Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Gerry Ryan: His Part in My Downfall

It is a laudable Irish custom not to speak ill of the recently deceased, and one which I sincerely hope I’m not in breach of here.
EOIN BUTLER has been waiting around the corner to pounce on Gerry Ryan

(published Evening Herald, October 9 2008)

According to a new report published this month by the Justice Resort Centre in Massachusetts*, the effects of a traumatic childhood experience can scar a person well into adulthood. If that is the case, then perhaps I should place the blame for all of my adult failings squarely at the door of Gerry Ryan and School Around The Corner.

Back in the early 1990s, a young researcher came to our school looking for children to appear on a new television show. For whatever reason – perhaps because I was loathe, then as now, to let anyone else get a word in edgeways – I happened to be one of those chosen. We duly arrived on set on the appointed day and were introduced to G. Ryan in all of his (then) pony-tailed pomp.

After a quick introduction, we were left alone onstage, while he signed autographs for the studio audience. I snuck a peek at the clipboard stashed beside me on the couch. Despite the fact that I had spoken to the researcher at length on almost every conceivable subject from football to politics, his questions for me concentrated almost exclusively on household chores.

“You’re the only boy in your family” Ryan informed me, once the cameras were rolling. “I’d bet that means you do a lot of household chores.”

Of course you bloody do, I thought. It’s written down in front of you in black and white. I prattled through the list. Turf, coal, lawnmower, removing dead mice from mousetraps – the usual stuff, I thought.

Then he asked me about football. Perhaps I should have been a little more reticent here. But at the end of the day, I was an U-10 getting a regular game with the U-12s. There wasn’t any point in false modesty.

Now, obviously, the sight of a skinny, prepubescent boy, who thought he was on a par with Ruud Gullit or Marco van Basten, was amusing to an adult audience. And Ryan milked it for all it was worth.

“Would you consider yourself a tough guy then?” he asked.

It was a yes/no question. Either answer was suicidal in the circumstances and, as a child, I lacked the guile to deflect it.

“Yeah, I suppose I am”, I replied.

That was it. My fate was sealed.

Watching the programme on the television when it appeared was embarrassing. But even more embarrassing was when they replayed it on video for my entire school in the assembly area the next day. At the time, New Kids on The Block had just had a big hit with a song called Hangin’ Tough.

For months afterward, every time I walked down the street kids heads would pop out of houses, shops and even passing car windows to taunt me.

“Hey Butler!” they’d shout. “Woooow-aa-oo… hangin’ tough!”

Every time I thought it was over, there was more humiliation yet to come. A year and a half later I was called up to the U-14 football team and, in my very first match, was marking a boy almost twice my height. When I went to shake hands with him before throw-in, he punched me hard in the stomach and I collapsed on the soggy turf.

“Not so tough now, you little bollocks!” he sneered.

I think it was then that I decided that, one day, I would get my own back on that bastard Gerry Ryan!

[N.B. The Herald were looking for a column on short notice and the G. Ryan story had killed in the pub the previous night. However, I needed a hook to make it seem somehow newsworthy so I completely invented the study cited at the beginning of the article. I’m sure G. Ryan would have approved of that much at least.]

May 3rd, 2010.

20 Responses to “Gerry Ryan: His Part in My Downfall”

  1. peejus Says:

    seems to me like you’re blaming him unjustly, why does the responsibility lie with Gerry Ryan? he never did those things to you, he never punched you in the gut, it was your schoolmates, your neighbours that mocked you, YOU yourself said you were a tough guy, (because you were a cocky ten year old, like most of them), he didnt tell them to mock you, he never made them show it in school either, and gerry ryan didnt punch you in the gut at a soccer match, you’re holding a grudge against the wrong person, because it’s a lot harder to hold a grudge against a whole town, especially when you have to live with them.

    So tell me, what about the people who humiliated and mocked you? where is their responsibility in all this?

    Do you think gerry ryan was secretly organising a group humiliation of you? th answer is of course, NO.

    But it’s a lot easier to make what happened to you look like entirely his fault (in your own eyes, at least) when it clearly isnt, i was a fat kid in school, would it sound logical to you that i should blame the KFC or McDonalds for the ridicule?

    No, the ridicule was the fault of the people who ridiculed me, no one is forced to mock someone else, they make the decision themselves, maybe using you to become more popular, to impress a girl, make themselves feel better about their own life, etc.

    if you have been screwed up by this tormenting you got, then that’s the fault of:

    (Gerry Ryan was just a presenter of a t.v. show, asking innocent questions to a ten year old boy, doing his job, parents love to see that cute little ten year old kid who thinks he’s maradonna)


    2: Your parents, and any guardians, older relatives you had, for not stepping in for you and sorting it out when it was happening (with older people that were mocking you, etc.)

    Now dont get me wrong here, what you described happened to you wasn’t nice at all, and i can genuinely see why it’s a big deal for you, but it’s the people in your town that ridiculed you, they have minds of their own, they DECIDED to mock you, they weren’t forced, and i’m not trying to put you down here with this post, it’s just that you’re blaming the wrong person. I’m not a dedicated fan of gerry ryan, I could go either way. BUT by your logic, “new kids on the block” are to blame too for that song title.

    If it’s something that has emotionally wounded you, you’ll never truly get over it until you REALLY get to the root of it, and i’m telling you now, from what you’ve written, Gerry Ryan was NOT the root of it. It’s the people who mocked you.

  2. Eoin Says:

    Where there was darkness, you have have brought light. Thank you Peejus!

  3. Dawn Says:

    Well that is absolutely the most amusing comment I have ever seen on the internet.

  4. Green Of Eye Says:

    Eoin, you’re so lucky to have such a perceptive and enlightened reader.


  5. Eoin Says:

    @ GOE – He’s right. All this time I’ve been angry with Gerry Ryan, when my true enemy were those bastard New Kids on the Block…

  6. kDamo Says:

    I think G. Ryan fucked Peejus up too…

  7. massey Says:

    Nailed you Butler, nailed you!!

  8. Leigh O'Gorman Says:

    Wow Peejus,
    Loving how oblivion is creeping closer and closer

  9. DD Says:

    Oh dear, it’s a Hall of Famer alright…

  10. peejus Says:

    oh i dont read the irish times, it’s shite, i just saw this in a google search, i get you were just kinda takin the piss now, haha i thought you were serious there, but you shouldn’t make fun of people just after they die, bit disrespectful “tough guy”

  11. In case you missed this last night… | Tripping Along The Ledge Says:

    […] for greatest ever blog comment here. May 5th, […]

  12. graham Says:

    By the same token we shouldn’t make fun of commenters after their comments rise and ascend to comment heaven. Laughed until the tears came down my cheeks….

  13. sarah Says:

    Words to treasure. Lessons to live by. Love it!

  14. Seán Says:

    FACEPALM!!! lolz

  15. Jim Corr Says:

    Whos to say Gerry Ryan DIDN’T secretly organise a group humiliation of Eoin? It all fits don’t you see?

  16. Micheal Says:

    I never do blogs but comments like that would make me come back!! Great one peejus.

  17. Eoin Says:

    @ Jim Corr – Well, I do recall our school principle saying “we’re showing this video to humiliate Eoin Butler at the personal instructions of Gerry Ryan.”

    For what that’s worth…

  18. fiona Says:

    Read this last night but had to come back today and read it again. That’s the best comment I’ve ever seen on a blog!

  19. gueuleton Says:

    Peejaysus, that’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long, long time…

  20. Clicking Along The Ledge | Tripping Along The Ledge Says:

    […] #8 Gerry Ryan: My Part In His Downfall (May 3rd) There was nothing remotely funny about Gerry Ryan’s untimely death in April. But this reader comment, which followed fairly hot on its heels, gave me possibly the biggest laugh I’ve had all year. Thank you, Peejus! […]

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