Schoolgirls give Donegal its very own board game

Minister Joe McHugh with Class Fionn students Emily Blake, Olivia Cuskelly and Katie Devine.

PEOPLE all over the world can now visit Donegal’s most famous attractions from their own homes, thanks to a new board game devised by four local schoolgirls.
‘Hotspots’ is a Monopoly-style game that takes the player on a journey across the county, passing landmarks like Fanad Lighthouse, the Villa Rose Hotel, Foras Na Gaeilge, the Silver Tassie and many more. There is even an opportunity to enjoy a day trip with Mr and Mrs Donegal themselves – Daniel and Majella O’Donnell.
The game, which is presented in Irish on one side and English on the other, was launched in Letterkenny’s Loreto Convent by the quartet of transition year students who came up with the idea.
On hand to congratulate Finance Manager Emma Howard, CEO Alannah Sweeney, Sales Director Aifric Ní Fhearraigh and Marketing Manager Jade McCollum was Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Joe McHugh.
Alannah Sweeney told those gathered how the idea for a board game based around Donegal grew from a caravanning holiday in Downings.
“There was no TV and no wifi and all we had were books and board games,” Alannah told those gathered. After discussing the idea, she and her three friends got together and formed a ‘Mini Company’, an optional component of transition year.
They spent several months working on what the game would look like, what landmarks would be included and what the rules should be. The girls enlisted the help of local national schools in coming up with a final design. They managed to secure a prize of a day out in Arena 7 for the best drawing and that was won by Ballyraine National School’s Caitlyn Moore.
With all that done, the friends set about costing dice, cardboard packaging as well as finding someone to physically print their game.
Working off a shoestring budget, they approached local company, Browne Printers, who helped them take the project through to fruition.
The final touches were still being put to Hotspots and its associated banner ‘Filled With County Pride’ over the weekend in preparation for the big launch.

Class Fionn at the launch of the Hotspots board game.

Congratulating the girls on their product, Joe McHugh, said, “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in bringing this idea to implementation. Over the weekend there was a lot of talk about the National Development Plan which is full of ideas so maybe we should bring you girls up to Dublin and we could learn a thing or two,” the Minister joked.
“The different connections you will make from this will stand to you,” he added.
“You are reaching out to the Diaspora, to the Gaeilgeoir community, to Fanad lighthouse and all these other places. That will stand to you as you go forward and it is all very exciting for you. 
“It was also a good way to learn the Irish language,” he said.
The four girls presented their teacher, Ms Mairead Boyle, with a special gift in recognition of all her support while Loreto Principal Nora Friel paid her own tribute to the joint effort.

Minister Joe McHugh with the board game creators Alanna Sweeney, Aifric N’ Fhearraigh and Emma Howard.

She recalled seeing the girls developing Hotspots, a process that involved them working evenings and even weekends.
Hotspots, Donegal’s first ever board game, is on sale now priced at €12. It is available from Letterkenny’s Tourist Information Centre, Fanad lighthouse and Brian McCormick Sport.
Alternatively, check out the website,

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