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The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (McNulty Family)

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  981 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "the finest book to come out of Europe this year," The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is acclaimed Irish playwright Sebastian Barry's lyrical tale of a fugitive everyman. For Eneas McNulty, a happy, innocent childhood in County Sligo in the early 1900s gives way to an Ireland wracked by violence and conflict. Unable to find work in th ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1998)
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Jun 05, 2016 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
Sure and it's the voice that does it here, takes you by the hand and worrits you away to lands beyond the sea and a life lived headless and heedless of consequences. That Eneas fellah, he's a great chap, you know, a grand lad, but you cannae deny, if his brains were dynamite he wouldnae be able to blow his own hat off. What's he doing taking a job with the feckin' Royal Irish Constabulary? Would you not know that that was bound to end badly? Sure enough. Sure enough.

Feb 18, 2015 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book that seems as if it could only be about an Irishman, a man from a divided area who through no fault of his own is put on a 'side', yet the particulars of time and place are transcended with universal themes: the call of home and family, true friendship, loneliness (the raw, pure, hurting kind), and one's place in the world and beyond the world.

Paradoxically, seeing Irish history through the eyes of this naive, confused, apolitical man helped me understand its complexit
Jan 18, 2015 Gearóid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book in lots of different ways.
I think I have read most of Sebastian Barry's books
and liked them all.
His prose is really almost poetic at times.
I found myself re-reading a lot of sentences as they
were so beautifully put together.
Also his characters talk in the accent or voice of the
people of Sligo in the West of Ireland which is nearly
musical at times.
The historical times the story is set in is during the
Easter Rising,The Irish Civil War and the First World
War.The author real
Jan 20, 2013 Dem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The whereabouts of Eneas McNulty by Sebastian Barry is the fourth book by Sebastian Barry that I have read.

Following the end of the First World War, Eneas McNulty joins the British-led Royal Irish Constabulary. With all those around him becoming soldiers of a different kind, it proves to be the defining decision of his life when having witnessed the further of a fellow RIC Policeman he is wrongly accused of identifying the executioners. With a sentence of death passed over him he is forced to fl
I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as The Secret Scripture, and I'm glad I read that first because if I'd read this first I wouldn't have bothered with the other. However, I think this is a writer who is gaining in mastery and elegance with successive books, rather than churning them out for the sake of word count.

I won't recount the plot here, but I will comment that part of the reason I wanted to read this was to get a different view of Roseanne Clear, the main character in The Secret Scriptur
Feb 03, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barry, Sebastian. THE WHEREABOUTS OF ENEAS MCNULTY. (1998). ****. This was Barry’s second novel, and, of course, I’ve been reading them all out of order. There is a constant and recurring theme that has run throughout all of them, though, that makes you believe that Barry is realy writing a theme and variation on the same book many times. This novel focuses on Eneas McNulty, a man from Sligo, who grows up poor. His mom and dad both work at the insane asylum, sewing clothes for the inmates, but h ...more
Sep 28, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it
Writing from the perspective of Eneas, beginning in his young childhood, Barry uses third person narrative, the present tense, and free indirect discourse to trace the life and development of this puzzled young man in Sligo, Ireland, beginning at about the start of the last century. Barry’s fine ear for the music and lilt of Sligo dialect waft the reader into the ambiance of western Ireland before and during World War I, conjuring the personalities and social customs of the times while also inca ...more
Jan 13, 2010 Molly rated it it was amazing
Cast off from his beloved Irish town for "unpatriotic" deeds that were never cast in any such light for him, Eneas McNulty embarks on a life both stunningly eventful and surprisingly not. The heartbreaking accidents of what happens to him and how he gets by and what happens when he does venture home to see his beloved Mam and Pap sent me hurtling through the book, staying up much later than I should have at night. But it's the language, my God, that took it over the edge. Sebastian Barry can WRI ...more
Sep 04, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty by Sebastian Barry begins with a brief rundown of Eneas' childhood in County Sligo. Contentedly alone with his parents until age ten, Eneas' world changes unexpectedly when three younger siblings are born one right after the other. Having lost the attention of his parents as an only child and having lost his best and only friend to the underbelly of Irish society, Eneas decides to run away from his loneliness by going to war, and ends up signing on with the Briti ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Kari rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story. It follows the life of one man, born in the early 1900s in a small coastal Irish town. He lives through war and isolation, constant fear and loneliness. I guess in my reviews I don't like to give any spoilers, so I'll just tell you how this book made me feel as I read it. It isn't an easy read -- not something you would breeze through lightly, but rather is one of those poetical prose books that cause you to stop and reread a sentence here and there, soaking in the subtlet ...more
Diane Yannick
Oct 06, 2012 Diane Yannick rated it really liked it
I didn't know much about the postwar politics in Ireland before I read this book. After WWI, Ireland had two very separate factions: those who were still fighting for Britain (Royal Irish Constabulary) and those who are intent on winning their freedom after 800 years of English oppression (IRA). After Eneas' service to the RIC, he has a death sentence levied on his head. For the rest of his life he deals with the aftermath of this decision. His childhood friend, Jonno, is one of the IRA enforcer ...more
Mar 21, 2012 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
It is easy to get lost in the beauty of the language. I found myself having to re-read paragraphs because I'd forgotten to pay attention to the plot, which is fairly simple but you do have to pay attention.

Sentences like:
Moonlight brings Nigeria closer to Ireland.
The atomic bomb brings the men home from every quarter of the earth because the war is not so much over as stunned back into history...

Every few pages I found myself interrupting my roommate to read a few sentences that were so lov
Sep 17, 2012 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is the sixth novel by Irish author Sebastian Barry and involves several characters of Barry’s later novel, The Secret Scripture, and his play, Our Lady of Sligo. Eneas McNulty is born in Sligo at the turn of the century, a gentle soul, naïve, guileless, who finds himself, not, as he had always believed, popular with lots of friends, but instead shunned, an outcast in his own town, his own country. At sixteen he joins the British Merchant Navy for the cause of Fra ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
This is a very enjoyable read not just because of the storyline and a well developed main character, but also because Sebastian Barry has such a beautiful lyrical prose style.

Eneas McNulty was born in 1900 in Sligo in the west of Ireland into an average working class home. As a young man, he didn't get involved with the revolutionaries but chose instead, in order to earn a living, to join the police. That began a chain of events which forced him out of his country and affected the rest of his l
I took this novel away with me because, after reading The Secret Scripture and A Long, Long Way I thought I couldn't go wrong with Sebastian Barry as my companion. Well, I hope I haven't read the best of him, because this one was disappointing. It was beautifully written, as are all Barry's works so far for me, but I just felt this one was a little less interesting and the style was a bit more viscous than his others.
The wanderings of Eneas were a little too meandering, and though I didn't real
Joan Colby
Sep 18, 2015 Joan Colby rated it it was amazing
. Beautifully written tale of the life of Sligoman Eneas McNulty. Eneas runs afoul of the IRA, led by a friend of his youth, Jonno Lynch. Refusing to murder a member of the Tans and having joined the police force, Eneas earns a black-list death sentence and has to flee his home and his beloved Viv as well as his siblings and Mam and Pappy. He becomes a sailor, joins the French army briefly in WWI, later in WWII is captured by a Frenchman who he then helps run his vineyard.Rescused as a Dunkirk s ...more
Apr 22, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
This was difficult for me due to my lack of knowledge about Irish history. Sebastian Barry writes poetically and the prose is lyrical and lovely but there were times I had to interrupt that beauty to google more info about Ireland and the IRA. The novel begins with descriptions of an almost idyllic childhood at the turn of the century. Eneas and his family are not wealthy but they are mostly happy. We are also introduced to the almost mythic Jonno Lynch, a slightly older boy who is a bit of a ne ...more
Russell George
Nov 23, 2015 Russell George rated it really liked it
This had been sat on my bookshelves for at least 18 months, picked up in a second hand bookshop somewhere, and looking generally tattered and uninviting. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but subconsciously I definitely had with this; I’m very pleased to say that I was very wrong.

But the thing was, at almost half through I didn’t want it to end, and yet by the end I felt it was overly long. Strange. He’s a very poetic author, though not in the sense of being concise or efficient with voc
May 30, 2016 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-read
I really enjoyed the story of the character, Eneas McNulty, sad as it was on the whole but unfortunately I wasn't very keen on the language in which it was told - the author seemed to be making an effort to be over-descriptive with his language and how Eneas was feeling which sadly affected my enjoyment of the book. In my opinion, not as good as others of his that I have read - 6/10.
Blair Lee
Feb 09, 2015 Blair Lee rated it liked it
I did not love this book. It reminded me of a book English professors assign in English 101. Too often I felt as if the author was more interested in creating a flower from words than in telling his story. A couple of times I actually counted how many pages I had left. The story itself is quite good. I wish someone had said to the author, “Not every sentence in the book has to be an artful expression designed to impress readers with how erudite you are.” I even reread passages to make sure I was ...more
Apr 22, 2014 Janet rated it really liked it
The lilting prose of Barry is gorgeous; the story is a sad, Irish story, filled with the IRA, World Wars and old vengeful friends like Jonno Lynch, and good friends like Port Harcourt. The life-long story of Eneus does not end with the founding of Rome or a new city; it just ends.
Clare Hudson
Jul 31, 2014 Clare Hudson rated it did not like it
Having recently read 2 other novels by SB – On Cannan’s Side and Secret Scriptures (the second of which I thoroughly enjoyed), I was so looking forward to reading this as it picked up on one of the characters in the Secret Scriptures. This was way off the delights of the previous 2 books. Struggled/persevered through the first third of the book and then gave in. There’s far too many other books to be read – haven’t got time to read something just for the sake of seeing it through to the end. So ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Gillian rated it it was amazing
I found this novel so moving and beautifully written, I will be unable to get into another book just yet. This is the fourth Sebastian Barry novel I've read; it is linked to 'Secret Scripture' which might've made more sense to me had I read in sequence. However, I've grown used and come to love the author's genius and poetic prose.
Despite being unsure how to pronounce Eneas, I became very attached to him and his life story is so very sad and its ending tragically so. The other main character of
Apr 01, 2012 Elinor rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
I didn't enjoy this as much as The Secret Scripture and found the story lacking at times; however, this is some of the best writing I have ever read - Sebastian Barry's language is absolutely stunning!
Katherine Wade-easley
Aug 02, 2014 Katherine Wade-easley rated it it was ok
I would love to give this book a higher rating based on some of the prose. The writing can be lovely, with moments of description that are well done - but the entire book is bogged down in the author's desire to be poetic. The story is lost in all "those words" as it becomes more about long drawn out paragraphs and no motion to the story and then a sudden burst forward - then back to long, never ending sentences.... A fan of this period in history or of this place may look past all of that, enjo ...more
Sep 27, 2011 MaryBeth rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading this book, and it is feeding my need to connect to my Irish background.
Keith Currie
Jun 05, 2015 Keith Currie rated it really liked it
The first of Barry’s novels about the McNulty family of Sligo drawing from his own family history, this is a richly written, gripping tale of the cost of exile and loss for the individual of home and loved ones.

The novel covers Eneas’ lifetime, born in 1900 died in 1970, from the first flickerings of Irish nationalism to the rebirth of violent action in the 1970s. Eneas is an apolitical innocent, attracted to enlist in the British army in 1916 from a vague desire to help save France from the Ge
Feb 07, 2016 Trina rated it really liked it
Well done all told. Fine writing and deft portrayals, but 'tis a sad story, and the long slow (loving) build-up doesn't help. Once you get into the heart of the story - and the ruination of one man's life takes over - it's hard not to feel the pain & sorrow poor Eneas McNulty suffers in his forced exile from Ireland where he had the misfortune to fall afoul of the Irish cause. This takes place in the first heady days of independence, but the Troubles soon overtake even the gentlest, most ord ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Mariele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this about two years ago, and found myself not remembering a thing about it - which usually means I didn't like it much and never bothered to get into it enough to see through its storyline or characters.
I decided to re-read it as a companion book for "The Secret Scripture", as I heard it somewhere that the two books' main characters' lives briefly but significantly intertwine. When you read the books in direct succession, you find out about the same moment in time, narrated from two dif
Jan 13, 2012 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"He ate a feed of sheep's brains the once, and as he ate he knew sorrowfully that his father's brain and his own brain were such as he toyed with on his fork. He never ate such a sorrowful meal before nor since" (20).
"You can sense the press of men behind them, the truer flood of men, held in just as yet by the ramparts of the wishes of their wives" (20-21).
"'You dog,' he says, 'you low dog on all fours, you poor fighting pup with your tail bitten off by a tinker at birth.'
This is an obscure ins
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Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writers

Barry's literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels. In recent years his fiction writing has surpassed his work in the theatre in terms of success, having once been considered a playwright who wrote occasional nove
More about Sebastian Barry...

Other Books in the Series

McNulty Family (4 books)
  • The Only True History of Lizzie Finn/the Steward of Christendom/White Woman Street: Three Plays (Methuen Modern Plays)
  • The Secret Scripture
  • The Temporary Gentleman

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