Local History by Seán Beattie


New look website

McKenna's of Bunn.

Welcome to my redesigned website. It provides easier access to my previous posts which can be searched under “placename” or “topic”. I will shortly add a bibliography of all my historical research which has been published in 21 articles in Donegal Annual, the Journal of County Donegal Historical Society. My first contribution was on the Great Famine and the Inishowen workhouse in Carndonagh in 1980. It strikes me that the research process has changed greatly over the past 40 years. My research on the Famine was undertaken in Lifford old courthouse before renovation. All the workhouse records were heaped in one of the large cells. It had a dusty table and an electric light. The Librarian, Eddie McIntyre, warned me to wear old clothes and I soon found out why. Thankfully, Donegal has one of the best collections on the Famine in the country.

The photo above is from the wonderful Schenkel Collection, courtesy of David Bigger, Derry. Ludwig Schenkel fled his native Austria following the Nazi occupation, settled in Derry and opened a textile factory in Foyle St. He had a holiday cottage in Clonmany. He was a man of many talents, one of which was photography and he won many international awards for his photographs. There are around 10,000 in total and they offer a fantastic insight into Donegal life in the years after World War 2. I have been very fortunate to have access to the Bigger Collection and also the Bigger/McDonald Collection. Terence McDonald and David Bigger rescued many old plates from destruction.

The picture above was shot overlooking Portaleen harbour, Glengad c 1950. Donegal was not far removed from a Victorian way of life at this time. Most cottages were thatched, roads were untarred and horse power ruled.

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