This feature is part of the ‘Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Elena Tabandzhova, founder of Donegal Day Out website and Facebook group
My name is Elena T.
I’m originally from Bulgaria, a mother of three children, and a web designer in our family web design agency. We came to Ireland in 2017, and since then, we have been happy to live in Letterkenny.
When we arrived in Donegal, the curiosity about the county was immeasurable. We had to know where we live and what our new homeland looks like. Also, our move to Ireland was supposed to bring lifestyle changes – a more active life, more outdoor experience, nature education for my children.
The problem is that it is a bit hard to force ourselves to go out of the house. All the things that are waiting to be done – laundry, dusting, cooking are waiting for us, and I feel if I don’t do them soon, the whole household will collapse on my shoulders. Also, it is hard to go out in the rain and wind instead of enjoying the comfort of the home and your favourite show. Lastly, going out with children could be a bit of hell. So much food to prepare, so many clothes to take, and someone is always unhappy.
But in the end, I didn’t want to watch cool places on Facebook; I wanted to experience them!
So we made a short trip to Woodquarter in Mulroy Bay and liked it. It was so rechargeable to our minds, and our little boy was so happy. Then we decided to do something more significant – to visit all 39 Wild Atlantic Way discovering points in Donegal. We planned it for two days in the Easter break, but it was so amazing, and there were so many things to see, so we couldn’t do even half of what we wanted.
After those two days on the road around Donegal, we started to go out every weekend to find new places to visit. Slowly being out and about becomes an essential part of our weekly routine, as important as the morning tea.
And the need for Donegal Day Out came up.
When we travelled on the Wild Atlantic way, we had a hard time finding the correct locations of some of the stops. Also, there was not much information about many of the places we visited. So I started to collect information for myself – to easily plan family trips for days out in Donegal. Then I thought I could share it with others who may find it helpful. It could help people improve their lifestyle – outside the house, the shops, the noise, and the commercial world.
So when we started our family website business, one of the first sites I created was www.donegaldayout.ie It had to be an easy-to-use, well-organised, complete informative online guide for outdoor experience planning in Donegal. And at last, it had to give the users a bit of rest from all the advertising and commerciality that surround us from everywhere.
When an idea meets creators and how “I” became “We.”
Soon after I created the first pages, a very close friend, Dalia Taftazani, hugged the idea with her heart, and we became a team. She is a great photographer and loves outdoor adventures and exploring Donegal.
When the project grew up and became more significant, the third team member came to take care of it – Sonya Pepelyashkova. She is a business consultant and our project manager who works with us to develop Donegal Day Out into the most used online guide to planning a day out in Donegal.
It took time to settle up and find our place as a team, but slowly we got there, and now the project benefits a lot from our different personalities and skills.
Today Donegal Day Out has a spirit.
Today Donegal Day Out is an online guide with more than 120 places in 11 different categories. We add more every month and improve the guide by seeing the user’s needs. And it is lovely to see how it already works and has hundreds of users every month.
Our Facebook community has grown up, and for about a year, the group has over 3,400 members. In this group, everyone can inspire others with a great place to go or get inspired for a day out in Donegal, so don’t miss joining and inviting your friends.
We keep our followers on the Facebook page informed of what is new in the guide and how it is improved.
You can also enjoy our beautiful pictures from Donegal on our Instagram page.
If you feel the same about Donegal’s nature and the significance of the outdoor experience, then Donegal Day Out is an excellent place for you. And if you like the idea – please help us spread the word and get more people to have an active, mindful, and happier day out in Donegal.
Women’s Collective Ireland- Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.