The story of the forward-thinking Fr James McDyer and his impact on Glencolmcille is being celebrated in a TG4 documentary featuring actor Sephen Rea.
Back in the early 1950s, Fr McDyer saw that the rural Gaeltacht community was on course for a future of mass youth emigration and utter decimation. Rather than stand idly by, he set in motion events which are still having a positive effect today.
The priest saw how the rural industries of fishing, knitting and tourism were key to saving the community from being decimated like so many others. He also saw that they couldn’t rely on anyone else to help, and was not afraid to challenge the authorities of the day.
It is no wonder that the name of Fr James McDyer is synonymous with the community of Glencolmcille. His legacy lives on through the people who live there and the many visitors who travel to this very special place on the far tip of south west Donegal.
It is hard to imagine Glencolmcille without the folk village, holiday homes, and everything else that has grown from those early seeds. But if those things had not come about, it is quite possible that it would be a near-deserted hamlet with just a few elderly farmers or fishermen eeking out a living. It’s many hidden gems and historically important sites may well have become overgrown, slipping further from memory with each new generation.
Thankfully, it is instead a celebration of people and place, and the laughter of children still rings out in the villages that make up Glencolmcille. Fr McDyer would surely be very proud of this legacy.
His remarkable story airs on TG4 on Easter Sunday (April 12) at 8.30pm
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