What will Supermac's boss do with the €3m farm he bought?

Pat McDonagh at the Loughrea Hotel & Spa in Loughrea, Co Galway. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Pat McDonagh at the Loughrea Hotel & Spa in Loughrea, Co Galway. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

After splashing out €3.2m on a 135ac farm and 19th century period house in Oranmore last year, Pat McDonagh isn't eyeing up farming either. "I'm not going into huge farming in Oranmore," he laughs.

"I've always had an interest in it." Currently, it's rented out to one of his franchisees but long-term he's eyeing up producing beef for his hotel dinner plates.

His hotels and delis spend over €2m on Irish meat a year, while the fast food chain spends €6m on Irish meat each year from chicken for snack boxes to beef for their burgers with a focus on fresh rather than frozen produce.

"The farm-to-fork is important and you can't beat freshness; if you can sell a fresh product there is a lot better taste and quality."

He doesn't see any issue with a fast food chain sponsoring an inter-county hurling team. Fast food should be an occasional part of a balanced diet he says, adding that Supermac's are also offering lower calorie options such as the 320 calorie grilled chicken sandwich. He points out exercise is equally as important as your diet.

Looking at the bigger picture, Pat feels there may be a silver lining to Brexit.

"There are opportunities for Ireland with Brexit. The powers that be need to look outside of Dublin and try and locate some of the businesses that want to move to Ireland to other cities.

"I don't think you'll get them to move to rural areas but it is going to be an opportunity to relax the laws on planning in some small towns and villages to allow that to happen," he says. He adds that both Irish farmers and the tourism sector benefited greatly from the UK: "It is a market we can't afford to neglect."

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After years in the fast food business his interest hasn't waned and he can still be found chipping in behind the counters. "I never ask staff or management to do what I wouldn't do so it might mean cleaning tables. Whatever the business demands at that time," he says.

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