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Book Launch: Kieran Kelly – Letterkenny: Where the Winding Swilly Flows

Letterkenny: Where the Winding Swilly Flows is a new and exciting history book by local writer, actor and schoolteacher Kieran Kelly.

We are very pleased to be hosting its official launch tonight at 7.30pm. In addition to the book launch we’ll also be hosting a reprise of Kieran’s short play Echoes of Time, originally produced by An Grianán to mark Letterkenny’s 400th anniversary.  Entry is free and light refreshments will be served.

Copies of the book will be available on the night in both paperback and hardback. Only 100 copies of the hardback version have been printed so we expect those to be in demand.

Throughout the book’s 22 chapters, the entire history of the town and local region have been meticulously researched and explored, starting with the formation of the valley in the last Ice Age with theories to how the town got its name, right up to the present day.

Along the way, you will find out interesting facts about the town of Letterkenny that perhaps you never knew before. For example, did you know that Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) and Patti Boyd (ex-wife of Beatle George Harrison) all have ancestral descent from Letterkenny? Or that at one stage, over ten thousand people were packed into the Market Square to attend a monster Land League meeting at which Michael Davitt spoke? Or that Donegal won their first Ulster Junior Championship title in Glencar?

As well as meeting many colourful characters who helped shape and define what Letterkenny would eventually become, the book explores ancient Gaelic battles along the banks of the River Swilly, the formation of the modern town in the Ulster Plantation, the various families of the Ascendancy Big Houses, the rise of local government, the building of the Cathedral and various educational establishments, the local impact of World War 1, the arrival of the Port and Railway systems, twentieth century industrial and commercial development as well as in-depth history of various sports and drama clubs important in the social integration of the town’s inhabitants.

Complemented by an assortment of maps, graphs and photos, this bright and colourful publication also hosts new illustrations by local artist John Ruddy that cover these key events important in the town’s history.


Echoes of Time is Kieran’s play that looks back at Letterkenny’s plantation past. It toured local primary schools with great success in 2011.  Original cast members Nora Kavanagh and Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride are joined by youth theatre member Patrick Quinn soon to be seen in Bugsy Malone. Like the book it contains many snippets about Letterkenny that you probably haven’t heard before.

Tues 28 October at 7.30pm. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served.

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