Doaghbeg Drystonewall Féile July 2023

Programme of Events
Mary 0’ Doherty
Rosary on the shore
Mary O’ Doherty
Rebuilding the wall
The Children’s Painted Stones
Mary O’ Doherty
Art’s Barn
Photo Selection by John McAteer in our local 2024 Calendar
John McAteer

The Doaghbeg History project is now well into it’s third year. We came together through a WhatsApp Group at the beginning of Covid and since then we have been researching the history of our small townland Doaghbeg on the Fanad Peninsula.

Last summer was the first time we could organize an in person gathering and we done it in style with a big bonefire on Doaghbeg Shore where we barbecued and told stories, played music, sang songs and danced around the fire. This year we wanted to go a step further and make a weekend of activities, so a couple of us decided it would be nice to do a Drystonewall project and the wheels were set in motion.

Local Stonemason and Community Worker Cáite Fealty came on board to help us achieve our goal. On the weekend of the 14th until the 16th of July ‘23 we hosted our Doaghbeg Féile.
We started on the Friday evening with a walk to our Cilliní above our Massrock on Doaghbeg Shore, to say the rosary and sing the Ave Maria. The rain battered down on us and at times we thought the wind would blow us into the sea, but that made the evening and what it was about all the more enchanting. Our ancestors braved all weathers also to carry their dearly beloved babies, deemed unworthy of a Christian Burial, to this spot.

Afterwards we gathered in our National School for a beautiful mass by Fr. Pat McGarvey and then the blessing of our new beautiful carved stone, by Cáite, to sit above the existing stone erected in the 70s to remember all buried at Ard na Leanaibh. Refreshments served we then settled into an evening of history.

Brídín Nic Chearáin, who had painstakingly translated the work of Brighid Ní Dhochartaigh, Doaghbeg (1884-1961) from the old Gaelic into modern Gaelic, read some of her writings and gave a brief synopsis of her life. Educated by the Gaelic League in Ballylar School, she went on to teach in St. Louis’s in Monaghan and became the first teacher to bring a class to inter cert irish without any teaching aids, hence she had to write her own. She was also the first Donegal Woman to have a book published “as gaeilge”. A Doaghbeg woman leading the way.

After Brídín’s presentation Mary O’ Doherty gave a presentation on her research into the place names and the field names,all of which will be preserved on the Doaghbeg History website for future generations.This was followed by reading local stories and reciting local poems. The evening was finished off by singing the songs we had learned as youngsters in Doaghbeg School.

Saturday saw us gathered at the Stonewall to commence the rebuilding of this historic wall where the stones had once formed the walls of the Doaghbeg Clachan. At 10am there was a guided history walk of the townland where the walkers were given the history and folklore of the area. The weather stayed good and the walkers were also treated to breathtaking views across and up and down the Swilly.

Saturday afternoon was for the children. Doaghbeg School once again was the setting for Stone Art. The children painted stones knowing they were going to take pride of place atop the wall. Each child put their name on a stone to be put in the wall.

Saturday night it was all happening in Art’s Barn. The Barn Committee were in full swing decorating the barn that Art had converted from his workshop to our Dance Venue and what a venue! John Cannon and all the local musicians and singers made the night a great success.
Sunday saw all back at the wall to complete the project.

The Doaghbeg children love the water so Sunday morning was once more their time. We headed to the shore for an invigorating swim. They had a ball diving and back flipping and splashing us adults.

Throughout the weekend Marie McAteer and her A Team of caterers, Rhonda, Laura and Fiona kept everybody well fed and watered. Breaktimes were made all the more entertaining with again singing, recitations and storytelling.

By 4pm on Sunday the 16th we could stand back and admire the work. John McAteer the owner of our local paper, The Tirconaill Tribune, was on hand over the weekend to record and then report on The Féile in the paper for all the diaspora to read and enjoy the following weekend.

The Time Capsule had been placed within the wall recording the name of each person who was involved in the weekend, from youngest to oldest, along with three other items relevant to the week that was in it, to be unearthed hopefully in a couple of centuries to come!
And maybe whoever opens it will add to this story.

Mary O’ Doherty
Portsalon.

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