Pa­tri­cia’s ‘Chance En­coun­ters’ re­veal her skills as a word­smith

‘Age is an at­ti­tude. You are only as old as you feel,’ says the 85-year-old writer speak­ing to re­porter Mary Fog­a­rty about her lat­est book re­call­ing a hal­cyon time that is long gone

Bray People - - FACE TO FACE -

OC­TO­GE­NAR­IAN Pa­tri­cia Walsh has been putting pen to pa­per for the best part of 40 years.

Pa­tri­cia, who is sprightly at 85, launched her lat­est col­lec­tion of short sto­ries and po­ems at St. Anne’s Fam­ily Re­source Cen­tre last Fri­day evening.

‘Age is an at­ti­tude,’ she said with a smile on her con­tin­u­ing good health and high spir­its. ‘You are only as old as you feel!’

She was ed­u­cated to Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate Level and mar­ried just a few short years later.

‘Mem­bers of the Bench,’ the first en­try in ‘Chance En­coun­ters,’ is the first story she ever wrote.

In­deed, many of the 25 sto­ries within its pages have been pre­vi­ously pub­lished in mag­a­zines or broad­cast on ra­dio and in­clude prize winning tales.

Her charm­ing style is re­peated line af­ter line in this col­lec­tion, which re­calls a hal­cyon time that is now long gone.

Pa­tri­cia’s first story was broad­cast in 1972 on RTE.

She started scrib­bling in earnest in 1971 and her ‘hobby’ has con­tin­ued to flour­ish over the span of time.

Her work has been aired on the na­tional sta­tion reg­u­larly over the years on pro­grammes such as ‘Sun­day Mis­cel­lany,’ ‘The Liv­ing Word,’ and the ‘Quiet Quar­ter.’

‘I al­ways liked writ­ing, even in school,’ said Pa­tri­cia, a slight, soft-spo­ken and el­e­gant lady.

‘I liked writ­ing es­says and that sort of thing. I had a de­sire to write and was an avid reader from a very young age.’

Her fa­ther used to fix old type­writ­ers, which she sus­pects may have started her fas­ci­na­tion for the writ­ten word.

She can no longer type her­self, as arthri­tis has put paid to that, but has no prob­lem writ­ing long-hand and has will­ing vol­un­teers who com­plete her manuscripts.

Two of her chil­dren, Mau­reen and Terry, re­side in Shankill and she has close ties to the area al­though she her­self lives in Cabin­teely. ‘I re­ally en­joy writ­ing,’ she said. ‘That’s why I’ve done it for all th­ese years.’ She said that she al­ways wrote ‘when­ever the hu­mour would strike me,’ and will con­tinue to do so as long as that mood pre­vails.

The mother of seven has ded­i­cated this book to her 17 grand­chil­dren and 5 great­grand­chil­dren ‘with much love.’

It was when her youngest child was a cou­ple of years at school that she caught the writ­ing bug and be­gan a re­ward­ing ca­reer that has spanned al­most four decades.

Her themes are drawn from peo­ple’s lives. Pa­tri­cia’s char­ac­ters are real, tan­gi­ble, and even though the di­a­logue is from a dif­fer­ent age their tri­als and tribu­la­tions are time­less.

Love, loss, mar­riage, death, hu­mour and poignancy are all present in this work that ap­pears to have been ef­fort­lessly writ­ten.

Chance En­coun­ters is a cel­e­bra­tion of life in all its as­pects.

Who more qual­i­fied to write about the ups and downs, the glim­mers of hu­mour and tragedy in life than a mother, grand­mother and great-grand­mother?

Each piece is a snap­shot of a story writ­ten with en­chant­ing hon­esty, sim­plic­ity and patent skill.

This is the third book pub­lished by the au­thor and the joy of see­ing her work bound and in print is still the same.

‘It is nice to see it fin­ished and pack­aged,’ she said.

Her daugh­ter Betty, an artist, de­signed the book’s cover as well as the art­work for her pre­vi­ous works ‘Loose Ends,’ (2002) and ‘Ebbtide,’ (2005).

Dr. Bren­dan Pur­cell, au­thor and philoso­pher, launched the book at the week­end in Shankill and said that Chance En­coun­ters is a bril­liant page-turner.

‘Each of th­ese short sto­ries catches an ex­pe­ri­ence,’ he said.

‘Of nos­tal­gia, hu­mour, sad­ness and sur­prise – in a way that makes you ap­pre­ci­ate and en­joy the hu­man­ity of its wry cast of char­ac­ters and sus­pect that your own life might be far more in­ter­est­ing than you thought.’

As well as a de­voted scribe, Pa­tri­cia has al­ways been a de­voted wife and mother, then grand­mother.

She got mar­ried to Robert in 1949 and he worked for a construction com­pany in Bray.

Sadly, Robert died 16 years ago, and is sadly missed by Pa­tri­cia as well as the chil­dren David, Joan, Betty, Terry, Robert, Pat and Mau­reen.

The only one to have in­her­ited his mother’s pen­chant for the pen is David. He writes books on phi­los­o­phy and is a pro­fes­sor in the states.

How­ever some of Pa­tri­cia’s own works have a philo­soph­i­cal na­ture of their own.

She has never strug­gled too much to cre­ate a tale, the hard­est part of course mak­ing a start.

‘The first few words,’ are all she needs to get go­ing.

While she has writ­ten nov­els in the past, one of which al­most made it on to the shelves, Pa­tri­cia in­tends to stick with her beloved short sto­ries and po­ems for now.

‘What­ever you write, you have a fond­ness for,’ she said, looking back on her cat­a­logue of char­ac­ters and sto­ries.

‘It’s some­thing you have cre­ated.’

Bren­dan Pur­cell with Pa­tri­cia Walsh at the book launch for 'Close En­coun­ters' at St Anne’s, Shankill.

Pa­tri­cia Walsh at the launch of her book ‘Chance En­coun­ters.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.