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August 13th 2003

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Bluestack Challenge

‘We made it!’ - joyful bunch at the top of Carnaween

Frosses Notes

Congratulations to all the people from Drimarone who organised and those who took part in the schools reunion. I have heard nothing but great reports of how well everything went. It was great to see so many people home at the same time of year.
Fr. Eamon Kelly led a group of one hundred and ten pilgrims around the holy wells in this part of the county. In the parish of Inver they visited Dysert, Fr. Gallagher’s well in Ballymacahill and the well down in Ardaghy. Most of the participants came from over by Letterkenny. Helen Meehan from Coolum gave them a brief history of the Holy Wells in the parish of Inver at the start of the tour.
Work has started on the new car park and lay-out at Frosses National School. This will help to keep the children back from the road when entering and leaving the school. It should be completed in a couple of weeks.
Frosses Sports Day is on Sunday next the 17th August and everyone is welcome to come along and partake. There will be fun and games for all the family, young and not so young. Hopefully the weather will keep good for the day.
Seamus Harley (Batman) and Hughie Mac (Music Man) tell me that plans for the Elvis night on Saturday 16th August are at an advanced stage. The music has been downloaded, invitations sent to Graceland, costumes are being made and the blue suede shoes have been brushed. Anyone who is interested in Elvis Presley are invited to come along to Kellys Bar, Frosses for this major event. Rare bootleg C.D.’s, videos, records and books will be on show.
Frosses F.C. will play the Abbey Hotel in a football match on Tuesday 19th August in the community field at 7.30 p.m. There will be a charity auction, hosted by John Mohan afterwards, with all money raised going to Cregg House in Sligo. An added extra this year will be a sponsored head shave by Patsy Breslin at 10.30 p.m.
Mr. Vincent Mc Crea hosted his very successful captain’s day of Frosses Golf Society in Bundoran Golf Club last Wednesday. Everyone who took part had a great day out. Winners on the day were in 1st Vincent Mc Crea, 2nd John Mc Cahill, 3rd Paul Burke and the beginners prize was won by Michael Burke. Congratulations to them all. The captain says that he has ordered a new batch of alarm clocks as there was a faulty clock in the last batch.

Drimarone 4 Schools Reunion

Drumnaherk national School at reunion

(Special 4 page Souvenir Supplement in Donegal Times print version)

Pictured Below: Paddy Sweeney launches his book ‘A mountain man looks back’ with Jimmy Meehan and Claire McGroary at the Drimarone Schools Reunion

Do You Believe in the Railway

By The Railwayman

Believe in Guinness?
Yes. It’s the current advertising campaign. And many believe. Even if we don’t drink it, Guinness has brought huge revenues and associated acclaim for this Irish drink. Whatever they say, it seems to brew better with Liffey Water than anywhere else in the World. Of course, once Guinness was brought by rail to many outlets in County Donegal? People say what a shame the railway went. People say too “wouldn’t it be nice to have some of the railway back?” The County Council passed a resolution to look at the future of railways in the County where the current situation offers you no rail connection with the rest of Ireland. But do you believe in the railway? Some do, but are there enough to get it back?
Overcoming Adversity
Over the north west, there are examples of the railwayists overcoming adversity. Take the North West of Ireland Railway Society, owners, restorers and saviours on much of the extant Donegal Railway rolling stock. For whatever reason locked out of their museum access in Derry, they engaged brain, engaged a crane and low-loader operator, and got their working Donegal Railcar No 18 to Fintown on the old line to Glenties.
At Fintown, the Gaeltacht has also seen some difficulties when the 3-mile railway operation there, magically reopened on its centenary in 1995, was closed again two years ago. But because there was belief, Cumann Traenach na Gaeltachta Láir, the railway operation in Fintown, worked with the believers from North West Of Ireland Railway Society. They have reopened on Sundays using ex-Donegal Railcar No 18 as transport for a one-mile each way run from Fintown.
This is currently the only part of the old 225-mile narrow gauge system in Donegal still acting as a functioning railway and all concerned must be congratulated on their efforts. Now they need support from visitors and that includes our local people who can ensure the reinstated line is safeguarded – if they believe. Fintown Station is currently open for train rides from 1pm to 7pm on Sundays.
Trying to make Progress
Back at the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre there has been a huge amount of activity by railway believers. A solid proposal for bringing 40,000 tourists to Donegal to ride on _-mile of reinstated line out from the old station to Drumlonagher, supported by local councillors and TD, was unbelievably turned down by Bord Fáilte on a technicality, after 15 months without contacting the proposers. It is hard to believe that a proposal to bring in so many people in a year of falling revenues could be turned away without at least further investigation. Apparently No believers there then!
What is still proposed is an environmentally sound transport system to provide a park-and-ride system, year round, from a carpark beside the new council offices at Drumlonagher to the Old Railway Station at the end of Tyrconnell St. There would be encouragement to use the park-and-ride for coach tours and many who regularly park in town. Both of these have the right to do so, but unwittingly cause huge congestion. The alternative would be to come in by a shuttle tram service running regularly year-round. In the summer and at other appropriate seasonal times the tram service would be supplemented by rides on steam trains and real ex-Donegal Railway railcars, a huge and proven attraction for visitors, with a target of 40,000 with trains running.
Looks like a good scheme doesn’t it? It will now be put to other funding bodies. Indeed there is to be a full presentation to Donegal County Council on 15th September.
So maybe we still have a chance to get a piece of the railway back in Donegal Town. And one that can perform a useful service, reducing pollution and congestion, and attracting new people to the Town, increasing trade for our businesses and B&Bs. But it will only happen if there are enough believers. Those that do visit the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre mostly turn out to be believers or become them.
Others just say it would be lovely to have the railway back, but talk is cheap and so far ineffective. There has to be action, by TDs, Councillors, local people and visitors alike, and of course the members of the Board of CDRRL who run the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. The full trains at Fintown this week prove that a working railway has the attractions. Now the various decision-makers and railway people of Donegal have to act to bring the same success to Donegal Town. The proposals have been there for many years. It is the action that is needed.
New attractions
Just what are we missing then, under our noses in Donegal Town? If you believe in the railway heritage, then preserving the rolling stock is important. And, after over 40 years, there is not much of it left. . The two halves of Coach 58, in its day one of the three most modern and finest on the Irish Narrow Gauge, have been reunited at Donegal Town station for the first time for over 40 years. They could be used again. At the very least they will act as an extension giving valuable extra space to the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre.
Plans are in place for restoring the framework for both Coach 58 and the articulated trailer for Railcar 14, also on site at the old station, in September.
A new working garden railway using 45mm gauge Peco track has been constructed with a 15 metre run around the big tree seat in the centre of the garden. Scale models of Donegal Coaches 28 and 30, plus red Wagon 12 are hauled, occasionally by a small live steam loco. A second system, and fallback, is provided by a basic LGB loco and two coaches running of 24-volt electric power. To arrive in the next few weeks are models of Railcar 20 and the Donegal diesel loco Phœnix. The garden railway is a major new attraction and people are genuinely able to imagine they are seeing something of the old Donegal. Children love chasing the trains round the tree.
A new set of visitor steps has been constructed by the Social Economy team to give easy access to the narrow gauge preserved steam loco’s cab.
Inside the Centre the photo archives of the CDR and L&LSR have been digitised and indexed and made available for viewing by visitors on two new computers, making this the World’s finest easy access system for seeing Donegal Railway photographs. This is a particular attraction for enthusiasts and those with relatives who used to work on the railway. Some visitors have come in for several days running to study this new feature. In time, where copyright permits, CDRRL will be able to provide prints of certain photos at a price around €5 per A4 print on photo-quality paper.
The small model railway has working examples of modern Iarnród Éireann stock and older CIE stock in 4mm scale. In addition from time to time different models of the 5.5mm to the foot scale Donegal models are run, including a new addition which is a scale model of steam loco Drumboe, which sits outside in the garden. For younger visitors, Thomas the Tank and Percy can also be run on request.
The complete collection of nine railway paintings by local artist and railway believer George Hanan is on show in gallery fashion, fully captioned to explain how these detail the railway history by way of an introduction to the CDR and Donegal’s Railway Heritage.
10 different videos, all but one with some footage of the CDR, are available for visitors to view on several different video machines. For long-stay viewing comfort, hot drink refreshments are also available.
So now, do you believe the railway can return? At least the heritage is being protected? And do you believe you can support it? Is it worth trying to bring 40,000 visitors to town? We certainly need them in a year that is bringing few visitors to fill the B&B beds. Creating and preserving the attractions costs money and if the believers do not come, the heritage collection will be endangered. To support the railway call 074 9722655 for details, or visit the Centre at the end of Tyrconnell Street.

New Abbey Jewel in Town Centre

Congratulations to Jim White and his consortium who have done a terrific job on restructuring the front of the Abbey and refurbishing the interior. Well done also to the design, construction and services team which included architect Barry Britton, building foreman John Fox and his men, and services engineering firm Duke Associates. The completion brings the total complement of bedrooms to 118 which, with 112 in the Central, gives the two hotels the capacity to keep up to 450 people between them. Mr White and Co. who have invested upwards of €30 million in Donegal Town over the past five years deserve the congratulations and support of our community. We hope, in our next issue, to carry a feature on the new development.

Sorting ceases in Donegal

Letters posted in Donegal are now being ferried to Athlone for sorting in what has been described as the most radical shake-up in postal deliveries ever.
Outward mail, previously sorted in centres such as Letterkenny, Lifford and Donegal Town is now being processed at a €40 million state-of-the-art facility in Athlone. The mail is sorted in Athlone overnight and arrives back in Donegal next day. Along with Athlone there are three other mail centres in the country at Portlaoise, Cork and Dublin. “All the mail from Connacht/Ulster is now going to Athlone for sorting” said Mr. Ed. Margey, Delivery Services Manager with An Post “The processing hub in Athlone is the best in the world; It has a huge database and can read letters to every destination point. It means that An Post will reduce the labour intensive way of sorting which is part of a cost-cutting exercise to help the firm become more efficient,” he added.


Ann Kennedy, Marie McCabe, Joanne Harron, Linda Morrow, Rebecca Keys, Maria Brennan, Lynette Britton and Daphne Anne Kelly

Still no Sunday
Mass in Laghey Barr

In the latest twist to the Laghey Barr mass saga, the parishioners are now refusing to pay parish contributions. There has been no Sunday mass in the country chapel since June 8th, with one exception - the parish priest of Drumholm, Father Daniel McBrearty, citing excess work in preparing for all masses, as the reason.
The committee formed to fight this decision said they hoped Fr. McBrearty would reconsider this position and that the community were prepared to accept mass in Laghey Barr chapel at any time on Sunday morning.
The parishioners have commented on the hurt caused by the lack of consultation before the decision was taken and the fact that the announcement was made, not by their own parish priest Fr. McBrearty, but by Fr. Adrian Peelo, from the Fransciscan Friary, Rossnowlagh. Negotiations are ongoing between the parishioners, Fr. McBrearty and the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr. Phillip Boyce, and it is hoped that a solution acceptable to both sides will be found in the not too distant future.
In a meeting with the Bishop on a recent Tuesday, parishioners were told by Dr. Boyce that the church would not close but he gave no indication when Sunday mass would resume “He told us to remain optimistic and he would let us know what will be done” said a spokesperson.
In the meantime, Fr. McBrearty said the parishioners were welcome to attend mass either within the parish at St. Brigids in Ballintra, or outside at Killymard, Rossnowlagh or Donegal Town.

Now You see it
- Now you don't

When the inaugural tour of Lough Eske, arranged by Waterbus captain, Billy Bustard, returned to base, one of the comments picked up by our reporter was that it was very hard to actually see the lake from any point on the road. Well, it looks like it’s about to become harder. Entering Townawilly from the Clar/Barnes side, about 100 metres past the Arches Guest House, the walls of a new building are springing up on the lower side of the road, at one of the few spots from which the lake was visible. It has always been local perception that this scenic side was off-bounds for building - was this mistaken or has the policy been rescinded.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-73-22860 Fax: +353-73-22937