Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Evening Herald, July 23 2009


100 Leeson Street, Dublin 2

It’s six o’clock on a Thursday evening and Hartigan’s – an old fashioned, family-run boozer on the doorstep of Stephen’s Green – is filling up with after-work drinkers. I’ve heard a few stories about this place. But this is my first time over the threshold.

With its rough-and-ready decor, bizarre zig-zag layout and curious blend of customers, Hartigan’s actually reminds me of nowhere so much (and I realise that this may be a pretty obscure reference for 99% of readers) as Julian’s of Midfield.

I step inside and look around for my friend. At the bar, there are the three or four of the usual suspects you find in a place like this. They might be here since five o’clock; they may be here since 1985.

Occupying most of the floor space are a couple of dozen civil servants and office workers.

The table by the window, meanwhile, has been requisitioned by a quartet of immaculately coiffured bankers. A couple of years ago, guys like these ruled Dublin. Nowadays, with their pinstriped suits and jovial manner, they look like dinosaurs, relics from a bygone era.

And somewhere in the middle of the throng is my old friend Aidan. I haven’t seen Aidan in a couple of week. Rumour has it he’s been off the booze. I punch him hard on the shoulder, as is our traditional greeting.

“Julian’s of Midfield,” he repeats. “Jaysus, you’re right Butler. It’s uncanny. The ceiling is a bit lower here, of course…”

“The ceiling in an aircraft hangar would be a bit lower than Julian’s.”

“True, true…” he concedes.

He orders a couple of pints of Guinness and we sit down. I notice a bruise on his right eye and ask him about it. “Ah, it’s nothing” he says. “Walked into a wall at home. You know yourself.”

Can’t say that I do, but I let it slide. “So what’s going on?” I ask him. “I thought Linda had you sworn off the beer?”

Aidan’s girlfriend Linda has a fearsome reputation. With both down to a three day working week and struggling to pay a mortgage, I can’t imagine he’d risk incurring her wrath.

“Hadn’t as much as a sniff of a pint in six weeks,” he spits. “Then I find a receipt in her purse. Forty seven euro she was after spending on lipstick and make up.”

He shakes his head.

“Forty seven euro!”

“What’d you do?”

“Well, I confronted her. I said, what’s the story, like? How come I can’t have a pint after work but you can spend the guts of fifty quid on make up?”

“What did she say?”

This’ll be good.

“She says, But sure, Aidan, I only buy that make up so I can look good for you. I says, Darlin’, you don’t have to do that… She goes, why’s that pet? I says, cos that’s what the booze is for!”


“I was joking, like.”

“She see the funny side?”

“Eventually,” he replies. “Eventually.”

We both sip from our drinks.

“So you walked into a wall, did you?”

“In a manner of speaking” he sighs.