This morning we drove north, through 'the gap', to Letterkenny. Our first stop was at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. This is a regional college with roughly 4,000 students enrolled during the school year. We met with the President of the College, Mr Paul Hannigan, who gave us a presentation on the background of the College.
We then got a tour through the CoLab with the Head of Development, John Andy Bonar. The Colab is located on the college campus and is an incubator for startups, run by local entrepreneurs. The college encourages the CoLab companies to hire from within the collge as they expand. We learned how the college sustains the companies and integrates their employees with events occuring in the college, as well as providing social spaces to meet their students.
We met co-founder of Arklu, Ian Harkin. Ian's company 'Lottie' is a global success. The 'Lottie Dolls' are age-appropriate dolls for young children. Ian was a previous graduate of the College and returned to the CoLab to start his project. In traditional Irish style, the students were offered one million cups of tea through the day.
We then moved onto Glenveagh National Park. The park is 170km of rugged land with a beautiful deep lake, it is also home to Ireland's most annoying creature, the itchy midge. We were greeted at the Vistor Centre by Cathaoirleach (Mayor) of Donegal County Council, Cllr. Terence Slowey and Donegal County Council's Mary Daly. They gave the students a formal welcome to the region. Cllr. Terrence shared stories about his youth working in the US, most poignantly at the twin towers in New York in the 70s.
Anna gave us a tour of Glenveagh Castle, right in the heart of the park. This castle was erected in the 19th century and has a history teeming with secrets and curses. We learned about the Belgian Walk and roamed the castle gardens.These gardens have been kept since the 1880s. The end of the day was spent looking over the Lough Veigh and the valley with the castle behind us.
As the sun set we learned about the Gaelic Athletic Association's traditional games. We played a bit of hurling, camogie, and GAA football. A big thank you to Bundoran GAA for letting us use the football grounds and Aodh Rua GAA Club for lending us their equipment. Slán.