Rocking Donegal

Last week, was on holidays in the tiny, pretty village of Kincasslagh in north County Donegal,  which happens to be hosting the Donegal Shore Festival after 4 years of absence from the festival scene. That in itself is quite a major attraction, but there is another major draw: Kincasslagh also happens to be home to one of the worldwide powerhouses of soft rock.  Step forward, Daniel O’Donnell.
There I am in Kincasslagh which sits neatly in a bend in the road at the bottom of a hill and is made up of a pub, a shop and a few houses. It all holds neatlly in the palm of one’s hand. And that palm was overflowing last week, as regular arrivals spilled from coaches playfully named “Daniel’s Fun Bus On Tour”.

On the opening day of the festival, as we weave our way through the crowds of people milling around the tiny epicentre of the beautiful Kincasslagh, we realise that apart from two infants in strollers we are among the youngest people there. Taking my place alongside balding heads and neat curls and waiting for the start of the show, I expect to be in for a polite sing-song, with jovial neighbours gently swaying from side to side, nicely clapping to the tunes in a sedate manner.

And that, my friends, is where I discover that the madness of your first teenage gig, the craziness of your Single-Income-No-Kids twenties festivals and the rowdiness of your rock chick reminiscence early thirties doesn’t suddenly slide into a more mature, peaceful communion of souls around a much loved Irish heart-throb. Wee Daniel may be on stage singing “about loving someone so true” and “houses becoming homes when the kettle is boiling”, but the atmosphere in the pit is decidedly more rock n’ roll.

On one side, a giggling grapple of ladies with near-empty glasses of Bailey’s and pints of cider push their way towards the stage. On the other, the police are desperately trying to keep people off the road. Behind us, a couple carrying a fierce looking umbrella are playing focused gig-crowd tactics, standing on my feet and shoving me discreetly at every possible opportunity. And the cherry on the cake:  feeling a sharp pain in my shin, I spin around to see what caused it. There stands a tiny little wizened old lady with an evil grin on her face and her walking stick clutched in her fist. I end up apologising to her for connecting with her stick, because let’s face it: I may be the victim, but she’s older than the law itself… check mate, she wins!


About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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