Donegal and the Dining Gal

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Misty Killybegs Harbour

Last week, like I sometimes do, I ran away again… I know what’s coming you see, the Capitalistic-apocalyptic tsunami that is December, I have stopped counting the number of times I heard or saw myself mentioning the “C” word since the last week of August. This is the life I chose I guess, no point arguing about it! I heard some shops in Dublin already have their windows decorated, enough already! The swallows are still here for Christ sake ( sorry for the pun, I couldn’t resist), or at least that is when I last saw them, outside of Mullaghmeen forest, gathered on telephone lines, waiting for the conductor to signal a final “all aboard!”. I was heading for Co. Sligo first, eager to visit the People’s market in Strandhill, literally in the airport…

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Killybegs, Diplomatic Ties

Killybegs Seafood Platter
Killybegs Seafood Platter

I love my job; I know it is cold in this old railway train engine maintenance stone building from the 19th century, pretty much winter for seven months of the year, yes, perishing actually! I have often joked about my age with customers, claiming that I was in fact 78 years old, preserved like a Dorian Gray Popsicle if you wish… Yes, I love my job, being surrounded by great food all day, food and farmhouse cheese, made by people with incredible stories that I like to pass on. But what really gets me going is the people; you never really know who is going to walk through the door, folks with lives and stories, big and small and I love that! I really like listening to them, the quirks and anecdotes, “queer as folk” the expression says, or like the local accent dictates, it is often pronounced “quare” in that unmistakable Irish twang.

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Killybegs To Differ

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The “Paula” – Killybegs

I have that calling for the sea, I can’t help it, and it haunts me from time to time. Not that I dislike where I live, not at all, but when you spend over 30 years in full view of the Atlantic, it is like an old friend you enjoy sharing a moment with, paying that friend a visit sometimes, that is what friends do I guess, communion with a wordless and reassuring company. So when my Italian pal Marty rang last month, expressing the wish to visit Ireland again for a very short weekend in June, I knew I had to do something special. As a former gastronomy student from Turin, she enjoys real local food, and there were a couple of home cooked Irish dinners on the cards. But for our escapade, I wanted something a bit special, not only for the food, I wanted it to be a feast for the eyes and the senses… Unlike most of Europe, Ireland was under clear blue skies,flirting with mid-twenties temperatures… The perfect plan was unfolding itself nicely…

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Fish Tale

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Mullaghmore – Sligo

September 1991 After two months spent on the side of a mountain in Glenveagh National Park, I decided to enjoy a couple of weeks off, around Donegal town before heading back to Brittany; many long walks around Lough Eske , its abandoned castle, native oaks and mountain ashes. We didn’t drive. One of my friends suggested to hitchhike to Killybegs, Fishing Harbour few miles west of the town. I like fishing harbours, for some strange reason, the smell of marine gasoil mixed with the smell of rotting fish has a certain appeal. Or is it the screaming swarms of cheeky Herring Gulls? Lorient, St-Guénolé, Galway or Howth, no matter how big or small they might be, the atmosphere surrounding them is always the same; dressed with rich colours, fumes, sadness and excitement, noise… Life, purring Diesel engines… Superstition… What’s not to like really?

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