The Donegal Bay and Blue Stacks Festival Carnival Parade was a great success this year with a helping hand from returning Donegal natives who came home to join the spectacle.
This month’s annual parade in Ballyshannon was all the more special after organisers reached out to the Donegal Diaspora to join the event, which took place during the Donegal Connect initiative.
Carnival coordinator Maura Logue says the team always involves lots of volunteers in their preparations but they made a special appeal this year for those with Donegal roots to get involved.
“We wanted to reflect the Donegal Connect message so we adopted the theme of ‘Coming Home’ this year. Carnival is a natural Homecoming event and it dovetailed smoothly with the Donegal Connect vision to gather Diaspora home.”
Maura says that the carnival starts offering diverse Arts workshops offered free to community youth and adults about a month in advance of carnival. “Be it in Samba, Street Theatre, Carnival dance, Prop making, or just walking and smiling as you go, carnival has a place for all.”
“Our COMING HOME is a call to those who were involved or viewed carnival in past times, to come and be part of the parade fun. We know that some families come back to view the carnival each year. We wished to connect with those loyal carnival attendees and fans and invite them on board.”
Maura says their responses were a great surprise. “They included performing arts students from Donegal studying in Sligo, eight Irish American gap year students looking for their ancestors, and a woman from England who left Ballyshannon when she was only 10 years old.”
“Our Carnival Poster Girl, Rhiannon Kerrigan, has been returning to Ballyshannon each year post leaving cert to be in carnival. She also is doing performing arts in NW Institute Derry as a direct result of training in carnival and street theatre skills, with Dark Daughter productions.”
Others returning here include a young mother from Co Fermanagh and was in carnival when she was just 15 years old and an Omagh woman who was in the Carnival 3 years ago, says Maura. “It’s great to welcome them all back.”
“This is heralding our BIG SHOUT OUT next year, our 20th year, when we hope to extend the ‘welcome home and come on board with carnival’ call.
This year has showed us it has possibility indeed. We of course would not be in a position to do what we do, without the continued support of Donegal County Council.”
Donegal Connect is a Donegal County Council initiative in association with the Donegal Local Enterprise Office, Donegal Diaspora, Donegal Tourism, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Údarás na Gaeltachta, IDA Ireland, Donegal Food Coast, Pramerica, Abbots Diabetes Care, Randox and Donegal Global Irish. Donegal Connect is part funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Global Irish Festival series.