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The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (McNulty Family)

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  851 ratings  ·  111 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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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Blair Lee
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
Clare Hudson
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
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
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
I am currently reading this book, and it is feeding my need to connect to my Irish background.
Keith Currie
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
"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
Ron Charles
The war in Iraq has inspired a catalog of books, but so far the best are nonfiction. (Seymour Hersh's detractors may disagree.) Fictional treatments of the battles in Baghdad and Fallujah will eventually inform attitudes about the Iraq war even more powerfully than today's news reports and histories, but those tales may not appear soon. In the meantime, we're already seeing a season of stirring novels about life as a soldier.

If there were any lingering doubts, war is hell, and these novels use t
I really enjoyed The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry and the small mentions of Eneas McNulty within that story had me intregued. When I found out that there was a book about Eneas I was quite excited to read it. Unfortunately I found The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty didn’t meet up to my expectations. It didn’t have half the draw of The Secret Scripture and even the parts that I did find interesting were far too brief. There were enough interesting bits to keep me going right to the end of th ...more
This is a re-read. I first received and read this book about 8 years ago when I was living in Ireland. I remember loving it, but also absolutely devouring it under a week (Christmas vacation).

Reading it now, I realized what I'd missed (or perhaps why I enjoyed it so much): Barry writes amazing prose. On the copy I have, Irish novelist Roddy Doyle blurbs "it was like reading English for the first time." Frank McCourt blurbs "Barry writes like an angel." I agree with both of these assessments. Any
1998 prequel to A Secret Scripture, beautifully written story of Eneas McNulty, Roseanne's secret lover and the eldest McNulty brother in Sligo. As a young man returning from WWI he takes a job with the Royal Irish Constabulary which turns out to be a permanent death sentence. He must spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder for the assassins, searching for a home and place where he can fit in, a hated person forever. He notices a ship of Jews, other hated people with no one to welco ...more
Cheryl Brown
This book was alternatively difficult to read because of the sadness and a joy to read for the language.

It's a horrific tale of honour, loyalty to a cause that has both worth and dishonour and the wanderings of the world 's misplaced people. It's also a tale of love and friendship and enduring goodness.

In the end I felt sad for all the victims of war, politics and loneliness but buoyed by the human ability to be resilient and to love .
Jeremy Bailey
My first book by the author, I very much enjoyed his prose - it was precise but also evocative of an Ireland I only know from movies. Through no fault of his own, poor Eneas finds himself on the wrong end of a death sentence purely by accident and is ostracized from his beloved and native homeland. Furthermore he lives his life under the threat of assassination by his closest childhood friend who is now a player in the Irish nationalist movement. On the surface it is about the confusion caused b ...more
Barry is a playwright and poet, as well as a fiction writer. This novel tells the tale of a wandering Sligo man, born at the start of the 20th century, who gets on an Irish nationalist death list for a brief, unfortunate and innocuous turn with the Royal Irish Constabulary in the starving years following the First World War. As a result, he spends his long life wandering Europe and Africa with only a couple widely scattered trips home; but he still finds his final days plagued by the fanatical z ...more
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.
I find the style of this author to be very lyrical and moving. I think this is the first one in the series that focuses on different members of the McNulty family in Sligo, Eire. The first name of the main character in this book reflects the tradition of "hedgerow schools' where poor children were taught by itinerant teachers and the author chooses this name as he character sometimes reflects on being named after Homer's Aeneas who was destined like him to roam the world. I think I see echoes of ...more
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  • Amongst Women
  • Reading in the Dark
  • Everything in This Country Must
  • The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
  • The Year of the French
  • Strumpet City
  • House of Splendid Isolation
  • Solace
  • The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life
  • Fools of Fortune
  • The South
  • Breakfast on Pluto
  • Seek the Fair Land
  • Ghost Light
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
  • Borstal Boy
  • The Journey Home
  • Collected Stories
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
The Secret Scripture A Long Long Way On Canaan's Side Annie Dunne (Dunne Family #2) The Temporary Gentleman

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