The old weigh bridge hut which was once an important feature of Donegal Town’s Diamond could become an information hub for visitors.

Donna Maskery from the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre said: “Plans are underway to reinstate the weigh bridge hut and we are looking for volunteers to man the hut to provide information to visitors and signpost to places of interest in and around the town.

“This will in no way detract from the services already offered at the Tourist Information Office but will add yet another element to the tourism offering available in the town.”

Ms Maskery is looking for people to help with this exciting project and become part of a new chapter in the hut’s history.

“We would like to hear from volunteers that have a keen interest in the history of our local area and that would feel confident talking to visitors and promoting local attractions,” she said.

With the hut itself very much a part of the heritage of the town, this is a great idea which is sure to please visitors and locals alike.

The weigh bridge hut restoration has already come in for much praise after making a few appearances last year.

Seamus Maguire who is better known as Chairperson of Donegal Bay Rowing Club is the man behind the restoration.

After bringing the hut back to its original location on the Diamond for a charity fundraiser last summer, he spoke to Donegal Post journalist Siobhán McNamara about this labour of love.

“It was stored in the Council yard in Laghey,” said Mr Maguire. “It had deteriorated significantly over the years but a local man called Paddy Meehan was working on it. He was going to give it back to the railway project but they said it was too far gone.”

Mr Maguire is a woodwork teacher with a great interest in local heritage. He was very happy to take up the challenge of bringing the project to the next stage. His aim was to make it usable while remaining true to its unique character.

With help from Adrian Wray, Mr Maguire completed the project and is delighted with the result.

“We were able to keep the original window,” he said. “The roof has these lovely little spires and I am very happy that we could keep all that in place. For everything that had to be replaced, we were able to refer to old photos.”

Mr Maguire is very respectful of the skill that went into building the hut. Indeed, its very survival is testament to the original workers.

“It was amazing to see the craftmanship of it,” he said. “We would love to know more about its heritage. We have some old pictures and we know it goes back to the 1800s.”

The old weigh bridge hut in earlier times. The men pictured include Joe Stewart, Willie Coulter, Gerry Stewart, John Joe Molloy, Ernie McIntyre, Danny Harvey, Francie Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Jack Britton

Community

In restoring the weigh bridge hut, Mr Maguire was keen that it would benefit the community. To date it has been used to raise funds for charities including the Inishowen Flood Appeal, Leitir Marie MS Fund and LauraLynn House Children’s Hospice. It was also used by the Donegal Bay Rowing Club at last year’s All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships in Ballyshannon.

But without doubt, it was its return to the Diamond for a day last summer that drew the most attention.

“It was pretty much back in its original location,” said Mr Maguire. “So everyone coming on to the Diamond could see it. A lot of people of a certain vintage remember it being there along with the old weigh bridge. But even people who don’t remember it felt that it looked just right. It really fits in here and it is great to see it back where it belongs.

“It is on wheels so we will be able to use it in future events. I would like to thank Seamus Quinn of Blas who was a big supporter in helping to renovate it.”

Heritage

As mentioned above, Mr Maguire would love to know more about the history and heritage of the weigh bridge hut. Anyone with information can email him at [email protected]

Anyone who would like to volunteer to provide tourist information can contact Donna Maskery of Donegal Railway Heritage Centre on (087) 953 9041.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.