a raft, and with a considerable crowd of local boatmen, the pole finally arrived back at its original position where considerable efforts were made to locate it into the original hole. However, it proved impossible due to the weight of the pole (almost half a ton) and the slippery conditions on the rock. This was a disappointment to all those who had put in so much physical effort for several hours.

Unsuccessful attempt to erect pole on blind rocks.

It was decided, the next day, to return at full tide and float the pole over the hole and drop it in. Weather conditions were bad at the second attempt and the bracket holding the pole on the raft partly broke. It was necessary, therefore, to return to town to have repairs carried out but in the rough conditions the bracket fully broke and the pole fell into the sea. A marker buoy was placed on it with a view to retrieving it, but this was eventually stolen.

A new stainless steel pole was made in Killybegs at Mooney Boats and a solar-powered beacon was fitted to the top of it. This was finally erected by Patsy Kelly, Billy Bustard and diver, Bill Wilcock.

Now, at the fall of darkness, the beacon flashes out its pattern of lights. Local boatmen are delighted with the new marker and its beacon while others from as far as Mullaghmore and Rosses Point have commented “We’ll be visiting Donegal now that the Blind Rock is marked.”


Further improvements have also been made in the bay. New channel markers, made by Seamus Hannifan and galvanised in Newtownstewart, painted red and green, have been put in place to mark the course of the channel. The first two were put up, using John Kelly’s digger, in the Laghey River by Tommy McGroary, Billy Bustard and Pat Thomas. The next four were erected along the channel by Patsy Kelly, Billy and diver, Bill Wilcock. This was done by blowing compressed air down the tube which created a hole in the sea bottom to hold the markers. Ten more are yet to be erected to complete the marking of the channel.

The markers are painted red and green. These colours are used internationally to mark the entrance to harbours. Going out of a harbour green markers are always on the left (port side) and red on the right (starboard.) Coming back the arrangement is the opposite.

Making Hay the Traditional Way

Keeping up the old tradition in the parish of Drumholm - despite the inclement weather, Mr. Andy Cox, Rockhill Ballintra,
caught the eye of the camera when he was spotted in ideal weather building rucks of hay on the Ballintra/Pettigo Road.

Record Comback Show for Ardara

Texas Ollie and Silver the Wonder Horse thrill the crowds at the Ardara Show

Sunshine, a Government Minister, quality livestock, marquee entries and a horse named Silver, brought a record crowd to Ardara’s comeback show on Saturday August 10th.

The final outcome had appeared impossible a few days earlier as torrential rain reduced parts of the showfield to a virtual quagmire causing the organisers to decide at an early stage the banning of all but essential vehicle parking.

“The sunshine on the day before the show and especially on show day itself was our saviour” said secretary Niall Heena. “After a number of events had been cancelled in recent weeks because of weather, it was as though people were looking for somewhere to go and enjoy themselves.”

With last year’s Ardara Show cancelled because of the foot and mouth scare, Chairman Joe Gallagher had a special welcome for visitors at the opening ceremony before introducing Mary Coughlan T.D., Minister for Social and Family Affairs. She spoke about the importance of such shows to farming generally and also their role as family events. Ms. Coughlan was presented with a bouquet by show stalwart Hilda Hanlon.

Mr. Paddy Joe Foyle, Chairman of the Irish Shows Association - of which Ardara is a member - congratulated all concerned with the organisation of the event and went on to highlight the financial difficulties shows face as a direct result of insurance increases.

Earlier the local cattle classes had got the show underway with keen competition among the local breeders. The prizes were evenly spread with Ciaran Gallagher, Bobby Given, John T Morrow, Jim Gallagher, Martin McNelis, Peter Cunningham, Tommy Mooney, Harold Given, Patrick Kennedy and John Kennedy securing firsts in their classes. John Kennedy won the ‘Wee Stephen Sweeney Memorial Cup’ for the Champion in the confined class.

In the open classes the Supreme Champion award, The Connie Molloy Cup, went to Gerry Gallagher of Carrigart, with local exbititor Martin McNelis winning the John F. Gallagher Cup for the Champion Calf and the Raphoe Hardware and Grain Cup for the reserve champion of the show.

In a keenly contested pony section the Hugh Gildea Memorial Cup was won by John Dooley of Glenties and the Champion Horse by Robert Davis of Drumkeen.

The Osmonds Ecofleece Scotch Blackfaced Ewe Lamb final proved, yet again, to be the main highlight of the year. With an entry of 17 pairs, first prize went to John Friel of Kerrykeel. The champion Sheep in the confined section classes was won by Donal Breslin of Cronkeerin, taking the Philip and Danny Shovlin Memorial Cup.

The Champion Scotch Blackfaced sheep was exhibited by Brian Curran of Muff. A 110 class marquee section was ablaze with crafts, produce, photography and art, although the poor summer reduced the number of vegetables and flowers on show. The marquee also featured a display of spinning by the Ardara branch of Care of the Aged.

A busy afternoon programme began with a large crowd thrilled by the first of two shows by Texas Ollie and Silver the Wonder Horse. An exemption dog show, sponsored by Pedro Pet Foods, brought a huge number of entries for the 12 class event. The main award, the Pedro Top Dog of Show went to Paul McFadden of Falcarragh with his St. Bernard Shikira. The popular show was judged by Ms. Michele Clements of Moy, Co. Tyrone.

A new event, a Ladies Penalty Kick competition for the Greenhouse Plaque, was won by Leona Watters, Ardara and later in the afternoon crowds were attracted by an inter-pub tug-of-war. A fun fair was very busy as visitors took the opportunity to try the various rides on offer.

The afternoon programme also included a chance for visitors to try archery under the careful eye of Donegal Archers. There were children’s sports, pony and cart rides, bonny baby and fancy dress. Winners of the bonny baby were: 0-12 months: Louise Doherty, Carrick; 2. Sophie Dunnion, Ardara; 1-2; 1-2 years: Rosalind Bonner, Doochary; Joseph Gallagher, Ardara.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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