The Last Footman
Regular price €20.00
Lilliput Press, 2019
Paperback, 256 pages
In the summer of 1964, twenty-one-year-old Gillies Macbain arrives in Dublin off the ferry from England with only his bicycle, a suitcase and a tent to his name. Young, handsome and charismatic, he begins work as a footman in one of the houses of the dying aristocracy. Thus begins his foray into the upper echelons of Irish society.
The Last Footman is an intriguing narrative which describes a fading part of Irish society that Macbain subverts with wry humour. Macbain finds himself in a precarious niche: the borderland between upstairs and downstairs, and later on the borderland proper between Northern Ireland and the south. Here, he rubs shoulders with a cast of characters from the bohemian socialites to the chancer Sketchly and the hippies with their dewy-eyed morals. Among these is an encounter with Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull that epitomises Macbain’s straddling of glamourous and workaday lifestyles. Macbain’s memoirs run the gamut of Irish social classes, from his friendship with County Monaghan small farmers and tenants, to working with a dubious cast of actors and producers on a film set at Castle Leslie, to eventually marrying into the circle of the ‘idle rich’.
An irresistible story told by a charming storyteller, this memoir sheds light on an era of Irish domestic industry, and Irish social history, that has all but been forgotten.