Dad's World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

One Saturday we decided we’d troop up into the Dublin mountains and go berry picking on Lambert’s Farm.

Until recently I had always thought the band Something Happens was from Co Wexford. I really don’t know why I thought this but I did.

Perhaps it had something to do with the general chirpy, sunny nature of their tunes or maybe Tom Dunne’s flowing head of curly hair reminded me of Wexford fashion. 

Whatever the reasons, for me they were born and bred in the sunny south-east.

This assumption was important because as I drove home a few weeks ago, I heard Tom on his fantastic late night radio show, talking about a recent day out picking fruit with his family on a farm in Dublin. 

The way he described it made it sound like a bit of craic and if berry picking on a farm in Dublin was good enough for what I assumed until recently was a Wexford man then it would be good enough for me.

That Saturday after Ciara came home from doing the shopping (we take turns), we decided we’d troop up into the Dublin mountains and go berry picking on Lambert’s Farm. 

The idea, as you probably know, is fairly simple. You’re given a big blue bucket and given the opportunity to pick your own berries which are then weighed and paid for on the way out.

I remember doing it quite a lot as a child and quite enjoying eating the rewards after all the hard work.

To my mind, it would be good for the boys to get a little closer to nature and see where their fruit actually comes from.

Luke, as always, got a little bit distracted and found more fun running up and down the grassy green aisles between the rows of raspberry bushes. 

Fionn, however, was more of a Tarzan, getting right into the bushes and plucking them from their floricanes with the adeptness of a chimp. 

Unfortunately, we had failed to inform him that he was probably better off staying away from the low lying fruit.

Sure enough, about 10 minutes into outing he let out an almighty scream.


We turned to see him kneeling on one knee and vigorously scratching the top of his left hand with his right.

It was like a scene from one of his superhero comics, where some grave misfortune befalls the hero and thus changes his life. 

This particular incident will hardly do that but it will hopefully make him more aware of one thing.


Within a minute of the sting his hand began to swell a little as those telling white spots began to break out. A woman appeared out of nowhere.

“Here you go,” she said popping her head through the raspberry bush.

“Give it a good rub until the juices come out.” 

She handed me a dock leaf and I proceeded to give Fionn’s hand a good rub. The poor child was in agony. All he wanted to do was scratch the itchy hot sting off his hand. 

Naturally enough, it was a bit of a struggle to get him to stop but in the end he gave me just enough time to apply the antidote.

After a few minutes of dock leaf therapy, and a few tickles under the armpit, he was back to his former hunting and gathering self except this time he kept his hands high.

When we had got to the farm the young man who handed us the bucket had warned us that there wasn’t much fruit left; that most of it had been picked that morning. 

He wasn’t lying but after half an hour of hard graft we came back down the hill with what we thought was a bountiful bucket of fruit. As it turned out, it was in fact less than 200g.

“How much have they got there?” came a roar from a man who was, as serendipity would have it, wearing a Wexford GAA top.

“Feck all,” he continued, answering his own question.

“Wrap it up in a bag for them and let them off.”

“Are you sure?” I shouted back to him.

“You’ll be back again sure.” 

“I will,” I said. 

And I wasn’t lying.


John’s chairs will last a lifetime, but he is also passing on his knowledge to a new generation, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: The ancient art of súgán-making is woven into Irish family history

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