Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: The Dubliner, April 2010

“I feel a bit like Ian Paisley, after a night on the sauce, awoken to find I’m hosting a cake sale for the Legion of Mary…”

Great journeys are often embarked upon unknowingly, and completed in tiny, imperceptible increments. It isn’t until we step back sometimes, that we are even aware of the unexpected turns our lives have taken. The selfish prima donna has become a devoted spouse or parent; the wide-eyed optimist a battle-hardened cynic; and the biggest, most diehard culchie is suddenly writing a column for The Dubliner magazine. Okay, I might have thrown that last one in myself. This is my third Baggotonia column. And it’s only now the full significance of this departure is really sinking in. The Dubliner is a fine publication and one with which I am proud to be associated. But for a man whose idea of haut cuisine is ham sandwiches served in bread wrappers (and consumed, preferably, in the car park outside a provincial GAA ground), finding that I pass muster around here is a slightly disturbing development.

I feel a bit like Ian Paisley, after a night on the sauce, awoken to find I’m hosting a cake sale for the Legion of Mary. Something is wrong with this picture.

Last week, I took part in a radio panel discussion during which the Dubs v Culchies debate reared its ugly head. The host inquired, in all seriousness, whether natives of the capital really think they’re better than their country cousins? The answer, needless to say, is that of course they do. The Dublin panellists cheerfully admitted as much.

But I was able to say this in their defence. At least they’re sincere in their delusion. Corkonians too profess to believe that they live in the greatest city in the world. But they say so far too often, and their boasts are always loaded with jealous references to the capital. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to deduce that theirs is an inferiority complex masquerading as a superiority complex.

By contrast, the Dubliner’s high opinion of himself is innate and unspoken. Unspoken because, as far as he is concerned, it goes without saying. So where does this inflated sense of self importance come from? Dublin is hardly a major city. Its metropolitan population is less than that of Leeds or Sheffield. Sure, it’s a European capital. But so too are Chisinau, Podgoria and Valletta. So the mere fact of residency here would seem to make a pretty flimsy basis for a superiority complex.

But having lived and worked in the city for the best part of a decade now, I’ve come to understand the Dubliners a little better. It isn’t so much that he has a high opinion of himself. It is rather that has a very low opinion of the rest of us. He thinks we’re a bunch of uncivilised, cabbage-eating bog-hoppers.

As countryperson living in the Dublin, you get used to a lot of uninformed condescension. I’ve tried throwing it back in people’s faces sometimes. If my city friend insists on assuming that I live on a farm, I will assume that he sells seafood from a wheelbarrow, alive alive-oh. But he doesn’t even notice. No, there’s only one way for us culchies to get our revenge on the Dubs and that’s in Croke Park. Roll on the summer. Up Mayo!

April 20th, 2010.

9 Responses to ““I feel a bit like Ian Paisley, after a night on the sauce, awoken to find I’m hosting a cake sale for the Legion of Mary…””

  1. Adrian Russell Says:

    Cork or Podgoria will win the football this year.

  2. Eoin Says:

    Podgoria aren’t in the league final Sunday!

  3. Adrian Russell Says:

    they never take the league seriously to be fair

  4. massey Says:

    So do ye fancy your chances on Sunday Butler??

  5. Eoin Says:

    Don’t you know anything about Mayo people Massey? We always fancy our chances…

  6. Conal Says:

    Ah the Dubs, unfortunately they do seem to have retained the obsession of our imperial cousins to categorise people into social hierarchies – possibly even more so amongst themselves with the ill-defined north/south strangeness.

  7. Lisa Says:

    It’s so darling when you country types get all upset!

  8. Eoin Says:

    Sorry Lisa, your attempt at being patronising just it isn’t working for me there I’m afraid. It doesn’t come naturally to you. You’ve been out of Dublin too long, I think! 😉

  9. Lisa Says:

    One day I’ll be back for good and more condescending than you can even imagine!

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