Fiona Boyle (née Barrett) plays two key roles in the Donegal community. As a volunteer and committee member with the Ray Community Group, she is the backbone of an award-winning group that provides great services for people of all ages.
Fiona was presented with a ME4U Individual Volunteer Award in 2019 for all her inspirational work.
Fiona is also a specialist cardiac nurse and the HSE Smoking Cessation Officer in Donegal and provides support to people as they quit cigarettes and change their lives for good.
“We know that the majority of people who use tobacco don’t want to and a large proportion try to quit each year so we provide a free service in 13 locations throughout Donegal to assist them achieve this. I love my job!” says Fiona.
She is married to Brendan and they have three children – Clara Rose, Rory and Thomas.
This is Fiona’s My Donegal…
(1) What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
Oh I have several. I love where I live in Drumacloghan as it’s in the middle of the country between Rathmullan, Ramelton and Milford but overlooking the Swilly so you have the best of both worlds. I love anywhere in Donegal as the scenery is spectacular and so diverse.
My work involves driving past Muckish and Errigal mountains and also going through the ‘Gap’ on way to Donegal Town, all stunning.
I love walking anywhere in Glenveagh Estate, Rathmullan and Kinnegar beaches, Tramore beach in Downings, Murder Hole beach in Melmore, Rathmullan Woods, Batts Walk, Black Lakes in Glenvar and Slieve League to name but a few.
(2) Who is the one person in Donegal that you look up to and why?
Would have to be my parents for the great job they have done raising their own 6 children and now the part they are playing in the lives of their 23 grandchildren and 5 (soon to be 6) great grandchildren’s lives. They have been married 56 years and always had a great work ethic which they have instilled in all of us. Over the years they have been involved in various organisations in a volunteering capacity which is where I probably get my interest from.
(3) What’s your happiest Christmas memory in Donegal?
There were lots when I was a child but the one that springs to mind is Christmas 2010 when there was heavy snow and people found it difficult to get out in their cars. We were expecting our first child Clara Rose and it was just so peaceful and a lovely family time as there was no rushing around. We enjoyed the simple things in life like spending quality time with the people who mean the most to you – family and friends.
(4) If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
Our poor treatment of the environment as it has to last for the next generations to come and we are treating it very badly and jeopardising their future.
(5) What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?
How the Donegal community came together following the tragic death of Manus Kelly in June of this year on the final day of the Donegal International Rally. Manus really was one of life’s true gentleman. The respect shown at his wake will never be repeated where people were queuing for hours wanting to show their support to his wife Bernie, their 5 children and the Kelly family. Glenswilly GAA, the rally community and the wider Glenswilly community as well as the wider Donegal community can take a bow for all their efforts during this tragic time.
(6) If you found a magic wand that allowed you to grant one wish for Donegal, what would it be?
That we learn to be happy with the simple things in life like family, friends and community and less obsessed with the materialistic things in life.
(7) What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
Any product from the Soap Hut range from Gortahork. It’s the most natural soap you can use, nothing is added… pure Goats milk in a bar. My daughter who is 8 finds the one for sensitive skin great and uses it all the time, everything else left her skin feeling itchy.
(8) Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
There are a number but I would think Daniel O Donnell has the highest profile and he’s not afraid to use his popularity to promote his home county.
(9) What is your earliest memory associated with Donegal?
Visiting my grandparents every Sunday in Dundoan, Downings and looking out at the fishing boats on Mulroy Bay.
(10) What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?
‘You care for people as if they were your own family’
(11) Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
The obvious ones are Packie Bonner, Michael Murphy, Shay Given and Seamus Coleman but also our female sports stars in particular Amber Barrett, Sinead Jennings and Karen Guthrie who are great ambassadors for women in sport.
(12) What is your favourite Donegal restaurant/bar?
There are lots but the ones that come to mind are any of the bars and restaurants in Rathmullan. These days I tend to spend more time in restaurants than bars so other favourites include The Glen Bar and also the Goose and Gander Pizzeria in Carrigart and the Lemon Tree and Shapla Indian Restaurant in Letterkenny.
(13) What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
‘What’s the craic’
(14) What is the biggest challenge facing the people of Donegal today?
Hard one to answer as I’m sure for different people there are different challenges. However I think the biggest challenge facing people of Donegal today as well as the rest of the world is how best to protect our mental health in a world that is obsessed with social media and having to stay connected all the time. It’s getting harder for people to have the time and opportunity to switch off and just appreciate and enjoy what they have and to live in the moment.
(15) What is your favourite food that you associate with Donegal?
Most of the food from the sea and also new potatoes.
(16) Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
The weather at times could be more pleasant.
(17) Who is your favourite Donegal entrepreneur?
No one comes to mind
(18) If you had a hundred million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?
Ensure that everyone in Donegal has the security of their own home (either rented or bought) to eliminate homelessness and sheltered accommodation. Also help families who are genuinely struggling to pay mortgages so that they have money available to provide for their families through existing organisations like St Vincent De Paul.
(19) Where’s the most unusual place you’ve logged on to Donegal Daily?
Afraid I’m not a big fan of technology if I can avoid it
(20) Nomination for best dressed Donegal person?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not really into fashion so I’ll pass on this one.
(21) Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of? (example: our culture/language)
I am very proud of the rugged natural beauty that we are fortunate to call home here in Donegal. I’ve been to various parts of the 5 continents and it’s hard to beat the expanse of beauty that you will find in Donegal from it’s rolling hills, mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and the majestic Atlantic coastline.
(22) What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
In my day job I work in Health Promotion with the HSE and my main role is to help people quit smoking. The sense of delight and pride that clients experience when they quit makes my job very worthwhile. Add to this the improvements in their health and quality of life makes it one of the most rewarding jobs I have had the pleasure of doing.
Outside of work I am a volunteer and committee member with the Ray Community Group, outside Rathmullan, and last year we received a national Pride of Place award for all the good work we do in our area for people of the local and surrounding communities.
In July of this year I was presented with a Volunteer Recognition Award from the Donegal Volunteer Centre for the work that I do with Ray Community Group. What was special about this award was that my fellow committee members nominated me.Tags: