St John's Church, Killybegs, Co Donegal
Part of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, belonging to the Inver St John the Evangelist, Mountcharles (Christ Church), Killaghtee (St Peter's) and Killybegs grouping.
Killybegs (Na Cealla Beaga in Irish) is an important harbour town in County Donegal, part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland. It is located on the coast of the county, north of Donegal bay, near Donegal Town. The Killybegs fishing port is the most productive in Ireland, and over 60 boats may be in the harbour at any given time. It is well known as a famous fishing town throughout Ireland. In the summer, there is a street festival celebrating the fish catches and incorporating the traditional "Blessing of the Boats". Population 1,280.
Killybegs is a natural deepwater harbour with a minimum of 12 meters of water at all times at a new €50 million pier completed in 2004. The harbour is home to many of the largest Irish-registered fishing trawlers, but it handles many other types of shipping as well. These include passenger cruise liners and mixed specialist cargoes, such as parts and containers for the oil industry and parts for windmills.
The harbour is important to the Irish bulk fishing industry, as it specialises in the processing and freezing of pelagic species such as mackerel and herring in bulk, and sending the finished frozen fish out to markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe by ocean-going cargo ships. However, in 2005 due to stricter enforcement of EU fishing regulations there has been a significant downturn in the fishing industry in the town. The EU have imposed strict quotas on the amounts of fish that can be landed and both the EU and the Irish government have also investigated irregularities in the reporting of fish catches by local processors as well as the fishing boats themselves. This has led to redundancies in the fish processing industry, in which the fish factory workers have been the hardest hit.
The area has always been well provided for. The first school, Killybegs Common School, opened during the reign of King James I and a national school was established in 1838. Today the town is home to the Tourism College Killybegs, the only dedicated tourism institute in Ireland, offering different courses in hospitality and culinary skills. The college has been academically integrated with Letterkenny Institute of Technology since 2001.
Killybegs is also famous for its tapestries and carpets, some of which were produced on the biggest carpet loom in the world at the "Donegal Carpet Factory". The carpets, known as Donegals, are hand-knotted in the Turkish style. The carpets have adorned many important buildings in Ireland such as Dublin Castle, the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (R.H.K., now the home of the Irish Museum of Modern Art [I.M.M.A.]) and Áras an Uachtaráin and internationally the Vatican, The White House, 10 Downing Street, the international space station and Buckingham Palace amongst others. The factory in Killbegs had been closed for many years but was reopened in 1999 by a local petition to the Irish Government.