Donegal has a rich cultural heritage and one of its oldest and less well know traditions, The Ulster Scots Community, have planned a massive Ulster Scots Festival for Friday 13th and Saturday 14th July 2007.
The Festival is the brainchild of East Donegal Ulster Scots, a group which have been very busy over the last twelve months and have recently launched a website and organised the Makemie Weekend in Letterkenny in April of this year.
The group have secured funding from Donegal County Council Led Peace II Task Force, funded by the European Union Peace and Reconciliation Programme and from the Ulster Scots Agency. The Festival will be the conclusion of the Peace and Reconciliation Project which has included training programmes, the Makemie Weekend and the publishing of an exciting tourist brochure.
The Ulster Scots Festival offers fun packed family events and commences in Raphoe on Friday 13th July at 8pm. A parade of pipe bands, along with the Lagganiers, will culminate in the Diamond with an open air concert featuring Cutting Edge, Scotlandâ€™s best celidh rock band based in Dundee.
The action moves to the Cathedral Hall at 10.30pm with a celidh dance. You can dance the night away with Scotlandâ€™s top traditional dance band, Ian Muir Sound.
On Saturday the action moves to Glenmaquin. The festival field is situated within the shadow of Mongorry Hill with a great view of the Swilly and Letterkenny. The event kicks off at 1pm with a fun filled afternoon of events. The festival events include the All Ireland Novice Highland Games, Scottish Country and Highland Dance, exhibitions, Living History, tug-o-war and open air concert featuring the internationally renowned Different Drums of Ireland, Ian Muir Sound, The McFarland Folk Four and the Donegal Ulster Scots Experience. Added to this will be face painting, bouncy castles, Lambeg drumming and a variety of stalls.
The main event of Saturday afternoon will be the Re-enactment of the seventeenth century â€œBattle of Glenmaquinâ€ fought in 1642, between the Laggan army under the command of Sir Robert and Sir William Stewart and the Irish troops of Sir Phelim Oâ€™Neill. Over 9000 soldiers clashed at Glenmaquin with the Laggan Army proving victorious, saving the Scots Settlers in East Donegal and West Tyrone. The Lagganiers re-enactment group are made up of local people from East Donegal and the place of the Irish will be taken by re-enactors from Mourne Valley Cultural Association based in Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone. Between 60 and 70 en-enactors will face each other at Glenmaquin and the outcome should be another victory for the Laggan Army!!
A Living History marquee will include a lecture on weaponry, and the history of the Laggan Army, a work seventeenth century forge and duelling.
The Festival will be brought to an end with a Scottish Country Dance in the Cathedral Hall on Saturday 14th July, dancing from 8pm to late.
Derek Reaney, Development Officer, for the Ulster Scots Agency, described the Festival as the result of a lot of hard work over the winter and spring and a great opportunity to learn more about the rich heritage associated with the Ulster Scots.
The Ulster Scots Agency is delighted to be associated with this event. This will be the largest Ulster Scots Festival in the province of Ulster in 2007.
Stewart Buchanan, chairperson of East Donegal Ulster Scots, said this is a fun filled programme for all the family, linking 17th century combat and history with face painting and bouncy castles, strawberries and cream. We extend a warm welcome to everybody to come along and experience the variety of events organised during the weekend.
We certainly hope that as a result of this project the wider community will have a greater understanding of the Ulster Scots culture and identity but this can only happen if you come along and have a great day out in Raphoe and Glenmaquin.
The Festival field at Glenmaquin is sign posted from Raphoe and Letterkenny. Car parking is free in Raphoe mart car-park and â‚¬5 in the festival field at Glenmaquin.