From the papers

Tim Winton reviewed in the Irish Independent


According to, Tim Winton wrote his Booker-shortlisted novel Cloudstreet while living in the lodge house at Leap Castle in Co Offaly. In his latest book The Shepherd’s Hut Winton introduces us to an Irishman named Fintan MacGillis, a mixture of old-style hermit and modern-day defrocked priest, living in isolation in the West Australian outback. He is used in the novel to bring out the best in the central character, a 15-year old named Jaxie, a small town bully with limited vocabulary but outstanding survival skills. In the interview, Winton said he needed an Irish character because ‘who else is so incontinent with language?’

At a time when so many modern novels are hard work for readers, The Shepherd’s Hut is a straightforward story, a wonderful paean to the Australian bush. At the moment in Australia, it is available only in hardback, but you can have it cheaper by post from Ireland.

Rough Guides


Rough Guides is a British travel publication, advertising itself under the banner ‘Escape the Everyday.’ Its 2019 top six ‘Regions on our Radar List’ puts the Reeks area of mid-Kerry at number 3, behind the Yunnan region in China and the Ibera Wetlands in Argentina. Rounding out the list of six are the Yukon Territory, the Wadi Rum (Jordan) and the state of Alabama.

The mention is seen as a huge boost to a region that misses out on the accolades awarded to places like Killarney and Dingle. Centred in Killorglin and Castlemaine – as in the Wild Colonial Boy – the focus is on hiking, mountaineering and surfing! The publication highlights the live music pubs, warm welcome and the ‘modern Ireland of trendy coffee shops, young designers and boutique B&Bs.’

David 1  Goliath 0


Pat McDonagh was given the nickname Supermac when he played at centre-halfback for his school team at Carmelite College Moate. So when he set up his fast food outlet in Ballinasloe in 1978, it was natural enough to name it Supermac’s, complete with apostrophe. Now with over 100 Supermac’s around the country, he is a successful businessman, whose company name appears on the Galway football and hurling jerseys as well as that of the Connaught rugby team.


When he began to expand into Europe, MacDonald’s took him to the European court, particularly, it would appear, for his use of the term Big Mac. The court ruled in favour of the Galway man. Now, he has enquiries from all over the world, including Australia, suggesting that he open franchises in their country.

It appears that the court decision was based on their judgement that though Big Mac was a registered trademark, the company was not using it enough. Maccas had presented a Wikipedia article as part of their case, but the court said they could not accept this as ‘independent evidence.’ Ouch!

How Times Change

There was general condemnation of the car bomb in Derry in January. Statements from the various political parties were predictable and seemed to be carefully worded to avoid inciting trouble. The one that was particularly notable came from the Sinn Fein Foyle MP Elisha McCallion. ‘I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it to the police,’ she said.

Now, that’s a turn around!