5 Donegal experiences - Local, traditional and inspirational

Do you find inspiration around every corner here in Donegal? It's everywhere I go, with the people I meet and the businesses I'm getting to know too! I love to learn about local people, their crafts and experiences, so here's 5 I'd like to share with you, they're also some great gift ideas. 

1 - Kathleen Meehan - is the mighty woman behind 'Authentic Aran Handknit Sweaters', Kilcar, Donegal. Have you ever seen signs around Kilcar for handknit sweaters? It doesn't get more local than this, with the wool comes from the local mill, you can choose any design and colour and it will be sent lovingly in the post to any where in the world. OR you can choose a design and your wool over a cup of tea by the fire in Kathleens house, stunningly located in Muckross.

Kathleen literally puts the 't' in authenticity.

Rooted in tradition and so Donegal, for me its the perfect example of using place and tradition to create a wildly unique experience - served up with a cup of tea and biscuits! You have to go and experience this for yourself. Agus go leor gaeilge sa teach seo fosta. I've a gorgeous hand knitted scarf ordered, picking it up next week. Donnchadh Meehan & Kathleen Meehan don't care that Sarah Jessica Parker is their neighbour "she does a good job and I do a good job, says Kathleen no airs or graces in this house, but always a fire and a good cup of tae! If you're looking for a local handcrafted work of art this Christmas, get your orders in now. Kathleen's unisex designs include, sweaters, cardigans, headbands, scarves, gloves, hell she even knits wedding dresses. Check out her website.

Me with Tristan, what a gentleman and my new Studio Donegal beanie. 

Me with Tristan, what a gentleman and my new Studio Donegal beanie. 

2 - Tristan Donaghy, Studio Donegal: How much do you love tweed? If you're like me, you'll be in awe of the set up at Studio Donegal. Every single step from sheep to shoulder takes place under one roof in the Gaeltacht village of Kilcar. The collection is superb, I loved the styling. I got a full tour of the place. I was pissed off I didn't have my own Donegal Tweed jacket on, its an heirloom at this stage but I treasure it. Watching people working at this craft is an art in itself, I met John, an employee of Studio Donegal who's been weaving happily all his life. This family business is founded on tradition, inspired by place and is is so much more than a shop, its an authentic experience. Love love love. Tristan mentioned looking for people to learn this craft Go visit Studio Donegal. Treat yourself. Tweed would be the most awesome Christmas gift ever! Dear Santa..... 

A peak inside the cutting room at Studio Donegal - love love love

A peak inside the cutting room at Studio Donegal - love love love

Louise Flannagan and her girls 

Louise Flannagan and her girls 

3 - Have you ever checked out the note book selection in TK Maxx Letterkenny, it's pretty cool right? I was looking for a new note book for me and my bff when I heard "this notebook doesn't have any quotes in it", I thought 'who else is into notebooks with quotes' - I turned and saw a little girl with her mum and I said 'I thought that was the little girl who said that, mum said it was! And thats how I met this lovely family - Louise Flannagan and her daughters. Ellie - her eldest was also buying a note book. So we got to talking. Turns out this this is one creative crew. Yummy mummy, nurse and entrepreneur Louise, designs handcrafted works of inspirational art and Ellie is an aspiring blogger and my guess - a future sensation. Ellie asked me about blogging - I heard myself tell her that blogging is about whatever inspires you and it's also about everyone who reads it. Our wee chat inspired me to write this blogpost on the people and places that are inspiring me at the moment.

"Thanks Ellie for reminding me to write about the inspiration that is everywhere, especially little you, full of promise and magical possibilities, happy blogging, I'm here for you anytime if you need a bit of guidance".  

Check out these handcrafted personalised gifts by Louise Flannagan, OurLittle Buttons. 

Diane Cannon, buaiteor An Oireachtas 2015

Diane Cannon, buaiteor An Oireachtas 2015

4 - Ever see someones smile when their dream comes true? There's nothing like it, and thats the thing about dreams, you work hard to make them come true and they do. Bhain Diane Cannon, Falcarragh an chéad duais/first place ag An Oireachtas 2015 sa comórtas ceol Sean Nós. 

Diane does workshops and singing lessons. An amazing experience. Great Gift! She's a beautiful singer. Fáigh amach an bhfuil Diane saor fa choinne ceardlann ceoil sa sean nós. Beidh tú gnoitheach anois! Maithiú Diane! Hup!

Diane's father is John Cannon, landlord at the Gweedore bar Falcarragh - this is a man with vision. He's running a campaign to bring a family home for Christmas from Australia, America or Canada. He's raised the funds through picking up the phone to contractors in London who have a connection with Donegal and asking humbly for their help. He has raised a whopping12k! You see John understands that the 100's and 1000's that are working in London and further afield want to come home more often but can't because of the time and the distance. If Aer Lingus would run a flight from Donegal to London it would BE A HUGE boost to the local economy. More could come home at weekends and spend their money locally in Donegal. "These lads have girlfriends and eventually the girls will move there too because it's just too difficult to keep travelling, that will crush this place altogether". For the last two years the Gweedore bar have been running a night called "Oiche an Immirce" - Immigrants night, it's a night to acknowledge all the immigrants who can't come home and want to, but this year have. This year the event will be filmed by Irish TV in a documentary about immigration. John's an almighty inspiration - give the Gweedore bar a like on Facebook to support their work in the community. Buail isteach acú am ar bith fosta!

5- I saved the best for last:

mng and me have had an amazing year in business and to celebrate, I'm inviting you to a very special Christmas event on the 12th December in West Donegal. This is for anyone who has an interest in community and business and want to wrap up 2015 in a day filled with inspirational talks and amazing content you can use in your business and community projects. Our special guest Finbarr Bradley acclaimed author of The Irish Edge will talk about how "place" and "culture" can create value and authenticity. I will be giving practical tools on how to do this as part of your business or community inspired project. And we will be hearing how whats on our doorstep can create amazing opportunities. This event will inspire you to think deeper about place and culture and how we can use this to attract more visitors to Donegal either through community or business. 

Come and join local people from all over Donegal, expect mulled wine, music and mince pies by an open fire as well as a warm céad míle fáilte. and of course. Tonnes of useful practical content. The day is bilingual, head pieces are provided for English translation. No official openingsno speeches. Come as you are. I chose Sean Teach Niall O Domhnaill because it's rural location, recently refurbished it's a filled with possibility and potential. This event is a dream come true for me, Finbarr is one of my mentors and has inspired me to think deeper about business, and how having a sense of purpose, and place can create value. You will love him too I am sure. Be part of this, I'd love to have your support. For more information click the Book Now button below. Bí linn. 

This special event is complimentary to all of mng's clients, a nominal fee of €30 for other guests & €15 if you're unemployed or in start up.