Renovations unveil hidden messages in Killybegs home

HUGH O’Donnell’s home in Killybegs is so full of history that it can literally be seen coming through the skirting boards.
Recent renovations at his St Catherine’s Road unveiled a message on one such board, written in pencil, which dates back to a time when the house was first built almost seventy years earlier.
“Some man may be taking this off when I am dead and long forgotten. He may not have much bother because it’s only stuck on. God bless you,” it read.
The writing was put on the board by Bartley Bourne, Rareagh, New Mills, and other signatories included Michael O’Donnell, Lyrig, Kilcar, John McCunny Ballyshannon, John Curran Glenties, Sonny McLoone Glenties and P Boyle, Ardara.
The late Michael O’Donnell’s family, which includes Letterkenny based accountant Noel O’Donnell, are going to preserve and frame the timber.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week, Hugh O’Donnell explained that Michael O’Donnell was also his uncle.
“It’s amazing to think that in an age where everyone is using keypads, screens and email that this simple way of sending a message stood the test of time to be revealed to a whole new generation.
“It was a lovely moment reading this simple message from years gone by written by a group of men deciding that some day this board would be lifted and read and they would send a blessing to a future generation.
“What is really touching is that the first signatory, Michael O’Donnell, was my uncle,” he said.


The seven houses in St Catherine’s Road, which all have lovely views over Killybegs Harbour, were built by local contractor Eddie Cunningham in 1954.
“A group of individuals came together and bought the land, which formed part of the old Industrial School, to build the houses. Dr Clarke and his wife, who was also a doctor, were the first owners of my house. It was sold to the late Tom Reddington and I bought it from his family in 1988,” he said.
“I decided to get a bit of work done on the house and it was while getting the skirting boards removed for the new heating system that we notice the writing on the boards. It was written in pencil and was very well preserved. It must have been a very dry wall,” he added.
“I thought that it was only right that I gave the board to my cousins – Michael’s family – as it’s more personal to them,” he said.
Since I put the image of the board on Facebook different people have been making contact explaining who the people were that signed the board. It’s had a deep resonance with people. Michael (O’Donnell) was a carpenter from Bavin. He used to work with Eddie Cunningham before he joined the boatyard in Killybegs where he spent the rest of his working life,” he said.
Mr O’Donnell is the proprietor of Hughie Bar and restaurant in Killybegs. He is looking forward to welcoming customers back through the front door.
“We’ll be restricted to outdoor dining initially which isn’t ideal given that we often get all four seasons in one day with the climate we have here in Donegal. Outdoor dining is fine but it’s not realistic a lot of the time. We’ll just have to wait and see what the guidelines bring but it will be great to reopen the doors this summer,” he said.



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