Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


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Published: Dublin Review, Autumn 2015

Border Controls

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“I’m standing there, half asleep, in my t-shirt and boxer shorts, relieving myself in the dirt when I spot three Middle Eastern guys… If they were initially walking towards the truck, they’ve changed course slightly now. They smile at having caught me in such an awkward position. I smile back at them and put my finger to my lips.” (Calais, August 2015.)

Read full piece To Calais and Back

Published: Irish Times, 6 June 2015

‘The GAA is just like a family’

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Bus driver Cathal Carroll asks if I’ve heard the news this morning. I haven’t. Four thousand souls have been rescued from the waters of the Mediterranean. All of them African refugees. All fleeing hunger and persecution in their native lands. What do I think of that?

A Roscommon man himself, Carroll recalls the 1,500 inhabitants of Strokestown, Co Roscommon, who were marched en masse to board coffin ships at the height of the Great Famine. Many of them perished on the high seas. “It should be in our nature to want to help these people,” he says.

He pulls to a stop outside the Old Convent in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo. Perched on a hill, surrounded by high walls and a remote-controlled gate, this cold, imposing building has always stood aloof from the life of the town below. Read the rest of this entry »

Published: The Global Mail, October 2012

‘Once upon a time in the West…’

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One positive legacy of Ireland’s late, ill-fated economic boom is a dramatically expanded motorway network. Spilling out from Dublin, to a half dozen towns and cities on the southern and western seaboard, these pristine highways have slashed journey times to and from the capital, effectively shrinking the island.

Take a detour cross-country, though, and the pace of life remains less than hectic. It’s 10am in the sleepy Co. Galway village of Dunmore and I’ve run into a brick wall. Or to be precise, a horse’s arse. A horse trailer, towed by an elderly farmer, has reduced southbound traffic on the R328 to a leisurely 45kph.

In another setting, one might honk the horn and demand that the driver give way. But this is the west of Ireland, where just about anyone could turn out to be your cousin, long lost uncle or grandmother’s yoga instructor. So it pays not to be too demonstrative. Read the rest of this entry »

Published: Irish Times, 24 April 2012

One man and a little lady

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His sister is going away for the weekend and he’s volunteered to babysit her sweet little two-year-old Lola – what can go wrong? Well, apart from a toilet incident, the lost buggy, mental exhaustion…, writes EOIN BUTLER

FRIDAY
There is a pigeon flapping in the rafters at Heuston Station. Below him, an endless procession of students tramp through the airy terminus, slinging their dirty laundry west for the weekend. My sister is seated at a tiny stainless steel table at the edge of the bustling concourse.

On her knee, my two-year-old niece, Lola, is slobbering over a bagel. Read the rest of this entry »

Published: Irish Times, 20 August 2011

The Trawlerman

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IT’S 3.45AM AND not a soul is stirring in Kinsale. As our jeep crunches to a halt on the roadside, the headlights reveal a lone heron wading in the tide below. Shane Murphy bounds down the gangway and boards Aurora Borealis, a 35ft inshore trawler he has skippered for six years.

He flicks a light switch in the wheelhouse and fires up the diesel engine. Mike McCarthy, his crewman, busies himself with the moorings. Our passage out of Kinsale this morning will be with the help of a baffling array of technologies: Decca plotter, echo sounder, radar, Sodena plotter, autopilot, GPS and compass.

“I might also look out of the window occasionally,” adds the skipper, deadpan. Read the rest of this entry »

Published: Irish Times, 17 December 2011

The rebel priest

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IN THE MUDDY SLUMS OF JUBA, the people are preparing for a party. By 11pm, tens of thousands of them have poured out onto the streets: cheering, honking car horns and waving the flag of their new country, as well as those of the US, Norway and Israel.

At the stroke of midnight, South Sudan becomes the world’s 192nd independent nation. In the new capital, joy is unconfined. In the mud huts that stretch for miles in every direction, residents can be heard singing and ululating well into the night.

By 7am, the BBC World Service is reporting a crowd of a hundred thousand already gathered at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum. The speeches here will last late into the afternoon. But despite a complete lack of respite from the sun, the people never once cease to sing, sway and chant the names of the new state, its new president and his army.

“South Sudan… oyee!”

“Salva Kiir… oyee!”

“SPLA… oyee!” Read the rest of this entry »

Published: Mongrel Magazine, May 2007

The top 5 funniest thing people said to me when my father died

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The recent death of my father was undoubtedly the least funny event of my entire life. It came as a savage shock to me, like a stranger approaching me on the street and punching me in the face. Now I find myself banjaxed with grief: for my father, for my family and for myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Published: Mongrel Magazine, February 2007.

And finally…

Eoin Butler recalls an old acquaintance
And finally…

[It was Mongrel editor Michael Freeman who came up with the idea for the ‘And Finally…’ articles. Each month, for the back page of the magazine, he would ask a different writer to contribute 650 words on any subject they wished. The only catch was that the piece had to reference the same random photo (right) and incorporate the same ludicrous pull quote “like a ferret trying to escape from a jar of silly putty”. To this day, I still don’t actually know what silly putty is…]

Anne Marie Mularkey. The gorgeous Anne Marie… Jaysus, now you’re taking me back. Swanned into French one day like she was God’s gift. Threw her schoolbag on an empty table and plonked down on a chair. Anne Marie was tall and elegant, with the saddest brown eyes I’d ever seen. She had a face like a shovel, of course, but that only added to her allure. Girl blew that fringe out from her eyes and swung back in the chair. And, with that, I fell in love. Read the rest of this entry »