My Donegal Home

Image of Sheep and Dog in Autumn time

Donegal is home to many people from all walks of life.  This is the story of one Scottish woman who has embraced the county.

‘I live and work in the Derryveagh Mountains in Co. Donegal on the west coast of Ireland.  Having lived here for over 30 years, I think I have earned the right to call it home.  I was born and reared in Scotland,  of west of Ireland and Scottish parentage.  In 1983, I decided to stay here with my 2 ½ year old son and lived with my parents and sisters until I married Brian in 1987.

Brian’s family had always kept sheep and I used to walk round the mountain with him when he would be checking all was well and I found it fascinating.  While Brian was away working in the US for six months I started looking after the day to day running of the farm. A local lad used to come over and check things over and if I needed help and he would gladly give it. My biggest problem was the dog, he only worked through the medium of Irish and me being Scottish and my father never speaking the language to us, I hadn’t a clue.

Brian would try to give me the words on the phone but in those days, there were no mobile phones or phones in the house in our area so I had to travel six miles to a public telephone box at Gweedore Station.   Anyway, we got over the language problems by me waving in the direction I wanted the dog to go or running in the same direction as the waving.  Eventually the poor dog got the jist of it and we were able to gather and drive the sheep.  It wasn’t so funny when Brian came home and went to work with the dog and he ignoring all the commands of his youth.

When we got married, Brian got me a flock number and put the sheep into my name as he knew I had a great love of them.

I joined the IFA as I liked the idea of farmers having their say and as the way of farming in the West is completely different to that in the East of the County.  I served as County Secretary for four years and now serve on the National Hill Committee and the Donegal Heritage Forum. I find these committees very interesting and informative and, of course,  I have my own input.

In recent times, I have gone into schools at the request of Sian McCann, The Workhouse, as part of a cross border initiative and tried to give the children of both farming and non farming families a flavour of farming life.   We have gone on farm visits followed by a trip to the Mart in Raphoe, finishing up with lamb for lunch!

I and my friend, another Donegal women were both contributors to Mary Carroll’s book, ‘Women Drive Tractors Too’ which she wrote in 2005 telling the story of 18 farming women.

From an early age I have turned to painting and music to relax but in recent times I am able to work at my painting and I am also a Printmaker, mostly Etchings and I give workshops. My Artwork marries well with the farming as both are connected with life, the outdoors, culture etc.

My name is Nora Duffy.’