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Mary from Dungloe (festival) facts for kids

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A typical scene at the Mary From Dungloe Festival, 2005.

The Mary From Dungloe International Festival is a popular Irish music festival held annually, usually at the end of July in the small town of Dungloe, County Donegal. The festival is centred on a pageant to find out which contestant has the spirit of the festival, who is then crowned "Mary From Dungloe". The winner of the contest holds this title for a year and acts as an ambassador for the festival. Irish emigrant communities from around the world, as well as some Irish counties and towns, participate by nominating a young woman, endearingly titled a "Mary", to represent their community at the contest. The festival has grown in popularity over the years and now regularly attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the area. The festival is inspired by the song "Mary from Dungloe" as the Rose of Tralee festival is by "The Rose of Tralee". 2019 saw the festival celebrate its 52nd anniversary, with Roisin Maher from New York becoming Mary From Dungloe 2019.

Participating Communities

Many Communities around the world with links to County Donegal have their own local contests to pick their community's "Mary" who subsequently is nominated to travel to Dungloe to compete in the Mary From Dungloe contest. Irish communities who have entered contestants include:

Traditional festival events

There are a number of traditional events which are run every year as part of the festival. Here are just a few examples:

Event Traditional Location
Opening Ceremony Main St.
Introduction of MFD Contestants Main St.
Open Air Music Main St.
Art Exhibition Sharkey's Service Station
Fun Fair The Cope Car Park
Sports Day Dungloe Gaelic Athletic Association Grounds
Men's Golf Open Cruit Island Golf Club
Ladies Golf Open Cruit Island Golf Club
Treasure Hunt Main St.
Annual 5K Road Race Main St.
Fly Fishing Competition Dungloe Marina
Little Miss Mary Competition Parochial Hall
Table Quiz Maghery Community Centre
Junior Table Quiz Ionad Teampall Cróine
Social Evening with the Marys Various
Historic Tour of the Rosses Departs Main St.
Interviewing of the MFD Contestants Carrickfinn Airport
Bonny Baby Show Parochial Hall
Daniel O'Donnell in Concert Festival Dome
Parade Main St.
Band Competition Main St.
MFD Contest Final Festival Dome
Gala Ball Waterfront Hotel
Closing Ceremony Main St.

2020 Contestants

As the festival has been cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, the 2020 contestants or 'Marys' will take part in the 2021 festival.

These contestants are as follows

  • Caitlin Finn - London Mary
  • Claire Hassett - Tipperary Mary
  • Shannon Hester - Bayonne Mary
  • Sarah Lawlor - San Francisco Mary
  • Kaitlyn Likas - Washington DC Mary
  • Ellenor Thompson - Glasgow Mary
  • Saoirse Stevenson - New York Mary
  • Olivia Lisowski - Philadelphia Mary
  • - Donegal Mary
  • - Dungloe Mary
  • - Gaeltacht Mary
  • - Wild Atlantic Way Mary

They will be guided by the reigning Mary Roisin Maher from New York.

Contest winners

Below is a complete list of contest winners from 1968 to 2007.

Year Winner Represented Originally From Age
1968 Celine Powell Dublin Galway
1969 Marie McGlinchey Donegal
1970 Monina Hughes Armagh
1971 Gloria O'Boyle Donegal Bunbeg, Gweedore
1972 Carole Mary Carr Limerick
1973 Nora Boyle Donegal Burndennet, County Tyrone
1974 Maribel Lopez Del Hoya Spain
1975 Maureen Temple Londonderry
1976 Anne Marie McDaid Derry
1977 Sheila T Boyle Bayonne
1978 Bernice McElroy Down
1979 Ann O'Callaghan Louth
1980 Marie Coyle Glasgow
1981 Noreen Galligan An Ghaeltacht
1982 Debbie O'Brien Manchester
1983 Máire McCole Dungloe
1984 Anne Marie Moloney New York Jackson Heights 18
1985 Sheila Hughes Mayo
1986 Linda Farrell Louth 22
1987 Maria McGovern Dublin Dublin
1988 Maureen Connelly Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania New York 24
1989 Carmel Kelly Donegal Donegal
1990 Anne Marie Downes Louth
1991 Pamela Sheridan Meath
1992 Paula O'Reilly Monaghan
1993 Samantha Pairman North East England
1994 Sarah Mulholland Dungloe Kincasslagh 21
1995 Kathleen McMahon New York New York 20
1996 Siobhan Bignell Melbourne London, England 24
1997 Heather Stewart Edinburgh
1998 Brighid Williams Sydney
1999 Ciara Diver Derry
2000 Shirley McGlynn Manchester Dublin 21
2001 Fiona Callan Wicklow Wicklow 19
2002 Jolene McMonagle An Ghealtacht Falcarragh 22
2003 Aisling Friel Glasgow Glasgow 21
2004 Lisa Mc Kelvey Dungloe Dungloe 20
2005 Katie Armstrong Philadelphia Philadelphia 25
2006 Jennifer Halton Kildare Kildare 22
2007 Kerry Sweeney Edinburgh Edinburgh 21
2008 Una Rooney Armagh Armagh 24
2009 Kate Ferguson Derry Derry 25
2010 Jemma Ferry Edinburgh Edinburgh 22
2011 Debbie Rodgers Dungloe Burtonport 21
2012 Meghan Davis Philadelphia Wilkes-Barre, PA 26
2013 Grace Sweeney Glasgow Glasgow 27
2014 Kate Linsay Sydney Sydney 19
2015 Siobhan Dunn Edinburgh Edinburgh 28
2016 Eva Ní Dhoibhlinn Gaeltacht Gweedore 20
2017 Alisha Medford Glasgow Glasgow 20
2018 Caroline O'Donnell Dungloe Leffin 25
2019/2020 Roisin Maher New York Carlow 27

Entertainers and musicians

Many Irish and international acts have performed at the festival over the years. The traditional annual crowd puller, however, continues to be internationally renowned folk singer Daniel O'Donnell, who made his festival debut in 1985.

  • Daniel O'Donnell, Boyzone, Brian Kennedy, Donal Lunny, Altan, The Hothouse Flowers, Goats Don't Shave. Nathan Carter
  • Barry Sinclair, Jimmy Buckley, Hugo Duncan, Mad Dog Macrea.

Famous comperes

The Mary From Dungloe contest final has been compered by a number of famous faces.

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