January 2023 update: the Spotify playlist has a paltry 37 Likes at present. It’s a treasure trove of knowledge and song that needs more listeners on Spotify! Please help spread the word by Liking it yourself and share with anyone who is a fan of this beautiful county – or who is coming home to Donegal for 2023. Thanks. JW
An epic soundscape for a glorious landscape
Welcome to Donegal’s Hallowed Sites. This travel guide serves as a bold statement of intent – trying to match the breathtaking scenery of Donegal with an epic soundscape via Spotify. Are you looking for audio clips from local experts with relevant music, explanatory text and GPS coordinates? You’ve found the right travel guide then so.
On top of the 25 sites in our Audioboom tour, there’s a further 25 bonus tracks and Donegal-related tunes added to the Spotify playlist. That’s over eight hours of material – and the best way to enjoy the tour by far. Imagine it as a mobile documentary of the whole county. This travel guide ensures you’ll see the best places that have made this county justly famous.
Click on each hallowed site above to find out more about it
How to use the guide on Spotify
Whilst the guide will work on all podcast platforms, it works best on Spotify with addition Donegal stories and tunes for over eight hours: –
- Search for ‘Donegal’s Hallowed Sites’ on Spotify. Hit the Like icon
- Familiarize yourself with the range of material and locations
- Take note of the GPS coordinates at the top of each Point of Interest
- Cut and paste those GPS coordinates into Google Maps
- Simply play the relevant audio when you get to that POI
- If enjoyed, please let others know of this free service – thanks!
Donegal's Hallowed Sites - a cultural compass for the county
Donegal’s Hallowed Sites combines both the musical heritage and the best local voices of the county. For each place listed, there’s an accompanying tune. This idea sort of works for Sunday Miscellany on RTÉ Radio One, but it comes into its own for a grand project like this. The music chosen after the story complements that story and gives the listener time for reflection.
Some may regard the starting tune of ‘The Homes of Donegal’ as hackneyed. We say it would be rude not to use such an iconic song! The same goes for Las Vegas (in the hills of Donegal) or Jimmy’s Winning Matches. Like the changeable weather up there, there’s simply no getting away from their interminable lashing!
It helps to aim big and get a few breaks. When starting out with the project, I could only have dreamt of interviewing Rory Gallagher’s brother, Donal, or Moya Brennan or the great Michael Murphy. Yet they were more than obliging with their time and knowledge. Along with a whole host of local experts, they bring a special place’s greatness to life. Why so? Because they know exactly what makes it great and often are the very cause of that greatness. Be it Easkey Britton, Sorcha O’Donnell or Nikki Bradley, we managed to speak to the very best people. A big debt of gratitude is due to them for making the finished soundscape such a useful cultural compass for the county. Jacqui Sharkey and Noel Carr were extremely helpful – thanks folks!
Donegal's Hallowed Sites - a mobile documentary of many styles
There’s a wide range of styles and takes from the audio clips on Donegal’s Hallowed Sites. We believe this ‘zoo style’ adds to the overall effect. And yes, many were recorded via Zoom in a global pandemic, so bear with that and the occasional wobble in bandwidth. Some of it is indeed ancient archive material that may get the odd gust of wind appearing. We hereby issue the disclaimer that the wind is part and parcel of the Donegal experience, so deal with it! From a technical point of view, the loudness setting has been set at -14 LUFS to go with Spotify standards.
A lot of added extras
The bonus sites were added as gathering places that should also be savoured. They will in time become part of the proper list. The additional audio material was alluded to in either the earlier audio clips, the text that came with those clips or because it gives an added flavour of Donegal wit or occasions. We’ve ensured that folklore has been included. These beliefs would have formed an important part of the culture of the county, if going back a fair bit to their heyday! We were lucky enough to record the voices of Sean McMahon and Mary Murphy. We hope you’ll agree that their timing, mischief and camaraderie add to the atmosphere of this travel guide.
Our choices for Donegal's Hallowed sites
So why did we choose these 25 places in such a vast county? They have all been special places where people have gathered for an event of some description over the centuries. This is a retracing of steps of those early ‘pilgrims’. We hope to capture some of the magic these places offer.
As part of the now defunct Donegal App. I first came up with the idea in 2012 when it was called ‘Donegal’s Greatest Shrines’. As you’ll see it, is a tour that does not take itself too seriously, so a softening of the name to ‘Donegal’s Hallowed Site’s was made. I’d been putting together a lot of Spotify playlists from my archive in the Lockdown days of 2021 and thought that my favourite of the eight tours from the Donegal App deserved an upgrade for National Heritage Week 2021.
Ensure you familiarise yourself with the route beforehand. There are some breathtaking scenes along the way with plenty of stops required. As you are covering the full county, give yourself a few good days. Come back revitalised. If you enjoyed it, please pass on the word and let folk know via social media.
26th August 2021