Over the past few months, many of these so-called ‘One F’ articles have centered around a theme of growing up in Letterkenny during 1980’s, nineties and turn of the century. A period of Donegal history that often gets overlooked.

By Jonathan Foley 

Being a local lad myself, the plan was always to be as authentic as possible – mainly because my fellow townies would surely have no bother in letting me know if I was getting things wrong or if I was guilty of mass exaggeration – which thankfully was not the case. 

Not so far as I know anyway. 

But for anyone who’s involved in the creative game; be it through their work in music, art or writing, there’s always that niggling issue over how to better your last piece. During moments like these, the dreaded ‘Blank Page’ can become an intimidating adversary …  but only if you let it. 

On the one hand, for me anyway, there’s the fear that an article could fail miserably, that it would cause embarrassment to someone and give me, the writer, a feeling that I’ve not performed to my full potential. 

The ‘Beats Laboratory’

And yet, on the other hand, this feeling is certainly not unique to just musicians, artists and writers at all. It can apply to pretty much anyone. 

Whether it’s someone looking to start up a new business, learn a new language or even somebody hoping to get a leaner physique down at the gym, the all too real possibility of not reaching the goal that was originally aimed for can and will cause many to shy away from their original dreams and aspirations. 

We all have ideas about what we wish to write, sing and teach the world about. It’s why we looked up to superheroes as kids, why we idolised the talents (and hotness) of movie stars and probably why we all played air-guitar in front of our bedroom mirrors at some point in our lives. Don’t lie, we all did it!

In that regard, gathering ideas isn’t necessarily the problem. It’s the pursuit and execution of them that makes them a challenge and it’s entirely up to that person – or group – on what the reaction to that challenge should be. Get stuck into it or bow out before the show even gets started. 

My ideas for the recent One F columns were based on a simple premise. The plan was to write about aspects of Letterkenny life from the not-too-distant past because, even though I’ve just turned 38, I’m simply not old enough to cover stuff about donkey and cart days in the town. 

I’ve seen the photos and the occasional film footage but, in all honesty, I don’t remember the fish market at the Square. I’ve vague recollections of Peader’s Bar with the petrol pumps just outside and I was underage when it was still called Nero’s Niteclub.

In addition to that, I had a feeling that nobody else in this part of the world had been writing up pieces on the trials and tribulations of teenage discos at The Grill, what it was like growing up in Gortlee or spending weekend time at the Music Center or the old Port Road cinema. 

So that’s where the lightbulb moment came from for those. Plus, I’d an inkling that these would rekindle memories with people across other parts of Ireland and maybe even further. 

To round it all off, my focus would then take on a new challenge.

‘Aye, but who are the people who’ll actually read these?’ Ideally, I’d have loved it if everyone did, but that just doesn’t happen. So, I thought about people who were roughly about my own age group first. 

I’d make notes, sometimes from their suggestions, on funny memories about how people dressed during a given period or what were some of the hit pop songs at the time. That kinda thing. Low and behold, the nostalgia would flood in and the article would come to life. 

The online reaction from friends, many of whom have since long emigrated to far flung parts of the world, was always positive. If they were locally-based, they’d happily text me on a photo of the article with a brief message stating how much they enjoyed it. 

After all, there aren’t many other published pieces about the time and places where they grew up. It gave them something to connect to.

Challenge Accepted.

Obviously there’d be re-drafts and edits for me to do because there is some truth to the line that ‘most writing is rewriting,’ but yet, if I passed by someone in the café at Mac’s Mace and noticed they were reading my article, that was usually a victory moment within itself. 

The ‘Blank Page’ can be your worst enemy or your best friend (after you spend some quality time with it). The trick is not overthink, but to consider who would enjoy this and why. Don’t worry so much about the product or final destination of what you’re creating but instead, try to enjoy the process and the journey towards it.

You will have to endure a touch of ‘writer’s block’ and a voice inside your head telling you ‘awk, I’m just not feeling wile creative today,’ but if you can break that barrier, you just never know whose day you’ll make when they see, hear or read something you’ve created. 

And for God’s sake, try and have some fun being creative too.


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