Donegal Dún na nGall

Donegal 2016 will see an extensive programme of events and activities delivered across the county to commemorate the events of the 1916 Rising, to reflect on our achievements over the last 100 years and to look towards our future.

I rith na bliana 2016 cuirfear clár fairsing imeachtaí agus gníomhaíochtaí ar siúl ar fud Cho. Dhún na nGall. Déanfaidh siad seo comóradh ar imeachtaí Éirí Amach 1916 mar aon lenár ngaiscí le 100 bliain anuas agus muid ag amharc romhainn.

Everyone, of all ages, both in Donegal and overseas, is invited to join in a year of commemoration, conversation and exploration – through the arts, through historical research and exposition, through the Irish language, through education and children’s events – from which a new and more expansive sense of Irish identity can emerge.

The programme in Donegal is informed by the Expert Advisory Group’s Vision for the 2016 Centenary Year: The commemoration will be measured and reflective, and will be informed by a full acknowledgement of the complexity of historical events and their legacy, of the multiple readings of history, and of the multiple identities and traditions which are part of the Irish historical experience.

The Donegal – Ireland 2016 Commemoration Committee was established in 2015 under the auspices of the Ireland 2016 Office and Donegal County Council and is comprised of elected members, Donegal County Council staff and representatives from the Public Participation Network. The committee which has co-ordinated this programme, with support from the Ireland 2016 Office, recognises the importance of communities playing a positive and proactive role in the commemorations, and the importance of building on the extensive peace and reconciliation programme that has been delivered in Donegal with huge benefits to local communities and the wider border region.

The level of interest from all parts of the county was reflected in the range and quality of applications submitted under the first Community Commemorative Grant Scheme which opened in July 2015. A second Scheme will be advertised later.

Donegal County Council-led and Communityled events and activities are included in this local Donegal programme. All seven strands of the National Programme – Ceremonial, Historical Reflection, An Teanga Bheo/The Living Language, Youth and Imagination, Cultural Expression, Community Participation, Global and Diaspora – are represented and recognise the guiding principles of the Decade of Centenaries Commemoration Strategy.

The Evaluation Committee particularly noted the strength of the cultural and artistic community and tradition in Donegal, which is clearly reflected in the programme in all parts of the county, including its offshore islands. The level of interest in local history and heritage is very strongly reflected in the community events.

Of particular note is that an international jury selected a Donegal project under the Arts Council’s open call to the Irish imagination. The Willie Doherty video commission is one of only nine projects to receive funding under this call, for which over 250 applications were received. Willie Doherty will make a new video work which examines the legacy of the 1916 Easter Rising. The work will build on his interest in the relationship between landscape and memory, and will be shot in sites of contested history in Donegal and Dublin. The video will premier in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny in July 2016 as part of the Earagail Arts Festival, and will be exhibited in the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and Matt’s Gallery, London in late 2016 and early 2017.

The national programme includes a significant number of events that will also be of interest to the people of Donegal and information on all events countrywide will be on /events .

County Donegal in 1916
County Donegal in 1916 was a very different place to today. The homes in which most Donegal people lived were modest, third-class houses of two or three rooms without indoor sanitation. There was no running water or electricity and the main source of heat was an open fire. In the countryside the landscape was characterised by small subsistence farms in the west of the county and large farms in the east of the county. Seasonal migration by workers particularly from west Donegal to Scotland was an economic necessity. Fishing was an important part of Donegal’s economy and prior to World War I up to 7,000 people were involved, part time and full time, in the fishing industry. Many of them were also farmers.

Through the work of local authorities and the Congested Districts Boards, the standard of living was rising. Among the improvements were the onset of social housing, the gradual development of clean water supplies and sewerage systems, the improvement of roads and railways, the development of cottage industries, and efforts to spread the control of disease and improve access to education.

At the start of 1916, World War I had been raging for over 18 months. Men from all corners of Donegal were involved in the War. For many homes in the county, 1916 was remembered as the year of the Somme. Very few communities were not affected - six men from Ballindrait were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916.

Since 1885 only Home Rule candidates had been elected as Members of Parliament in County Donegal, and in the 1911 local elections, 26 of the 32 seats had been won by Home Rule candidates. Opposition by unionists to the possible introduction of Home Rule led to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers which, in turn, led to the formation of the nationalist Irish Volunteers in 1913. Membership of the Irish Volunteers in County Donegal grew throughout 1914 and 1915.

As with many Counties in Ireland the events of the Easter Rising initially had little impact on the daily lives of the people of Donegal. Donegal men however were involved in the Easter Rising. Joseph Sweeney, Conor McGinley and Eunan McGinley all fought in the GPO and were later arrested and interned. Daniel Kelly and Donnacha MacNelis were active outside Dublin. Constable Charles Magee of the Royal Irish Constabulary was shot and killed during an incident at Castlebellingham, Co Louth on Easter Monday and Pte Con Duggan from Annagry, 3rd Btn. Royal Irish Rifles was killed in Dublin on the 29th April.

Donegal was very far away from the action in Dublin during the Rising. Although initially public reaction to the events was negative, the impact of the mass arrests and executions soon turned opinion in Donegal and throughout the country to support for the Volunteers. As men were gradually released from prison in late 1916, they were openly welcomed, and more men began to join the Irish Volunteers. Joseph Sweeney later wrote that his ‘participation in the Easter Week Rising of 1916 seemed to spark off a change in the young people and I was great surprised and encouraged at the warmth of the reception given me on my return home following imprisonment in England and Wales.’ The reorganisation of the Volunteers began in earnest in 1917.

Over the following years Ireland slipped into a state of War against British forces and following the signing of the Treaty in 1921 a bitter civil war was fought.

In Donegal the effects of this conflict and the subsequent partition of Ireland led to many challenges for our communities and our economy. However with the emergence of the Peace Process we have reached a place in our shared history where we, as a community, can commemorate the Decade of Centenaries respectfully and inclusively while also celebrating our achievements as a nation and looking forward to our future.

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Cuirfear fáilte roimh chách, idir óg agus aosta, ó Dhún na nGall agus thar lear, páirt a ghlacadh i mbliain a bheidh lán de chomóradh, de chomhrá agus d’iniúchadh trí na nithe seo leanas: na ealaíona, taighde agus taispeántais staire, an Ghaeilge, oideachas agus imeachtaí do leanaí. Táthar ag súil go gcuirfidh seo go mór le féiniúlacht na nÉireannach.

Cuireadh an clár le chéile i nDún na nGall mar thoradh ar Fhís an tSainghrúpa Chomhairligh: Beidh an comóradh tomhaiste agus machnamhach, agus bunaithe ar aitheantas iomlán ar an chastacht a bhaineann le hócáidí stairiúla agus a n-oidhreacht, ar na léamha éagsúla a bhíonn ar an stair, agus ar an iomad féiniúlachtaí agus traidisiúin atá ann mar chuid d’eispéireas staire na hÉireann.

Bunaíodh Coiste Comórtha Éire 2016 Dhún na nGall sa bhliain 2015 faoi choimirce Oifig Éire 2016 agus Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall. Ar an choiste seo tá baill tofa, foireann Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall agus ionadaithe ó Líonra Rannpháirtíochta Pobail. Rinne an Coiste an clár a chur le cheile le tacú ó Oifig Éire 2016 agus tuigtear don choiste an tábhacht a bhaineann le pobail a bheith ag glacadh páirt dhearfach agus réamhghníomach sna himeachtaí comórtha. Aithnítear freisin gur mhór an ní é cur leis an chlár um Shíocháin agus Athmhuintearas. Rachaidh sé chun tairbhe do phobail áitiúla agus don cheantar máguaird.

Ba léir gur díol spéise don chontae ar fad an Comóradh seo siocair go bhfuarthas an méid sin iarratas ar ardchaighdeán faoin chéad Scéim Deontais Comórtha Pobail a thosaigh i mí Iúil 2015. Fógrófar an dara Scéim ar ball.

Cuimsítear sa chlár áitiúil seo i nDún na nGall imeachtaí agus gníomhaíochtaí faoi stiúir Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall agus an phobail féin. Tá na seacht snáithe curtha san áireamh i.e. – Searmanais Stáit, Machnamh ar an Stair, An Teanga Bheo, An Óige agus an tSamhlaíocht, Léiriú Cultúrtha, Rannpháirtíocht Phobail, Éireannaigh ar fud an Domhain agus an Diaspóra. Glactar freisin leis na treoracha a tugadh i Straitéis Dheich mBliana na gCuimhneachán Céad Bliain.

Is cóir a lua gur thug an Coiste Measúnachta faoi deara a láidir is atá an pobal agus an traidisiún cultúrtha agus ealaíne i nDún na nGall. Is léir sna himeachtaí pobail dár gcuid go bhfuil spéis nach beag i gcúrsaí staire agus oidhreachta.

Díol suntais is ea é gur roghnaigh coiste moltóirí idirnáisiúnta tionscadal i nDún na nGall faoi ghlaoch oscailte na Comhairle Ealaíon ar shamhlaíocht na hÉireann. Tá tionscadal físe Willie Doherty ar cheann de na naoi dtionscadal a fuair maoiniú faoin ghlaoch seo; is fiú cuimhneamh air go bhfuarthas níos mó ná 250 iarratas. Cruthóidh Willie Doherty saothar físe nua a fhéachfaidh ar oidhreacht Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916. Pléifidh an saothar seo lena chuid suime féin sa chaidreamh atá idir an tírdhreach agus Éirí Amach na Cásca. Taispeánfar an fhís den chéad uair in Ionad Cultúrtha Réigiúnach Leitir Ceanainn i mí Iúil na bliana 2016 mar chuid d’Fhéile Ealaíon na hEaragaile agus cuirfear í ar taispeáint i nDánlann Kerlin, Baile Átha Cliath agus in Matt’s Gallery, Londain ó dheireadh na bliana 2016 go dtí tús 2017.

Tá réimse leathan ann d’imeachtaí suntasacha a gcuirfidh muintir Dhún na nGall spéis iontu fosta. Is feidir teacht ar an eolas mar gheall ar imeachtaí ar fud na tíre ar /events.

Contae Dhún na nGall sa bhliain 1916
Is mór idir Contae Dhún na nGall sa bhliain 1916 agus an contae sa lá atá inniu ann. Ní raibh tithe rómhór ag an chuid ba mhó de na Conallaigh. Dhá sheomra nó trí a bhí iontu de ghnáth agus iad gan leithreas. Ní bhíodh uisce reatha iontu ná leictreachas ach an oiread agus bhíodh siad suite chun tine agus é fuar. Feirmeacha beaga a bhí le feiceáil timpeall na tuaithe in iarthar an chontae murab ionann is na feirmeacha móra ar an taobh eile. Ba ghnách dóibh siúd in iarthar an chontae ach go háirithe dul chun na hAlban ar feadh cúpla mí achan bhliain. An iascaireacht an chuid ba thábhachtaí den eacnamaíocht i nDún na Gall roimh an Chéad Chogadh Domhanda. Bhíodh suas le 7,000 bainteach leis an iascaireacht ar bhonn lán- agus páirtaimseartha. Feirmeoirí ab ea cuid mhaith díobh fosta.

Ach le cabhair na n-údaras áitiúil agus Bhoird na gCeantar Cúng bhí an caigheán maireachtála ag dul i bhfeabhas. Cuireadh tús le tithe sóisialta; forbraíodh soláthar uisce a bhí glan chomh maith le córais séarachais; cuireadh barr maise ar na bóithre agus ar an tseirbhís traenach; tosaíodh na tionscadail tinteáin; rinneadh iarrachtaí smacht a chur ar leathadh galair agus feabhsaíodh an rochtain ar oideachas.

Ag tús na bliana 1916, bhí uafás an Chéad Chogaidh Dhomhanda faoi lánseol. Bhí fir ó gach cearn de Dhún na nGall páirteach sa Chogadh. Ba é Cath an Somme a bhí in aigne cuid mhaith teaghlach sa bhliain 1916 – fuair seisear fear bás ó Bhaile an Droichid an chéad lá den chogadh chéanna ar an 1 Iúil 1916.

Ón bhliain 1885 ar aghaidh ní raibh ach iarrthóirí an Rialtais Dhúchais á dtoghadh mar Theachtaí Pairliminte i gContae Dhún na nGall. I dtoghcháin áitiúla na bliana 1911 bhí 26 as 32 shuíochán buaite ag iarrthóirí an Rialtais Dhúchais. De dheasca go raibh na haontachtóiri i gcoinne an Rialtais Dhúchais, bunaíodh Óglaigh Uladh agus mar thoradh air sin bunaíodh Óglaigh na hÉireann sa bhliain 1913. Bhí baill Óglaigh Uladh ag dul i méid sna blianta 1914 agus 1915.

I gcás cuid mhaith de chontaetha na hÉireann, Dún na nGall san áireamh, ba bheag an tionchar a bhí ag eachtraí Éirí Amach na Cásca ar ghnáthshaol na gConnallach. Bhí baint ag fir ó Dhún an nGall san Éirí Amach áfach. Bhí Seosamh MacSuibhne, Conchúr Mag Fhionnaile agus Adhamhnán Mag Fhionnaile ag troid in Ard-Oifig an Phoist. Gabhadh agus imthreorannaíodh iad ina dhiaidh sin. Bhí Dónall Ó Ceallaigh agus Donncha Mac Niallais gníomhach lasmuigh de Bhaile Átha Cliath. Lámhacadh agus maraíodh Constábla Cathal Mac Aoidh as Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann le linn eachtra i mBaile an Ghearlánaigh, Co. Lú ar Luan Cásca. Ar an 29 Aibreán i mBaile Átha Cliath basaíodh an Saighdiúir Singil Con Ó Duagáin as Anagaire de chuid an 3ú Cathlán de Chomplacht Raidhfilí Ríoga na hÉireann.

Bhí Dún na nGall i bhfad ó Bhaile Átha Cliath agus eachtraí an Éirí Amach. Cé nach rabhthas sásta leis na heachtraí céanna i dtosach, tháinig athrú meoin ar mhuintir Dhún na nGall, agus ar mhuintir na tíre uilig, agus tugadh i bhfad ní ba mhó tacaíochta ná riamh do na hÓglaigh nuair a bhris na scéalta faoi na daoine a cuireadh chun báis agus faoin méid daoine a gabhadh. Go mall sa bhliain 1916 bhí na fir á scaoiledh ón phriosún diaidh ar ndiaidh. Cuireadh fáilte is fiche rompu agus bhí ní ba mhó fear ag dul isteach in Óglaigh na hÉireann. Scríobh Seosamh Mac Suibhne ina dhiaidh sin gur tháinig athrú i measc an aois óig agus ábhar iontais dó an fháilte mhór a cuireadh roimhe nuair a d’fhill sé ar a bhaile dúchais tar éis dó bheith i ngéibhinn sa Bhreatain Bheag agus i Sasana. Ba sa bhliain 1917 a tháinig forbairt dháiríre ar Óglaigh na hÉireann.

Bhí sé ina chogadh idir an tír seo agus fórsaí na Breataine go dtí gur síníodh an Conradh AnglaÉireannach sa bhliain 1921 agus tharla cogadh sibhialta fíochmhar in Éirinn dá bharr.

Bhí dúshlán mór i ndán dár bpobal agus dár ngeilleagar de dheasca an chogaidh seo agus na críochdheighilte ina dhiaidh. Ach, faoi scáth an Phróisis Síochána thig linn féachaint romhainn agus comóradh a dhéanamh ar Chéad Bliain dár stair ar shlí mheasúil agus chuimsitheach, agus gaiscí dár gcuid mar náisiún a cheiliúradh.

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