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Monday 1 September 2014

Yes, I shot and ate pigeons ...but NY Times sensationalised it

Published 18/12/2013 | 05:22

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A Shankill man who hit the headlines for claiming to eat pigeons for survival was quoted out of context, it would appear.

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The New York Times published an article on the Irish economy last week in which John Donovan said he 'shoots pigeons and grills them outside to save money'.

Journalist Liz Alderman was examining post-Celtic Tiger Ireland in her piece and casting doubt on recent talk of recovery.

Donovan (55) said that he lives in the home of his late mother in Shankill and Alderman's story suggested that his poverty was such that he needed to hunt the birds to eat.

However John has commented on the debacle since last week. While it is certainly true, the statement was 'sensationalised', he said.

'My struggle started in September 2008 almost on the very day of the bank guarantee when I was made redundant. Then I got into business with the assistance of two friends,' said Mr. Donovan. 'We ran out of money. We couldn't get paid. The economy was on the floor and was still falling and we just had to stop in the midst of the horrible winter in 2010.'

At the time his mother's medical expenses were significant and he also had the cost of everyday living to contend with. He made a decision to 'cut the bills to nothing,' he said. 'I thought, 'I'm going to fend for myself'.'

He is the holder of a fully licensed shotgun and is an experienced hunter so he began shooting pigeons in the fields around Shankill. He also fished for trout and mackerel.

'I had the means to do it, so why not?' said Mr. Donovan, explaining in effect that this was more a case of 'The Good Life', than 'Angela's Ashes'.

'I did away with all the trappings in life; you name it, I got rid of it,' he said. '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.'

True to form, the online version of the article sparked some humorous responses from Irish readers.

'I live in Ireland,' said one commenter. 'I was going to comment but I just saw a seagull have to shoot it for the tea,'

Others shared information about pigeon-based recipes.

John added that he is now working in the hardware business and has turned a corner with regard to his fortunes.

The American newspaper later corrected an error in the article which stated that two-thirds of Irish people did not pay their mortgage on time for the past two years.

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