Leitrim Life

COLUMN: My Leitrim Life - Sinead Guckian

Former Fianna Fáil councillor, Sinead Guckian, left politics this year to concentrate on her great love of art.

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

COLUMN: My Leitrim Life - Sinead Guckian

Sinead Guckian

Where do you live?
The beautiful Shannon side village of Drumsna.

What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Leitrim?

Any day the sun is shining is the perfect day, there’s always so much to see and do in Leitrim and when the sun is shining it becomes extra special.
We are so lucky to have a huge annual programme of events happening around the county, from music festivals, to dance and arts festivals, from vintage shows and carnivals to GAA and family fun days, from heritage and cultural events, to commemorations and novel fundraisers, with so much happening in the county, there can be a perfect day quite often in any calendar year.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Leitrim in your lifetime - and why?

There are many incomparable contributions made by people from different sectors in my lifetime; people in the arts, business people, entrepreneurs, GAA members and individual volunteers who given so freely of their time to better the lives of others.
But I’d like especially to acknowledge the contribution of the women of this county, the grandmothers, mothers, daughters and sisters, from those in business to those who have given years of volunteerism, the artists, the carers, the homemakers and the caretakers of our health, wealth and lands, the women of Leitrim like everywhere, mostly silently, keep the world loving and running.

What's your first Leitrim memory?

I have a lot of very clear memories, from quite a young age, from around the county and while a lot of memories are in and around the village of Drumsna, particularly swimming and playing in the “Flaggybottoms” (a section of the Shannon used by locals) or in my Grandparents Paddy and Jane Ann Guckian's home in Lisnagae or in Shannon Industries in St Patrick's Park, the souvenir and toy factory originally set up by my Grandparents Tommy and Nell McCarthy, its Sheemore that features in the most adventurous ones.
I remember being very small, preschool age, picking wild hazel nuts on the forested side of Sheemore and then re-enacting an ambush where we had to defeat the Black and Tans and then crawl through the under growth and across the fields to safety.

What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
Drumsna, of course! It’s such a beautiful, historic and friendly village, but I also have a great draw towards Kiltyclogher and to Sean Mac Diarmada’s Cottage, where the past is heavy in the air and Selton Hill has always been one of the most special of places for me too.
I rarely pass the monument on the hill without stopping, or slowing down if I’m under time pressure, I’m sure it drives any cars behind me mad.
From a young age I knew the story of my grandfather Paddy Guckian and the terrible murders that happened on the 11th March 1921 at this hill in Gorvagh.

What do you think gives Leitrim its unique identity?
The history, the people and our beautiful unspoilt landscapes.
While our history mirrors many other counties, it has been conditioned uniquely by, local mythical legends, the extent of the poverty, the level of emigration and a great sense of loss.
These unique characteristics, along with our rich recorded history, have given us a culture with a strong sense of place. I think this is deeply felt by Leitrim’s inhabitants and we are always connected to it.

Do you have a favourite local writer or Musician?
I could listen to the voices of singer/songwriters Eleanor Shanley and Fionnuala Maxwell, for forever and a day.
Two beautiful vocalists and such amazing, fun and beautiful people. Although I must admit Colm Mulligan is the only musician/singer who managed to make me get up on a table and dance voluntarily.

What about a local walk - or view?
The Shannonside Walk in Drumsna, for its simplicity and tranquillity or the Anthony Trollope Historical Trail for its rich historical presence and unspoilt scenery, are both hard to beat.

What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
Dark forests of Sitka spruce, Brexit and the continued erosion of our communities and cultures caused by centralised policies of a “one size fits all” nature, which doesn’t allow us to determine and to cultivate our better futures.

If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Leitrim, what would it be?
The are many infrastructural projects that would greatly enhance the county but if I had the power to only change one thing about Leitrim, I would make it part of a united 32 county Ireland.