This week we speak with project partners in Donegal County Council (Ireland), Barney Mc Laughlin, Project Manager; Margaret Storey, Project Officer, and Conor Lafferty, Clerical Support, about their contributions and role in the TIDE project.
What is the contribution of your organisation to the project?
Donegal County Council (DCC) is a local authority and brings experiences from a wide range of EU Atlantic Coastline projects. Donegal Tourism
is one of the business Units that DCC uses to focus on Tourism and support the tourism industry in the county - supporting jobs and attracting visitors from both National and International visitors into our county.
What will be your specific role in the project?
We are one of the seven partner regions in the TIDE project and our role is to create a new tourism maritime heritage project in our county, working alongside our stakeholders and heritage centres and partners of the project. We also play a key role in developing the Atlantic Tourism Package Platform – the platform will be created to be used in the future by Atlantic regions to develop other historical tourism packages – this will be done by pooling cultural heritage and experiences from more than one region.
What would you highlight from Donegal's maritime history?
Our county coastline which is the longest coastline in Ireland - 1,134 KM, is rich in maritime history. Given the wealth of maritime history we are going to be challenged to narrow our focus on which story and themes to work on for this project.
Our county has a vast number of shipwrecks along the coastline from the Spanish Armada, World War 1 & World War 2 era. The hidden treasures and stories that lie beneath the sea – our efforts will be to bring some of this maritime heritage back to life. Another theme we wish to explore is The wealth of emotion, excitement & fear, music and skills that circle around our past as we emigrated to new lands. The Napoleonic era is another theme that our county has strong links with – building towers, Forts, look out posts that were used for all our wars protecting our lands & our people.
Have you identified any good practices that will be shared among the partnership?
The Good Practices we have identified so far are:
- Fort Dunree Military Museum: This is a military museum situated in Inishowen, run by the community in partnership with the local authority. It is situated perfectly to tell the story of the history of Lough Swilly & the part it played in the World Wars & the Napoleonic era. Including being the last treaty post of Britain in the Republic of Ireland. The shipwreck SS Laurentic & the tale of the missing gold being on its doorstep!
- Fanad Lighthouse (one of 11 lighthouses in Donegal): Working in Partnership with Irish landmark trust, Udaras na Gaeltachta, DCC & Failte Ireland to form a community company to develop and operate the facility on Fanad Peninsula. From this location, the history of the water can be told and viewed first hand. Rathmullan located south of the lighthouse and on Lough Swilly has many stories to tell including the Flight of the Earls & shelter for the British Grand Fleet during WW1.
- Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium: Community run museum situated at the old coastguard station on Greencastle Harbour on the mouth of River Foyle which has a rich history with the Spanish Armada, World Wars & Napoleonic era. Inishowen and Moville have many stories that relate to our mass emigration where steamers left from this port. Being the most northerly point of Ireland, the ocean can be dangerous & unpredictable – Armada galleons, colonial traders, emigrant ships, Atlantic liners & wartime battleships & shipwrecks surround this peninsula.
How will you benefit from this interregional cooperation?
The sharing of knowledge from TIDE partners will contribute to provide visitors with a shared history that will enhance their knowledge and give a greater understanding of our maritime histories across all our regions. This will bring additional tourists to our county, provide a unique and improved experience at existing tourist attractions and in turn increase revenue in our area.
Why did you decide to join TIDE?
We were the initiators behind the idea of the project, we sought to develop and provide the untold stories of what lies beneath our waves that will be of interest to current generations and generations to come.
What do you expect from the project?
We expect to deliver a tangeable tourism visitor experience that will give an insight into some of the shipwrecks that lie beneath the ocean and also the unique views we have on our coastline.
We hope to give new life to existing historic structures along our coastline such as martello towers, forts, signal stations, look-out posts, lighthouses & coastguard stations. An interactive map showing such historic monuments which are still in existence today Coastal Heritage
and Lighthouses of Co. Donegal
We would like to deliver an experience where visitors to our heritage centres can learn about our wars and maritime history and show the hidden treasures & stories that lies beneath the Irish seas and that of our partners along the Atlantic Area Coastline.