Clearing the Hurdles

CTH front cover for promo.jpg
CTH front cover for promo.jpg

Clearing the Hurdles


‘It is rare indeed for property developers to write memoirs, or leave anything on the public record. But that’s what Joe McGowan, of once-notorious builders Brennan and McGowan, has done with Clearing the Hurdles, in which he recounts his life and times, including a four-week stint being cross-examined by lawyers at the planning tribunal in Dublin Castle; he calls it the “Theatre of Ice”. . . . [The book] will be of compelling interest to those with a passion for horses as well as anyone involved in the precarious, up-and-down business of house-building.’
–Frank McDonald, An Irishman’s Diary, the Irish Times

‘a rollercoaster ride’
—Jason O’Toole, Hot Press

‘Gatsby carrying a copy of the Daily Telegraph
—Miriam Lord

‘It is said that there is no greater burden than the untold story. So now that Joe McGowan has written the extraordinary, fascinating, intriguing and unique story of his eventful and full life, with such honesty and good humour, and in such detail, I hope he will be completely unburdened – and even liberated – for the rest of his life.’
Ollie Campbell, Ireland rugby international and British & Irish Lion

‘This is a book all can readily identify with: it is a story of family, friends – and the odd foe! It shares a life of compassion, conviction and courage, underpinned by a keen intellect and a generous heart. Joe’s narrative is not just a personal story but also a piece of social history. On both grounds, it is worth telling, and worth reading.’
Alan MacGinty, principal of Blackrock College

Clearing the Hurdles is a gripping account of the writer and his business partner, Tom Brennan, becoming the biggest house builders in the country: pioneers in providing affordable houses at value that will never happen again, selling houses at four times the industrial wage.’
Ray McLoughlin, Ireland rugby international and British & Irish Lion

‘For the past five decades, Joe McGowan has been right at the heart of business, sporting and social circles, both in Ireland and the United Kingdom. His astuteness in business, his brilliance as a horseman and his superb social graces provided him with an entry into every echelon of society. In Clearing the Hurdles, Joe McGowan proves to be a very entertaining, charming and honest raconteur as he shares with the reader the ups and downs of his fascinating life, beginning with his upbringing on his parents’ farm in County Mayo and moving on to his time as captain of the Irish three-day-eventing team, while in between marrying a beautiful fashion model, becoming the largest housebuilder in Ireland, buying film director John Huston’s mansion and winning the Blue Riband of the British National Hunt Season, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.’
Charles Smyth, country-house and equestrian-estates specialist

‘Joe writes as he talks: with honesty. I couldn't put Clearing the Hurdles down.’
Alva Gunne, estate agent

‘This book reflects Joe’s enthusiasm for life.’
Pamela Carberry

‘Joe describes the Planning Tribunal, his “Theatre of Ice”, in an exceptionally clever and talented way. He courageously got on with his life and competed at the top level in his sport while showing cause in bankruptcy for five years. Truly remarkable!’
John Walsh, solicitor

‘An interesting book, beautifully written. Captivating – and more bizarre than a novel.’
Alison Oliver, trainer to Princess Anne

‘This book is packed with fascinating stories: from buying film director John Huston’s mansion to playing croquet on a small lawn in Coláiste Pádraig, Swinford, under the guidance of the Principal, Father Sean O’Neill. Now, sixty years later, he is the President of the Croquet Association of Ireland.’
Stephen O'Connell Miley, solicitor

‘It is a formidable story of two young men in the building and property world, unknown to the general public.’
Laurence McCabe, former World President of the International Real Estate Federation

Clearing the Hurdles is Joe McGowan’s extraordinary story. He has lovingly crafted every word of this book with meticulous attention to every detail, from the writing and photography, to the design of the book itself. The end result is the story of someone who has lived life at the pace of a Gold Cup horse in sight of the winning post. His love of words, writing, poetry and music embellish every page, and not only commemorate a life less ordinary but chronicle a remarkable era in the country he helped to build.’
Liam Collins, author and Sunday Independent journalist

As featured in the Sunday Business Post, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Irish Times and Sunday Independent

Clearing the Hurdles was launched by rugby legend Ollie Campbell at the RDS. Racing commentator Brough Scott was interviewed about the book on The Ivan Yates Show.

Author royalties from sales of the book will be donated to the IRFU Charitable Trust and Irish Injured Jockeys.

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