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The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (McNulty Family)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,319 Ratings  ·  167 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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Maureen Farrimond Yes. Their encounter with each other was similar but she is described slightly differently from how she was in the Secret Scripture

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Mar 25, 2011 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 02, 2009 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
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can think of no better review for this book than Bruce Springsteen's Something In The Night for it is, truly, Eneas McNulty's life, from beginning to end.
You're born with nothing,
and better off that way,
Soon as you've got something they send
someone to try and take it away,
You can ride this road 'till dawn,
without another human being in sight,
Just kids wasted on
something in the night.

Nothing is forgotten or forgiven,
when it's your last time around,
I got stuff running 'round my he
Dec 31, 2014 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
Dec 18, 2012 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
Jan 05, 2010 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
Katherine Wade-easley
Jul 05, 2014 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
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I usually pull some favorite quotes from a book as I go along, which is what I had been doing for this one, too. But then I got to the chapter at Dunkirk. And the first two sections of that chapter are amazing, line after line after line. Those first 4 or 5 pages of Chapter 10 are some of the best writing around.
Feb 03, 2010 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 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
Blair Lee
Feb 09, 2015 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
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
Carolyn Mck
After I recently read Barry's impressive Days Without End, I tracked down this earlier work about the McNulty family. Barry has mined a rich vein of his Irish family history through plays and novels about two families - the McNultys and the Dunnes. This novel was written about the time the Northern Ireland peace accords were signed but it demonstrates the enduring hatreds that ran through Irish history in the 20th century. Eneas McNulty has a death sentence passed upon him by the IRA because of ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars. It pains me to say this about a novel by Sebastian Barry, as he has become one of my "go to" authors over the years. But with this book, I found myself skimming through all the pages and pages of descriptive writing. So much inner turmoil, and so much detailed prose on the sights, sounds, and memories of Eneas McNulty. If words were molasses, then this would be molasses in January. I often skipped ahead to where there was dialogue, and that was enough to tell me the story. What I can ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just adore Sebastian Barry’s writing. I hear the Irish accent and I’m hooked. Sigh.
Ron Charles
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2014 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
Sep 15, 2012 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
Diane Yannick
Oct 06, 2012 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 17, 2012 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
May 03, 2014 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
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: irish
A tough read for me. First of all, I missed the significance of the name Eneas. Then, of course, he undertook the odyssey of his life as he continually left Ireland to escape the vendetta of the blacklist he innocently was placed on, coming back in the hope that all is forgotten or forgiven, finding out that no one ever gets expunged from the list except by death, leaving again, etc.

He gets into interesting adventures, but he always hopes that he can come back. Of course, even in the best of cir
Dec 31, 2012 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
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great read although it took me about 60 pages to get into it. (I'd give it 3.5 if Goodreads enabled that.) There are passages where Barry's abilities as a wordsmith are as good as anyone's. There are also passages that are so gripping with tension, it would take several big bullies to wrest the book away. Somehow Barry manages to weave a keen sense of humor into a pretty bleak story. It is also a thoughtful book about political independence movements and some rarely considered collateral damag ...more
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dnf
Barry really understands his native country; this book reads like a dirge. It is heartbreaking to watch what happens to poor Eneas , who never gets a break. He just wants a quiet life with Mam and Pappy and Viv, but he is never able to enjoy that. He yearns to go back to the madhouse, "He is mortally exhausted sometimes by being this Eneas McNulty." As his friend tells him, "We are not masters of this life." I think it's a true reflection on the life of so many Irish in those times.
Oct 21, 2014 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.
Dec 11, 2011 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!
Apr 22, 2014 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.
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading this book, and it is feeding my need to connect to my Irish background.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • House of Splendid Isolation
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • Seek the Fair Land
  • Strumpet City
  • Fools of Fortune
  • Breakfast on Pluto
  • Reading in the Dark
  • The Year of the French
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
  • The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
  • Long Time, No See
  • Everything in This Country Must
  • Solace
  • The Heather Blazing
  • The Journey Home
  • Walk the Blue Fields: Stories
  • Ghost Light
  • The Spinning Heart
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
“A Ford motorcar is a magical thing in the night with the spraying lamps against the pitch road and the smell of metal and perfume under the clothy roof.” 1 likes
“and the force of public opinion, tiny though the public here may be, is a thing so violent violence is not needed to carry it.” 0 likes
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