Maria Rushe is a fitness instructor, writer and teacher from Newtowncunningham.
Although many more people will know her as The S-Mum through her blog, columns and daily musings on parenthood and life as a ‘thoroughly modern mammy’.
Maria is also hugely involved in the local arts scene and has been a member of the Letterkenny Musical Society for the past 15 years.
More recently, she has qualified as a fitness instructor to work alongside her husband Emmet Rushe at the Rushe Fitness gym in Letterkenny.
This is Maria’s My Donegal…
(1) What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
Glenveagh. It is THE most beautiful and scenic place in the world. We spend many Sundays there with the girls. It’s perfect for clearing the heads after a busy week and the absolute lack of phone coverage means that we have no choice but to switch off and relax. It’s so big and safe and we all love it.
(2) Who is the one person in Donegal that you look up to and why?
Billy Patterson. Billy is a gentleman and is one of the most talented people I know. He has done more for Donegal and the theatre scene in Letterkenny than people can imagine and I am privileged to call him my friend. He has taught me everything I know about theatre and quite a lot of my ‘why not?’ attitude comes from him. I am the Director I am today because of Billy.
(3) If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
It frustrates me that the main link to our beautiful county is in the state that it is. The sooner the road from Lifford to Letterkenny is upgraded, the better. I’d also build that bridge over the Swilly to try to do something about the bottleneck that is Letterkenny.
(4) What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?
Where to start? I think that there are so many brilliant Donegal people representing us, that it’s hard to pinpoint one particular moment. I think that watching local communities coming together to help their own over that past few years stands out to me. We’re so good at looking after our own people here. I hope that never changes.
(5) If you found a magic wand that allowed you to grant one wish for Donegal, what would it be?
For us to have all of the healthcare we need right here so people don’t have to travel for hours to get what they need. And trains would be nice!
(6) What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
It has to be Scarpello bread. If you haven’t yet tried their cinnamon swirls, you are missing out. I love Donegal Rapeseed oil too.
(7) Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
Again there are so many to choose from. Daniel O’ Donnell is amazing, as is Mairead Ní Mhaoinaigh. I think that Noel Cunningham is an incredible ambassador for our county. He flies our flag with gusto and class right now too.
(8) What is your earliest memory associated with Donegal?
Donegal is home so all of my early memories are here. I do remember going out ‘for a run’ in the car on Sundays with Mum and Dad and being amazed that Daddy always knew how to get EVERYWHERE! He had a story for everywhere too. I don’t think there was a corner of the county that we didn’t visit as kids.
My first real “Donegal Pride” moment was when Donal Reid brought Sam Maguire to our national school in 1992.
(9) What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?
It always makes me smile when people are affected positively by what I write. Especially when other mums feel connected or inspired by my words. Words are so powerful and how they make people feel should never be underestimated. If what I write motivates or makes someone smile, that’s the greatest compliment for me as a writer.
(10) Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
I think that Jason Quigley is awesome, such a great role model. And Chloe Magee from Raphoe is smashing it too.
(11) What is your favourite Donegal restaurant/bar?
The Lemon Tree in Letterkenny. It’s incredible.
(12) What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
“Now we’re sucking diesel…” and “Keep ‘er lit!” Oh and “On wi the digging!”
Can you tell I grew up on a farm?
(13) What is your favourite food that you associate with Donegal?
Chowder. It never tastes as good anywhere else.
(14) Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
I think we’re sometimes a little too accepting of things. Sometimes we need to stand up and make noise, especially with so much of our lives now being administered from Dublin.
(15) Who is your favourite Donegal entrepreneur?
Well it has to be my husband doesn’t it? Emmet is the most brave, innovative and driven business person I know. He didn’t let losing his job during the recession stop him. He retrained and set up his own company and I’m proud to work alongside him.
(16) If you had a hundred million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?
Again, the health facilities and roads would have to be top of the list. Otherwise, I think we’re pretty brilliant as we are.
(17) Where’s the most unusual place you’ve logged on to Donegal Daily?
At the top of Sliabh Liag when I remembered that I forgot to send my Thoroughly Modern Mammy article!
(18) Nomination for best dressed Donegal person?
Ciara Kelly always looks effortless. And Vicki Raine (Polka Dot Raine) never gets it wrong.
(19) Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?
I’m proud of our language and that constant effort to keep the Irish language alive, especially here in Letterkenny. There is a thriving culture of Irish speakers, and the education opportunities from Primary through to university level are inspiring. People who say that Irish is dying are wrong. I hear and speak it everyday and trust me, it is very much alive.
(20) What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
I get a lot of joy out of all of the things that I do. I love teaching and encouraging young people and I love connecting with people through my blog and my shows, but the satisfaction I get from watching our clients in Rushe Fitness and in my Strong classes are so rewarding. Everyone is on their own journey and I love watching them achieve every little thing. I never anticipated how much I would love working in the fitness industry. It’s like a combination of all of the things I love and am good at. That’s rewarding every day.Tags: