Are yoga, thai chai and reiki dreaded Druidic distractions? Is the anti-cervical cancer vaccine, HPV, the Devil’s poison?

Glancing through last Friday’s edition of the ‘Donegal News,’ I was dazzled by the sheer creativity of people from Ireland, (see a particularly interesting article on page 47 focusing on a man who lasted 70 days in prison without food and is now a Doctor in Sociology and a well-known Irish playwright and film and documentary script writer).

It’s as if the artists of every shade throughout Ireland and particularly in my resident county, Donegal – musicians, actors, painters, dancers et al – feel they have a deep, abiding, age-old responsibility to uphold our ancient rich Gael culture, and in doing so, prevent its dilution.

And I don’t mean – wonderful though it is – simply the native folk music and song of the lauded, award-winning Frosses-native Rita Gallagher and Gaoth Dobhair’s Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh (who play this Thursday at the Balor Arts Centre as part of the Bluestacks Festival).

rita Gallagher, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh

Winners of TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards.

I mean our vast spread of artistic talent, first brought here to these shores when definitive Celtic traditions arrived from places such as Romania and Gaul (Gallia) in the fourth century B.C.

Then, unlike all other islands, Alice Stopford Green tells us in her work ‘Irish Nationality,’ Ireland, “was circled round with mountains, whose precipitous cliffs rose sheer above the water standing as bulwarks against the immeasurable sea, providing a bulwark – though sadly not an invincible one – against invaders of all kinds. And certainly, helping far-flung places such as Donegal escape foreign domination.” (unlike the Pale of Dublin which followed a completely different tract).

Irish chroniclers tell of a vast Celtic antiquity, with a shadowy line of monarchs reaching back some two thousand years before Christ: legends of lakes springing forth; of lowlands cleared of wood; the appearance of rivers, the making of roads and causeways, the first digging of wells: the making of forts; invasions and battles and plagues.

The Celts or Gaels exalted and encouraged learning in national life. Professors of every school roamed freely here and the warrior’s duty was to protect them. There were periodical exhibitions of everything the people esteemed—democracy, literature, tradition, art, commerce, law, sport, the Druid religion, even rustic buffoonery. The years between one festival and another were spent in serious preparation for the next.

Innovative arts programme at the Balor Arts Center, Ballybofey, Donegal.

The law of the Celts was the law of the people. They never lost their trust in it. They never followed a central authority, for their law needed no such sanction. A multitude of maxims were drawn up to direct the conduct of the people.

While the code was one for the whole race, the administration on the other hand was divided into the widest possible range of self-governing communities, which were bound together in a willing federation. The forces of union were not material but spiritual, and the life of the people consisted not in its military cohesion but in its joint spiritual inheritance—in the union of those who shared the same tradition, the same glorious memory of heroes, the same unquestioned law, and the same pride of literature.

So deeply was their importance felt, the Irish have kept these tradition diligently, and even in the darkest times of our history, down to the 17th century, still gathered to ‘meetings on hills’ to exercise their law and hear their learned men.

Not-to-be-missed performer.

So please think of this rich vein of cultural tradition that we’ve inherited when you read this week about the wealth of artistic talent on display here in Donegal and throughout Ireland – the multi-talented Pat Kinevane from Temple Bar-based Fishamble enacting not one but three separate one-man plays beginning this Friday with ‘Forgotten,’ at An Grianan in Letterkenny, a fine venue under the organization of Patricia McBride, Helene McMenamin, Daithi Ramsay and other staff members; Fishamble’s literary officer, Gavin Kostick, hosting playwriting masterclasses this Saturday there; the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny, under the direction of Shaun Hannigan, presenting a feast of autumn concerts, kicking-off with the duet of Eliza Carty and Tim Eriksen this Friday evening; and ‘The Ghostlight Sessions’ at the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey tonight, an evening of original music curated by Nikki Pollock (Mojo Gogo) and Dean Maywood and featuring ‘In Their Thousands’ and ‘Without Willow.’

Not to mention ‘The Donegal Voices’ this Friday in Ballyshannon performing Handel’s magnificent ‘Coronation Anthems’ and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’ Many of the performances are funded by the Donegal County Council/An Comhairle Ealaion.

First Lady of Celtic music – Donegal-born Moya Brennan.

And if you missed Moya Brennan of Clannad performing a few days ago with her husband, Tim, daughter Aisling and son Paul, in Teac Leo in Crolly, in support of the Inishowen Floods Fund, you’ll surely get the chance again to hear this brilliantly talented family in the future. The same goes for ‘Shoot The Gear,’ a fine piece of theater with a fishing-community based theme facilitated by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization, written by An Grianan Theatre artist-in-residence, Guy Le Jeune, and performed by a cast of local actors, singers and musicians including Fionn Robinson, Louise Conaghan, Orlaith Gilchreest and Ronan Carr.

Speaking of music, what a terrific accomplishment by Donegal Music Education Partnership (DMEP) manager, Martin McGinley, and his team, including tutor and pianist, Ellen Quinn, Maureen Fryer-Kelsey and James Sarsteiner , with help from Marianne Lynch of Donegal County Council Library Services in putting together a new online library of more than 1,500 musical items that the public can easily access.

Martin McGinley (left) – Journalist, editor, fiddle player par excellence, now manager of Donegal Music Education Partnership.

However, as we rightly attempt to emulate our rich, multi-layered Celtic past, I would issue a sharp warning. While the keystone of our proud ancestors’ beliefs was based on the premise of democracy, each individual having a fair say, let us beware.

The Catholic Church – so long dominant in Irish society after vanquishing Druidic life, more so in rural Irish society – must now learn to accept – in turn – its rapidly changing place. And that place is no longer its own self-styled, unquestioning right to direct all community groups, especially on sensitive matters of finance. Too often have I heard complaints here in the Donegal Gaeltacht and elsewhere in Ireland about frocked priests and bishops sitting at the heads of tables, making vital decisions, often cunningly in an underhand way ahead of the formal committee meetings, on where vital monies should go. And not always to the benefit of the community as a whole – but to the church in particular.

My own area, Cnoc Fola, has just received a grant of 40,000 euro from Fine Gael Minister Joe McHugh. Considering the rather incestuous relationship between the Catholic Church and successive ruling political parties in Ireland – Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – is it reasonable for me to expect there is no payback expected, from both church and state, for this money, in terms of votes and support?

Is it also reasonable for me to trust the word of men in long black coats who describe yoga, thai chai and reiki as activities that ‘endanger our souls’ and who also discourage women from taking the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer, saying it simply encourages widespread promiscuity and immorality? And who move child abusing clergy from parish to parish?

Some months ago in a previous blog, I invited a well-known, rather affable west Donegal Gaeltacht priest, Brian O’Fearraigh, to join community members in our weekly yoga sessions at An Crann Og in Gaoth Dobhair. He hasn’t made an appearance yet. My offer is still open. He’d receive a warm ‘Cead Mile Failte’ from very friendly people there.

What do these seemingly unrelated issues – yoga, thai chai, reiki and the HPV vaccine – have in common, anyway? Freedom of mind and body, of course. And such displays of individual identity are perceived as hot, red-light dangers by most major corporation and institutions, especially the more conservative ones.
Wait for it, it’ll be swimming, cycling, swing dancing and jazz next. Oh, I forgot, the latter was already forbidden by the Church to all God-fearing people some years ago.

Does that mean God-loving people can enjoy such relaxing music? Even if they are Druids, Pagans, atheists, agnostics or pantheists and their God is Mother Nature herself?

Notes 

Hope you like my latest published novel, the suspense Pretty Ugly, linking Donegal and other parts of Ireland, including Belfast, with the US cities of Boston, New York, Kansas City and Washington DC.

Interested in creative writing? A novel? Biographical memoir? Play or movie script? See Ireland Writing Retreat

From Donegal to Transylvania – Irish music helps lift the veil

Organizing the first-ever Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in Romania and pairing it with the nation’s inaugural Corporate Citizen Awards was how I first came to appreciate the skilled musicianship of the wonderful Donegal group, Arcanadh, which launched its third album, ‘Light From The Water,’ at An Grianan this past Saturday.

Having gone to the eastern European country from the US after the fall of Communism as a volunteer to establish the first journalism schools and train evolving charities and NGOs in media relations skills, I thought I’d raise the flag and launch the first-ever March 17 celebrations.

But that’s hard to do unless you have some very fine Irish musicians.

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So I searched the length and breadth of the country for some of the best, flying over traditional musicians from Belfast to Dublin, betwixt and beyond, for a nationwide tour that encompassed the capital, Bucharest; the Black Sea port of Constanta; Cluj-Napoca, in the very heart of Transylvania; and other towns and cities besides.

When I bought my house in Bun na Leaca, Gaoth Dobhair, my search was over.

Among the excellent Donegal musicians who have mightily entertained thousands of delighted Romanians including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors and Mayors throughout the land of Vlad the Impaler have been singer-songwriter-guitarist Ian Smith from Keadu; fiddle player extraordinaire Theresa Kavanagh from Gortahork; accordionist Marie Clarke; as well as Letterkenny-based singer and banjo-mandola player Colm Breathnach; his wife, singer-guitar-whistle player, Sinead Gibson; harpist and singer, Maria Corbet, and the other multi-talented members of what must surely be voted the most accomplished traditional band in all Ireland.

Then Arcanadh had no albums to its name, now they have three quality ones – ‘Soundings,’ ‘Turning Of A Day’ and now ‘Light From The Water.’ So good are they, they’re invited to play at venues and festivals from Boston to Brittany (luckily, you can hear them in concert as part of their promotional tour at Westport House, Westport, Mayo, this Friday evening at 8 pm).

Being fortunate enough to see them in concert at An Grianan in Letterkenny a few nights ago, I wrote an appreciation of that standing ovation performance.

To whet your appetite, read on –

Irish traditional group, Arcanadh, acclaimed with standing ovation in Donegal

Versatile and multi-talented, deftly harmonious, wholesome, warm and welcoming – the album-launching concert by Arcanadh, one of Ireland’s leading traditional music groups, at An Grianan theatre Donegal this past weekend brought all these adjectives to mind, and more.

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From ancient classics to modern contemporary, from songs in English to others in Irish, from tear-jerking ballads to foot-tapping sing-alongs, the diverse repertoire of this six-member band is truly impressive.

And with the launch of their third album ‘Light From the Water,’ more people will have the good fortune to hear them as they continue a national promotional tour, with the next stop being Gracy’s Bar, Westport House, Westport, Mayo, this Friday evening, 8p.m

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A haunting quality pervaded Waterford-man Colm Breathnach’s beautiful opening of ‘The Swallow’ enhanced by the echoing voices of the others as they coalesced to create soothing, multi-layered complexities. Master of mandola and banjo and the main on-stage interlocutor, Colm’s family background provides him with a sound platform for his musical endeavors. As he informed a packed audience good humoredly in Letterkenny, he is one of 11 children and his mother would often sing to help keep peace among them. It is from her he learned many of the songs he performs including ‘Barr na Sráide’ (Top of the Street).

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In contrast to the strong masculine tonality of his voice, his wife and fellow schoolteacher, Sinead Gibson’s can best be described as  ‘whispery,’ somewhat akin to feathers rustling in a breeze, as in her version of the Gaeilge ballad ‘Méilte Cheann Dubhrann’ (Sandy Hills of Ceann Dubhrann).

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With eyes closed, I could almost imagine her breaking into a soft, breathy, seductive rendition of “Happy birthday, Mister President, happy birthday to you.’ At other times, however, her voice is downright sultry-sexy Southern as when she skipped nimbly along the lyrics of the American Bluegrass song ‘One More Dollar.

A strong hallmark of an Arcanadh concert is not only their musical prowess and collective light-heartedness but the interesting anecdotes they tell before each song, which grants the listener added insights through context.

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Of this, Colm is a master in the telling. A classic example at An Grianan was the Gaeilge song ‘Trathnona Aoine’ (Friday Evening), written by Paidin, one of Colm’s brothers, with music composed by Sinead about two teenager boys lost at sea near Waterford while out on currach boats lobster fishing.

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Award-winning Mags Gallen, who completed a Masters degree at the Irish World Music Centre at the University of Limerick, sang a wonderful version of the Scottish poet Robert Burns’ classic ballad, ‘My Love is Like a A Red, Red Rose’ while accompanying herself on grand piano, as well as ‘County Down’ by Tommy Sands.

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Her brother, Martin, a guitarist, displayed his singer-song-writing skills with his homespun ‘Turning Of A Day’ and his soothing version of Christine Kane’s ‘She Don’t Like Roses.’

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Musician and band manager, Maria Corbet, not only weaves an almost ethereal tapestry of melodies from her harp but is an accomplished singer to boot, as evidenced by her lovely interpretation of ‘Anachie Gordon’ and the poignant ‘John Condon,’ the heart-breaking story of 14-year-old Irish boy who finagles his way into the British Army during World War One only to die on his very first day of battle in the fields of Picardy, Belgium.

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Adding even greater variety to the timbres of the gathered ensemble, Fiona Walsh, who plays fiddle and tin whistle, sang ‘Horo Johnny’ impeccably and enlivened an appreciative audience with her dizzying lilting on ‘Ceol An Phíobaire’ (Music of the Piper).

Appropriately, the band finished off a terrific evening of entertainment with their arrangement of ‘The Parting Glass,’ drawing a well-deserved and enthusiastic standing ovation.

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To sum up Arcanadh and their intricate interweaving vocal and instrumental harmonies, I borrow the words from a song the group performed bilingually, ‘Coinleach Ghlas an Fhomhair,’ (From Time to Time), with the single change of one word, from ‘love’ to ‘music’  – ‘If this be music, then there go I.’ 

Arcanadh’s album, ‘Light From The Water,’ was recorded at Stiuideo Cuisle Ceoil in Gaoth Dobhair, west Donegal, by Hughie Boyle, assisted by Brid Ferry and Padraig Grogan, with graphics by Ali Deegan.

Vampire season approacheth

A strange invitation popped into my mailbox this week – and it being October, with Halloween approaching fast – perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised whom it came from: that most infamous of blood-thirsty vampires, Dracula.

Or at least from some people close to him, those at Fáilte Ireland and on Dublin City Council who together next week are organizing a special international Bram Stoker Festival in honor of the Long-Toothed Count and his maker, Dublin author Bram Stoker.

Quite right too: after all, ‘Dracula’ is believed to be the most printed book after the Bible, making Bram Ireland’s all-time, best-selling author.

Ever since I penned a tongue-in-cheek (note I didn’t say teeth-in-neck) travel book entitled “Digging for Dracula” almost 20 years ago while a foreign correspondent in eastern Europe, I’ve receive periodic invitations to speak at events focusing on Man’s fascination with blood-sucking immortals (‘strigoi’ as they’re known in the deepest, darkest Carpathians).

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But the invitation that popped into my mailbox this time was stranger than most – to speak next Saturday at no less prestigious a residence than the Mansion House, official home of the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Why there – no idea? Your guess is as good as mine. But it’s certainly a sign from on high that we’ve long passed the era when a classic novel such as this was not even acknowledged as part of our literary heritage nor studied in school, for fear it might make us feel a little  too erotic, Catholic and all, as we are.

who is dracula

But go I will and enjoy a nostalgic journey back in time – to Bram Stoker at the turn of the 19th century, a time when a general obsession about a shadowy, little-known region of eastern Europe called Transylvania and gory, bloody deaths (Jack the Ripper was alive and well and doing his stuff in Whitechapel) combined to focus peoples’ minds on all things dark and macabre.

Thus, Bram, then manager of prominent actor Henry Irving’s London theater, the Lyceum (having earlier eloped with Oscar Wilde’s former girlfriend – yes, Oscar was bisexual once), dusted up his research at the British Library (Bram never actually went to Transylvania) and penned his blood-riddled masterpiece. While his tale has been made into a zillion movies (the first being the German-made ‘Nosferatu’) and lots of TV series, poor old Bram barely made a penny from his work. When he died, his obituaries barely mentioned he was even a novelist.

After his death, the German company tried to avoid paying copyright by changing Dracula’s name to Count Orlok. Bram’s widow, Florence, sued, the court ordered all copies of the movie burned but one copy had already been distributed around the world and this was duplicated, making it an example of an early cult film.

big screen

For me, writing ‘Digging for Dracula’ was a quirky idea that emerged from an even quirkier fax received one morning at my Bucharest apartment from The Times foreign news desk in London asking me to cover a rather bizarre event – the ‘First-Ever World Congress of Dracula’ in Romania. Initially I thought it a joke (foreign newsroom editors have a black sense of humor akin to those in hospital emergency rooms, it helps in dealing with everyday catastrophes).

whitch trial

A much younger version of yours-truly stepped forward chivalrously (or, more likely, was pushed from behind) and ever since has been bound in wedlock to a woman from Transylvania for all eternity.

With hundreds of participants attending from many different countries including Japan, the US, England, France and Germany (strangely, aside from myself, none from Ireland, home of the author) and many different professions – doctors, nurses, academics, writers, psychologists, teachers – the week-long affair proved to be quite an eye-opener. Some people admitted to having coffins in their living rooms and slept soundly there when the notion took them; others had paid a hefty sum to their dentists to have their teeth sharpened.

Many of the speakers at the conference proved interesting, ranging from a psychologist’s view on what he termed ‘energy vampires, ’ those people whose company we sometimes share who leave us drained of energy; to a colorful history of the medieval warlord (‘voivod’ in Romanian), Vlad the Impaler, who some say was the model for Bram’s lead character.

vlad

While mysterious places in Romania such as Snagov Island and the Transylvanian village of Arefu, the ancient site of Vlad’s castle, proved intriguing for me to visit on my travels for the book, so did the mummies of Saint Michan’s in Dublin and Whitby (where Dracula’s ship arrives in a storm) – all major influences on Bram, the dramatic storyteller.

But seeing crooner Bing Crosby of ‘White Christmas’ fame laid out alongside the world’s most famous vampire in a Los Angeles graveyard proved more than anything that fact can indeed be stranger than fiction.

Fangs for stopping by and, in the words of the Count, “Come freely, go safely and leave some of the happiness you bring.”

Donegal Creameries and Kerry Group to lock horns at Croke Park

I bought a lottery ticket a few weeks ago at a community festival in the tiny village of Limenaria on the Greek island of Thassos.

And promptly won.

A goat.

Clover – a fond hello, a fond farewell

Friendly, a bit shy, Clover – as I chose to call her – gazed up at me out of big gentle eyes filled with an innocent curiosity about the world around her.

Unfortunately, as in the classic tales of summer romances, our time together was short-lived. Due to the labyrinth of EU regulations about the movement of animals across borders, I had to bid Clover a sad farewell and we parted company with a promise to see each other next year.

I was reminded of her while wandering leisurely along the dusty streets of Doi Mai, a rustic Romanian Black Sea coastal village Sunday evening while basking in the memory of Donegal’s glorious win over Dublin just an hour before.

That’s when I felt a soft nudge at my back.

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What’s happenin’ bro?

Turning, I looked down to see a pair of familiar eyes fixed upon me. At first, I thought, through sheer primordial instinct, Clover had managed to evade armed Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian border guards and leaped to freedom. Unfortunately, it was not so, but the eyes were just as inquisitive nonetheless. And behind the fellow before me were many more of his four-legged compatriots, all out for a leisurely afternoon stroll just like me. They seemed so content, easy-going and full of spirit I felt like exhorting them into a ‘Goats Don’t Shave’ rendition of ‘Jimmy’s Winning Matches’ in honour of the day’s stunning victory.

Then it dawned on me. Where are all the goats that used to roam the length and breadth of Donegal? There’s hardly any to be seen now even though historical records indicate there used to be literally thousands of them. Aside from singer Pat Gallagher and his wonderful group, we don’t seem to celebrate the many wonderful facets of this delightful creature anymore. Indeed, we seem to be downright biased against them – with no particular reason for being so.

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Shy but curious.

Even though grass is greener in Donegal than Romania’s or Greece’s scorched summer earth; even though rain is much more plentiful; even though, with the same amount of food, a goat gives around four litres of milk, four times more than a sheep; and even though ample medical evidence shows its milk and meat to be healthier in so many ways than that of both cow or sheep, we seem to be definitively an ‘anti-goat’ species. It’s tantamount to animal racism.

What can these innocent creatures possibly have done to us to merit such stark hostility? Is it linked to some warped religious notion about Satan and his horns? About Baphomet, the enigmatic, goat-headed figure linked to occultism and witchcraft? Looking down the sunlit street into the gentle, innocent eyes of those around me, so filled with undisguised curiosity, it was hard to imagine anything devilish about them at all.

In fact, rather than posing a threat to our moral or physical well-being, goats are our greatest asset, the list of their attributes being impressively substantial. For example, goat’s milk boasts a variety of health benefits, ranging from blood vessel support to cancer prevention. It eases the pain of migraines and premenstrual syndrome and reduces the chances of breast cancer.

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Hello, may we help you?

The ‘World’s Healthiest Foods’ website suggests people with lactose intolerance may have less trouble drinking goat’s milk, partly because it boosts copper and iron metabolism. This quality may also make goat’s milk useful against mineral absorption problems. ‘The Journal of Nutrition’ says goat’s milk can ease conditions such as bowel inflammation and arthritis and that the high level of potassium may also reduce the risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Now, as goat’s milk has a higher concentration of calcium than cow’s milk which helps prevent bone loss and that there will be no shortage of bone-crunching tackles in three weeks time at the Croke Park finale, would it not be a good idea for someone with initiative to collect a few dozen litres of this fine liquid and start delivering them forthwith to the training camp of McGuinness, Murphy & Co? Also, it must be added, the he-goat is the epitome of masculine virility and creative energy,

With the Sam at stake and a confident Kerry as the opposition, every little helps. Donegal Creameries, are you listening? Get in there before the Kerry Group does.

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Waiting for a high ball

Stark racism rears its ugly head in west Donegal

Sadly, an ugly racist incident took place Friday afternoon that brings the notion of ‘Ireland of the Welcomes’ and the reputation of the Donegal Gaeltacht into severe disrepute.

In trying to encourage more open public debate on what she considers is a serious community issue – Údarás spending of what is believed to be between one and three million euro on a proposed drug addiction clinic in Falcarragh and the need for greater funding for cultural tourism projects in west Donegal – my wife, Columbia – an emigrant to Ireland, now a proud Irish citizen and happy living in the Gaeltacht – was racially abused and told to “Go back where you come from. We don’t want you here.”

The person who shouted the abuse was a man, driver of a car with the registration plate 08DL5251 who stopped as he passed by a petition-signing table my wife was manning as a volunteer at Falcarragh crossroads around 3.30 pm this Friday.

This man’s distressing contribution to what he might well call ‘community development’ is all the worse considering how so many men and women from Ireland down through the generations, including the present one – and unfortunately, many from west Donegal – are emigrants themselves, in search of a new life in other countries, including England, Australia and the US. In this context, isn’t it sad such attitudes of discrimination as this man’s still exist here? Not only were his cutting and insulting remarks an example of stark racism right here in the heart of the Gaeltacht, but also utter hypocrisy.

My wife, Columbia, is a well-educated woman, a former secondary-school language teacher, one of two sisters from an ordinary working-class family in Vișeu de Sus, Maramureş, northern Romania, a small town very similar to Falcarragh itself  – both in terms of population size, pretty, rural location and indeed, economic difficulties it faces. Like many others, Columbia and her family suffered severely under Communism there until dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was ousted from power in December 1989. Such suffering included lack of basic freedoms and constant food shortages – reminders in themselves of what our ancestors right here in west Donegal suffered.

Columbia raised herself from humble beginnings, won a scholarship to university and finished not just one degree but a number of qualifications in journalism, teaching and business, finally becoming for a number of years managing director of a company employing more than 30 full-time people. Not only do I love this lady very much, I am also extremely proud of what she has achieved in her life thus far.

If anyone should know the identity of the person driving car registered 08DL5251 on Friday afternoon through the centre of Falcarragh, please tell him an apology is in order. Doing so is the mark of a real man.

Alternatively, if he happens to pass you on the road, sound your horn – it might just act as reminder to him of the reputational damage he has done to the people around him and the place where he lives.

In defending spending on the Falcarragh addiction clinic, an apparent platform for his political career – and instead of dealing with the issue at hand – Udaras board member and Fine Gael local council candidate, John Curran, labeled myself and my wife on Highland Radio as ‘agitators’ and as people ‘stirring the hornet’s nest,’ rather than as concerned citizens.

Personalizing an issue in this way and using such incendiary terms often lights dangerous fuses in people. Ugly things – such as outright racism and violence – can occur as a result. Whether he meant to or not, Mr. Curran should now take steps to avoid such words for fear they are taken on board by such people as the racist car driver. In fact, perhaps, he should devote his attentions to dealing with such racial outbreaks, isolated though they may be.  And, of course making sure as a government-appointed Udaras board member that there is greater transparency and accountability when it comes to the organisation’s operations, and this addiction clinic specifically.

Sadly Yours,

Concerned Husband and Citizen

Bun na Leaca, Gaoth Dobhair