Muintir na Mara in Donegal

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Farewell to the last series of Muintir na Mara –  Episode 3 Sunday 8th April 9:30 TG4

 

In this final series Pádraig Ó Duinnín, a boat builder from Cork. travels by boat, bicycle and van around the stunning coast of Donegal.Pádraig has an action-packed time of it, on Sliabh League, and Glencolumbcille, Maghera and Ardara.

Pádraig starts the programme by rowing around Sliabh League, one of his favourite things to do. Then, after a ramble up the mountain he meets with Gene Eoghain O Churraighín. Gene tells him all about the Sliabh League cliffs and the Giants Desk and Chair, which is a short drive from his house. He tells the story of how fishing was poor before 1960 and how the landowner, Duffin, would not allow the fishers to leave from Teelin Peer. Gael Linn bought the land in 1960, and allowed fishermen to fish from the pier for a fee. Boom time for fishermen followed, until a land dispute in the 1970s  and fishing has fallen off since then.

Next Pádraig moves on to Glenncolumbcille where he meets with Merle Drost, her sisters  and their mother Connie in the local pub where they have come to play a session. Connie is from Germany, and is the widow of James Byrne, a famous fiddle player form Meenacross, near Gleann Colm Cille. The daughters all play the fiddle. They describe the unique style of fiddle playing in GCC. It’s a faster, more rapid style. It requires precision and a command of the instrument. The music is chiefly designed for dances. They remember their father fondly, talk a little about the annual James Byrne festival held there every year.

At the next point of his journey, Pádraig arrives onto the spectacular Maghera beach and runs into Hughie Gavigan who shows him the caves along the strand and the rocks. There’s an old legend that tells of people who were hiding out there in the 12th century during wartime. Hughie was born in the mountains. He was a farmer, they kept sheep and goats. He was also a weaver for McGees for 20 years, but sold his loom. He also had a quarry, and the rock from the area was in high demand, it was quartzite, very hard. The courtyard in Letterkenny is build with rock from his quarry. There is also a beautiful waterfall cascading over the rocks and running into the sea here,.

Pádraig finishes this leg of his journey by visiting Ardara. First, he visits young Eoin Breslin, one of the last surviving weavers keeping the tradition alive; still just a teenager but working hard to maintain this once thriving industry in the area. Later that night, Pádraig goes set dancing in Ardara and learns a thing or two from the locals about the steps.

 

 

 

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