Mary From Dungloe Festival – The Mary From Dungloe International Festival is a popular Irish music festival held annually in Dungloe, the capital of the Rosses region in County Donegal. This 10 day festival usually takes place at the end of July. The festival has grown in popularity over the years and now regularly attracts thousands of visitors to the area.
T: +353 74 9521254 (Festival Office – July only)
+353 74 91 02107 (August – June)
The festival is centered around a pageant to ascertain which contestant best reflects the spirit of the festival. This contestant is then crowned “Mary From Dungloe”. The winner holds the title for a year and during that time she acts as a goodwill ambassador for the festival.
Irish emigrant communities from right around the world in addition to various Irish counties and towns participate by choosing a young woman, endearingly titled a “Mary”, to represent their community at the festival. Most of the “Mary’s” chosen will have close Donegal or at least Irish connections.
The Mary From Dungloe contest final has been compered by a number of famous Irish faces down through the years including Gay Byrne, Daniel O’Donnell, Marty Whelan, Pat Kenny, Thelma Mansfield and Gerry Kelly.
Many Irish and international acts have performed at the festival over the years including Boyzone, Brian Kennedy, Donal Lunny, Altan, The Hothouse Flowers and Goats Don’t Shave. The festival has a strong association with local singer Daniel O’Donnell over much of the last 20 years.
History of the Festival – and the Song
The Dungloe Festival was launched in 1967. The original Mary Gallagher was courting a young man who had just returned from America, but in 1861, when her parents refused to let them marry, he returned to America to make his fortune.
The previous year some of her family had been evicted from the Glenbeigh Estate and fled to Australia.On 5 December 1861, Mary Gallagher emigrated to join her cousins. On the boat, she met and married Donal Egan. She gave birth to a baby but died within four months and her son only survived a few more months.
This tragic love story was made into a song by a local stone mason and in 1968 it was recorded by the Emmet Spiceland group. The song gained wide popularity and became the theme of the festival.
Each year great crowds travel to the festival in Donegal where the streets are filled with traditional musicians. The festival involves ten days of magical music, song and craic.
There are a number of traditional events which are run every year as part of the festival. Here are just a few examples:
- Opening Ceremony
- Introduction of the Contestants
- Open Air Music
- Fun Fair
- Sports Day
- Men’s & Ladies Golf Open Cruit Island Golf Club
- Treasure Hunt
- Annual 5K Road Race
- Fly Fishing Competition
- Little Miss Mary Competition
- Table Quiz
- Social Evening with the Marys
- Interviewing of the Contestants
- Bonny Baby Show
- Band Competition .
- Mary From Dungloe Contest Final