Nearly every issue of this paper carries an Opinion piece - a lofty editorial in which we give our take on pressing issues that affect the community. We deliver in solemn, measured tone our assessment of current affairs - and sign-off satisfied that we have made a significant contribution to local thinking on whatever matter we have been pontificating.
And what happens? As the feedback comes in, the majestic Opinion is never mentioned - if it is, its at the bottom of the list - what captures the imagination of the great public is the little item at the bottom of page 18, to which you hadnt given a second thought.
Take the last issue! Throughout its pages we wrote of tourism in South Donegal, the events of 1916, the development saga in town - and the courtin of Ernan. But what was the predominant topic on the streets the day after publication? The two line assertion at the end of a letter that women should stay on their own side of St. Patricks Church and not be taking up room on the mens seats.
All in good fun! When you print a letter or throw out a subject for debate, its interesting to note what people pick up on. But thats what a small community paper should do - provide a forum, a medium that causes discussion and, sometimes, feedback. I heard local press once described as an extension of the conversation two people would have after mass on Sunday.
Its as simple as that - the news doesnt have to be earth-shattering - the smallest event, celebration, achievement in the locality is our content - or it should be. Local contributions e.g. village and townland notes are our mainstay and we thank sincerely the people who write these for us - for very little reward other than goodwill towards their community. Donegal Times is here for you, our people - its your paper and we need your input - we are only viable because you support us. Our advertisers recognise the Times as a successful conduit to carry their message - or some simply support us because they recognise the importance of the paper to the community and want it to remain in print.
The near future brings further challenges. However, Donegal Times will remain the independent voice of this town and its environs. Despite requests, we will form no alliances - but continue to report fairly and constructively on local issues. We may be up against the big boys, but you know what they say about a good little un!
St Catherines Well
St. Catherines Well in Killybegs and surrounding historic site must be the best kept secret in Co. Donegal. The well itself, path and gates leading to it and peripheral terrain, is well tended and, if you can make it to the top of the hill, the view over Killybegs and its harbour is breathtaking.
Now Im not sure if the ruins on the summit are of Kits Castle - but there is another location alongside that I stumbled on by accident which also contains a derilict building surrounded by old graves. Well not all old, I found one headstone that read 1963 - but most are early 1800s and some from the late 1700s. But it is the state of this sacred site that is shameful. The gates leading to it are rusted and falling off and debris litters the path. The cemetry is overgrown and neglected and the lettering on most of the tombstones indecipherable. Surely the good people of the port town could do something to tidy up this area as a mark of respect to their forefathers.
Indeed this whole area containing the well, castle and probably ancient church, with car park and other land capable of development, strikes me as a site capable of tremendous development as a religious and historic pilgrimage destination. The infrastructure is there, but the whole area around the graveyard and path leading to it needs to be cleaned up and maintained, signage erected and tombstones restored so the names and dates can be read. At present, very few people seem to visit the shrine - a bit of work in developing the area in totality and this could change. It certainly opened my eyes to see just how comprehensive the visual, religious and historic aspects of this corner of Killybegs is. Its future development is something that the Parish Council should look at.