Inishowen takes it’s ‘culture for Granted’

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An Inishowen genealogy group has taken the regeneration of Clonmany into its own hands.

Clonmany Genealogy has organised the ‘Seamus Grant Weekend of Traditional Music and Culture’, which is taking place over the next three days.

Co-organiser, Jennifer Doherty said: “We got sick of waiting for people from outside the village to regenerate our economy, so we decided to do it ourselves! We are hoping to build on the fantastic success of August’s Clonmany Festival.

“Emigration from Donegal is very high at the moment and the pubs are dead. We want to use Irish traditional music and culture to put a spark back into Clonmany. The weekend will also honour renowned local musician, Seamus Grant.”

With the art of a practised storyteller, Ms Doherty said Seamus Grant was born in 1934 in the townland of Cloughfin.

She said: “His parents were Mary Ann and Willie Grant, who were both talented musicians. Seamus had that same natural gift for music.

He also learned from the playing of his uncle, Willie Joe Grant and from a neighbour, ‘White’ Dan Doherty, who was later to become his father-in-law.

“’White’ Dan was a fiddler, singer and dancer and a great source of tunes, which he learned during harvest time in Scotland. As a young boy ‘White’ Dan often assisted in taking the blind fiddler, Paddy Kelly to the many local house dances.

A noted fiddler, Paddy was much in demand until his death in the 1920’s.”

The ‘Seamus Grant Weekend’ will open tonight (Friday) at 7pm with a genealogy evening in the Ballyliffin Hotel.

Jennifer Doherty said: “It will feature a talk by two of Ireland’s leading genealogists and historians, Eileen and Sean O’Duill. This will be followed at 9.30pm by the grand opening session of traditional music, song and dance, which will showcase the talents of local performers, including some of Inishowen’s All-Ireland champions. Admission costs five euro per person.

“At 1pm tomorrow we will move to the Market House for an exhibition of family history and local heritage, hosted by Clonmany Genealogy. Local historian, Catherine McWilliams will be speaking about the old church at Straid. There will also be journeymen craftsmen in Market Square demonstrating traditional Irish crafts.”

Saturday’s events will be rounded off by the wonderful ‘Mrs Fancy Tart Comes To Dinner – Making Sense of Family Stories’. This session will be held in the Glen House, Straid, Clonmany. It includes dinner and informal family history and heritage talks. As places are limited, booking is essential. This can be done by phoning Sonia McGonigle on 074 93 76745 or Jennifer Doherty 086 3139258.

Sunday, the final day of the ‘Seamus Grant Weekend’ will begin with an Under 12’s traditional disco.

Ms Doherty said: “Fun is the order of the day on Sunday but we are delighted that All-Ireland champion, Valerie Harkin will be along, should anyone want to learn some serious steps. Admission is free but all children must be accompanied by an adult.

“For the grown-ups, there will be an historical walk and talk with local historian Marius Harkin. It will feature the O’Doherty’s Carrickabraghy Castle in the Isle of Doagh.

The weekend will come to a close with a Farewell Session, which begins in the Market House Hall at 6pm and features local performers and guests. Everyone is welcome and admission is free.”

For more information, please contact Pat McGonigle on 087 2859287 or Sean McDaid on 086 1948491.