Seminar to focus on traditional shopfronts around the county

Saturday's event will be of interest to Tidy Towns groups and business owners

Shop fronts seminar

The raised lettering of the well-maintained traditional signage hidden under the awning of Doherty’s Fishing Tackle shop in Donegal Town

Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer believes traditional shopfronts have a major impact on the overall character, quality and attractiveness of a place.
A free ‘Traditional Shopfronts & Vernacular Signage’ seminar will take place in the Events Centre, Central Library, Letterkenny on Saturday, November 10.
“At the seminar, the traditional shopfronts of County Donegal will be explored in terms of their character, context, scale and proportion, use of appropriate materials, composition and detailing,” Joseph explained.
“The seminar will draw upon best practice and encourage appropriate, sensitive and informed interventions in relation to our traditional shopfronts, vernacular signage and historical streetscapes.

The retention of hand-painted signage on business premises in our towns and villages such as this one on Mulhern’s Corner Bar in Dungloe is becoming an increasingly rare feature of streetscapes in County Donegal

“New shopfronts can also learn from existing traditional shopfront character. The changing nature of streetscapes has witnessed a decline in traditional shopfronts and vernacular signage due to issues such as a lack of appreciation, increased vacancy and dereliction, and inappropriate over-development of the ground floors of historic buildings. The nature, scale and placement of modern signage and advertising can be visually intrusive and can detract from the built heritage of our streetscapes.
“An understanding and appreciation of traditional shopfronts and vernacular signage can inform and guide future development in our towns and villages.”
Donegal County Council has commissioned architect Orla Murphy to produce traditional shopfronts and signage guidance that will be launched in 2019 as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.
The guidance document will provide assistance to architects, designers, planners, property owners, retailers and community organisations involved in preservation, conservation, regeneration and design initiatives in towns and villages.
The aims of the free seminar are to raise awareness and appreciation of traditional shopfronts and vernacular signage in towns and villages in County Donegal and to provide information and advice in order to encourage their preservation, conservation and enhancement.
There will be illustrated presentations by expert guest speakers.
The seminar will be opened by Cllr. Seamus Ó Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach, Donegal County Council and Anne McGowan, Chairperson, Letterkenny ‘Tidy Towns’ Committee.
The event will be of interest to Tidy Towns’ committees, Chambers of Commerce, community groups, business owners, heritage groups, historical societies, town planners, architects, builders, craftsmen, historians, local authority staff and anyone with an interest in the built heritage and history of our towns and villages.

Ernest Speer’s shop on Lower Main Street in Letterkenny is a fine example of a nineteenth-century ‘Protected Structure’ that makes an important contribution to the streetscape and sense of place of the town

Seminar participants will receive a free information pack and a light lunch and refreshments will be provided.
The seminar is being hosted by the County Donegal Heritage Office, Donegal County Council in association with the Letterkenny ‘Tidy Towns’ Committee and The Heritage Council as part of the County Donegal Heritage Plan and is free but booking is required and early booking is strongly recommended as places are limited.
To book your free place at the ‘Traditional Shopfronts & Vernacular Signage’ seminar, telephone (074) 912 4613 or e-mail
Full details of the seminar are available on the County Donegal Heritage Office website at:

The Blue Stack Lounge Bar in Donegal Town demonstrates various aspects of a traditional shopfront and exhibits an example of distinctive hand-painted signage found in south Donegal.

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