Anita Guidera has lived and worked in County Donegal for 30 years, first with the Donegal People’s Press and later as the North West correspondent for the Irish Independent. In recent years she has worked as a freelance journalist and features writer for the Irish Independent and other media outlets. She is currently working on a number of Donegal-based multimedia projects. This is Anita’s My Donegal.
Where is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
I am fortunate that my work has taken me to virtually every nook and cranny in the county but even after 30 years, I am still discovering new and beautiful places. So, from one of our more recent adventures, my current favourite spot is the spectacular coastal route between Maghery and Marameelan in the Rosses. Although not great for driving, this is an ideal route for hiking or cycling, steeped in history with magnificent coastal and mountain views.
Where in Donegal do you call home?
Ramelton! Aside from a brief sojourn in Letterkenny and Churchill, Ramelton has been home to me for the past 30 years. Call me biased but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere in Ireland which has gifted the world with more internationally influential people across all fields from politics and sport to religion, medicine, the arts and most recently a Nobel Prize winner. I love the warmth and welcoming nature of the people, the irrepressible pride of place and unbeatable community spirit.
Who is the one person in Donegal that you look up to and why?
I’m going a little off-script here and probably as a result of years spent working in courts, but my heroes (and yes, it’s plural) are Donegal’s unsung ones, those hugely courageous survivors of abuse who have had the courage to stand up to their abusers, often at great personal cost, and face them in court.
What do you think is Donegal’s best tourist attraction?
There are the obvious ones for good reason, like Sliabh Liag and Glenveagh National Park, but Donegal’s real trump card is its hundreds of kilometres of spectacular coastline, punctuated with idyllic beaches and coves and its untamed mountainous landscape.
Do you prefer Donegal summers or Donegal winters?
Both have their different appeal but at heart I’m more of a summer person.
What would you do on your ideal day out in Donegal?
There’s nothing I enjoy more than taking guests to parts of Donegal they have never been and experiencing the wonder of these places anew through their eyes. Typically this would entail taking the most scenic routes to get to the chosen destination. I always plan a round trip that takes in mountains, beach, coffee and lunch stops and that preferably ends with sunset a pint! Left to our own devices, it doesn’t get better than getting in the camper with my husband Don and heading off to uncover yet more of Donegal’s endless secrets, all the better if it involves kayak and bicycle as well!
What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
Nothing says Donegal quite like Donegal Tweed. I love how much a part of the history of the place it is and how its colours and textures mirror the landscape.
Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
Those who bring Donegal’s music and traditional crafts to an international audience are the best kind of ambassadors.
Who is Donegal’s most successful businessperson in your opinion?
It depends on how you measure success! I admire anyone who chooses Donegal as a location for their business, however large or small, despite its challenges, because of the unique quality of life it will afford them and their family. They deserve our support.
Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
I’m in awe that the legendary Dave Gallaher (1873-1917) who captained the All Black originals rugby team on their celebrated 1905-1906 tour of Britain, France and North America, was born a few doors up from where we live on Castle Street in Ramelton.
What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?
This is a tough one because there are so many exciting things happening on the Donegal food front right now. I love Coffee Time in Kilmacrennan because of their absolute commitment to making everything from scratch (baking bread, churning butter, curing meats..) and how they are breathing new life into old and lost Donegal dishes.
If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
I would quite like if it rained less.
What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
No bother at all (and nothing is!)
What is the biggest challenge facing the people of Donegal today?
Resisting development that would be injurious to Donegal’s most valuable asset of all, its pristine land and seascape.
What is your favourite Donegal food?
Don’t make me choose one! Vegetables from Ballyholey farm, Calamari at the Seafood Shack, Killybegs, Fish tacos at Fisk, Downings, Scarpellos sour dough bread, turf smoked salmon from the Haven Smokehouse, the cheese burger at Coffee Time, Kilmacrennan, pizza at the Taproom, Rathmullan, chowder at Nancy’s Barn, Ballyliffin, mussels at The Bridge Bar Seafood Restaurant, Ramelton……
Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
The lack of mobile broadband connectivity.
Do you have a favourite local band?
Donegal is bursting with musical talent across all genres but I find myself drawn more and more to traditional music and how deeply connected it is to place and people. It’s hard to beat a traditional session at Hiudaí’s in Bunbeg, led by the inimitable Hiudaí, and including Howard Chu on fiddle!
If you had a million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?
Better mobile broadband connectivity would make it an even more attractive place to work and live.
Daniel O’Donnell or Packie Bonner?
Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?
I’m proud of how welcoming and kind the people are.Tags: