Danny Donuts – Wherever he lays his hat, that’s his home
Galway Stories

Danny Donuts – Wherever he lays his hat, that’s his home

Queuing up for a BoyChik Doughnut at the market has become a weekend tradition adored by many and while the goods themselves are seriously tasty, it’s the man behind the trolley that keeps people coming back time and time again.

A Galway institution in his own right, Daniel Rosen has been carving out his own niche within the city since he first washed up on the shores back in 1989. On one dreary day in early October, Danny welcomed me into his incredibly well lived in Henry Street home for a compelling conversation and a hearty bowl of chicken dumpling soup - neither of which I’ll be forgetting about any time soon.

Daniel Rosen

It’s a strange and extraordinary feeling to hear the Galway vernacular thrown around in a New York drawl, and when Danny speaks about how class it is to hear school kids pointing out ‘the doughnut man’ to their parents, you get a genuine sense for how much this man appreciates this little place he now calls home. Born and raised in NYC, Rosen jumped ship when Ronald Reagan made his way into office and never looked back. Spending many years at sea before descending on Galway, the Irish soil did what it does best and made him one of our own.

Having spent so long at sea, Danny came to Galway in search of an old sailboat that needed some restoration. Trading the life of a sailor for just about the most rural existence on offer in Ireland at the time, a little Carraroe cottage out in Connemara became his home. Raising his kids, caring for animals and embracing the quiet solitude of the area, Rosen’s introduction to good old Gaillimh clearly left a lasting impression because now - decades later - he’s still here.

A move to the city brought with it the opportunity to join the market community, and though he may not have known it at the time, this decision would serve him well for years to come. Closing in on 20 years back, Danny started his migration into the marketplace by working for other traders - delivering bread, making crepes and selling olives - until he got a stall all his own and began making vegetable crisps, as per his children’s recommendation. “They were mixed vegetables; sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beetroot. They were really pretty and way before their time but it wasn’t suitable for doing outdoors, so we fished around making soup and bread and this and that for a while.”

Danny Donuts

It wasn’t until the doughnut man of Dublin passed on the torch that Daniel Rosen became Danny Doughnuts. Having found his kinfolk at the market, he has gone on to become part of the fabric of the city, a stalwart presence that’s been whipping up light, simple and delicious delights for about 15 years now. “For me,” Danny says, “living in Galway, the most community I’ve ever had has been the marketplace. My colleagues in the market and the regularity of our lives together, that’s been my community for most of my life here.” With his apron strings tied and his handmade hat perched atop his head, that familiar face has wangled its way into the heart of Galway.

“It just eventually happened that I became established here. I had my kids, so there was no leaving or moving on and now they’ve grown and flown, I’m still here.”

Mr. Doughnuts is also known to cut a dash as he strides through the city, clad entirely in threads he’s sewn himself. A hobby he’s had since his teenage years, this flair has certainly evolved since that first foray into the world of tailoring, which may or may not have involved transforming a shower curtain into a pair of quite uncomfortable trousers. While the clothes are crafted to perfection, hats have become his accessory of choice. “I got into hats because a neighbour of mine in the market had this lovely old green hat and he had lost the hat band off it and it was starting to lose its shape. So, I took a measure of it and told him I would fix it up for him.”

“I make my own hats and that’s really me. I’m an enthusiast, I get carried away with an idea and I get really into it for a while but after some time I’ll just drop it and move along. I’ve realised that’s me, I just get enthused.

Daniel Rosen Content

That enthusiasm is evident in every corner of his home, from the teetering towers of books forming here and there to the assortment of metalwork materials gathered just inside the entryway. In the same way he taught himself to make his first hat, he has been consistently broadening his own mind in new and exciting ways each day. Making coal scuttles, catching up with science, exploring new languages and trying out cheese production techniques are daily rituals in Danny’s house, and when every day’s a school day, that zest for life and learning becomes second nature.

“I gave up the television when I was quite young and then I gave up the newspapers and the radio. I just don’t take in current events. You hear enough of it when you’re talking to people and nowadays, you hear very little else… I probably fill my head with enough shit without the internet doing that for me.”

Though Danny’s love affair with Galway had begun to fray at the edges, the quiet comfort and amplified sense of community lockdown brought with it helped to relight that flame. “I fell back in love with Galway instantly,” he recalls, “There were no cars on the street and suddenly the town was absolutely deserted. It was a relief really, and was quite paradisiacal for me… it made our neighbourhood seem a lot more neighbourly.”

Proud to call the West his home, this man has brought so much substance to our little corner of the world over the years. A well-respected man about town with an undeniable intellect and an air of mystery, a quick chat with Daniel Rosen escalates into a scintillating discussion in the blink of an eye. A multi-talented tradesman with a thirst for knowledge, it’s safe to assume that you’ve never met anyone quite like the doughnut man.

Danny Donuts

To discover more insights from well know Galwegians, gift yourself a lovely copy of Ode - A Glimpse of Galway here and reacquaint yourself with the gorgeous City of Tribes and its people. 

Photos by @boydchallenger

Published on Updated on