Donegal - a creative county?

Oct 04, 2011, 03:08 PM

Overview: Rapporteur Fiona McGaughey summarizes themes from the speeches and the salient points from the various workshops at the end of a conference on cultural tourism in County Donegal that took place on the 4th of October 2011.

Summary: A well run and well attended conference on cultural tourism in Donegal took place in the Villa Rosa hotel in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal today. Among the speakers were Shona McCarthy of Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013, Michael Starrett of The Heritage Council, Ian Brannigan of the WDC & Michael Wheeler of Rathmullan House. To get us in the competitive mood, we also had the siblings of two great sporting icons speaking in the form of Kevin Kidney of Failte Ireland and Hannah McGuinness of Donegal Designers Makers.

Star of the show though was polymath Philip King who deftly reminded us that where poetic champions compose, the ersatz Arthur's Day deserves to decompose. What we have to offer the world is a lot more than an annual marketing ploy, but we need to grow up, to learn to cope with failure by failing better, to collaborate more and to appreciate we have a lot to offer the world with our existing resources and innate musicality. He reminded us of Gabriel Conroy's words in Joyce's 'The Dead': -

"A new generation is growing up in our midst, a generation actuated by new ideas and new principles. It is serious and enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it is misdirected, is, I believe, in the main sincere. But we are living in a sceptical and, if I may use the phrase, a thought-tormented age: and sometimes I fear that this new generation, educated or hypereducated as it is, will lack those qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day."

The words are old, but the sentiment remains to this day; we have an authenticity and ingenuity that needs to be savoured in these changing times. Finally, all praise to Donegal County Council's Aideen Doherty for organising the event and for having the good sense to hire a rapporteur to remind us of the points we need to come away with*. Let's not have this event become a lip service lido or another talking shop. Everyone in the room needs to listen to Fiona's feedback and ask themselves how they can actively make those points come to life - we all must play a part.

2014 update: As we suspected on the day, the conference turned out to be nothing more than a lip service lido, a talking shop that when all is said and done, a lot more was said than done. The Donegal App was our response to what was said that day and what we could do to showcase the county and all that was best in it. We have developed a free state of the art multimedia cross-platform smart travel guide at our expense and on our own time. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else; it is truly a labour of love which deserves to be savoured slowly over time to see all of the features and all of the hidden gems of the region and indeed beyond Donegal.

A lot of people talked a good talk that day and did nothing else. A lot of people who are paid to promote Donegal know about this app and will steadfastly refuse to mention it or promote it in a simple fashion, such as a tweet or a Facebook posting. We may be a creative county, but we have a long way to go in terms of solidarity of purpose and where sadly the qualities of 'humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day' are just that; a thing of the past.

*We were a bit too fulsome in our praise for Ms. Doherty and withdraw it in hindsight. She went through the motions of organizing the event and she is one of the many people from Donegal County Council who is aware of the app and that should at the very least have been sitting down with us to see how best to utilize the app now that it is up and running. Don't worry lads, just keep the heads down and hear this as a nasty white noise that will eventually go away; your pensions a...

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