The Sligo Champion - - FRONT PAGE -

county coun­cil level, I missed out by just 9 votes. It’s been a close call so many times. If it wasn’t I’d have been out of this game a long time ago,” he says.

So, although not all of his po­lit­i­cal races have been suc­cess­ful, he is some­thing of a come­back kid. When he falls, he dusts him­self down and gets back up again. This can do at­ti­tude has stood to him through­out his busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

From an early age the world of work beck­oned. The el­dest of six chil­dren, Ea­mon who left school with­out qual­i­fi­ca­tions at 15, was mak­ing money from the age of 10.

“My­self and a friend used to herd cat­tle for cat­tle deal­ers. We would walk them from Ballymote to fairs in Tub­ber­curry or River­stown and back again. We could do a 30 mile round trip in a day,” he re­calls.

He then started work­ing for Myles Sheerin Butch­ers in Ballymote af­ter school and at week­ends gain­ing valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for the fu­ture when he would open up his own butcher shop in the town.

Ea­mon did a short spell as a porter in what was Ryan’s Ho­tel in Rosses Point. He was on duty when the es­tab­lish­ment first opened. He also cov­ered hol­i­day work in the parcels of­fice at Sligo Rail­way Sta­tion where his father, Matt, worked. When school restarted he found he ‘ could not set­tle.’

“I an­swered a job ad­vert in The Sligo Cham­pion for a trainee butcher in Tom Fox Butcher’s in Bridge Street, Sligo,” he says.

For­tu­nately he got the gig. As public trans­port was lim­ited and cars scarce, Ea­mon got a lift into Sligo every morn­ing with a neigh­bour at 7.30am.

The early start en­cour­aged him to at­tend daily mass - twice. “There was mass at 8am in the Cathe­dral and an­other ser­vice at 8.30am in the Fri­ary. I would go to both, es­pe­cially in the winter with the sole pur­pose of keep­ing warm,” he jokes.

Once he turned 16 he ad­vanced to a Honda 50: “I re­mem­ber one morn­ing coming to work and hav­ing no money for petrol. I free wheeled down to get to work and had to push the bike up Pearse road for a shilling of petrol after­wards. It was the one time in my life I had no money but I have never been broke since.”

The father- of- six ad­mits how­ever that he ‘ has been hov­er­ing on the brink’ at times par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the 80’ s and early 90’ s.

“I didn’t in­herit any­thing. I had to turn to the banks to get loans to build up my busi­nesses. At one stage I was deal­ing with six banks at the same time. Times were tough, but I al­ways knew I had ac­cu­mu­lated as­sets that in an emer­gency I could sell if I had to. I am care­ful with money and I would never splurge,” he says.

He did splash out to in­vest in his first busi­ness how­ever with good friend Gerry Ir­win. The pair bought a buthcers busi­ness in Ballymote in 1974. Scan­lon Ir­win meats was born.

“It went very well,” says Ea­mon, “A year later we bought our own premises where my par­lia­men­tary of­fice and auc­tion­eers busi­ness still is to­day. When we bought it for € 4, 250 there was no sewage, no run­ning water and a big tree was grow­ing up the mid­dle of the build­ing!”

Over time the part­ners brought the build­ing up to spec and even kit­ted out the top floor as two apart­ments which they shared with their new wives.

Ea­mon mar­ried Anne in 1976 in Rans­boro church fol­lowed by a re­cep­tion in the

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