Cancer campaigner Betty Holmes is an example of all that is great about community volunteers. The Newtowncunningham woman has spent her life campaigning to upgrade cancer services in Donegal. And she’s not finished yet!
What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
Ah now that has to be Newtowncunningham where I have lived for over 36 years since I got married and had our children, among many things it is the gateway to Inishowen. Newtowncunningham has over many, many years a great community spirit where the folk have worked away for the good of the community & area with little or no funding. We just get on with the work to be done! Newtowncunnigham’s key potential as an economic hub for business & community development over many years has not been acknowledged or highlighted at the level it should have been. Newtowncunningham has so much to offer at so many levels. Great place, good people!
If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
That we the people of the county would start to be more proactive in realizing just how powerful we as the people of the county are & can be, how we can bring about change for the people of Donegal, how beautiful County Donegal is and what great things we have. I would like us to start to take every opportunity to make sure that it is known everywhere we can and that should start in our homes & our national schools.
Who is the one person in Donegal that you look up to and why?
I’m not sure I could single any one person out as there are many good folk who work away and do their best who I admire for not just their effort but also for the time they give to others. I do suppose I have a very special “soft spot” for a lady from Newtowncunningham Mrs. Sarah Baxter, she is an inspiration to us all, respectful, polite, caring, great sense of humour, down to earth and lives her life with such dignity. Mrs. Baxter to me is a fine example of our older generation who have lived through such hard times, given so much for us all and yet live their lives to the fullest. Also Sarah is a great knitter. She will be 91 on the 4th August and is still full of life.
Daniel O’Donnell or Packie Bonner?
Both have made a very valuable contribution to Donegal but for this question it would have to be Packie Bonner.
Packie definitely put not only Donegal but Ireland on the map and is remembered for his famous penalty save from Daniel Timofte of Romania at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy during the knockout stage. He earned 80 caps for the Republic of Ireland national football team after making his debut on his 21st birthday. With 642 appearances, Bonner is the most prolific goalkeeper in Celtic history, and their fifth-most prolific player of all time. Donegal is proud of Packie and we shouldn’t forget his amazing contribution to the county & sport. Packie is & can continue to be an inspiration to so many young people here in Donegal & that with hard work, dedication & commitment you can do it!
What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?
Sure wouldn’t that have to be the Donegal team with Jim Mc Guinness on Sunday 22nd July 2012…go Donegal go!
What was Donegal’s saddest moment?
There are many in Donegal but I suppose the tragic road deaths always come to mind and in particular the one in Inishowen in 2010, so many lives lost.
What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
I would have at this time to say Donegal’s Rapeseed Oil and I am very proud when I drive up & down the road at Sharon Glebe, Newtowncunningham and see the big sign in the field that say’s “DONEGAL PURE RAPESEED OIL, STARTS HERE, FROM THIS FIELD TO YOUR KITCHENTABLE”
Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
Now that has to be our Daniel O’ Donnell, not just for his music skills & abilities but also for the dignified & respectful manner that he has always conducted himself. The time & acknowledgement he gives to his fans is amazing, sometimes artists forget who keeps them where they are but not Daniel. Daniel is never afraid or to proud to remember where he comes from, to acknowledge that life hasn’t always been easy for him or his family and he never forgets to highlight the beauty of Donegal & it’s people. Daniel always rises above the negative remarks and shows us how powerful having the strength not to respond can be.
Who is Donegal’s most successful businessperson in your opinion?
Sir Gerry Robinson, a successful business man & a great person who never is too busy to help where & when he can….inspirational!
Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
That would have to be our own Shay Given, he has done so much but has never forgotten where he came from and is so down to earth. Again Shay is such an inspiration to Donegal’s young people. But it is also important to mention Chloe Magee, Raphoe at this time who is doing Donegal proud with her badminton skills at the Olympics! I couldn’t not mention young Brian Gillespie who is dancing at the Olympics and doing Newtowncunningham & Donegal proud. The dancing may not be considered a sport but like sport the level of hard work, commitment & dedication shouldn’t be forgot. Well done Brian!
What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?
It would have to be the Tin Tai Chinese in Letterkenny. Con & I have been going there since it opened many years ago. The food is really good but equally if not more important is the high quality standard of service mixed with a very caring & homely welcome & atmosphere, Bobby & the staff are definitely in a class of their own. Bobby takes the time always to talk to all their customers it doesn’t matter if it is your first time or like us you come on a regular bases, you definitely feel your custom is not only valued but that they care about you, a real Donegal welcome!
Donegal’s golden eagles or basking sharks?
It has to be basking sharks….with our son Mark & my brother Kevin who spend a big part of their lives following & watching the sharks, we have all now became passionate about them. And I bet ye didn’t know that Ireland (and indeed Donegal) has an important historic association with the basking shark through the earliest-published references. The first being Williem Henry in 1739 and of more famous note a record from Thomas Pennant during his Tour of Scotland in 1772 “they inhabit most parts of the western coasts of the northern seas…. and on the coast of Ireland in the Bay of Ballyshannon”. There is also written and archaeological evidence of the establishment of a whale and shark fishery with a rendering plant built by Mr Thomas Nesbitt, the inventor of the first swivel gun in Donegal Bay in 1759 (McGonigle, 2008). That information I took from http://www.baskingshark.ie/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=55&Itemid=85
Your nomination for Donegal’s most stylish person?
That would have to be Dr. John Mc Geehan, Scally’s Practice, Letterkenny. No matter when you see him, he is immaculately dressed, stylish more of a classic style than modern with great matching colors in shirts & ties. And the shoes are always polished! Despite his stylish & well dressed appearance every day, he is a very down to earth caring & approachable man, is a really good doctor who puts all his patients at ease, a real family man.
What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
“ ahhh is it ever going to stop raining” Don’t think it rains as much as we “whinge” about it!
Will Donegal win the All Ireland this year?
Of course they will, you shouldn’t have to ask…..have to say thanks to our son Mark, we learned very early the importance of having the Donegal flags out and with the energy of Jim & the team they will show the rest of Ireland & the world just what Donegal folk are capable off, it is time Sam came back to Donegal, it’s rightful home…..come on Donegal!
What is your favourite Donegal food?
Donegal fish….just love Donegal salmon…hmmm and the Donegal Catch ads are great!
Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
The negative attitude & gossiping!!
If you had a million euro to spend on improving something in Donegal, what would it be?
Donegal’s Community Hospitals for our elderly & patients who need long term & respite care!