World music record breaking attempt to take place in Donegal

Final preparations are underway for a World Record Breaking Event gathering more than one thousand (1,000) fiddle players together in Gweedore, Donegal in co-operation with Canada-based multi-national company, The Jim Pattison Group, owners of Guinness World Records.  

Among many things, Donegal is renown for its specialised style of fiddle-playing, so there is no more appropriate place for more the thousand fiddlers to gather together over the New Year’s Eve than in the parish of Gweedore in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht. It will be the largest gathering of fiddle players ever assembled in the world in one place.

Organiser of the event, author, travel, tourism and entertainment writer and former international publisher, Sean Hillen, who lives in the village of Bun na Leaca near Cnoc Fola (Bloody Foreland) in Donegal Gaeltacht.

The plan for the world-record breaking attempt was formulated after discussions on with a number of leading figures including Donegal TD for the Glenties region, Gweedore-based Sinn Fein finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty; Micheal Heaney, CEO of Irish-language economic group, Udaras na Gaeltachta; Colm O’Baoill, co-ordinator of Foras na Gaeilge in Gweedore; Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí, Irish language planning officer, as well as local Donegal County Councillor and Udaras board member, John Sheamais O’Fearraigh over the last week.

The event organizer has invited the support of a number of Irish-language and cultural organisation including Udaras and Donegal Tourism. Fiddle player extraordinaire Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh as well as Martin McGinley, manager of Donegal Music Education Partnership, and Rab Cherry, talented fiddle-maker and member of Cairdeas na bhFidléirí, have also been informed about the event. It is hoped that young musicians who have undergone training under the Musical Partnership will take part in the world record-breaking event.

This event is expected to be one of the most historic single cultural events ever to take place in Donegal and attract a very large audience,” said Mr. Hillen, who writes for JustLuxe, a US travel and hospitality publication with an estimated 2.5 million readers. Sean also owns and operates World Itineraries He was a former foreign correspondent for The Irish Times in Dublin and The Times in London, as well as Time magazine in New York. West Belfast-born Sean, a joint Irish and American citizen, also worked at the United Nations Media Center in New York and was chairperson of a national US Fulbright Commission. The plot of one of his books, contemporary novel ‘Pretty Ugly’ links Gweedore with New York, Washington DC and Kansas City, where Sean was a daily newspaper correspondent.

Sean is also co-founder with his Transylvania-born wife, Columbia, of ‘Ireland Writing Retreat,’ an international creative writing retreat established seven years ago in Gweedore. Its latest week-long edition,  three week ago, attracted authors and participants to Gweedore from countries such as Mexico, Iceland, Denmark, the US, Ireland and various parts of the UK.   

Working with Jim Pattison and his staff at the Jim Pattison Group on developing the idea for a world record breaking attempt has been an encouraging and uplifting experience,” said Sean. “I believe a musical event of such magnitude will place an immense international spotlight on this small corner of the world – the Donegal Gaeltacht which happens to be my home, and will highlight the rich vein of traditional arts and culture alive and well that has survived down through the generations.”

He added, “It is hoped that such an event, which should attract widespread media coverage around Europe and the US,  will do much to persuade the large numbers of national and international visitors who come to Ireland every year to add Donegal to their itinerary, thus helping provide added business for local cafes, hotels, restaurants and bars. This, in turn, will provide employment for local people and keep Irish-speaking living at home and curb the emigrant flow away to find jobs in other parts of Ireland and abroad.”  

Sean continued “Donegal and particularly the western coast has long been an economically marginalised region of Ireland but it’s beautiful seascapes and landscapes along the famous ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ makes it a perfect location to launch such a memorable World Record breaking musical event.”  

The World Record breaking event itself will be held on the evening of New Year’s Eve as the clock ticks down to midnight, marking welcome celebrations for the coming of 2022.      

Published by HillenSean

Sean John Hillen has been journalist, editor, publisher, media trainer and public speaker for more than thirty years. Born in west Belfast, he worked for various national newspapers there, including the Belfast Telegraph as well as the BBC, and in Dublin for The Irish Times, before emigrating to the United States to work at the United Nations Media Center in New York. From there Sean moved to the Midwest to work in print and broadcast media, including news correspondent for Scripps Howard Broadcasting, now an NBC-affiliate, and as general and then health correspondent for The Kansas City Times (interestingly, here, Sean held the same editorial position as did Ernest Hemingway – aka night crime/murder reporter). Over the years, Sean’s work has appeared in many other publications including Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the American Medical News, the national newspaper of the American Medical Association in Chicago and American Nurse, magazine of the American Nurses Association. Sean won many regional and national journalism awards before leaving the US for post-Communist Eastern Europe, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 to establish the first journalism schools, working with agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund and the US Agency for International Development. He became foreign correspondent for The Times and The Daily Telegraph, London, the largest circulation broadsheet newspapers in the UK, before founding his own national publishing and events company in Bucharest, Romania, for 15 years, employing a full-time staff of more than 30. He was elected chairperson of the US Fulbright Commission in Romania for a number of years and received national awards from the President of Romania, Traian Basescu, for launching the nation’s first-ever Corporate Citizen, Civic Journalism & Community Service Awards. Sean now lives in Donegal in picturesque northwest Ireland with his Transylvanian-born wife, Columbia, and two sheepdogs, Siog and Lugh, where he follows a journalism and writing career, as well as being a media and writing skills coach (Fios and Ireland Writing Retreat) He is a published author – with non-fiction books on journalism and media training and an informative, light-hearted, intra-country travelogue entitled ‘Digging for Dracula.’ Sean’s writings can be found locally on Donegal News and in The Irish Times Travel magazine, and

%d bloggers like this: