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March 10th 2004

A little done

More adoing

Much to do

March 2004, and the 15th birthday of Donegal Times. Since the first issue back in 1989, there have been many changes in our area, probably main among them, the bypass, Super Valu Shopping Centre, the sale and re-development of two hotels plus the building of another at Doonan. But nothing that took place over that period can compare with what is going on at present, both in the process or planned for the near future.
At the end of this month the new council offices at Drumlonagher are due to open. By May, Michael Kelly’s development at the old cinema site will be occupied. The Nero Complex on the car park is fully booked, with some outlets already in business. Out at the Millpark, Tony McDermott has completed phase 1 of his project with phase 2 due to come on-stream by year’s end. In Laghey, the Kee boys have opened their new Spar supermarket and garden centre, with a restaurant to follow next month.
But what’s planned is even most exciting. Decentralisation, if it takes place, will see another large office block in town, with three sites currently tendering to house the arriving civil servants. The Bennett site at Drumlonagher is awaiting further development, as is Billy Reid’s space behind Lidl. With the Mart/Bosco site now earmarked for Tesco plus ancillary retail, Keeney’s other investment at Revlin is an unknown quantity. And talking of the mart, rumours abound that representatives of the Keeney consortium have been in negotiations with the principals of other organisations and companies abutting this site with a view to possibly more than doubling the original development area.
The long awaited library is being mentioned for the car park on the Diamond and Kevin Martin has a new complex, combining retail & office space, in mid-construction facing on to this area.
Then there is the new mart site at Tullyearl and Bennetts 7.5 acre investment in the same area.
What is probably the biggest disappointment amid this spirit of progress is the lack of movement towards creating a second car-park on the north side of the Diamond. This was one of the first initiatives undertaken by our town enterprise officer but seems to have died a death. No matter how much development takes place in town, it is no good if people can’t avail of it. Even in Winter car spaces are at a premium - what hope in Summer - and if people can’t park, they just drive on till they find a town in which they can.
Surely with a modicum of co-operation and goodwill, the traders on this side of the Diamond, which include some of the most prominent and successful business people in town, could meet with the enterprise officer and council officials and come to mutually beneficial arrangements to release surplus space behind their premises for the overall good of the town.
Another disappointment is the Enterprise Group’s lack of success in getting council backing for their plans at the far pier. When locations for new marinas in the county were recently announced, Donegal Town was not one of them. With the major sewerage scheme hopefully due for completion in the next two years, the bay area will become a major player - however it now looks as if the infrastructure and development planned to take advantage of this amazing natural resource will not now be in place.
And when decentralisation is mentioned, it should not just be on a national basis - decentralisation within counties is equally applicable. In county Donegal, Letterkenny has got more than its share. It houses hospitals, factories, decentralised units, retail multiples, a third level education facility and numerous devolved council departments. Indeed, at a recent meeting of the VEC, councillor Alice Bonner asked what were the plans for its own headquarters currently sited in Letterkenny. Ms. Bonner told the meeting Donegal is a big county and Letterkenny is not necessarily the most convenient place to have the VEC headquarters. “Office space and car parking are tight, Can the existing site cater for more development. I’ve never known the building to be clean and for (construction) workers not to be in-situ - you could have it somewhere else, like Ballybofey/Stranorlar or Donegal Town.”
Now there’s a thought!

Joe Mundy Memorial unveiled

Family and friends gather to pay tribute to a remarkable man

Family and friends at the Joe Mundy Memorial, Imelda, Dinny McGinly TD, Shiela, Colm Gallagher, Cait, Minister Mary Coughlan, Bernie, Dee Crossan, Mayor Ernan McGettigan, Kevin, Norah, Liam, Mary, Eileen and Seamus

On Saturday 28th. February, 2004, friends, family, former colleagues and dignitaries gathered in the Spring sunshine on Donegal’s Diamond to pay a posthumous tribute to one of the area’s best loved community workers – the late Joe (PJ) Mundy.
Born in Burns Mountain, Lough Eske in 1916, Joe commenced employment as a junior postman in Donegal in 1931 and, with the exception of brief periods spent in New Mills, Letterkenny and Dublin, he was to spend the next 50 years in Donegal progressing his career, all the while combining this with his unpaid extra-curricular activities. Joe was always available to assist neighbours and friends in the completion of forms for various grants and advise on welfare and social matters - particularly in the Barnesmore, Leghowney and Tawnawilly areas.
He was instrumental in founding and securing the old Barnesmore National School for conversion to the present day Community Centre. During my 20 years working with Joe – there was not a day passed but that there was some person in the office seeking his knowledge and advice on external matters - assistance which he always gave willingly.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Barnesmore engraved granite plinth, Minister for Social & Family Affairs, Mary Coughlan TD, said that it was fitting in her Ministerial role that she should pay tribute to such a man, as by his social interaction, he was a person who straddled the whole community. Mary remarked on his love of Gaelic culture and sport and alluded to his compassionate care for the infirm and elderly - and his great knowledge of local history and lore.
MC for the event, Joe O’Rourke, said that he was delighted to be a committee member associated with the organisation of this memorial to a good friend, and a person who was instrumental in the founding of Donegal Social Services. Mr O’Rourke also drew attention to Joe’s good works with St. Agatha’s Conference of St. Vincent de Paul.
Manager of the Co. Donegal GAA team, Brian McEniff, said that Joe Mundy was a man for whom he had the highest regard, especially so in his love and knowledge of the Gaelic game. He remembered in 1991, when the fortunes of the Donegal team were at a low ebb and he was considering retiring from the management side. He received a number of letters from Joe, urging him to reconsider, which, on the strength of these, he did. And a year later – Donegal went on to claim the All Ireland title! Brian still retains with affection those particularly well worded letters, as, he said, they provided a beacon of light in his hour of darkness.
Mayor of Donegal, Ernan McGettigan, said that we should learn from the works of Joe as it is so vitally important in these days that we all care and offer support to the elderly and infirm and those living alone.
Former colleagues from Donegal Post Office, a unique workplace which has “spawned” a good many community activists over the years, attributed the influences of Joe to their development and advancement
Michelle Gaffney – granddaughter of Joe, returned thanks on behalf of the Mundy families. With the exception of son PJ, who was unavoidably absent, the ten other sons and daughters paid a poignant tribute to their late father and mother (Mai). Members of the 24th. Inf Btn. FCA, formed a guard of honour, while piper, Barney Lawn, Ballykillone, played an Irish lament on the bagpipes.
Following the unveiling ceremony, tea and sandwiches were provided in Pier One, an enjoyable gathering where former colleagues discussed the fortunes and players of the Co. Donegal football teams down through the years and laughed heartily at the recounting of various activities characters got up to in Donegal Post Office – and high amongst the list of those characters was Joe Mundy.
May the legacy of his kindness, understanding and compassion live on forever.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937