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"Donegalaholic and proud" 18.05.11

by Aileen McCallan, ICRfm

FIRSTLY, I have a confession to make. I am not a native of Donegal. I am a ‘blow in’ as they say but I am also a self-confessed Donegalaholic! I just can’t get enough of the place.
My first memory of Donegal is a caravan, big fat chips in brown paper bags and ice cream on the golden sand by the Atlantic Ocean. Yes Donegal was a holiday destination to dream about, to escape to from the madness of the 12th fortnight in the north. It was during this time its wild rugged beauty seeped into my bones and hypnotised me under a sulky grey Donegal sky. Now I am proud to call it home.
To me Donegal county is like a little mini-Ireland, from the heather moors, mountains and bogs of the Gaeltacht in the west, to the rich farmlands and towns of the east.
Taking the full force of Atlantic gales, much of Donegal’s beauty is fashioned by the sea with a hard crust of coastal cliffs on the outside, Slieve League, St John’s Point, The Rosses through Gweedore, Cloghaneely and across Lough Swilly to Inishowen and Malin Head with a softer inner centre of lakes including a region of undulating peat hills that embrace Glenveagh Castle and Gardens. Donegal County is primarily one of rocky landscapes, pristine beaches, hauntingly beautiful moorlands with golden nuggets of culture and heritage and adventure wrapped in its folds. The majestic beauty of the unspoiled countryside, combined with the wide array of outdoor activities make Donegal a premier holiday destination for family days out, romantic escapes, retreats and many other special occasions.
 'Donegalaholic', Aileen McCallan.
In a new radio series I, Aileen McCallan, hope to awaken the Inishowen Community Radio listeners to the incredible beauty and energy that is all around us in our home county. You won’t have to worry about airport queues, insect repellent and turning tangerine in the Mediterranean sun. Instead, grab a a map of Donegal and come with me on a journey to explore destination Donegal, its depth and diversity that is right under your nose.
In this series of ten programmes we will begin our two week vacation in Donegal at The Franciscan Friary in Rossnowlagh. I will, at times, be accompanied by my 3 children and also by ICRfm’s Emma and Claire McDermott. After some quiet contemplation, I’ll be checking out the activities on offer at Old McDonald’s Farm near Ballyshannon, Waterworld in Bundoran and the amusements on the shore front!. Exploring the Glencolmcille Peninsula, I will visit the bustling seaport of Killybegs and take in the spectacular scenery along the Slieve League cliffs. Ionad Cois Locha in the shadow of the haunting and mysterious Poison Glen will define a perfect family day out. After a great prawn sandwich at Nancy’s in Ardara we will travel on onwards as we call into the ‘Workhouse’ in Dunfanaghy to hear "Wee Hannah" tell the true story of her long life.
 Aileen McCallan and her children Cian, Christopher and Lauren.
We will get lost in Art and Culture at the Glebe House & Gallery and Heritage Centre, Churchill and experience the pleasure of seeing one of the largest waterwheels in Ireland in action as it drives the machinery of Newmills Corn and Flax Mills. Crossing the Swilly we find ourselves back in Inishowen but our Donegal holiday is not over yet. Not many make it to the ‘Inishowen 100’ which is almost unforgivable considering highlights such as Malin Head, Ireland's most northerly point and other areas of outstanding beauty such as Kinnego Bay. We will finish our trip by reflecting on our journey at the IOSAS (Island of Saints and Scholars) Prayer Garden outside Muff. So pack your bag or come day tripping with me for a two week vacation in the ‘Costa del Donegal’. It is sure to be action packed!
Starting on Monday, May 16, the programmes air at 9am each weekday morning, finishing on Friday May 27. Each programme will be repeated the same evening at 7pm. The series was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland through the Sound and Vision scheme.
The series was researched and presented by Aileen McCallan and produced by Emma and Claire McDermott for Inishowen Community Radio.
So why not tune in this week at 9am on 105 or 107.6fm or around the world on www.icrfm.ie .
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