Denise Blake often celebrates Donegal in her poetry, so this weekend is a particularly special time for her to celebrate Donegal in this interview series.
Denise will launch her third poetry collection, Invocation, on Sunday, April 15th at 3:00 pm. The event at Rockhill House Estate Letterkenny is set to be a momentous day for the much-celebrated writer. All are welcome.
Denise was born in Ohio, USA in 1958 and came to live in Letterkenny in 1969. Her first two poetry collections, Take a Deep Breath and How to Spin Without Getting Dizzy, are published by Summer Palace Press. Invocation is published by Revival Press, Denise is a regular contributor to Sunday Miscellany RTE Radio 1. She facilitates Creative Writing workshops with adults and also in schools through Poetry Ireland Writers in Schools.
In this interview, Denise shows how proud she is to call Donegal home. Her idea of a dream day in Donegal is a picture we’re all looking forward to this summer: “A sunny, blue-skied day that flows into an evening with the sun setting in a banner of orange across the sky.”
This is Denise Blake’s My Donegal…
(1) What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
The Back Strand, Rutland Island. It is glorious. My grandmother was born on Rutland Island and it is part of our DNA. In her later years she used to talk about it constantly.
(2 )If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
It would be nice to have a train service wouldn’t it? They managed it years ago.
(3) Who is the one person in Donegal that you look up to and why?
Susan McCauley in Cara House. She is an extraordinary, strong woman with great empathy for people.
(4) Daniel O’Donnell or Packie Bonner?
Packie – that save!
(5) What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?
So many, that the county keeps thriving no matter what hardships arise.
(6) What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?
“You look nice in that dress Granny” from my four year-old grandson.
(7) What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
Gloria Seasons soup. I love the tomato soup as a pasta sauce.
(8) Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
I am biased but I’d say my uncle, Fr. PJ McGlinchey in Jeju Island, Korea. He is elderly now but he made vital social and economic changes to the area.
(9) Who is Donegal’s most successful businessperson in your opinion?
There are so many, but Enda Nicholls. He is a businessman who stays connected to his customers.
(10) Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
Easkey Britton. I envy her ability to surf.
(11) What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?
Again, so many, but I love Belle’s Kitchen, Rathmullan
(12) What would your ideal day in Donegal consist of?
A sunny, blue-skied day that flows into an evening with the sun setting in a banner of orange across the sky. Days like that you can drink it in at so many places; the Rosses, Rossnowlagh, Dunlewey, Dunfanaghy, Downings……
(13) What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
“Yes!” in a greeting like “yes Denise!”
(14) What is the biggest challenge facing the people of Donegal today?
(15) What is your favourite Donegal food?
I still hold affection for Oatfield sweets even though they aren’t made in Letterkenny anymore. When we were young the smell of sweets used to carry on the wind up to our home.
(16) Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
Diffing. It frightens me to hear young men talking about going out diffing. They have no sense of danger or the potential for injury and loss of life.
(17) Do you have a favourite local band?
2 bands – RAW and DD & the Delta Boys.
(18) If you had a million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?
Another bridge across the Swilly in Letterkenny to keep the town’s traffic flowing.
(19) What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
I took part in the Sunday Miscellany Christmas show in the National Concert Hall 2016. I was on stage with the RTE orchestra seated all around me. The piece I had written for the show was a personal Christmas story and as I was reading it I could feel the silence through the hall. It was extraordinary to have that amount of people listening to my words.
(20) Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?
I am proud to call Donegal home.
Do you want to take part in the My Donegal interview series? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org