Sunday 25 February 2018

I was given a tip early on to help fit in... go to every social event

Finn Ní Fhaolain, Culinary author, surfer

Creative juices: Finn Ní Fhaolain is happy to have made Donegal her home
Creative juices: Finn Ní Fhaolain is happy to have made Donegal her home

Over freshly brewed coffee and banana cakes in her apartment in Bundoran, Finn Ní Fhaolain talks me through the colourful journey which has brought her to the seaside town.

It's exactly a year to the day since she first moved in to embark on a literary project linked to one of the many passions in her life - food.

"Ever since I was young, I've been putting recipes together. And then when I was diagnosed as a coeliac seven years ago, I decided to experiment with delicious gluten-free food. My first book, which will be released in April and published by Gill, will be the fruits of that labour."

So here in Bundoran, Finn writes, films, experiments, muses, surfs, hangs out with friends, drinks the occasional pint and embraces life.

She also takes on catering projects, including at the local TurfnSurf hostel where the summer barbecues have become somewhat legendary.

The former marine biologist tells me that when she goes to Killybegs to source local ingredients, she remembers pulling into the fishing village on-board research ships in her former life. She moved from Bray to Bundoran and took a culinary course at St Angela's college in Sligo.

Donegal is in her blood. Though born in Dublin, she spent some of her early years with her parents in the north-western county. With her father being a film-maker, and her mother a writer, the call of creative arts was never too far away.

She tells me the secret of melting into the community in Donegal. "I was given a tip early on. Go to every social event you can, even if you're not particularly up for going out. In fairness though, I've found people so incredibly welcoming. Here in Bundoran, there are lots of people from elsewhere, including the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and India."

Diminutive in stature, Finn is aptly named - she's an avid surfer and a volunteer with the local RNLI rescue service.

And what of the future? "I've lots of ideas in my head to do with cooking, recipes and travelling. For now though I'm content that the winds have blown me back to Donegal."

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