POLITICAL COMEBACK KID EAMON SCANLON TD SAYS HE’LL GO AGAIN
BALLYMOTE BASED TD EAMON SCANLON TALKS TO EDITOR
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