Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Irish Times, September 16 2009


ARTIFICIAL LIMBS, bingo equipment, choreographers, clairvoyants and detective agencies . . . If you need it, there’s a fair chance you’ll find it in the 2010 Golden Pages, which landed with a dull thud on doorsteps and in hallways around the capital early last month. By the end of October, publishers Truvo will have shipped 3.6 million telephone directories (1,817,100 Golden Pages and the same number again of business and residential directories) to households nationwide. These will arrive unsolicited, regardless, even, of whether a phone line is installed at the relevant address.

Now, under the terms of its Universal Service Obligations, Eircom is required to provide printed directories to all its customers free of charge. But in this era of heightened environmental awareness, when possession of a laptop and internet connection renders hard copy obsolete, might it not be time that these weighty tomes were made available on an opt-in only basis?

The 01-area Golden Pages alone weighs in at 2kg and runs to about 1,400 pages. As well as the classified directory, the Golden Pages includes a Wedding Guide (“Everything you need for the big day”) and, somewhat ironically, a Green Energy Guide (“Is all that packaging really necessary?”)

The 01-area Eircom Phonebook, meanwhile, weighs in at 1kg and runs to a comparatively slender 900 pages (with surnames from Aaguera to Zubair.) As well as public and private listings, it includes comprehensive Emergency Helpline numbers, as well as Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann timetables. Like the Golden Pages, it is laden with adverts, including one for an insurance company on the spine of the book.

According to polls conducted by Landsdowne Market Research, 83 per cent of us consult the phone book annually, with 53 per cent using it monthly and 21 per cent reporting weekly use. (Predictably, the highest usage usage is among people aged 50-64 and 65+, with 92 per cent annual use.)

Angelique Kouvelis, head of marketing at Truvo, says that households can opt out of receiving the Golden Pages and phone book by calling the company at any time. Given, however, that the books are distributed by a private firm, Door to Door Distributers, whose mandate is to deliver a copy to every household in Ireland, the logistics of such an opt out are hazy. A call to Truvo’s freefone Directory Distribution line connects me, first of all, to an operator who is unsure whether such an opt-out option exists.

Eventually, another operator is able to call up the map that the distributors work from and place an X by my house to indicate that I no longer require a phone book or Golden Pages. Whether or not I hear that dull thud again this time next year, though, remains to be seen.


step aerobics platform
Want to lose weight and don’t mind compromising on safety? Well, this might just be the answer. Residential listings for beginners; Golden Pages for advanced; and one stacked on top of the other for when you really want to feel that burn.

self-defense instrument
There are within its pages multiple listings for security consultants, intruder alarms and CCTV. But if it’s too late for that, a well-aimed blow to the temple from the butt of the Golden Pages should be sufficient to subdue even the h

flower presser
Leading flower pressing experts (okay, Wikipedia) recommend leaving about 1/8 of an inch of pages between each flower pressed at a time. So the phone book could accommodate about 12, while the Golden Pages could probably take 12. That’s a decent-sized collection there, right off the bat!

bird-cage liner
This one is pretty self-explanatory, I think.


gift wrapping paper
In these recessionary times, nothing says “lower your expectations, dear” quite like a Christmas present wrapped in the local residential listings.

…or just recycle the damn thing
If you already have a segregated waste collection service, you can deposit your old telephone directories in your green wheelie bin for recycling. If not, bring it to your nearest recycling centre.