No News at Throat Lake Hardcover – 7 Oct 1999
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Guardian journalist and ex-Lloyd Cole and the Commotions bassist Lawrence Donegan always had a hankering to live in Ireland. "It was a back-to-my-roots thing. London was filthy, crowded, expensive. Above all, it was inhospitable. I had lived in the same ground-floor flat for eight years and I still had yet to pass a civil word with anyone in the street." In No News at Throat Lake he says goodbye to all that and exchanges flat, job and girlfriend for a shack in Creeslough, County Donegal.
It's no Year in Provence . The shack is rat-infested, the promised job on a farm proves non-existent and there's scant social-life. But Donegan perseveres (partly because he's too ashamed to tell his girlfriend he couldn't hack it) so finds a job on the Tirconail Tribune and mates on the local Gaelic football team. The newspaper, run by a man named John Mcteer ("In another life John McTeer had been Gore Vidal with stronger opinions, Henry Ford with ambition"), revitalises Donegan's enthusiasm for news reporting, as he investigates local life. He goes on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Knock, researches the life of Doris Duke's Creeslough-born butler and, surprisingly, interviews Meryl Streep in this funny and poignant tale of life in rural Ireland. --Tamsin Todd
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Tirconnaill Tribune was the last newspaper I picked up from the pile on the bottom shelf.
Donegal seemed to have more newspapers than Fleet Street. The Democrat the People's Press, the Journal, the News. I flicked through them all, looking for the job adverts. I could have been anywhere in the world. It was all the usual stuff: irate politicians, planning rows, sporting triumphs, wedding photographs featuring fat brides with big hair and grooms with bad teeth. The jobs didn't signpost a lifetime of adventure: tractor driver wanted, assistant required by Gary's Pet World, Sales! Earn #400-a-week.
The Tribune was different from the others. It was smaller, for a start, a tabloid. It didn't have job adverts or many adverts at all, just stories as epic as a Dickens novel. Page one declared, The Irish Republic has become a nation of entrenched little Catholics because of the absolute stranglehold of the Bishops sine the foundation of the state and the last twenty-five years have been a disaster reflecting the whole manifestation of corruption in our midst and there are more scandals ahead, said John Cooney in speech during which Councillor Fred Coll walked out in protest saying he would rather go to mass than listen to this nonsense.
I was exhausted just reading it.
I turned to the inside pages. Every story read like the public lynching of someone in authority. The Church, the Government in Dublin, the phone company, the electricity board. On the back page there was a story about drugs which read like it had been written on LSD:
BIG DRUGS GET
TOGETHER IN FANAD
Gardai were called to a number
of drug related incidents on
Monday following a major week-
end of acid parties, raves and
fun activities on beaches. Con-
cerns were first aroused on
Sunday after several bouts of
erratic behaviour and couples
(believed to be of the opposite
sex) were seen to be acting
strangely and passionately along
public roads. In a different town-
land another youth was found
trying to make a phone call from
a local bush and it was presumed
that he was frustrated because
the entire Telecom Eireann net-
work had gone down again but
on closer observation this man
was having a spiritual experience
There was another thing I liked about Danny - he didn't care if you read his newspapers and didn't pay for them. I stood there for fifteen minutes, flicking through the Tribune. It wasn't like any local newspaper I'd ever read before, not least because it had a medical column headlined SOLVING FLATULENCE! Which began with the words "Everyone has wind. If you don't you're not alive."
Looking back it was obvious. Sure, it was a step down from the Guardian - hell, it was a drop through a trap-door from the Guardian- and it meant going back on all those promises I made to myself about seeking new challenges. So what. I never did have much time for all that New Age gibberish.
"Do you know this paper Danny?" I said as he walked past. He nodded. "Think they would give a job to a trained journalist like me?"
"Good lads at the Tribune, you know." He smiled and walked towards the door carrying a pensioner's shopping bag. "Game for just about anything - you should go and see them."
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Donegan has senses that are like those we all posses, however that's where the similarity ends. A person hears a phrase spoken; the Author hears it with every possible variation his built in thesaurus provides. We all see an event, he matches, contrasts, or finds a bit of irony, with an infinite number of other events. You do not want to be the subject his attention is focused upon when his wit is at work. He's hyper perceptive, quick and ruthless. Think of a spinning propeller; now walk through it.
A poem appears in a paper he writes for, his comment, "I've never seen such a lethal combination of bad poetry and bad taste. It was the anniversary of her death, after all. As soon as I saw it in the Tirconaill Tribune I wished I had never written it". Sure.
He went to cover an event where the tension between Catholic and Protestant were taught to say the least. Ever resourceful he "bought a copy of The Illustrated Orange Song Book at a street stall (I wanted to learn the words to "The Pope's A Darkie" just in case I ever needed to ingratiate myself with the Reverend Ian Paisly". In the flow of his narrative it is brilliantly placed and timed. I know my repeating it will anger some. I would suggest they lighten up, wretched pun not intended.
This is a memoir of a time spent working for a small newspaper in an even smaller Irish town. It's 90% laugh out loud funny, and perhaps 10% dark, perceptive, social satire. You will enjoy every page, and will hate when it ends.
I cannot wait to see Paul Newman play the Priest that saved an island. It will be his next Oscar.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read with insights into life in the west in Ireland. Peppered with good laughs all the way through.Published 14 days ago by Duigan Joseph
>This man is a "Genius!". He describes Donegal and it's people "PERFECTLY!!". "Hats Off" to Mr. Donegan for "capturing" the atmosphere of the local people and their own... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Mr. McCann.
As a recent blow-in from the UK and now living locally this book has many resonances, funny enough to warrant a punt.Published on 10 May 2014 by R. Willson
This book has a great premise , world weary guardian journalist goes back to family roots to live in Creeslough and works for local paper so obscure that i have never read it. Read morePublished on 10 Oct. 2012 by A. Browne