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September 12th 2007

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Solace opens as drop-in Cancer Centre

Sr. Magdeline is presented with flowers by Sean O’Donnell and Joe Quinn

“It’s a dream come true” confiding to me was one of six ladies who were undergoing chemotherapy when they first met in 1989 to talk through their worries and anxieties. From this initial meeting came a longing, then a plan, to create a Centre in which people with cancer, or in remission, could come to talk with others in total confidentially. And the planning came to fruition last Thursday with the opening of Solace behind St Joseph’s Avenue.
I arrived early, passing the lovely flower-boxes hanging on the playground fence and the beautifully kept houses and gardens of the estate. Voluntary workers were still busy at finishing touches and last minute preparations.
Newly planted flowers, shrubs and trees generated an atmosphere of colour, light and hope, attributes associated with the Centre itself where many will find their spirits raised in bright, cheerful and uplifting surroundings.
Guests started to arrive, each greeted, welcomed, and shown around. The committee has done a great job, creating an oasis where one can refresh mind, body and soul - a cul-de-sac away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I nearly forgot I was there to do a job!
Chairperson Betty Carabin, MC for the evening, introduced Canon Patrick McShane and Reverend Harry Trimble, and invited them to bless the new building.
Fr McShane praised the ladies behind the venture “They were not on the radio talking or writing in the papers about what they were going to do. There is far too much talk and no action nowadays - take a broom and sweep the house and say nothing about it - and these ladies definitely did this - this is the noblest thing that happened in the area in the last thirty years.”
A lot of speakers and well-wishers took to the podium. Sean O’Donnell spoke of a very important modest lady, one who shuns the limelight if at all possible. “At the heart of a group such as this, there is usually a person who is outstandingly talented in making people feel important, special - and needed. Donegal Town Cancer Support Group is indeed blessed in having Sr Magdalene Moore as such a person. She always has time for everyone and gives of herself unsparingly. She is cheerful, positive, supportive - and has a marvellous sense of humour. She has the ability to turn despair into hope, darkness into light. Her loving and caring nature, combined with years of experience of hospice care nursing, makes her the ideal person to lead the group. Without Sr Magdalene, this building would not have happened. The Donegal Town Cancer Support Group and indeed the people of Donegal owe a deep gratitude and say a sincere thank-you to her.”
In her address to the crowd, Sr Magdalene paid tribute to the late Cllr Peter Kennedy who first identified the site and spoke to the council on their behalf. “Many thanks and God bless all of you, we are delighted with the finished product and to have reached our goal - you all have made it possible - so make use of the facility. We are taking small steps and hope to develop the services - this is only the beginning.”
After her speech Sean O’Donnell presented Sister Magdalene with a bouquet of flowers.
Then the six ladies, Patricia Ward, Noreen McGroary, Moira O’Sullivan, Anne Rose, Kathleen Williamson and Kay Ward, who visualised such a Centre back in 1989, cut the tape - and the sons of the late Liz Delaney, David and Paul, turned the key to open the door of Solace to hearty applause!

Before I left, I visited the garden at the rear and, as the water trickled down the stones, I read one of the little rhymes on the fence and felt it truly symbolised the day and the place.
Often we stand at life’s crossroads
And view what we think is the end
But God has a much bigger vision
And he tells us it’s ‘Only a Bend!


Donegal Remembers Flight of Earls
Varied programme marks 400th anniversary of landmark event

Spectacular ten day celebration for county

The 400th anniversary of The Flight of the Earls is to be marked by a spectacular ten-day commemorative Festival, Cuimhne, to take place across Donegal between the 7th and 16th September.
Many commemorative events have already taken place this year throughout Donegal and Ireland, and across the world, to mark this historic moment in Irish history, with participating countries including America, Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium.
This is a special time for Donegal and Cuimhne has been programmed with this in mind to mark the actual anniversary of the Flight of the Earls from Portnamurry, Rathmullan, on September 14th.
There will be events to suit all ages - among those to look forward to are: •The arrival in Rathmullan of the tall ship Jeanie Johnston, offering the trip of a lifetime to France re-enacting the Flight of the Earls; •a specially commissioned concert, One Less Petal, One Last Flame in Milford Church on the 16th which will include new compositions by Elaine Agnew and fiddle player Tommy Peoples with a choir of 150 school children from around the Milford area; •an exhibition in the County Museum focusing on the major events of the period, opening on the 12th; •a family carnival and pyrotechnic show in Rathmullan on the 15th; •a commemorative march from Donegal Town to Rathmullan between the 14th and 16th.
To mark the actual 400th anniversary, President Mary McAleese will unveil a specially commissioned sculpture at the Shorefront, Rathmullan, on Friday 14th and the town will host a variety of events throughout that day, including a ceremony at Portnamurry Pier and a debate between Dr Garrett Fitzgerald and Fintan O’Toole, Asst Editor, Irish Times, entitled “The Celtic Tiger has eroded traditional Gaelic culture more than the Flight of the Earls did”.
Saturday 15th will be a spectacular family afternoon and evening that includes free public access to the Jeanie Johnston in Rathmullan. You will see the streets come alive with Inishowen Carnival Group’s Ghosts of the Earls, followed by a dazzling pyrotechnic display by Walk the Plank.
Full Programme details are available on or by ‘phoning (074) 919 4200 / 919 4277. Cuimhne is organised by Donegal County Council as part of the year long commemoration of the Flight of the Earls.
This programme has been funded by the International Fund for Ireland, Interreg IIIA, Failte Ireland, Dept of An Taoiseach and the Dept of Arts, Sports and Tourism.


Red Hugh depicted in bronze statue
The final piece commissioned for the Flight of the Earls Commemorations is a bronze sculpture of Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill (1427-1505) by artist Maurice Harron, in partnership with Donegal Town Community Chamber Ltd and The O’Donnell Clan Association. This will be unveiled by Minister Mary Coughlan TD on Thursday 13th September at 3pm, at the far pier in Donegal Town. All are welcome to attend.
Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill/Red Hugh O’Donnell was the great-great-grandfather of Ruairi O’Donnell who departed on The Flight of the Earls on the 14th September 1607.


Asks Joan Hyland

• Red Hugh O’Donnell did not sail from Rathmullan on the fateful September day. He set out for Spain two days after the defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 to seek further help from the Spanish King, Philip 111. There he died the following year and it was rumoured he was poisoned.
• His brother Rory became the O’Donnell, and with his brother Caffar, sailed from Lough Swilly, but his pregnant wife, Bridget Fitzgerald, who was just seventeen, was left behind. Both Rory and his brother died in Rome within a year of departing from Ireland.
• Ninety-nine people in all sailed from Rathmullan with the chieftains. The precious cargo included Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Cucconacht Maguire, Lord of Fermanagh. Among the women were O’Neill’s fourth wife, countess Catherine Magennis and Nuala O’Donnell, sister of Rory and Caffar. There were several children on board, as well a spiritual advisors and servants.
• The Annals of the Four Masters described this historic departure thus; “that was a noble shipload, for it is certain that in modern times the sea has not poured forth from Ireland... a shipload that would have proved finer or more illustrious, or nobler on grounds of ancestry, or better for deeds or bounty, valour or exploits.”
• The most outstanding and powerful member of this ‘noble shipload’ was Hugh O”Neill, who died in rome in 1616. He spent a great deal of his youth in England and managed initially to stay on good terms with the crown. He is the subject of Brian Friel’s play, Making History.
• The Flight of the Earls left a political vacuum in the north of Ireland, which the English were quick to exploit and plans were expeditiously prepared to colonise Ulster. These began to be executed in 1610 with the Plantation of Ulster.
•The Earls set sail at midnight on Friday, 14th September 1607. Due to the ferocity of the weather they landed near Le Havre in France on the 4th October. They had been heading for Spain. A sadly depleted party - including Hugh O’Neill - finally reached Rome on 29th April 1608. The fugitives could not have imagined they would never return to Ireland.
• In Ireland the colonisation process resulted in a clash between Gaelic tribalism riven with internecine rivalries and a united English bureaucratic machine. The Irish used guerrilla tactics in warfare; the English had far superior military power.
• Donegal Town owes its form to the Planters who were brought from Britain by Captain Basil Brooke in the first decade of the 17th century. The Diamond was designed as the market place.
• Although Donegal Castle was granted to Brooke in 1611, along with one hundred acres of land, it later fell into the hands of the Cromwelllians. After that it was probably never used again as a residence.


Painting by Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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