Donegal Woman talks to Clare Gallagher, whose passion for animal welfare led her to create a unique cookbook - 'Mammy’s the Word'

Clare Gallagher Photo: Francis Diver

Clare Gallagher has been something of a guardian angel for animals in Donegal ever since she moved here four years ago.

The London-native who now lives in Rathmullan has dedicated much of her time to saving the lives of small, stray injured animals and helping finance their care.

Clare has a passion for animal welfare, which recently inspired her to compile a cookbook to raise money for the Animal Health Centre in Ramelton to help strays.

The traditional recipe book Mammy’s the Word has been a huge success since it launched in Rathmullan last fortnight. Clare has already sold out of her first run of copies and is hoping to meet demands with another print run this week.

Front Cover of Mammy’s the Word

Speaking to Donegal Woman, Clare said: “I raise money for animals who haven’t got a voice of their own.”

“Sometimes people find dogs, cats and kittens and take them to the vet or others would take them to me and I operate independently to try and raise money to help them.

“I’ve done quiz nights and dinners, but I thought to myself I’ll do a recipe book with a difference, with old-fashioned recipes.

“These are the recipes that are not committed to paper. I didn’t want these recipes to die off with people. I wanted them to stay alive so people can use them today.”

Launch of Mammy’s the Word in the St Vincent de Paul Centre, Rathmullan. Friday 23rd June. Photo: Francis Diver

The inside page of Mammy’s the Word

Clare changed the name of her cookbook to a very apt local title – Mammy’s the Word, rather than Mum’s the Word which was her original plan.

It’s all about secret recipes handed down from generations. She put a call out to local people to submit their favourite family dishes and treats and has typed up over 100 recipes.

Sweet and savoury delights are all included, such as Apply Syrup Pudding, Easy Cheesecake, Grandma’s Ginger Beer, Ma O’Leary’s Casserole, Christmas Cakes, Manchester Tart, Guinness Bread, Easy Pea Soup and Lemon Drizzle Scones.

Clare printed the book with the help of Francis Diver at the Tirconaill Tribune. She also worked with a friend in fashion design to hand-create her own cover.

After almost a year of planning and coordinating, Clare’s book finally went on sale last month. The next print of copies will be available to buy for €10 in Whoriskeys Ramelton, the Rathmullan Post Office the Ramelton Animal Health Centre on the Shore Road, the White Hart Bar Rathmullan and Jim Barker’s Shop in Rathmullan.

The back page of Mammy’s the Word

Clare is eager to raise more funds to help some of the animals of Donegal who are in a terrible situation, she says.

“I want to do more, I’m thinking of other things after the dust settles on the book.

“People here don’t get their animals neutered. Cats breed like crazy, people have so many unwanted animals and the dog situation here is dire, absolutely dire,” she said.

All proceeds from Mammy’s the Word will go to the Veterinary Surgery in Ramelton, but the money is  stretched to priority cases, Clare said.

“People say they can’t afford to neuter or care for their pets, but the money doesn’t go to people who don’t have the funds. It really can’t, it can only go to animals that are hurt.

“If I can sell more copies I can make more money for animals without a voice who haven’t got an owner to speak on their behalf.

“All I can do it the best I can,” Clare said.

Launch of Mammy’s the Word in the St Vincent de Paul Centre, Rathmullan. Friday 23rd June. Photo: Francis Diver

Clare is concerned about all the unwanted animals in Ireland. Reports from councils in 2015 showed that 1,824 stray or unwanted dogs were euthanised, which is five a day. There were over 500 dogs in the Donegal Dog pound that same year.

Clare believes there isn’t enough being done to stop the propagation of animals.

“If we could stop the breeding through neutering we would be in a better position. I hate to see animals suffering,” she said.

As well as animal welfare, Clare has got involved in the community through volunteer work. She is a former teacher and worked in the management of home care companies, so she uses these skills to helps out at the local nursing home every week and do literacy classes at the local school.

Clare has big plans for the school year to come as she plans to establish a Foróige youth club in September to cater to 10 to 18 year olds in the area.

A distant dream for Clare is to have her own little animal sanctuary to look after as many creatures as she can. For now, she cares for her two Russian Blue cats at home – who are both very spoiled!