"It educates us, it enlightens us and it entertains us." The words of Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council of Ireland, who launched the 2018 Donegal Annual in Jackson's Hotel this month.

She told us that her grandfather, Paddy McGill, was a past President of the Society in the mid 1950's, and she recalled the prominence every Annual had on his bookshelf - all arranged in order and highly valued.

The current Annual, again with great credit due to Dr Seán Beattie its editor, contains 17 articles plus book reviews. Both in its pedigree of Donegal's history and in the visual presentation of photos, maps and art-work, the overall impression is one of perfectionism.

It's incredible to think that the DA has an unbroken run since it first appeared in 1947. Even after all these years, the amazing aspect is that we are presented with fresh topics and new insights and research - Donegal's history is a truly fascinating subject.

Orlaith finished by saying that after the launch she was she was on her way to the family home in Ardara to place this Annual on her grandfather's bookshelf, thus ensuring that it now had all the Annuals in their entirety.

In the leading article, Dr Michelle Brown establishes connections between the stone crosses of Inishowen and the Mediterranean regions and beyond.

Belinda Mahaffy chronicles the history of Donaghmore parish in the Finn valley.

Next, Amateur Drama in Donegal, 1952-1961 is put under the spotlight by Siofra Ní Shluaghadáin.

Aidan O'Hara focuses on an open air Mass in 1867 at Bunlin bridge in the Milford/Carrigart region.

Tomás Ó'Canann examines aspects of the history of the Mac Suibhne dynasty.

The provision of Anglican places of worship in the parishes of Inishowen is the topic of Dr William Roulston's article.

Music features prominently in this Annual. Marcas Ó' Murchú writes about John McGettigan (1882-1958) in "Donegal's migrant, musician, minstrel and entertainer."

Seán Boner, President of our Society, looks at the life and times of Néillí Boyle, the Donegal fiddler from Keadue in the Rosses.

Rev. Raymond Blair focuses on a ballad, "The deliverance of Donegal", its background being an election in the 1870's marking the last days of the Tories in the county.

Helen Meehan, a contributor to the Annual for over 25 years, is by the banks of the Eanymore river near Inver, looking at all the history in its vicinity.

Ross Cooper investigates in various maps and documents the much larger reach of Upper Lough Foyle in the Strabane/Lifford/Raphoe district in the not too distant geological past.

Staying with matters aquatic, Mervyn Watson transports us back to the days of the great trans-Atlantic liners and their immense contribution to tourism in the county. The Cynthia and the California are the two liners he has researched in immense detail.

Dr Sam Hanna writes about a map from Balintra in 1773 and the families associated with the region at that time.

The connection between Aldfrith of Northumbria and the Cenel nEóghain of Inishowen is examined by Dr Brian Lacey.

Dr Desmond Murphy delves into the files of newspapers such as The Derry Journal in the 1920's looking at John W. Nixon and his Derry libel actions.

The Editor of the Annual, Dr Seán Beattie, details the history of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Donegal from 1904 to 1927.

Terry Dolan features the Manor of Castlefinn in relation to the Ulster Plantation leases, 1680-1827.

Complementing these articles are book reviews and a bibliography of Donegal material by Rory Gallagher.

This year's front cover is a painting called, "Turf Harvest - The Rosses" by James Humbert Craig, RHA (1874 - 1944).

The Annual is now on sale in major bookshops in the county or from the Secretary, Mrs Una McGarrigle via the website donegalhistory.com. Members of the Society will shortly receive their copy in the post.

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.