Melodic munificence of JP McManus

Colin Coyle on housing for Westlife member, former Web Summit CEO tilling the fields, Kneecap’s film, the IRFU, Isaac Allen and possible encore for Wolfe Tones man

JP McManus’s munificence is not limited to GAA clubs. When Shane Filan, the former Westlife member, emerged from a UK bankruptcy in 2013, he needed finance to buy a house in Sligo having been forced to sell his previous home in his native Carraroe. Not easy when you recently went bust owing €23 million to Irish banks. Records filed in the Land Registry show Filan instead turned to the Sundance Kid, whom he knew from appearances at the Limerick man’s pro-am golf tournaments. The currency trader gave Filan a loan to buy a six-bedroom, €780,000 house on the coast in Rosses Point. Filan, who subsequently sang at a lavish retirement party for jockey AP McCoy in McManus’s home in 2015, turned out to be a good bet for the famously shrewd gambler.

Although Gillian, the balladeer’s wife, had to endure her own one-year bankruptcy in Ireland in 2018 due to €4 million owed to Ulster Bank from a mortgage on the couple’s previous home, the Filans are now flying without debt. They cleared the loan to McManus in 2020 and own the house in Rosses Point outright. Not only that, Gillian has just been granted planning permission by the local council to almost double the size of the 19th-century seaside lodge with two split-level side extensions, a large garage and leisure building – ample space for a few of Shane’s beloved tall stools.

Paddy Cosgrave puts himself to the yoke

What has Paddy Cosgrave been up to since resigning as chief executive of the Web Summit last October? Instead of gardening leave, he has been on farming duty. The entrepreneur and his wife, model and fashion designer Faye Dinsmore, set up a new company, Dinsmore Farm Ltd, shortly before Christmas. It turns out the pair, who both grew up on farms – Cosgrave in Co Wicklow and Dinsmore in Co Donegal – have amassed just over 40 acres in the townland of Creevy, near Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal, where they are operating a mixed farm.

Cosgrave first mentioned his farming plans on Twitter in 2021, saying he even has a green cert. “Honestly I’m just looking forward to walking around and pointing at things… that’s 90 per cent of the job I reckon. That and filling out forms,” he posted.


He has had ample time to have all his i’s dotted and t’s crossed lately. But with Katherine Maher’s rather abrupt departure from her role as chief executive of the Web Summit, will he have to leave the milking to someone else now?

Kneecap as stars of stage, screen and balance sheets

Belfast-based rappers Kneecap found themselves on the end of a media punishment beating in The Times this week, with former Northern Ireland secretary of state Theresa Villiers fulminating about £1.5 million (€1.75 million) of British taxpayers’ money being “squandered” on a film about the hip hop group whom she accused of “promoting division”. The comedy biopic got £760,000 from Northern Ireland Screen and a further £775,000 from a British National Lottery fund for films. The DUP’s Ian Paisley jnr and Gregory Campbell chimed in their displeasure.

In a show of unity, the Irish taxpayer also helped to fund the trio’s eponymous movie. The media regulator, which Kneecap would surely call by its correct name, Coimisiún na Meán, contributed €350,000 from its Sound and Vision fund. Screen Ireland threw in €364,000 in “creative co-production funding” and an additional €300,000 in “nationwide funding” due to its regional filming locations, while Irish language broadcaster TG4 also gave it a few quid, the amount of which it said it couldn’t disclose due to commercial sensitivity. It also qualified for the section 418 tax break.

The Buckfast is on them.

Catherine Martin puts shoulder into Six Nations scrum

There has been surprisingly little push-back so far to Catherine Martin’s proposal to designate Six Nations rugby matches as free to air. When the Minister for Sports announced she was holding a review of the list, the Irish Rugby Football Union was quick to tackle her, saying there was “no justification” to designating the Six Nations as free to air – it’s currently listed for deferred coverage only – and that doing so would cause it “substantial financial damage” and create “even greater dependency” on the State for support. But what of the political reaction?

When then minister for communications Eamon Ryan threatened to do the same to the Six Nations in 2010, his chief critic was Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney, who accused Ryan of threatening to “destroy the golden era of Irish rugby”. Ryan’s proposal ultimately fell with that chaotic, crash-era government.

What odds on Martin’s proposals going the same way?

Outpricing Cork natives’ fancy palate

Isaac Allen, husband of Rachel and son of Darina, hasn’t has much luck in business. He dabbled in photography, fashion and furniture design before opening a restaurant with his celebrity chef wife in Cork. It turned out to be a little pricey for the local palate and closed down after a year. On Monday, Isaac, a director of Ballymaloe Cookery School who also works with his wife in her various media businesses, was granted a protective certificate in Cork Circuit Cork after applying for a debt settlement arrangement, with Revenue believed to be his main creditor.

Wolfe Tones to hang up instruments but Famine-era musical looms

The Wolfe Tones – Kneecap without the North Face – announced recently they are retiring at the end of the year despite a recent renaissance that saw them play a packed-out show at the Electric Picnic. They finish up with their 60th-anniversary tour in Belfast in October. But is it the end? Brian Warfield, the group’s vocalist and lead songwriter, recently applied for a trademark for the phrase Celtic Exodus. Why, your diarist asked him? It turns out he has teamed up with Larry Bass’s ShinAwiL productions for a musical he has written based on a Famine-era love story.

He hasn’t gone away, you know.

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