We welcome Rachael Sharkey, our brand new Social Media Specialist! Here is her Introductory.

” I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a Gaeltacht area located in County Donegal in the North West of Ireland. A small parish where everyone knows one another. No matter where you go, you will be greeted with a friendly and familiar face. This has always been something very special to me. It was not until I moved to a city for college that I realised that not everywhere has this unique local spirit.

I am blessed to live somewhere that is surrounded by culture, supported by a population with a strong passion for preserving it. Cloughaneely is one of the last few remaining Irish speaking areas in the country. I remember as a child my grandparents speaking in Irish to one another so that I wouldn’t have the pleasure of eavesdropping. Soon enough, I was learning to reply. Not long after this, the language became a huge part of my life. I have since been awarded a Fáinne Oir for my ability to speak the language. 

My grandfather came from Tory Island. A small Gaeltacht island, no longer than 3 miles, located off the coast of Donegal. My summers were spent exploring every corner of the island, taking in the culture of the place. Traditional music sessions took place during the day and céili dances in the pub at night. This is where I fell in love with Irish culture. 

Views from Tory Island.

The history of the Island originates within Irish Mythology. As the story goes, Balor, a fomorian king ruled the island. He beheaded Mac Aneely with a stone. This is how my parish of Cloughaneely got its name. In Irish it is known as “Cloch Cheann Fhaola”. Meaning, the stone of the head of Mac Aneely. The stone in which Mac Aneely was killed with has been erected on the mainland since 1774. 

Cloughaneely Stone

I am lucky to live in an area with such rich culture, unfortunately we have very little tourism. We have fascinating places to visit such as Ray Church. One of my favourite historical sites to learn about. It is a nearby church that was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers during the 17th century when they invaded a ceremony and everyone inside was put to the sword. The bodies of the victims rest near the church. 

Donegal is often known as the forgotten county. Yet we have such beautiful scenery along the coast, fascinating history and a very pleasant population. Upon joining the team at Wild West Irish Tours I hope to show the world how truly interesting the history of Cloughaneely is. And encourage everyone to learn more about the hidden gems of Donegal. “

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