As he prepares to hand over the reins of power to the next generation at the Northern Ireland Assembly, it has emerged that First Minister and DUP leader the Rev Dr Ian Paisley plans to retire to Co Donegal.
Paisley, 82, revealed in an interview that the idea of moving to Donegal grew out of conversations with his with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, whose mother was born there. The Sinn Féin MP frequently holidays in the county, and the warm relationship between the two men has earned them the nickname of the ‘Chuckle Brothers’.
Republicans including Sinn Féin party president Gerry Adams own homes in the county, and Nobel prize-winning SDLP founder John Hume also spends an increasing amount of time in his holiday home in the county since his retirement from active politics in 2004.
Irish personalities who vacation in the northwest county include radio presenter Gay Byrne and President Mary McAleese.
Leading international businessman Olaf Proli, president of the Volvo car group, is also a frequent visitor.
Foreign travellers to the noted beauty spot include Hollywood actress Sarah Jessica Parker and directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
Over 100,000 tourists travel to the remote destination each year to savour its unspoilt wilderness scenery and Gaeltacht culture.
Orange order parades are also a feature of the county’s summer calendar, ironically given that it is also a destination for Northern Irish catholics seeking to avoid the controversial demonstrations at home.
Local tourism officers said the news would open up new markets to hoteliers and businesses in the county, which has difficulty in attracting unionist visitors. The good doctor will take up residence in Donegal one year from today, on 1 April 2009.