From the Depths of the Sea to the Stage

Eoin Ryan's Journey with Trawled 


By Cat Maher

In this exclusive feature, I spoke with Eoin Ryan, the creative force behind the one-man stage play Trawled, set to grace the Wexford Arts Centre stage for two unforgettable nights this January as part of First Fortnight Festival 2024. As both the talented writer and captivating performer of this production, Eoin provides insights into the creation and essence of Trawled, offering readers a glimpse into the upcoming theatrical experience that promises to leave an indelible mark on Wexford’s cultural landscape.

In the summer of 1999, Eoin Ryan, a twenty-four-year-old Irishman, embarked on a journey that would forever alter the course of his life. Venturing off the well-trodden path of Australia’s backpacker haunts, Eoin found himself aboard a prawn trawler in the vast and unpredictable waters of the Coral Sea. Little did he know, this adventure would transform into a gripping tale of survival, chronicled in his book, Trawled. 

Eoin begins his story with a profound realisation – the date on his tombstone could have been July 12th, 1999, marking him as “Lost at Sea”. However, fate had other plans, and Eoin lived to tell a tale transcending the ordinary bounds of adventure. 

His motivation for Trawled extends beyond recounting a harrowing experience. It’s a mission to spread a crucial message – the importance of asking for help. Eoin believes that sharing this message through the power of storytelling can make a difference, possibly saving someone’s life. 

In 2017, he penned down his experiences, laying the foundation for Trawled. The journey didn’t end with the book; in 2022, Eoin took to the TEDx stage, turning his talk into more of a captivating performance. Encouraged by the response, he expanded it into a one-man show. 

Watch Eoin’s TedX Talk here 

The culmination of this unexpected venture took place on September 1st, 2023, when Eoin performed on the stage of the National Opera House. What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that Eoin had no prior experience in acting, playwriting, directing, or producing. Yet, fuelled by belief and determination, he found his way. 

Eoin’s intuition led him to believe that the arts would be the ideal platform to showcase Trawled, doubling his resolve. Collaborating with the arts and mental health charity First Fortnight added a meaningful layer to his journey, aligning with his aspirations during countless rewrites and rehearsals. For Eoin, this is his equivalent of being on Broadway. 

Eoin says, “If Trawled can reach one person and positively impact their life, then I am on track to fulfil the promise I made in return for my life.” 


What Can People Expect? 

Trawled is not just a recounting of events; it’s a visceral journey through the rarely-seen world of hard labour, relentless fishermen, storms, and hungry sharks. Eoin’s diary captures the chaos, with one crew member describing it as “the craziest six weeks of fishing ever”. Yet, when conflict on board escalates, what begins as an adventure spirals into a gripping struggle for survival. 

Told in raw, uncompromising language, Trawled is an exuberant story of adventure, crisis, and brutality. It culminates in a moment of redemptive grace that is unforgettable. 

The tagline for Trawled sums it up – “When adventure becomes survival.” It may sound dramatic, but for Eoin, it is a profound truth. His gratitude for being alive echoes through the narrative, emphasising the gravity of his peril – the real possibility of being consumed by sharks. 

In Eoin’s own words, “I’m so grateful to be alive. Now my life plan reads; share the message ‘to ask for help.”

Words of Encouragement 

At 49 years old, with no theatre experience, Eoin’s journey with Trawled began 24 years ago. Creating the space to bring it to life took time, and the spark flickered but never extinguished. His advice is simple yet profound – if you believe passionately in something, stick with it. 

Eoin Ryan’s story is a testament to resilience, belief, and the transformative power of storytelling. From the depths of the sea to the stage, his journey with Trawled is an inspiration for anyone navigating the unpredictable waters of life. 

Trawled is showing at Wexford Arts Centre as part of the First Fortnight Festival 2024 on Friday 19th and 20th of January at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now for €20/€18 concession.  

Get your tickets here

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