Some­times I am tempted to write and publish my own book

Bray People - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

AT work last week some­one said ‘good morn­ing’ to me. Smart aleck that I am, I quipped that it was no longer morn­ing. He as­sured me that some­where in the world it was morn­ing. We had a laugh about it and I went on to tell him that when I was a child I spent the sum­mer months on my grand­uncle’s farm where they kept to ‘old time’.

It was in the 1950s and the farm, Rath­patrick, was on the Tip­per­ary Kilkenny bor­der. In the sum­mer months the time on the farm was ‘old time’ but in the next vil­lage, just four or five kilo­me­tres away the peo­ple went by ‘new time’. In some ru­ral/farm­ing ar­eas peo­ple did not put their clocks for­ward in sum­mer. We both de­cided it could be a great sub­ject for a book.

Only the pre­vi­ous day I had sug­gested to a friend that we should think of jointly writ­ing a book. Be­tween the two of us we cer­tainly have loads of yarns to tell and also, it could be ex­tremely funny. I even came up with a ti­tle for the project.

When work­ing as a sub ed­i­tor at the Ker­ry­man I vis­ited the vil­lages of the county, chat­ting with peo­ple and then writ­ing up an ac­count of my wan­der­ings. I’d sim­ply go into a vil­lage and knock at some­one’s hall door, get chat­ting with them and it de­vel­oped from there. Of­ten they would di­rect me to great char­ac­ters in the vil­lage.

It might well have made a good project and th­ese days I re­gret that I did not put it to­gether in book form. Ker­ry­man pho­tog­ra­phers took pic­tures for the sto­ries each week. That would have been a great ad­di­tion for the book that never was.

I’ve been in­vited to a num­ber of book launches in re­cent days. This Thurs­day Di­as­pora Min­is­ter Jimmy Deeni­han is launch­ing in Dublin Breda Joy’s ‘Hid­den Kerry’. Breda is a for­mer col­league of mine at The Ker­ry­man. The book has been most favourably re­viewed in The Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day and The Ir­ish Ex­am­iner. It takes the reader from the banks of the Shan­non at Tar­bert right to the sa­cred site The City un­der the shadow of the Paps.

Last Thurs­day John Treacy, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of the Ir­ish Sports Coun­cil, launched a book in Ur­ling­ford, Co Kilkenny writ­ten by the late Mar­garet Hayes. The book is called ‘Half­way be­tween Dublin and Cork’. It’s a his­tory of Mar­garet’s home place, Ur­ling­ford and its peo­ple. It so hap­pens that Ur­ling­ford is only a stone’s throw from that farm where I spent my sum­mers and where they kept their clocks on ‘old time’. Rath­patrick is just a few fields away.

Mar­garet, who died at 59 last Fe­bru­ary, was the youngest woman to be­come a sec­re­tary gen­eral of a gov­ern­ment depart­ment. Her first post­ing as a sec­re­tary gen­eral was at what was then called Depart­ment of Tourism and Trade.

Any­one who takes time out to read the book will be mes­merised by the work done by Mar­garet in telling the story of her home place and its peo­ple. It’s clear to see that Mar­garet was a his­to­rian by train­ing. She was work­ing on the book right up to the di­ag­no­sis of her ill­ness in late July 2013. No small ef­fort has been made by her sis­ter Dympna in com­plet­ing the book. The wa­ter colour il­lus­tra­tions in the book are the work of Dympna.

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