The man who says eating pigeon helped him survive the recession
“It really did happen. I had to shoot pigeons to eat and I had to catch fish to eat.”
John Donovan: “I did away with all the trappings in life; you name it, I got rid of it.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Irish readers of the New York Times could not quite believe a man would shoot and grill pigeons to survive the recession but John Donovan only did what it took to get by.
“It really did happen. I had to shoot pigeons to eat and I had to catch fish to eat,” he said from home in Shankill, south Dublin, after an article describing his austere life, and penchant for wild birds, sparked major online interest. “In order to have a variety of food to eat, I had to. I live in a semi-rural area and there are more pigeons here than you can shake a stick at.
“It’s absolutely beautiful and I like fish as well and I had the means to do it, so why not?”
The author of the The New York Times article had been put in touch with Mr Donovan by the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed. Mr Donovan said his only intention was to highlight how the disaffected must live and how nobody is listening.
“Unless we speak up nobody is heard. The Greeks took to the streets, we didn’t. The Icelanders burned the bondholders; we should have done what they did and to hell with it.”
Previously the owner of a “small hardware business”, he has in recent years endured unemployment, separation and the recent death of his mother, whom he had nursed. Now, on top of all that, he faces losing his home.
“I did away with all the trappings in life; you name it, I got rid of it,” Mr Donovan told The Irish Times. “I was dreading a cold winter and if it’s like that for a single man, what’s it like for a family? These are the points I want to make.”
He eventually found a €22,000 a year internship at a north Dublin company.
“My story is I became unemployed and I got back to employment through my own blood, sweat and tears. And there was blood and there was sweat and there was a mighty amount of tears.”
Having studied law and, separately, business entrepreneurship at the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Mr Donovan now believes he is overqualified and so caught in a trap. “Nobody in this country wants to know about a 56-year-old male.”
The New York Times article, which was published on Wednesday under the headline “Hardships linger for a mending Ireland, ” raised eyebrows over a claim that two-thirds of Irish homeowners were behind on their mortgages. It published a clarification withdrawing the “misstated economic data”.