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Author Patricia’s got the write stuff

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Date Published: {J}

She got so many rejection slips from publishers that she “could have papered at least one wall of a room with them”, but Patricia Forde never wavered in her desire to write stories for children.

Her determination has paid off and the former Director of Galway Arts Festival has just had her new book Frogs Do Not Like Dragons, published by London company Egmont, which also publishes renowned children’s writers such as Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo), Ann Fine (former UK Children’s Laureate and author of The Killer Cats series among others) and Michael Morpugo (also a former UK Children’s Laureate whose books include War Horse, now a hit theatre show in London).

Not that Trish is putting herself in their league! Egmont Banana books are designed to get children reading independently and because of that, it attracts top names, she explains

“It has all the best-known writers . . . and then the plebs. . .”

But Trish isn’t exactly a novice when it comes to writing books for kids, although this is the first time she has had a UK publisher and the first time she has had an agent – a major step for any author.

She spent 10 years as a teacher in the 1980s, during which time she was involved with the Arts Festival and the then recently established Macnas Theatre Company. She worked with Macnas devising stories for their parades and stage shows, and occasionally taking part in them.

In 1990 she took a year off from teaching in Scoil Róis, Taylor’s Hill to write a children’s book, during which time Ollie Jennings called to the house and asked if she’d take over as Arts Festival Artistic Director. She did, while working on the book that became Tír Faoi Thoinn.

But, she explains, that had evolved from a memorable early Macnas Parade and was written as a companion piece to it, so it wasn’t a book in the traditional sense.

She followed that with The King’s Secret which was published by O’Brien Press in 1992, but the Dublin publishing house rejected her next offering, and she felt that maybe her literary luck had run out. However, she wasn’t exactly idle and didn’t have time to focus on the rejection.

“I left the Festival in 1995 and got a job in Ros na Rún and after that I worked on [the TG4 drama series] Aifric.”

She had also worked as a researcher on the station’s popular entertainment programme Sibín. But, ever before she began working with TG4, Trish had been working part-time on kids’ plays for RTÉ as the Arts Festival was not a year-long job in the early 1990s when she was its Artistic Director.

After leaving the Festival, she was kept busy with her TV work, but recently, she decided if she was ever to focus on her own projects, it was time to reassess.

“About three years ago I shut up shop and decided to write a children’s book, which was all I ever wanted to do. I wrote a full novel and sent it to about 20 publishers and they all rejected it, some nicely.”

Second time around, however, she wasn’t prepared to take rejection, no matter how nice. She read up on how the publishing process works and decided the best thing to do was to get a literary agent, who would represent her with publishers.

“Which shows how much I knew, because it’s harder to get an agent than a publisher,” she laughs. But she persevered.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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