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:: Letters to the Editor

James Patrick Craig 08.08.18

Dear Sir or Madam,

Many Donegal people claim, justifiably in my opinion, that Donegal is the forgotten county. However, Donegal might not be quite so forgotten if its people remembered and advertised their own county's heroes and heroines. One such is James Patrick Craig, a scholar, a teacher, an innovative compiler of Grammar and Composition books for the Irish language, a composer and singer. His words will be spoken and his songs sung in St. Connell's Museum, Glenties on Saturday 18th August, when the county and country will get an opportunity to honour this man who did so much to kickstart and maintain the Irish Revival in the early 1900's.
Let him not be forgotten again.

Yours respectfully,
Ernan O'Donnell


Worst drought in 70 years hits Africa 27.03.17

Dear Editor,

More than 20 million people in Africa today are in urgent need of food, as the world responds to a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations is describing as the worst since the end of World War II.
If the current drought in the East Africa brings a sense of déjà vu, it’s because we have been there before. In fact we are seeing this situation occur with increasing regularity.
Droughts have left huge numbers of people in sub-Saharan Africa in need of our help in each of 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and in 2016 and 2017. As with the frequency, the severity has also intensified.
When the United Nations reported in 2011 that the drought was the region’s worst for 60 years, they were speaking of a crisis that affected approximately 12 million people. Today, it is many more.
We know, from the images on our computers, in our newspapers, and on our television screens the unspeakable horror and personal tragedies that lie behind these cold statistics.
And we can get frustrated, and attribute blame and responsibility - on global forces like changing climate, or human factors like population growth or political instability, but the reality is that in our world of plenty, there are innocent people at risk of dying from need, in great numbers.
At Gorta-Self Help Africa we have responded to this current crisis in the best way that we know how. For decades we have worked with small-scale farming families across the region, helping them to increase production and income they can earn from small farms.
This month, we have begun distributing emergency supplies of drought tolerant seed, fertiliser and other materials, so that tens of thousands of rural poor families can plant and produce in the months ahead, and thus have some chance of averting a catastrophe in their lives.
In Kenya, more than 4,500 households are receiving nutrient rich green gram and pigeon pea seeds – two crops that will grow in the harshest of climate; while in Ethiopia, thousands more are receiving seed and fertiliser so that they are ready to plant when the seasonal rains do arrive, in the coming weeks and months.
While UN food programmes and others have begun distributing food aid now, it is only by providing practical support, such as drought tolerant seed that can grow high nutrient crops, that the region’s poorest people, will be able to end this terrible cycle.
We are grateful to the many people who have responded to our appeal in recent weeks, and will use any funds that we receive from the Irish people for this purpose, in the weeks ahead.

Yours sincerely
Ray Jordan, CEO,
Gorta-Self Help Africa


Dear Editor 22.03.16

I wish to forward my sincerest sympathies to all concerned in the tragedy in what turned out to be a horrible tragedy in Buncrana Town Donegal yesterday when 5 people lost their lives in a senseless accident. Buncrana, who suffered its own fair share of tragedy over the years is home yet again to another. I have a most recent affiliation with this town high up on the northern shores of this island because my uncle John Boyle lost his life as his ship the SS Haverford was torpedoed here offshore during WW 1 and unknown to me or any family was buried ashore. Every year we remember this tragedy and this new one is added to the list with great sadness; however the saving glory is that a 4 month old baby was spared due the the braveness of a local man who rescued the child ignoring the dangers involved which could have taken his own life. What a true life hero he is for sure!

My sincerest condolences to the immediate family of the victims; may they find some comfort from somewhere, and to the lovely people of Buncrana especially to Don McNeill, and Peter McLaughlin of the Ulster Canada Initiative and SS Lauentric n SS Haverford Memorial Committee who became good friends. My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this sad time.

Dominic McKevitt


Buncrana's re-naming an 'Amazing Disgrace' 15.10.13

A Chara,

I am a Down man through and through but a frequent visitor to Co Donegal, both Tir Chonail and Inishowen. I was therefore interested in your coverage of the recent opening of the 'Amazing Grace' viewpoint.
While any event that can bring Sinn Féin and the DUP together is to be welcomed, I feel that Inishowen and Buncrana, in particular, are in danger of overselling the somewhat tenuous link between the area and the composition of John Newton's well-loved hymn 'Amazing Grace'.
Newton's ship docked in Lough Swilly a fortnight after Newton had experienced a near-death conversion during a violent storm. This was one of numerous epiphanies Newton had during his lifetime.
His defining one was in Liverpool when, sick with fever, he finally embraced Christianity on May 10, 1848. So Merseyside would seem to have a higher claim to be 'Amazing Grace Country' than Buncrana. Even then Newton's conversion was imperfect as he continued to trade in slaves for several years thereafter.
It was to be a quarter of a century later that Newton was to compose his best-known hymn wherein he makes no specific mention of Buncrana, Lough Swilly or even of the sea.
Inishowen and Buncrana are steeped in history. Colm Cille, the O'Neills, MacLochlainn and O'Doherty clans, Wolfe Tone, John Doherty and Agnes Jones are only a few of those associated with the area and with the town.
The proliferation therefore of tacky mono-lingual signs at every entrance to and exit from Buncrana welcoming visitors to the area, now arbitrarily re-designated 'Amazing Grace Country', represents at once the banalisation of history by soundbite and the biggest landgrab in Inis Eoghain since the invasion by John De Courcy.
The signs themselves would be more appropriate to Nashville than to Ireland. Like the polypropylane statue of St Pio at St. Eigne's shrine, they are demeaning both to the area they seek to publicise and the individual they purport to honour. After a decent interval they should be removed and recycled.

Is Mise,

Brian Mac Giolla Pheadair (Brian Patterson)
Co Down

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