I did not eat out very much on my 2015 visit to Ireland. For most of the time I had cooking facilities available for my exclusive use. It was practical as I was being fiscally prudent. I spent some time at the home of my sister, Bernie, and her husband, Kieran, who are enthusiastic cooks. (Or should that be cooking enthusiasts?) They have the uncanny ability to prepare a sumptuous meal for several people in less time than it would take me to set the table. Their son, Alan, is also proficient in the culinary arts. Francis, their other son, is more into cars. Their daughter, Donna, is a teenager and she is into teenage stuff. Three cooks out of a family of five aint bad.
Top, P.J. Francis about to make a Supermac's burger disappear. Below, Supermac's in Galway City.
When I visited Galway city with Bernie and Donna, I availed of the opportunity to treat them to lunch. It was the least I could do. I was granted the privilege of choosing a restaurant, and I had no difficulty in making my choice. It was many years since I visited Supermac’s, when the Irish answer to MacDonald’s was first opened in the town of Gort, County Galway. Since then Supermac’s has continued to expand, improve and open more restaurants. The first Supermac’s opened in Ballinasloe, County Galway, in 1978. Today there are 106 restaurants around Ireland, including franchises, employing in excess of 2,700 people.
Contrary to what some believe, Supermac’s were not influenced by the Mac in MacDonald’s. The owners name is Pat MacDonagh. He was a schoolteacher before becoming a fast food entrepreneur. I can report the food and facilities at Supermac’s in Galway leave nothing to be desired.
Needless to say, if it is corned beef and cabbage followed with a pint of porter you desire Supermac’s is not the place to go. If, on the other hand, you want to grab a meal that is fast and convenient it is a good choice.
As well as a proliferation of fast-food joints, Ireland had developed a motorway (freeway) system in the two decades I have been living in the United States. The total motorway network in the state is approximately 1,017 kilometers (632 miles). Planned new road construction will lead to almost 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) of motorway by 2020. (Note: Visitors can still locate a piece of narrow, one-lane road with grass growing in the middle for their obligatory photograph to show folks back home.)
Speaking of convenience, motorway systems need service areas, and one of those is the Barack Obama Plaza at Junction 23 on the M7 Motorway at Moneygall, County Offaly. President Obama’s roots in Ireland go back to 1850, when Falmouth Kearney, the 19-year-old son of a local shoemaker, left Moneygall to begin a new life in the United States. Pat MacDonagh has plans for a Barack Obama Plaza style development near Ennis, County Clare. That is good news for me because my travels in Ireland frequently involve using the motorway between Limerick and Galway. Ennis is along the route, and I was aware that a service area was conspicuous by its absence.
The service area will include a tourist information facility. It will be a good starting point for people wishing to explore the north and west of Clare. The Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Ailwee Cave and several other popular attractions are easily accessible.
Supermac’s recently went into the hotel business, with the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick, Charleville Park in Cork, Lough Rea Hotel and Spa in Galway, and the Killeshin in Laois. It is my guess there will be a hotel at the new plaza in the not-too-distant future.