Greetings from the northwest of Ireland. My name is Annie Bell and I am 19 years old. I live in Donegal Town with my parents, Brídín and Stephen and my three younger siblings, Adam, Katie and Rosie. I am currently a full time student in Sligo Institute of Technology and I have just completed my first year studies in an Honours Business Degree in Tourism with event Management.
I am honoured to have been selected to be this year’s “Wild Atlantic Way” Mary and I am so excited for the festival to commence. The Mary from Dungloe Festival is a fantastic opportunity for the local people of Dungloe and indeed the County of Donegal, to connect with National and International visitors who feel a strong sense of connection with Dungloe and its well established history.
The ethos of the festival is to embrace a community spirit that celebrates and cherishes the past and present through dance, sport, craic agus ceoil and the people of Dungloe are experts at offering a Cead Míle Fáilte to all who travel the roads to the beautiful Northwest.
From a very early age, music has played a prominent role in my upbringing. I have played the piano since I was 8 years old and in recent years I have taught myself the guitar. My music preference is wide and varied however, when playing the piano, I tend to lean towards movie scores or music from broad way works. Taking part in different musicals in Donegal Town, has also been a huge love of mine. My first musical was ‘The Jungle Book’ in 2007 and since then I have taken part in musicals such as ‘Grease’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘My My Matilda’ and ‘Cáislean Orr’. Musicals are a great way to build confidence and meet new people and is an excellent way to demonstrate how working as part of a team can create such wonderful productions at local level. Participation over the years, has allowed me to develop personally by improving my self-confidence, my communication skills, team building skills and has improved my ability to socialise with others at different levels.
Swimming is another love of mine. I started swimming at the age of 5. I am now involved in Irish Water Safety. As we live beside the sea, I feel that it is important that teenagers, especially between the ages of 11 and 17 are aware of the dangers that surround our beautiful waters and know how best to keep themselves and those around them safe.
As a family, the GAA is responsible for providing us with some of our most exciting days out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with athletic talents but like most, as a family, we love nothing more than travelling around the country supporting our beloved Donegal Senior and Minor Football teams.
My family is very close and family time is an important part of our week. Every year, we pick a different part of Donegal and travel around exploring and discovering the local treasures and hidden gems. This is probably where my love of Donegal started and how I ended up studying tourism in college.
Since starting college in September ,I realise how much Ireland has to offer in terms of the people, the scenery, the food and the music. In the future, I would love to develop my career through promoting and developing the north west of Ireland and the island as a whole.
I work in the Central Hotel in Donegal Town as a receptionist. I really enjoy this work as I get to meet and greet the tourists who visit our beautiful little town. During my time working in the Central Hotel, I have met lots of new acquaintances and some very good friends.
The Mary from Dungloe Festival 2018 is set to be a monumental personal experience and a week of unforgettable memories. I feel a great sense of immense honour and pride to have been selected to represent the Wild Atlantic Way in the 51st Mary from Dungloe Festival. I can’t wait to meet and get to know everyone involved.
Finally, I just want to say a special thanks and shout out to my sponsor, Lough Eske Castle in Donegal Town.
Sponsored by Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel
Wild Atlantic Way Mary