Tranquility of beach has key role in facilitating couple’s latest book
Youghal beach is associated with many positive attributes, from rolling surf to seductive scenery, to which author Colm Keane now adds the more mechanical aesthetic of “book processing”.
Days after the launch of The Book of St Brigid, cowritten with his wife Una O’Hagan, this son of Youghal credits the 6km of expansive, tranquil strand with a pivotal role in the accomplishment.
“There were very many days when we walked that beach, talking and thinking about the book’s progress,” he recalls.
“We walk it regularly and I’ve never known any place or journey like it to facilitate the thought process.
“We’d drive from our home in An Rinn in the Waterford Gaeltacht and walk the entire length to Pilmore, resolving many a conundrum in the process.
“I’ve written 29 books, including four in collaboration with Una and eight bestsellers,” he said.
“It’s not inaccurate to say that many of them would have been different books without that walk”.
Floating ideas on Youghal strand brings enriching familiarity for Mr Keane, given that he was born and reared nearby.
“As a child I’d open my window and hear the sea,” he said, “or sometimes hear Mick Delahunty in the Showboat [ballroom] too”.
The former RTÉ broadcaster and producer has averaged a book a year for the past three decades.
That many of them centre on saints suggests an early spiritual ambience has had a long-standing impact.
“Since discovering St Coran’s Well as a child, in what was then nearby countryside, I’ve been fascinated by saints,” said Mr Keane.
“They were icons of their time, with huge following; much like today’s rock stars actually.”
The Book of St Brigid is published by the couple’s own Capel Island Press — and therein lies another connection with Youghal beach.
“Capel Island sits about two miles offshore,” said Mr Keane.
“Once, visiting Youghal with our son Seán, who was about 10, he heard us complaining about publishers and deadlines.
“He urged us to form our own publishers and name it after the island.”
Tragically, Seán succumbed to cancer in 2007, aged 19. But his advice, like a seagull’s cry on Youghal beach, held resonance.
In 2008 Capel Island Press began, a forever reminder of dreams fulfilled on the horizon.