Synopses & Reviews
Every year, na prepares for her father to leave her. He will wave goodbye early one morning, then disappear with seven other men to traverse the Irish countryside. Together, these men form The Butchers, a group that roams from farm to farm, enacting ancient methods of cattle slaughter.
In The Butchers' Blessing, Ruth Gilligan offers a simmering glimpse into the modern tensions that surround these eight fabled men. For na, being a Butcher's daughter means a life of tangled ambition and incredible loneliness. For her mother Gr , it's a life of faith and longing, of performing a promise that she may or may not be able to keep. For non-believer Fionn, The Butchers represent a dated and complicated reality, though for his son Davey, they represent an entirely new world--and potentially new love. For photographer Ronan, The Butchers are ideal subjects: representatives of an older, more folkloric Ireland whose survival is now being tested. As he moves through the countryside, Ronan captures this world image by image--a lake, a cottage, and his most striking photo: a single butcher, hung upside-down in a pose of unspeakable violence.
As the story moves between the events of 1996 and the present, Gilligan's characters slowly reveal the mystery behind that picture and move ever-closer towards a chilling, irrevocable truth.