Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Evening Herald, March 2010

The Bankers

Trinity Street, Dublin 2

the bankers
“Jaysus, that Kathryn Bigelow is some woman!” exclaims Aidan. He throws the newspaper down in front of me. “You would, wouldn’t you Butler? Go on. It’ll go no further than the pair of us…”

“She’s not bad looking. But she’s old enough to be your mother!” “It’s mad that, isn’t it?” he shakes his head. “Although, of course, my mother has had eleven children, so it’s not exactly a fair comparison.” It’s Monday evening in The Bankers and the cosy city centre bar is all but deserted. The barman takes the twenty euro note from my hand, walks to the cash register and stares at the screen for what seems like an eternity. Then he returns and asks how much money I gave him.

If I didn’t know better, I might suspect he’d been smoking something stronger than Benson & Hedges.

He’s not the sharpest tool in the drawer. But then, he doesn’t need to be. There are only a handful of drunks in here at this early hour.

My friend Tracey is visiting Ireland for the St. Patrick’s Day festival. She doesn’t want the usual tourist traps, she says. She wants to experience Irish life, gritty and un-sanitised. I’ve promised to serve up exactly that.

If anything, I may slightly have over-delivered.

“Are there really eleven children in your family?” she asks Aidan. “Yup,” he nods, proudly. “The auld lady had seven kids in six years. Social services almost got involved. My mother was in the hospital, crippled from willie…”

(“Willie is Aidan’s younger brother,” I interject, to Tracey’s obvious relief.)

“The nuns came into the ward,” Aidan continues. “And asked the auld lady if she was being abused at home. That’s no word of a lie.”

There’s an awkward silence.

“Kathryn Bigelow was married to James Cameron one time, wasn’t she?” I ask, by way of changing the subject. “She was,” replies Tracey. “But he left her for the woman from Terminator. Although I think he left her again for the woman from Titanic…”

This is all news to Aidan’s ears.

“He took up with yer one from Titanic!? Ah for God’s sake. That was never going to last… She was about a hundred years old!”

Another awkward silence.

Aidan asks Tracey how she’s finding Ireland. She makes some polite remarks about how friendly people are. He nods, very seriously. “Actually,” he says. “The Irish were recently voted the second best race in the world…”

(Where does he come up with this stuff?)

“Really?” she asks. “Who came first?” He shrugs. “Can’t remember now. The Germans maybe.”

(“Here, Cheech & Chong,” he suddenly barks at the barman. “Turn on the feckin’ football, will ya? It’s starting in five minutes.” The barman flousters with the remote control.)

“Ah yeah,” he continues, without missing a beat. “We’re nice people – nice, friendly people.” He pauses a second. “I’ll have a pint of Guinness, by the way, if you’re going anywhere near the bar…”