Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Irish Times, September 24 2011

“You do realise this will be on Reeling in the Years 2011 with, like, Justin Bieber playing in the background?”

Derek Reid and Gerard Kelly discuss fish pedicures, the batshit insane craze sweeping the nation.

I’m about to put my feet into a tank full of fish. What type of fish are these?
Derek: These are called Garra Rufa fish, a type of carp found in the springs of Turkey. They’re sometimes known as Doctor Fish, because of their ability to help people with skin problems.
Gerard: Keep your feet slightly apart and let them dangle in the water.

Fucking hell.
Keep your feet still. There’s always a bit of a frenzy to begin with. The fish will calm down in a moment.I’m struggling to maintain my professional composure here. What exactly is going on down there?
The fish are nibbling away at the dead skin on your feet. They come from hot springs so they’ll latch onto anything they find in the water. They’re scavengers. But they have no teeth. So it’s more like a suction process really.

Doesn’t dead skin normally fall off of its own accord?
Your skin gets replenished all the time. Most of the dead skin does fall off, yes, but you’ll still get a certain build up. Even small children do. So this is a treatment we’d recommend for people of all ages.
Gerard: Some people scrape dead skin off with a file. But that can be quite painful.

It seems like a drastic solution to an a non-existent problem. But I understand you’ve had some famous customers?
Gerard: Yes, Rosanna Davidson was in. She wrote about it in her column. Philomena Lynott. The gay man from Desperate Housewives, I can’t remember his name now. Several members of the Irish rugby squad. Jonathan Sext…
Derek: (interrupting) I’m not sure we should be giving their names away. How did you hear about it yourself?

Honestly, I was just walking past and I saw people having their feet washed. I thought it was a religious revival.
No, this is something that has been practised in natural spas in Turkey for hundreds of years.

How did you get involved yourselves?
Our business partner saw someone doing it on holidays in Tenerife.

One of the English broadsheets described fish pedicures as “dirty, dangerous and a serious risk to one’s health”. How do you answer that charge?
Well, as you can see, the water is crystal clear. The fish are very active and very healthy. We put a lot of time and effort into keeping both the fish and the water they’re in the best possible condition.
Derek: Also we were both watching as you washed your feet. So if you’d had a verruca or a fungal infection, we would not have allowed you to use the tank.

How would you have broken the news to me?
Very simply, we’d have said we’re sorry mate, but you can’t use the tank because you have X, Y or Z.

So you reckon my feet are kosher? Wait until you see, the fish’ll start turning upside down in a minute…
Derek: We also gave you a white towel to dry your feet with. So we’d have spotted if you were wearing fake tan or anything.

Dodged a bullet then.
Well, that would be more of a concern with women, I suppose. But fake tan is very bad for the fish.

You mentioned something about the fish having a good quality of life. Do you have activities for them in the evenings?
No, that’s their home right there. We give them some tropical fish food, of course. Fish cannot live on feet alone. (laughs)

You do realise that this will be on Reeling in the Years 2011 with, like, Justin Bieber playing in the background?
Well, we would hope it’s more than just a fad.
Gerard: If you’ve been shopping or you’ve had a busy day. Most of our clients leave here feeling like they’re walking on air. One lady came back the next day and said she’d just had the best night’s sleep of her life!

Treat Yer Feet have outlets in Dublin, Drogheda, Dun Laoghaire, Cork, Swords and Kilkenny. www.treatyerfeet.ie