Meet our food champions...

Hugh O'Donnell

Wild Atlantic food is about what we see right in front of us during the day. As you drive the down the west coast, you have the sea on one side and the mountains on the other; you want to find that fish and that lamb on the menus.


Hugh O'Donnell

Contact details

Twitter: @kittykellys

Facebook: Kitty Kellys

Website: kittykellys.com

Email: hcodonnell@gmail.com

Hugh O'Donnell

Image of Hugh O'DonnellLandscape, locality and life experience… on a plate | Killybegs, Donegal

Owner of Hughie’s Bar and Kitty Kelly’s restaurant in the Donegal fishing village of Killybegs, Hugh O’Donnell grew up with food and agriculture playing a central role in everyday life, “People came by the house daily with bags of fresh herrings and prawns, fish never had to be paid for.”

He returned to Donegal from a teaching job in Dublin to run his family’s pub and then decided to train as a chef, as he felt the only way to serve good food was to understand it himself. He was actively involved in the Killybegs fishing industry for several years, co-owning a boat, and is a sheep farmer, raising mountain lamb on the farmland which runs behind his restaurant.

It is hard to imagine anyone who could be closer to, or have a better understanding of, the source of food and the local food economy. This wealth of life experience is reflected in his approach to his restaurant. What Hugh O’Donnell is aiming for at Kitty Kelly’s is “the locality on a plate, you know you are eating in Ireland, in Donegal”. He is producing also ‘Wild Atlantic Food’.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, Hugh sources his fish direct from a boat and is working with other restaurants to develop collective buying initiatives. This is indicative of the forward-thinking and cooperative approach he has taken to the many projects he has been involved in, including founding the Donegal Good Food Taverns in 2011 and launching the Killybegs Seafood Festival.

He believes in promoting the regionality of Irish food and is currently working with the Donegal Food Strategy Group on developing a ‘Food & Coast’ brand for Donegal.