Learn about Donegal Square
Welcome to Donegal Square! Our goal is to bring the best of Ireland and the British Isles straight to you, as if you were visiting Ireland with your friends and family…no passport required of course!
The ultimate goal: to celebrate and bring unity through education, good food and good spirits.
Neville grew up in Northern Ireland in the village of Lambeg in County Antrim 10 miles from Belfast where the influence of both Irish and Scottish cultures, cuisine and humour were fairly equal. It’s appropriate that McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar would reflect his spirited upbringing and background and Donegal Square heavily brings to light the Irish culture and heritage he is so very proud of. Northern Ireland has always been troubled with the history of terrorism, violence and political unrest. The goal of this unique Irish destination in the heart of Historic Bethlehem was to bring light to what is at the heart of the country; a love for the arts, a love for their country, a love for their culture and heritage and a love of life.
The origin of Donegal Square remains a “Phoenix Rising” story — with many evolutions since its opening in 1985. Neville started this business with not much in his pocket, a dream in his heart, and a vision in his soul to educate the community about his country and give immigrants from his homeland a place to feel at home — and get all of the delicious food, clothing and other goods they would typically get back home.
When he opened Granny McCarthy’s Tea Room and Bakery in 1997, the goal was to further his vision and share the hospitality, foods and culture that he grew up with. The idea of a Pub…well that was always in the dream for future growth.
The Celtic Classic Festival and CCA (Celtic Cultural Alliance) was founded by Neville and a few other cultural pioneers from the local Irish and Scottish communities. The vision behind the festival and this newly formed organization was brought to life out of the desire to cross pollinate the different sides of the Irish and Scottish cultures.
Belfast was a hub for the Irish linen, tobacco-processing, rope-making and shipbuilding industries in the early 20th century. Particularly, Harland and Wolff, famously known for building the Titantic, was the world’s biggest and most productive shipyard. The city of Belfast also was a key player in the Industrial Revolution, bringing inward migration and making Belfast Ireland’s largest city at the beginning of the 20th century.
In present day Ireland, Belfast remains at the central part of industry and is fondly known for the arts, higher education, business and law, continuing to fuel the economy of Northern Ireland.
Ever thought about visiting Ireland but you aren’t sure where to go or what to do? How would you like to have a personalized tour from someone who knows the awesome places to go in Ireland that aren’t necessarily on a standard tour? You’ve come to the right place! Donegal Square Travels is ready to show you around Ireland as if you were traveling with friends and family. Tour Guides Neville Gardner and Gerry Timlin are ready to show you all over the country of Ireland, including whiskey tours, pub stops, the best site seeing you will ever do, and, of course, lots of shopping. You will be sure to have lots of laughs with the humor of these two native Irishmen.
October 31 // Cross-quarter, Fire Festival
Samhain (SOW-in) represents the final harvest before the long winter. It’s a time to honor our ancestors and embrace the darker half of the year. This also marks the beginning of the New Year in many Pagan traditions.
YULE / MIDWINTER / WINTER SOLSTICE
December 20-23 // Quarter Festival, Solstice
Yule marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From now on, the days become longer and we celebrate the return of the sun back to the earth. Also known as Alban Arthan (the Light of Arthur).
IMBOLC / CANDLEMAS
February 2 // Cross-quarter, Fire Festival
Imbolc is a festival of fire and light, and in many Pagan traditions celebrates the Celtic hearth goddess, Brigid. It marks the midpoint between winter and spring. This is a festival of purification, a festival of light and fertility, and new beginnings.
OSTARA / SPRING EQUINOX
March 20-23 // Quarter Festival, Equinox
Ostara is the celebration of the spring equinox, and is a time to prepare for the beginnings of new life each year.
The hours of day and night are equal, and light is overtaking darkness. Also known as Alban Eilir (the Light of the Earth).
Bealtaine is a spring celebration that honours the fertility of the earth. A time of lust, passion, fire, and abundance.
LITHA / MIDSUMMER / SUMMER SOLSTICE
June 20-23 // Quarter Festival, Solstice
Litha is the time of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. It’s a celebration of light’s triumph over darkness, and that of the bountiful beauty that light brings into our lives. Also known as Alban Hefin (the Light of the Shore).
Lughnasadh (LOO-na-saa) is a celebration in honour of the Celtic god, Lugh. For others, this festival is observed as Lammas, and celebrates the early grain harvest. This is the first harvest festival, when plants drop their seeds to ensure future crops.
Mabon is a time of thanksgiving that celebrates the second harvest, and the autumn equinox. The days and nights are once again equal, with the night continuing to grow longer. Also known as Alban Elfed (Light of the Water).