Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Irish Times, January 9th 2021

Bobi Wine: The election hopes of Uganda’s reggae politician

On Thursday, the people of Uganda will cast their ballots in that country’s 2021 presidential election. The incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni, is aiming to secure a record sixth term in office.

In this impoverished African nation, where the propriety of presidential elections is held in such low regard that international election monitoring bodies no longer send observers, the 76-year-old president-for-life’s re-election should be a foregone conclusion. Read the rest of this entry »

March 6th, 2021. Comment now »

Published: Irish Independent, June 20 2020

Conor Walsh: Passing Through

RTE Doc on One broadcast Saturday, June 20th 2020. Listen on RTE Culture website. Or Apple Podcasts.

Listeners captivated by Conor Walsh’s back catalogue, issued mostly since his death in 2016, as well as fans fortunate enough to have witnessed him performing live, could be forgiven for assuming that this self-taught minimalist piano player was a shy and introverted character.

The Mayo musician’s haunting original compositions, which pop up frequently these days on TV and radio, are unwaveringly slow and melancholic. Moreover, when he appeared live at major showcases such as the Electric Picnic and Other Voices, and toured as an opening act for Hozier, he played with his back to the audience, whose presence he rarely acknowledged.

Yet as anyone who knew Conor offstage will attest, any sense of shyness or aloofness on his part was wildly off the mark. According to his close friend Enda Murtagh: “People who think Conor was quiet were people who just didn’t spend much time with him. Actually, he was one of the most confident people you could ever meet, and even quite prickly at times.” Read the rest of this entry »

June 26th, 2020. Comment now »

Published: The Dublin Review, Spring 2020

The Sunshine State

July 2018

Looking back, I’d been cracking up for months. But the state of Florida, in late July, is where the fracture ruptured and the fire raging in my head seemed, briefly, to consume the walls and the scenery around me. Continue reading.

June 11th, 2020. Comment now »

Published: Irish Times, November 16 2017

“A lot of flag-waving, patriotic Americans will never see half as much of their country I’ve seen…”

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Atlanta in mid-July. In heat this intense, normal people sit indoors, board up their windows and listen to the sidewalks crack. Not Stefan Murphy. He’s decamped to a dilapidated house in the suburbs, with no air conditioning, to record an entire album in two days, called Tales from the Megaplex. It’s his third Count Vaseline album in just over a year. He plays every instrument: bass, guitars, vocals, backing vocals, tambourine. One take. No do-overs.

In a past life, the Dublin musician worked with big-name producers and a full band called The Mighty Stef. Over tacos, in the nearby hipster enclave of Little Five Points, he acknowledges a change of approach. “In The Mighty Stef, we put an enormous emphasis on production. As Count Vaseline, I’m doing the exact opposite. This is definitely the most low-fi, DIY set of songs I’ve ever officially released.”

Murphy is now permanently settled in Atlanta with his wife and six-year-old child. He turned 40 recently and is a year and a half sober. “That was largely to do with my mental health. I was struggling with depression. A lot of people drink themselves to death in their 40s and that could easily have been me.” Read the rest of this entry »

May 16th, 2020. Comment now »

Published: Irish Times, March 7 2019

‘It’s a shame he’s not around to see this’ – an album found on Conor Walsh’s laptop

One Friday evening, three years ago this month, Fiona Walsh was relaxing with friends at a dinner party in Dún Laoghaire. She was a final year UCD medical student and, with their exams just two weeks away, a classmate had prepared a meal to help the group unwind.

Her phone was charging in the next room. After dinner, she found a barrage of missed calls and messages urging her to call home. “Obviously, you fear the worst,” she recalls. “But you’re afraid it might be your mother or some older relative. You never think it’s going to be your brother.” Read the rest of this entry »

March 9th, 2019. Comment now »

Published: The Dublin Review, Winter 2017

The Peat Workers

Read this.

June 9th, 2018. Comment now »

Published: Irish Times, August 20 2011

The Trawlerman

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 article here.

October 22nd, 2017. 14 Comments »

Published: Irish Times, 9 July 2011

The rebel priest

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 reports 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… Read the rest of this article here.

September 8th, 2017. Comment now »

Published: Irish Times, 9 March 2013

The toughest journey

cancer bus
It’s 7.15am at the Dry Arch filling station in Letterkenny and a hard frost is down outside. A lorry driver bounds in from the darkness, rubs his hands together and orders a bowl of porridge at the hot food counter. In the corner, Sky News is reporting live from Los Angeles, where post-Oscar festivities are still in full swing.

But customers here don’t pay the TV much attention. It’s Monday morning, it’s -5°C and we’re a long way from Tinseltown. Read the rest of this entry »

April 10th, 2017. 107 Comments »

Published: Irish Tatler, Winter 2016

Oh, shut up

shhh edit
Are you bored with social media? Are you fed up with the narcissists, over-sharers and keyboard warriors who populate your online feeds? The self-promoters who can’t break wind without tweeting to congratulate themselves? Well, I may have found a solution.

Oh, Shut Up! is an exciting new app I’ve just developed. Simply download it to your laptop, tablet or mobile device and, whenever anyone you know posts anything, on any social media platform, it will simply reply “Oh, shut up” on your behalf, leaving you free to go windsurfing, horse-riding and all that other fun stuff you’ve seen on tampon commercials. Read the rest of this entry »

December 29th, 2016. 1 Comment »