Brian O'Sullivan's 'Butcher a Hog': Kerry-Born Author's Full Disclosure

The following is a transcript of the LIVE community chat hosted here at on Monday, August 12, 2013 with author, Brian O'Sullivan (left).  Some editing has been applied for clarity.


The Wild Geese: Céad Míle Fáilte, a chairde! So glad to see each one of you who have stopped by for this evening’s LIVE community chat with author, Brian O’Sullivan. Brian has just seen his first book published -- “Butcher a Hog” -- and it’s creating quite a buzz in Irish literature circles. My name is Ryan O'Rourke, and I'll be moderating this evening's chat.  We’ll now turn it over for the next 40-45 minutes to Brian who is coming to us live from New York City. Welcome, Brian!

Brian O'Sullivan: Thanks Ryan

Caroline Doherty de Novoa: Brian, congratulations on the book, how did it feel when you pressed publish and sent your book out into the world?

Brian O'Sullivan: Great. I started typing with one finger and within two years I had a book in print.

Vivian Pelkaus: Were you concerned about the blunt honesty of the content?

Brian O'Sullivan: No, at this point I'm immune to it. It's an authentic story of my life.

Caroline Doherty de Novoa: Why did you chose to write your story as a novel?

Brian O'Sullivan: I've done a lot therapy over the years as well, so having come to terms with everything its just an honest story about cause and effect. My intention was not to hurt anyone's feelings or be in any way acrimonious, plus I wanted to protect certain people's identities -- also, as well, I left a lot of stuff out of the book and switched a few dates around. So I just figured ... novel. Cahir O'Doherty's editorial sort of blew that one back at me. But it's the truth, Caroline.

Rose Maurer: As a psychologist, I can really identify with the dynamics which directed your life, Brian.

Brian O'Sullivan: Thank you, Rose.

Gerry Regan: Brian, Kerry seems so far removed from big city drug problems. Did you ever imagine you'd get caught up in that scene?

Brian O'Sullivan: Not as far removed as you might think, Gerry. Yes, in the sense of geography, but believe me there's plenty of drugs being peddled in rural Ireland ...

Vivian Pelkaus: Is alcohol not a drug?

Brian O'Sullivan: Yes, alcohol is a drug.

Rose Maurer: Have you been able to read your own book in it's published form, Brian?

Brian O'Sullivan: No, Rose. Once I wrote it, it wasn't mine anymore. Now it belongs to the eye of the beholder.

Rose Maurer: That is a very brave thing to do, Brian - congratulations.

Jim Curley: The generations that came to America earlier described those who came in the eighties as "angry." Can you sort out your personal anger from your anger say as being part of a highly educated generation who couldn't find a job in their own country?

Brian O'Sullivan: I think to a certain extent there was anger. But in my experience we were all young kids having wild adventures. America was a challenge, and a lot of people who had jobs back there in Ireland even came to America. The one thing that did really annoy me was that a certain politician who was second in command, went on national TV and said if the young people cant get jobs, then they should emigrate.

Gerry Regan: Not exactly Dev's vision for 'dancing at the crossroads.'

Brian O'Sullivan: You got that right, Gerry.

Kelly O'Rourke: Any ideas on how to stop the continuing flow of emigration?

Brian O'Sullivan: I think at the minute the government back there (in Ireland) is encouraging emigration to keep the jobless numbers down, and their poll ratings high. This last reccession really hit them hard. It's going to be a struggle there for quite some time IMO. Plus, I think the anger issue relates more to recent emigrants as opposed to the ones in the eighties.

Caroline Doherty de Novoa: Did you long all your life to be a writer, or did it turn out that way because you had a story to tell?

Brian O'Sullivan: I never had an inkling. I left school when I was 15 and emigrated when I was 16 to a life of what I thought was going to be construction. It was the sheer pain inside me that forced me to sit down and write it.

Rose Maurer: With the wisdom of hindsight, Brian, are some of your experiences ones which you believe now, to have formed your character?

Brian O'Sullivan: Absolutely, Rose. I came here not knowing full of shame and not knowing my arse from my elbow, and three years ago wrote the book ... which is telling to say the least.

Eileen Neilan-Snee: I loved your honesty! I believe your book will help others.

Brian O'Sullivan: Thank you Eileen, and yes hopefully it will get some poor lost soul thinking a bit.

Jim Curley: What were the major differences between Boston and New York, except obviously for size, in their effect on the protagonist of your novel?

Brian O'Sullivan: Same difference really, Jim; insanity plus insanity. The way in which I abruptly left Boston took me a long time to come to terms with though.

Ryan O'Rourke: You do plaster work as your "day job," correct, Brian? What do the guys you work with on the building sites think about your recent excursion into the realm of literature?

Brian O'Sullivan: Well I don't know whats said behind my back, but on a personal level I've gotten a lot of support. The humor outweighs a lot.

Ryan O'Rourke: Yeah, glad to hear that, Brian. It shows your versatility.

Rose Maurer: I know that many of Brian's experiences and emotions will greatly assist people with similar lives, or partly so. I can almost sense your emotional pain, Brain - did you gain relief from expressing it on paper?

Brian O'Sullivan: Absolutely, Rose. I felt more alive and depression free than I had in my entire life writing it. Being an introvert and socially phobic; finding away to express things was a high better than any drug I've ever taken.

Kelly O'Rourke: How has your family reacted to the book?

Brian O'Sullivan: We'll see next week. IIts going to be on front page of Kerry's Eye. Personally I think all hell will break loose.

Rose Maurer: On a lighter note, Brian, it appears that County Kerry would be best avoided by you next week! :-)

Brian O'Sulllivan: Put it this way rose ... I wont be answering a few calls for a month or so.

Eileen Neilan-Snee: I'm delighted you will be in Kerry's Eye.

Brian O'Sullivan: Thanks, Eilleen. The Huffington Post is also doing an article this week.

Eileen Neilan-Snee: OMG that s terrific! We need to get Jim Sheridan to do a movie! No fake Kerry accents please!

Brian O'Sullivan: Gerard Hurley, Eileen ... or Jim Carrey if he can swing it.

Valerie Lapin Ganley: Congratulations on your accomplishments! It sounds like the writing process was a form of therapy for you. I know a lot goes into getting well. The Irish Central piece suggests that writing was the thing that worked best for you. Or was it an accumulation of various approaches?

Brian O'Sullivan: The minute I started, I knew it was my calling in life. The stuff just flowed out, Valerie. Thank you.

Valerie Lapin Ganley: Then is there a sequel in ya?

Brian O'Sullivan: Yes, Valerie. I am half way through one, and I have another couple of thins playing around in my head.

Kelly O'Rourke: So, is your immigration status sorted now? I'm not with ICE or anything ...

Brian O'Sullivan: Yes, Kelly ... this past November I was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.

Kelly O'Rourke: Congrats!

Brian Sullivan: Thanks, Kelly.

Rose Maurer: You're legal! :-)

Brian O'Sullivan: Yes, Rose. Although I got the green card when I was married in 1992.

Jim Curley: If writing the book provided great personal therapy, I'm curious whether you felt you moved the book towards its conclusion, or if perhaps you were swept along by the tale to an ending that might have surprised even you.

Brian O'Sullivan: I knew the second I started typing Jim that I would complete the book

Valerie Lapin Ganley: Your life sounds like a Black 47 song  ... Living in America. ;-)

Brian O'Sullivan: That's for sure, Valerie; and I spent a good bit of time on both Fordham and Kingsbridge roads.

Brian O'Sullivan: Have I missed any question?

The Wild Geese: I think you've hit them all, Brian! With that, my fellow Wild Geese, we'll draw this evening's community chat to a close. It's been a superb discussion with Brian and with each one present this evening.

The Wild Geese: We’ll announce the five winners of the books as soon as we’ve completed the drawing. In the meantime, you can read the first two chapters of “Butcher a Hog” HERE.

Kelly O'Rourke: Thanks Brian, and best wishes!

The Wild Geese: And if you’re not one of the lucky five this time around, you can purchase the book from, and also from

Brian O'Sullivan: Thanks so much for setting this up, Ryan.

The Wild Geese: Our pleasure, Brian! Thanks for facing "the firing squad" this evening! :-)

Valerie Lapin Ganley: Thank you, Brian. Wishing you many, many book sales!

Brian O'Sullivan: All the best to everyone.

Rose Maurer: Thanks Brian, Ryan and The Wild Geese - good night all from South Africa.

Eileen Neilan-Snee: Thanks, Brian.

Caroline Doherty de Novoa: Good night from Brazil.

The Wild Geese: Oiche mhaith, gach duine!

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Tags: Chat, Community, Literature, Reviews, United States


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