Education Minister Joe McHugh impressed many when he went back to school to learn Irish after being named Junior Minister for the Gaeltacht. Since then he has risen through the ranks to become a front bench politician. From Carrigart, here he reveals all he loves about Donegal and why music star Jim Reeves is a real Christmas memory for him.
What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?
The top of Muckish Great taking in the spectacular view of Sheephaven Bay on a clear day.
If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?
A longer weekend!
Who is the one person that you look up to and why?
My father. He always encouraged me to stay the course with my education – especially when I wanted to go to London in the 1980s. My bags were packed!
What’s your happiest Christmas memory in Donegal?
Listening to Jim Reeves on a record player on Christmas Eve with my mother.
What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?
Getting proper recognition through the promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way. And the due recognition that followed in the National Geographic – Coolest place on the Planet.
If you found a magic wand that allowed you to grant one wish, what would it be?
To go back to the All Ireland Senior Soccer Final in 1989 and come on as sub and score two hat-tricks.
For the record, I came on as sub in that game and we were defeated 5 – 0.
What is your favourite Donegal-made product?
Mc Nutt’s Tweed.
Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?
Seamus Coleman. A brilliant footballer. Modest. Inspiring. Resilient.
What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?
The time I arrived in a suit at the Downings Family Resource Centre when I overheard someone saying “quickly there’s someone coming” to which Grainne Shevlin replied “sure it’s only Joe!”
Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?
What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?
Olde Glen Bar.
What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?
Sure where would you be going!?
What is the biggest challenge facing Donegal people today?
The continued global acceleration of cities and ‘brain drain’ of a talented and educated workforce.
What is your favourite food that you associate with Donegal?
Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?
Naw, not really.
Do you have a favourite local band?
‘The Lost’ and ‘In Their Thousands’
If you had a million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?
You don’t have enough space on your website for the list of people and projects I’d like to see a million quid spent on.
Where’s the most unusual place you’ve logged on to Donegal Daily?
On board a United Nations helicopter in South Lebanon.
Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?
The native Irish speakers who continue to pass on our ‘Teanga Dhúchais’ go dtí an céad glúin eile.
What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
Trying to help people when they’re in bother.Tags: