When you ask certain people from Glengad ’Where are you from?’ you get answers like “I’m from Ireland.’’ “I’m from Inis Eoghain.”“I’m from Donegal.” “I’m from north Donegal.” “I’m from Malin.”“I’m from Malin Head.” “I live in a little place outside of Culdaff.”
Maybe these people were not very good at geography at school and they are not able to give a precise answer, but perhaps, unfortunately, they feel ashamed. Sixty years ago Glengad was like somewhere in the Third World.
People have a romantic notion of Ireland at that time: everyone blissfully happy in a little cottage in the corner of the glen. That’s not how things were in Glengad. The houses had no electricity. There was no running water. Water was got from a well sometimes far away from the house. Cooking was done on an open fire. Farm work was extremely hard: there was no modern machinery, of course. There were only a few cars in the area and they were used as taxis. Children went to school barefooted. The death rate was very high. Hundreds of people had to go abroad to look for work. The place was neglected. But the community spirit was strong in the area, and the local people decided to take the bull by the horns. They built a small technical college. The men learned trades and started building new houses. The electricity scheme was introduced and local men wired the houses. A water system was created. A community centre was built. A football field was laid out. Educational resources improved immensely. Community spirit drove this progress and that spirit is still very much alive. Shelia McClay tells the story of the people from there in her beautiful book ‘Tar isteach: the story of Inishtrahull and Glengad’ which is due to be published before Christmas. It shows how the people of Glengad can be rightly proud of their home place and of the people who came before them. Details of the book launch will be given in next week’s ‘Journal’.