Carolynne Harrison is a familiar face to all guests and visitors who are welcomed to the Shandon Hotel & Spa.
As General Manager, Carolynne has been at the helm of a massive transformation at the luxury seaside resort.
She has also been the star of the hotel’s very own television series! ‘An Shandon’ on TG4 has put the hotel, along with their fun and friendly staff, in the spotlight.
The TV fame has already drawn large numbers of visitors and Irish language speaking guests who want to enjoy the craic and a ‘cúpla focal’ with the now-famous team.
Carolynne, who is from Derry City, is preparing for another bumper year on the Wild Atlantic Way, but she took a moment to join the ‘My Donegal’ series and share her thoughts on the county:
(1) What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
I absolutely love the coastal areas, my favourite would have to be Murder Hole Beach in Downings. The beach is stunning although I almost have a nervous breakdown having to walk through a field full of cows in case I get chased!
(2) If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
Nothing! Some would say they’d change the weather, but I love Donegal in all seasons, even in winter, there is nothing nicer than a wrapped up walk on Marble Hill Beach followed by a glass of wine by the turf fire in the Shandon!
(3) Who is the one person that you look up to and why?
I look up to two people, my Mum & Dad. My Mum for showing us that a woman can have a career and raise a young family and my Dad for raising the girls in our family like boys, we were taught it’s not cute to be afraid of spider’s lol! My Dad also invested so much time into us as kids, taking us on long walks in the country and discussing every topic on the news and current affairs!
(4) What’s your happiest Christmas memory in Donegal?
My happiest Christmas memory in Donegal is seeing the little children’s faces light up when Santa visits their room in the Shandon or as they walk through our Magical Winter Wonderland! We are fully aware that we have the imaginations of all the little ones in our hands and it is so rewarding when we see them leave, believing in the magic of Christmas even more!
(5) What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?
Being named as the ‘Coolest Place’ by National Geographic was a big one!
(6) If you found a magic wand that allowed you to grant one wish, what would it be?
That the VAT rate remained at 9%!!
(7) What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
I’m going to be biased and say it’s the Shandon’s Homemade Guinness bread!
(8) Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
I would say Danny O’Carroll & Amanda Woods (Mrs Browns Boys), Amanda is a Donegal girl and between them they both do everything they can to support local businesses in Donegal! Not only that, they have arranged some fantastic events in the past for local charities.
(9) What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?
That I’m genuine and down to earth!
(10) Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
Has to be Packie Bonner, I grew up watching him on the TV with my Dad & brothers, he is a great ambassador for Donegal. I met him in Scotland at a tourism event, it was lovely for him to come and support the businesses from Donegal.
(11) What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?
Has to be Marbles, overlooking the bay at the Shandon (shameless marketing I know)
(12) What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
It’ll be grand! At work, all my colleagues wind me up because no matter what we face I say – it’ll be grand sure and it always is!
(13) What is the biggest challenge facing the people of Donegal today?
2019 is going to be tough with the uncertainty of Brexit which has resulted in a poor exchange rate for our customers from NI & UK. Brexit uncertainty was hard enough on us never mind the 50% increase in VAT. Timing couldn’t be worse for a county that was working hard on tackling seasonality.
(14) What is your favourite food that you associate with Donegal?
Guinness & Seafood Chowder, best served beside an open turf fire overlooking a rough, wintry sea view.
(15) Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
The length of time it takes to complete road works!! Albeit, very glad to see some great improvements in our road networks of late!
(16) Do you have a favourite local band?
Yes – Keltic Kaos, seen them many times at weddings here and they really know how to get a party started! We have a Wedding experience event on the 30th Dec and part of the day will include a free live performance!
(17) If you had a million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?
The parking at Marble Hill Beach and the water lines to the area!!
(18) Where’s the most unusual place you’ve logged on to DonegalDaily?
Nowhere is unusual, I log on everywhere all the time! I don’t get much of a chance to go to unusual places but hopefully I’ll get a holiday next year!
(19) Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?
I’m really proud of the hospitality & entertainment industry in Donegal, we have some amazing talent in terms of Chef’s, super live bands, fantastic local festivals, beautiful hotels that make the most of our gorgeous location and last but not least, I am proud of our people. Donegal people are warm, inviting and full of craic which enhances our county as a tourism destination.
(20) What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
I have two things that I find most rewarding:
- Watching young talented people who have nothing but hunger and passion for their work succeed and move through the ranks under my mentorship
- When I ask a guest, was everything ok with your stay and they say NO – it was too short!!
Would you like to take part in the My Donegal interview series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.Tags: