Journalist and author Donegan (Maybe It Should Have Been a Three Iron, 1998) chucks his life in London and moves to
a small town in Donegal, Ireland.
Donegan is a likable enough narrator. After moving into a ramshackle cottage crawling with vermin in the tiny town of
Creeslough, he takes up a job at a farm, then moves on to work at a bombastic local newspaper called the Tirconaill Tribune.
The paper, a tiny biweekly edited by the curmudgeonly but wonderful John McAteer, offers the true voice of the town and
Donegan is quickly embraced by the locals. Though Donegan tells his tale mainly through a rambling unfurling of numerous
comic episodes (including a particularly memorable one in which Newt Gingrich comes to Ireland to trace his clan heritage and
is told that they have no record of his lineage), he weaves into his various yarns the account of one Bernard Lafferty—a man from
Creeslough who became the butler and eventual benefactor of Doris Duke (the heiress of the Duke tobacco fortune) and was
publicly accused of being Duke’s murderer. Though the story of the eccentric and reclusive Duke in her final sad years is an
interesting one, Donegan discovers little about Lafferty that is of any real interest and in the end he appears as something of a
red herring tossed into the narrative for no good reason. The rest of the characters are interesting, but flatly drawn: for example,
we learn little of the editor McAteer apart from his gruff voice and kind sentiments, and when Donegan takes up Gaelic football,
the results are predictable—he first looks foolish, then becomes good, then gives it all up to return to we don’t know what.
When Donegan leaves town, we can only hope it is not to write the sequel.