My Donegal – with journalist and author Ciaran O’Donnell

first_imgCiaran O’Donnell is an author and former deputy editor of the Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press. He was a reporter for 17 years and deputy editor for the last eleven.Ciaran has a passion for many things – his family, writing, St Eunan’s GAA Club and Letterkenny Athletic Club. He was part of the management team when St Eunan’s won the senior football championship in 2007, 2011 and 2014. He is a former chairman and captain of Letterkenny AC and still likes to pull on the black and amber vest and compete.His book, Donegal Sporting Greats, which tells the life stories of ten of the county’s most successful sporting individuals, was published in 2010. While Ciaran is enjoying his ‘retirement’ since finishing up with the Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press in November, it’s unlikely he’ll be idle for long as 2018 comes into view.(1) What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?Marble Hill Beach. It’s where I spent my summers growing up. It’s such a peaceful and tranquil setting.(2) If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be? Install a good rail system. Whatever administration(s) allowed the rail network to discontinue and lifted the lines were guilty of delivering a hammer blow to rural Ireland, and to the North West and Donegal in particular.(3) Who is the one person that you look up to and why?My mother, Bridie. She’s a rock of sense, a pillar of wisdom and a great support to me.(4) What’s your happiest Christmas memory in Donegal?When Santa Claus left me a red Adidas tracksuit (I think it was aged 6-8). I ran four miles around Letterkenny in the lashing rain that Christmas morning, thinking I was Eamonn Coughlan, Lasse Viren or Danny McDaid! I could have ran for ever that day. Despite the inclement weather, I was so happy. (5) What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?Winning the Sam Maguire Cup for a second time in 2012. I had the good fortune to report on the county’s first All-Ireland in 1992 as well. They were two wonderful occasions. I don’t believe people understand the demands that are placed on our county players and the sacrifices they make.(6) If you found a magic wand that allowed you to grant one wish, what would it be?Fix the country’s chronic homeless situation. There are plenty who are talking about this problem, but few actually doing something about it. There are some issues than can be placed on the long finger, but this certainly isn’t one. Here’s some food for thought – around 9,000 people will be homeless in Ireland this Christmas. A real crisis, or what? (7) What is your favourite Donegal-made product?Cotton crew-neck jumper from Magee Clothing(8) Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?Donegal captain, Michael Murphy. His affable nature, coupled with his exceptional talent and superb leadership skills, make him the perfect role model. We are fortunate to have such a quality player in the green and gold jersey.(9) What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?Pass! Next question please?(10) Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?Our double Olympian, Danny McDaid. His personal best of 2:13.09 is quite incredible. To put that into some sort of perspective, his average pace per mile was 5:04, or 76 seconds for every 400 metres.(11) What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?Hard to pass the Tin Tai Chinese Restaurant in Letterkenny. Bobby Chan along with his family and loyal staff are still going strong as ever. And that doesn’t happen by accident.(12) What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?“It’s too cold for snow” (yet it’s minus 20 degrees in the North Pole and it’s full of the stuff!)(13) What is the biggest challenge facing the people of Donegal today?Brexit. While guarantees of a soft border have apparently been given, there is still a lot of uncertainty around and this is quite understandable. So many sectors of society will be affected by Brexit. Hopefully, a clearer and healthier picture will emerge in early 2018.(14) What is your favourite food that you associate with Donegal?The tuna I used go to get regularly from fishmonger, Albert Kyles, from Killybegs, who passed away suddenly in early December. Albert was such a gentleman and had built up a large custom with the best in fresh fish outside Dunnes Stores on Oldtown Road. I was so sorry to hear of his passing.(15) Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?Not really.(16) Do you have a favourite local band?Little Hours from Killybegs are throwing up some good tracks at the minute. They hit the ground running a couple of years ago and are certainly on the upward curve. They played to a full house at An Grianan Theatre back in October. So it’s no surprise that their gig at the same venue on December 28th is also a sell-out.Back in the day, Sugarfoot were one of the leading local bands. It’s a few moons ago when this fine group of musicians had McGinley’s Bar in Letterkenny rocking.(17) If you had a million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?I’d treat all the full-time carers across the county to a two-week holiday in the sun, and thus go some way to improving their way of life. These people don’t get the recognition or rights they deserve and do a job day in and day out that requires the utmost in care and compassion. I have huge admiration for them.(18) Where’s the most unusual place you’ve logged on to Donegal Daily?At the top of one of the steep climbs in Sierra Nevada in Spain when watching the 2017 Vuelta a Espana cycle race with Sean McFadden, Declan Doherty and Pa McClean back in September.(19) Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?As a people, we are extremely competitive and like to get stuck in. Just take a look around at the sporting fixtures locally on any given week and there is no shortage of competition in an array of disciplines.Donegal people are generous by their nature, too. This is reflected in the time volunteers give to the many community groups and charities, and in the amounts of money raised locally through fund-raisers.(20) What was the most rewarding thing about your job?During my time in the media I always did my best to uphold the cornerstones of good journalism, those being accuracy, fairness and balance. Consequently, I could always look anyone in the eye.Writing a story that helped make a bad situation better was also satisfying, as was telling someone’s life story.My Donegal – with journalist and author Ciaran O’Donnell was last modified: December 30th, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Ciaran O’DonnellMY DONEGALlast_img