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The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty

(McNulty Family)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,048 ratings  ·  259 reviews
These days, Frank McCourt would seem to have cornered the market on lyrical depictions of Celtic poverty. But never fear, Sebastian Barry--the brilliant Irish playwright, poet, and prose-wrangler--is here. His new novel, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty recounts the odyssey of a small-town innocent, who grows up in circumstances more bucolic, but no less threadbare, than M ...more
ebook, 340 pages
Published November 25th 2010 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 1998)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,048 ratings  ·  259 reviews


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Violet wells
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect I would have been more impressed with this if it were the first of Barry's novels I read. However, I've become well acquainted with his storytelling formulas and more critical. Firstly, I think he overdoes the lyricism in this novel, what I called in a review of another of his books, his grandiose biblical prose style. Secondly, his tendency to sentimentalise unlikely relationships is very much to the fore here. Thirdly, his central character, not for the first time, allows himself all ...more
Sara
Sebastian Barry is a conjurer, and he conjures up Ireland, the chaos of the Irish question and the impossibility of living an unpolitical life while suspended between the English and the IRA. Into this maelstrom he tosses Eneas McNulty, a quiet man who would like to live a simple life in Sligo, but who finds himself under the sentence of death by the rebel faction. Eneas lives his life in the shadow of this sentence, haunted by his memories and by nostalgic ties to a place he is barred from fore ...more
·Karen·
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.
Aye.

...more
Julie
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
...more
Teresa
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 by 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 complexity
...more
Dem
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
...more
Howard
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Howard by: Teresa
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelations, Ch. 20, v. 15, quoted in The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty

So, having a bad day, are you? Well, let me tell you about Eneas McNulty. By my calculation, he had about fifty years of bad days, some worse than others, but only a very, very few that could be placed in the “good” category.

And it wasn’t his fault.

He was an innocent, compassionate, and morally upright man who through no fault of his ow
...more
Gearóid
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Kathy
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reader is drawn into the unique thinking of Eneas McNulty with great sympathy throughout this tale of his life in Sligo and his life away from its menacing threat. It is something of a torturous read but rewarding emotionally. To preserve his life, Eneas is drawn far and wide and ends up having a far more varied and accomplished life than the Sligo men who threaten him.
Ned
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This author is fast becoming one of my favorites. This is known when I finish a book and immediately start looking for his others. Likely I will consume his repertoire, starting at the beginning. This is the second I’ve read (after The Secret Scripture), both volumes bought at DuBray books on Graffton street in Dublin. I travel there every year or two for work and have fallen in love with the city, the people, Ireland and the whole experience. It is a city of authors, if you’ve never been, and a ...more
Elizabeth
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
...more
Molly
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
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
Tiffany
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Angus McKeogh
Solid boredom. Took about 125 pages to get started and then proceeded to meander here and there and never really got anywhere. It was well-written and extremely uninteresting. Teetering between one and two stars.
Eric
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our author, Sebastian Barry, was born in Dublin, Ireland and now lives in Glasgow. His education was at Trinity College Dublin so he is, without doubt, a writer of Irish acclaim. Also of interest is that he is a poet in addition to being accomplished in prose. Even before I knew that I had decided that I would call his writing "poetic prose". Very beautiful to read. Our story is not outstanding but I found Eneas to be an interesting guy to follow through his life from his teenage years through h ...more
Kinga
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"It's the tobacco, the opium of returning home"
Beautifully written story of Eneas McNulty and his longing for home. Through choices he made, perhaps slightly unwise at times, Eneas finds himself exiled from Sligo, from Ireland. Eneas just wants to go home, wants to sit in a house in Sligo with wife, but instead finds himself forbidden from returning under the pain of death.
...more
Woo Morris
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow
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
Jennifer
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
...more
Carolyn
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
L.M. Brown
I can't rate this as its the second time I've started the book and found it hard to go once Eneas leaves Ireland. Before I picked this up again, I'd re-read The Secret Scripture and I loved the writing there. It was beautiful with such lovely phrases and emotion. The first time I read TSS, I thought the ending was hard to believe and it took from the story, but this time it was the writing that got me and I forgave the contrived ending. But here I feel there is a lot of beautiful writing without ...more
Kathy
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-literature
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
Jane
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Help. I'm drowning in over-lyrical Oirish prose here. Not only that, the plot is stuck in first gear and we've got to make it from Sligo to England to France to Nigeria and back to London. If you can take the excruciating pace, the frequent purple passages and the feckless fecker of a hero, right so. Congratulations on your perseverance with this bog of a book. ...more
Andrew Oldham
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sebastian Barry has become one of my favourite authors. He draws you into the life of the lead character of this book subtly and cleverly. The plot twists and turns unexpectedly. It’s a page turner right up to the very last page.
Ron Charles
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Megan
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Jones
While Barry has a beautiful lyrical style, this early novel does not quite live up to his later works. Eneas McMulty is a lost and wondering soul (Aeneas, get it?). He lives life without purpose or connection, except to his beloved hometown of Sligo. However, he cannot live there since he is under threat of death by Republicans for working in the British-controlled police force before independence. So instead, he wonders the world and finally finds another lost soul, a man from Nigeria, and this ...more
Marianne
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

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 (McNulty Family)
  • The Secret Scripture (McNulty Family)
  • The Temporary Gentleman (McNulty Family)

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