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October 25th 2006

Pictured after their recent wedding in Creeslough, are Jim and Eyvonne McGuinness. Eyvonne is daughter of Colm and Marjorie McFadden, Creeslough, and Jim is the son of Jim and Maureen McGuinness, Ard Patrick Glenties. Football was a big topic at the wedding with Jim being a former county star, still lining out for Naomh Chonaill, and Eyvonne’s brother Colm lining out for St. Michael’s and Donegal.
Photo: Michael O’Donnell


Countdown to Closure
Magee Chairman outlines to clothing staff
timetable and extent of redundancies

Last Thursday a meeting was held between Magee management and staff of the clothing section in the factory to convey the proposed dates on which redundancies would be implemented. Approximately sixty staff members will lose their jobs as previously announced last February.
The redundancies will happen on a phased basis and will be implemented in an orderly wind-down procedure from December 2006 to June 2007. The first staff to leave, in the cloth and cutting areas, are expected to finish on December 22nd. The jacket-line redundancies will start mid-January and the trouser and jacket final line later in the month. There will be a small number of multifunctional staff retained, approx seven, until June, when the final pay-off will take place.
When contacted by Donegal Times, Mr Lynn Temple wouldn’t comment on dates, saying it was an internal issue. However, he said that the company had tried to preserve employment for as long as it could. “Magee did their utmost to accommodate their staff - and these redundancies are basically regrettable, but the manufacturing costs were unsustainable in the face of competition from low-cost countries and we are the last of the manufacturers to take action – all the others have already moved their operations out of Ireland and the UK.”
It was at the end of the second world war that Lynn’s father, Howard, saw that the tailoring trade was in decline, giving way to off-the-peg buyers. Magee began manufacturing suits and jackets to sell to the buyer off the street. At its peak the Magee operation employed over 550 operatives. However as the year 2000 approached, the Magee Company was facing increasing competition. Almost all its competitors had moved their operation to low cost countries, giving them a high economic advantage over the home production. This proved too much for the Donegal operation which, after years of losses in the clothing sector, finally succumbed, leading to last Thursday’s announced lay-offs. Magee weaving will continue as normal, as will the company’s retail shop on the Diamond. A redundancy package was agreed at three and a half weeks pay per week worked. With nine weeks left to Christmas, 60 Magee employees prepare to face 2007 without the job which, for some, has been part of their life for over forty years.

Donegal Town - ‘Ireland’s Premier??’

18 miles to the south of Donegal Town is ‘Ireland’s premier Resort’ – 18 miles to the west ‘Ireland’s Premier Port’ both proudly signposted with these distinguished titles. So I got to wonder – situated, as we are, between these two illustriously designated centres, what legend could we assume that would put us on a par with these proud ‘premier’ destinations?
I came up with three possibilities which, with a bit of work, could put our town up with the best:
Irelands Premier Historic Town: Our castle and Abbey, encompassing the O’Donnell era and the great academic feats of the Four Masters, comes second to none in the proud annals of Irish history. They stand as a monument to struggle and a symbol of learning, attributes that defined our fight for freedom through much of the second millennium. The struggles, the wars, the triumphs, the defeats, are all contained in those ancient walls, which bear testimony to the courage, scholarship and spirituality of our famous ancestors.
Few towns possess, and can show off in comparative settings, such stark testimony to our forefathers achievements. But more could be done. The castle should be completely restored and more utilised – even in a commercial way. The land at the back should be acquired and turned into a town park, with a riverside walk to the pier area. The Office of Public Works would need to slacken its draconian rules and allow more social interaction to take place within the walks. The castle is an admirable and well run memorial to our past but there is a piece missing – and that’s a pity.
And our Abbey overlooking Donegal Bay stands second to none when it comes to ancient endeavour. Doubtless, the new Hospitality Centre mooted for the Quay area will have space devoted to Donegal’s history. Standing proud in that past are the renowned monks who penned the Annals.
Malachy Sweeney has admirably traced these events in his recently launched book ‘The Sands of Time’ - and also noted other historic sites dotted around town including Maherabeg, Ballyboyle and Lough Eske. All these should substaniate our claim to be the ‘Ireland’s most historic town’.
Ireland’s best designed Town: Thanks to Sir Basil Brooke, the centre of town, with its quaintly named Diamond and structured buildings, creates a focal point of space and dimension, that is rare in a costal setting. The neat symmetrical streets bounding the river enhance this image. But more could be done to make the centre more user-friendly. The overall cold concrete feel need to be softened, broken up by grass, water, colour, whatever..... More seating (better designed), is needed, and the flowers could do with more suitable urns to show them off. Ugly ESB transformers should be removed and put elsewhere. Finally the variety of signage and motley of paint jobs around the Diamond need to be regulated – then we would truly deserve to be custodians of ‘Ireland’s best designed town’.
Ireland’s Premier inner Bay Town: The potential of Donegal as a bay and river town should become fully apparent when the present sewage scheme is completed. The opportunities are vast. Complemented by the planned new hospitality centre on the pier, a clean bay will open its water for a myriad of recreational and sporting uses. To have a berthing facility so close to the centre of town must be almost unique in Irish coastal centres, giving the boat user the pleasure of the sea, allied to the attraction of urban facilities. The bay and river area must be developed carefully, and with vision. Our most important natural asset could easily be destroyed by unsympathetic development - as can already be seen from the ugly manhole constructions disfiguring our lovely Eske. Done properly - surely deserving the title ‘Ireland’s premier inner bay town’.

So three titles that, with some work and foresight, could be within our right to claim. What we don’t need is our present label, ‘Ireland’s premier town of objectors, squabblers and begrudgers’. Unfortunately it is these designations that we are presently best known for. Let us move forward and concentrate our efforts to enhance what nature and history has given us in abundance - and hope that the people elected to represent us, along with council officials and planners, have the good sense to know what is right for a town blessed with more than its share of bestowed and bequeathed assets.

Footnote: Last week, through a mutual friend, I was introduced to one of Galway’s most successful developers who has constructed large swathes of commercial and retail building throughout that city. Having taken a walk through our town, he professed himself ‘very impressed’. He noticed the lack of derelict buildings and how busy the streets looked. We spoke of developments waiting to happen - and he issued a warning. “I hope the planners don’t make the same mistake they did in Galway where the road infrastructure is totally inadequate. Your wait for development might be a positive if planners get the traffic flow right. There is no reason why this should not happen.”
Let’s hope so!

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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


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