Lifestyle – ‘Mother Tongue’, the new book by Patricia Forde is the sequel to her hugely successful young adult novel, The Wordsmith. The former teacher and Galway Arts Festival director tells JUDY MURPHY how she never intended to write this book, a fast-paced thriller which deals with issues such as censorship, human rights and climate change in a hugely engaging way.
Patricia Forde began her career as a primary school teacher in Galway City, driven by imagination, creativity and huge respect for the children she was educating.
She changed direction a long time ago, firstly becoming Artistic Director of Galway Arts Festival in the early 1990s, then moving on to head up the children’s arts festival Baboró, and later again working as a writer and editor for the TV series Ros na Rún.
Now, Patricia’s creativity and innate respect for young people has found its voice in her books – no surprise given that the city-woman always wanted to be a writer.
These began in 1991 with Tír Faoi Thoinn, written as a fundraiser for Macnas. Since then, she has written many illustrated stories for younger children and in 2015, her book for young adults, The Wordsmith, was published.
That humane and bleak story is set in Ark, a future world wracked by climate change and ruled by a man who has curtailed the number of words that people can use. It struck a chord in Ireland and the UK.
Subsequently released in the US as The List, it stunned critics who couldn’t believe that someone writing in the West of Ireland before Donald Trump had been elected US President, could have been so prescient. The abuse of language and disregard for truth that are central to the current US regime resonated with all who read The List.
Now, Mother Tongue, the sequel to The Wordsmith / The List is being launched this week. A stand-alone book in its own right, Mother Tongue draws on Irish history and mythology as it holds up a mirror to the modern world.
Patricia has written a fast-paced thriller, designed to keep young people engaged while it also delves into current social and political issues. She explores censorship, human rights, climate change and the horrific treatment of children by some Western democracies.
“Everything that’s in there is a reaction to what’s going on around us,” she says simply.
Revelations about the Tuam babies and witnessing the experience of children at the US-Mexican borders had “a huge effect” on Patricia, something that’s reflected in Mother Tongue.
“The images were very close to what my own children looked like and they’re from that part of the world,” she says of the US border. She’s referring to her two adult children, James and Rosa, who were born in Guatemala and adopted as babies by Patricia and her husband Pádraic.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly
The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.
People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.
The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.
“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.
“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.
They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.
Travel and transport
You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:
- to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
- to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
- for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
- for farming purposes, food production or care of animals
You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.
Public and private transport
You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.
Education and childcare
The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:
- education and childcare
- outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
- Economic activity and work
- Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.
Cafes and restaurants
- All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
- Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.
- All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.
- Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.
Cultural and religious
- All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
- Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
- Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.
No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:
- non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
- professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
- inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors
Residential and healthcare facilities
*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).
Relocation homebuyers head to the west
The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a new exodus of homebuyers to relocate to the west, with remote working now a viable option for many employees.
Galway’s busiest auctioneer has noticed increased interest in properties in the city and county from workers relocating from Dublin, its commuter belt and the Midlands.
The availability of high-speed broadband, which can facilitate working from home, is a determining factor in many homebuyers’ decisions to move to the West.
But the high cost of renting remains the single biggest incentive for people to get on the property ladder, according to Niall Browne, senior sales negotiator at O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.
“People are paying such high rent that it’s the equivalent to a mortgage repayment and that’s when you buy. That’s the biggest incentive to buy – you’re not giving away dead money,” Mr Browne said.
The property market locally had quietened in the initial months of the Covid-19 lockdown – but it has been buoyant in the past two months in particular, he said.
Mr Browne suggested there was an element of pent-up demand for housing that was now being realised as the Covid lockdown restrictions focused people’s minds on their desire to purchase a home.
“We typically try to get eight to ten sales per month by private treaty, and we had 28 or 29 last month. The previous month was six and the previous month was eight. This month (July) we’re up to 26, and that’s outside of our auction,” he said.
Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.
Nursing Homes shun student nurses over Covid fears
Student nurses in Galway are facing financial doom as part-time employers shun those currently on work placement in hospitals over fears they are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19.
First year nursing student at NUI Galway Ciarán Mac an tSaoir told the Connacht Tribune that this had become a particular issue for first and second year students who would traditionally take on healthcare assistant roles in nursing homes, where the fear of spreading the virus is at fever pitch.
“After semester one in first year, you are essentially qualified as a healthcare assistant and a lot of students would take that up as an option. Since Covid-19 came in, a lot of work places are fearful of cross-contamination and that’s not unjustified.
“It’s very understandable that a nursing home wouldn’t want a student who might be going between five or six clinical areas in an acute hospital to be then coming into work in the nursing home,” said Mr Mac an tSaoir.
Nursing students, for whom a large proportion of their university experience is spent on unpaid work placement, spend up to 35-hours a week in a clinical setting and so that could mean them travelling between a Covid-19-free setting of a nursing home to a respiratory word in a hospital such as UHG, he explained.
However, this wasn’t a HSE policy but rather the decision of individual care facilities who were doing their best to ensure coronavirus was kept out.