As the 50th Annual Mary From Dungloe International Festival is in full swing, is delighted to profile each of the young women taking part in the competition.

Each ‘Mary’ will be introducing themselves here and sharing their story ahead of the 2017 Mary from Dungloe Crowning Cabaret. This special anniversary event will be live broadcast for the first ever time by Donegal Daily, along with Jacksons Media TV. On Sunday August 6th, viewers all over the world can tune in as host Daniel O’Donnell announces the 50th Mary from Dungloe.

You will be able to see the live show online via Donegal Daily’s Facebook page, which can be viewed on your computer, mobile device and streamed on your television.

The Marys are taking part in a week jam-packed with wonderful events across Dungloe and Donegal. They have all taken time to reflect on the festival and tell us what it personally means to them.

Bayonne Mary Christina Gill spoke to Donegal Woman and shared her experience of the festival.

Christina Gill

24-year-old Christina was born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey, and is following in her mother’s footsteps as she proudly wore the Bayonne Mary sash back in 1980.


What Mary from Dungloe means to me

My journey to the Mary from the Mary From Dungloe International Festival this year can be measured in more than a century of history, family and shared memories.

In 1893, Cornelius (Neil) Francis O’Donnell immigrated from Burtonport, Co. Donegal to a small town in the United States called Bayonne, New Jersey.

Now, some 124 years later, the O’Donnell family on both sides of the Atlantic remain connected through the annual Mary From Dungloe Festival.

Communication efforts between the family in Donegal and Bayonne faltered in the years following Neil’s emigration to the US, but thanks to a fateful 1971 holiday by my aunt and Neil’s great-granddaughter, Judy O’Donnell Lee, the Bayonne O’Donnell’s were once again connected with their Irish kin.

Mary Campbell, proprietor of Campbell’s Guest House, mentioned to Judy that some relatives of one Neil O’Donnell lived in nearby Dungloe, leading Judy to the beautiful home of Bridget and Packie McLaughlin.

The photograph of Hugh O’Donnell that Christina’s aunt Judy spotted during her trip to Donegal.

Looking around the home of her gracious hosts, Judy noticed a photo on the mantel place, which featured the familiar face of her grandfather, Hugh O’Donnell, and was the very same photo that was prominently featured in the Bayonne, New Jersey home of Judy’s Parents, John and Jeanne O’Donnell.

It was quickly discovered that Bridget was the niece of Neil Francis O’Donnell, and communication between the McLaughlins and O’Donnells rekindled the relationship that we now are so fortunate to enjoy and maintain.

I am truly honored to follow in the footsteps of my mother, Regina O’Donnell Gill, who represented Bayonne in the 1980 Mary From Dungloe Festival, to wear the sash bearing the name of my hometown in this year’s very special 50th anniversary festival.

Our family history reminds me that the deep roots of family connection can overcome the tests of both time and distance, and I look forward to sharing this incredible experience with the McLaughlin’s and all of my American family members who have crossed the Atlantic with me!



Don’t forget, this week Donegal Woman and Donegal Daily are celebrating the Mary from Dungloe International Festival with an amazing competition, click below to find out how to win three wonderful Irish hotel breaks and €1000 spending money.

COMPETITION: Win 6 nights B&B plus €1,000 to celebrate the Mary from Dungloe!