Rosbeg, Co Donegal. PHOTO: Siobhán McNamara
What is your favourite place in Donegal? Why is it special to you?
The Geographical Society of Ireland is inviting Donegal people to share their photos and experiences of the county's unique geography as part of #DonegalWeek.
This week marks the last in a series being run by the society as part of its Year of Geography.
Anyone can take part in creating this geographical snapshot of Donegal. People can share what makes Donegal special to them, as well as their wider experience of the geography of the region.
Dr Arlene Crampsie is curating #DonegalWeek.
She said: “Geography is much more than its stereotyped reputation of a subject where people simply learn about capital cities, longest rivers and highest mountains. Instead it is key to our understanding of many of the big questions facing people on the planet today.
“Today, Irish geographers are actively researching a wide range of issues including: coastal erosion; climate change; migration; urban development; housing provision; rural isolation; pollution; the impacts of economic and cultural globalisation; and social, economic and regional inequalities to list just a few.
“Over the next few days on Facebook and Twitter we will be highlighting interesting geographic facts about Donegal, showcasing geographers’ research about the county and asking the public to get involved with their favourite geography related fact about the county or telling us what makes Donegal unique. We also want to hear how Donegal relates to, and is shaped by, the rest of Ireland, Europe and the world.”
Dr Crampsie said geography really matters in Donegal.
“Donegal is connected to the rest of the Republic of Ireland only by our border with Leitrim and is often perceived as isolated from the rest of the country,” she said. “Despite our miles of coastline, sandy beaches and majestic scenery, Donegal has only recently made its way onto tourist routes around Ireland, thanks in no small part to the Wild Atlantic Way.
“Our border with Northern Ireland ensured that the impact of the Troubles were keenly felt across the county and means that the outcomes of Brexit will have consequences for Donegal that simply will not be felt in the same way for the rest of Ireland. Years of economic isolation have led to generations of emigrants leaving the county for other part of Ireland and overseas. This is still attested to by the vibrant Donegal Associations across the world, by our strong links with Scotland in particular and by those of us who travel on a weekly basis from Donegal to Dublin, Galway and further afield.
“And yet, Donegal is a vibrant county with a rich, diverse history, heritage and culture. Geography helps us understand how our location and the physical landscape shape and have been shaped by our range of historical, political, economic, social and cultural landscapes.
“At this time when geographical skills and knowledge are needed more than at any time in the past, the study of Geography is severely threatened by the decision to remove Geography as a core subject on the Junior Cert programme. So let’s showcase how important Geography is to Donegal and do get involved in the conversations happening this week. You can follow the discussions via #DonegalWeek and #YearofGeography on Twitter or via the Geographical Society of Ireland on Facebook and remember to use these hashtags if you want to share your thoughts on what makes Donegal so unique.”
Dr Adrian Kavanagh is a lecturer in Geography in NUI Maynooth and is one of the driving forces behind Year of Geography.
He said people in Donegal had a strong sense of place and that shows in their response to Donegal Week.
Dr Kavanagh’s area of expertise is electoral boundaries. He has studied Donegal’s electoral history and geography in great detail. He believes - as do many of those who live there - that south Donegal being added on to the Sligo Leitrim constituency is not good for the area.
“I would be in favour of having electoral boundaries in keeping with county boundaries,” he said. “To have these few towns cut off from the rest of the county is not a good idea.”
Dr Kavanagh has also noticed a unique voting trend in Donegal.
“It has the lowest referendum turnout in the country time after time,” he said. “But when it comes to local elections, there is significant engagement compared to urban areas. This may be due to the fact that people feel that local politics is more relevant to them, and they don’t feel as engaged with national decision-making.”
Dr Kavanagh also noted that coverage of local elections in Donegal’s newspapers was exceptional when compared to other counties, reflecting again the high level of interest in local politics.
“This is all part of Donegal’s unique geography,” he said.
All of this and more will be reflected in contributions across social media to #DonegalWeek
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