LOVE IN LOCKDOWN LIVE!!

I feel I should be shouting that title, like a commentator on Sky Sports before a match.   Love in Lockdown… Live!!!

Yes, it has been a while since I added to this blog, so with the live performance of Love in Lockdown which features my own play “Power Of Love” due to be performed at the Home Rule Club in Kilkenny from the 5th to the 7th May (8pm), what better time to throw a few words together and ask for your support.  The live performance has been a long time in the planning, but it is finally almost upon us.  Tickets are available at Eventbrite Love in Lockdown: LIVE Tickets, Thu 5 May 2022 at 20:00 | Eventbrite  Get your tickets early. You won’t be sorry. It will be one of four plays on the night.

The live version has a new director in Dubliner, Ger Blanch who has previously worked with Fishamble.  Paul McManus from Carlow Little Theatre reprises his role as Sammy. He is joined by another Carlow Little Theatre actor Michelle Phelan, both fresh from performances in Juno and The Paycock. Everyone is really buzzing and again huge thanks to Philip Hardy and Barnstorm Theatre Arts for the production. They have been amazing.

I would also like to thank KATS theatre group who recently did a reading of another of my plays called the “The Sub” at John Cleeres in Kilkenny as part of their Scriptease program.  The play is based around the other favourite pastime of my life, the GAA and tells the story of a match from the perspective of one of the substitutes.  Hopefully, this play too can be brought to life on the stage sometime down the road. Massive thanks to Delia Lowery, Hugh Keenan and all those involved in the reading from KATS.

With the lockdowns finished (for now at least) it’s really a busy time with the arts, the GAA and making sure I relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that I did enjoy during lockdowns.  Time has become challenging again, but I am determined to control as much as possible and take those breaks away to savour life and the world. I hope you are too.

POWER OF LOVE

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Will lockdowns finally end? Everyone has tried to find ways to get through these challenging times.  I have returned to writing fiction in various forms and more comprehensively. The end product of one such project will be streamed live this Thursday 29th April at 7:30pm on Zoom.  (Details at the end of this blog)

I have been lucky that a short play of mine has been produced by the Kilkenny based Barnstorm Theatre Company.  The theme is “Love In Lockdown” and my play is called “Power of Love”.  It is a project that started in the latter quarter of 2020 and the approximately 15-minute duologue is part of ten similarly selected and diverse writings to be performed. The first five of which were streamed in March. They had originally been planned to be performed on St. Valentines week.  Unfortunately, restrictions played havoc with that plan.

Filming took place on Saturday and went very well considering all but one rehearsal took place over Zoom/Teams and it is a single camera to give a theatre feel. It’s a wonderful idea to bring theatre to people given that people cannot go to the theatre. So, if you are looking for something novel to pass the lockdown time, please use the link to the live streaming. It will also be available on the Barnstorm Theatre Company YouTube channel afterwards if you miss the live performance on Zoom. There are also plans to broadcast on radio and do live performances when restrictions lift. Hopefully you will enjoy it and I look forward to your reactions and reviews on here afterwards.

I would like to thank the Barnstorm Theatre Company for the opportunity. No script is complete until it has been interpreted in real life. It has been a very gratifying experience.  Special thanks to Philip Hardy, Cara Doherty and Maeve Ingoldsby for their invaluable advice and experience during the script writing phase. A lot has been learned.  I would like to thank Trish Brennan of the Barn Owl Players who directed it brilliantly and maintained the integrity of the story I was telling whilst also making it an entertaining piece of theatre.  Also, thanks to two brilliant Carlow based actors, Carrie Doran and Paul McManus who brought the characters to life with great understanding and enthusiasm whilst overcoming the challenges of the new way of doing things.

I am genuinely excited about this and look forward to audience reaction, good or bad. I describe it as a romantic comedy with a dark side, but it could be a dark comedy with a romantic side. It’s open to interpretation.  The story is about Ella and Sammy who are two Gardai based in Kilkenny that have history. However, time is running out for Ella and things need to be said. Their long-time attraction to each other has been blighted by obstacles and fears of social etiquette, loyalty and age difference. Dramatic and potentially catastrophic circumstances put them together in a situation where only the truth matters. Are they literally sitting on a timebomb that will destroy their lives forever or will there be enough time to connect?

Check out Barnstorm Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/barnstormtheatrecompany/posts/405824590759224

Love in Lockdown 2
Time: Apr 29, 2021 07:30 PM Dublin
ZOOM LINK.
Meeting ID: 826 8839 0764
Passcode: 594503

 

BACK TO THE FUTURE MEMORIES

In 1994, Macra Na Feirme celebrated 50 years as an organisation. At that time, I was the County Kilkenny Anniversary committee Chairperson having been the PRO for the previous two years.  A number of events took place to commemorate the occasion including a gala dinner, a tree planting ceremony in Mooncoin Vocational School, the site of the first branch and a commemorative book, for which I was editor and which is available on this website HERE.  Another novel idea was a film/documentary called “Kilkenny Macra Na Feirme Back To The Future”.   This is now available on my YouTube Channel and can be accessed HERE through this website.

This was my first venture into filmmaking. Armed with a flexible plan and a great cameraman in the form of Pat Farrell, a member of the Ballyragget Macra branch with additional footage provided by Simon Kennedy of the Glenmore branch, we spent several months collecting footage, interviewing, scripting and editing. Basically, having fun.  The end result was 96 minutes of history, events, fun and sport which was released on VHS tape with the artwork provided by Teresa Blanchfield of the Freshford branch.  A time capsule of Macra activity in Kilkenny in 1994. It was intended as a Macra promotional video but with the benefit of hindsight, I could have left a lot more footage on the cutting room floor, but there are so many memories for so many in the historic documentary, it was difficult to cut, because we knew the timeless history and memories we were capturing would be priceless as the years go by.  Unforgettable memories that needed to be remembered.

I recall the final editing session at Pat Farrell’s house in Lisdowney. A full Saturday of enjoyable editing, camaraderie and making sure the final project came together while Pat’s wonderful mother, (RIP), ensured we were well fed and looked after with her incredible hospitality and no little patience. Our launch and premiere showing deadline of the 5th November 1994 at the Newpark Hotel was fast approaching.  I’ll not forget it as I was involved in a not too serious car crash on the way home from work that evening.  Thankfully, everything else went to plan.

Anyway, over the years I have made a number of DVD’s and even transferred the film from VHS to DVD.  Lately, the next generation of Norris’ have been getting on to me about preserving these DVD’s in the “cloud”. Well with yet another lockdown due to COVID-19 in progress and time needing to be occupied, here is the first one.  Hopefully, those who were in it will enjoy the nostalgia or maybe their children might see them in a different and more impressed light.  There is little in the difference of what entertains most young people after just over quarter of a century.

I joined Piltown Macra Na Feirme in 1987.  Initially just to play indoor soccer in Kilbarry, Waterford on a Saturday night. However, I quickly realised the incredible opportunities Macra had to offer despite being viewed as a farmer’s organisation. Although, I came from a farming background, I certainly did not see myself as a farmer. I mean, I was working in Dublin as a Business Analyst coming home at the weekends to play sport locally.  Macra offered, so much. Sport was the obvious attraction for me but through Macra, I got to improve my Public Speaking, winning a Gold award nationally. I was compere at national level in the final of the Make & Model competition, I was on the runner-up Kilkenny team in the All-Ireland quiz final, formerly known as Cross Country Quiz when broadcast on RTE.  I won the comedy section of talent competitions in Kilkenny. No joke! The biggest opportunity came in the drama competition.  I got the amazing opportunity to write one-act plays which were performed by the Piltown branch and the Kilmacow branch.  It started an outlet for my love of writing and telling stories. The seed of the material available on this website. Sheila won several Best Actress awards while I won both Best Director and Best Actor awards. However, I was always disappointed the plays themselves never managed to get over the line despite a few near misses. It goes back to the elation of a team winning. In this case a team of cast and production crew, far exceeds the elation of individual recognition, albeit it a massive honour.

Macra gave tremendous opportunities to travel, the highlight for me was a group trip to Orlando, Florida. However, the festival weekends were incredible craic. Miss Macra, Miss Blue Jeans, Batchelor of the Year and of course the national convention weekend featuring the final of the Make & Model final.  This is not to mention, the regular nights out at “discos” with a group of friends. My sports career did take a hit though.  Although I am not a drinker, often not getting home until the early hours just before daybreak or a weekend with little sleep at all, can devastate the body. Then having to help with jobs early in the morning at home on the farm including milking cows. Those 11am soccer matches on a Sunday morning were tough going at times. I literally fell asleep standing on my feet momentarily one morning while waiting for a throw-in to be taken and an injured player be treated.  Yes, believe me, it can happen. 

Above all, friendship was the biggest thing Macra had to offer.  Over 20 of Piltown members in the late 80’s, early 90’s ended up getting married to another member or a member from another club.  It was similar in many other Macra branches. This included myself and Sheila. We did not meet at Macra, but we got to know each other really well through the enjoyment of our shared interests.  Macra is not a dating agency. It is an organisation that gives the opportunity to share varied interests with like-minded people. This is the root of any friendship or relationship.  In these challenging times, it is worth remembering that and the value of friendship.  Twenty-seven years since the launch of the video, those friendships still exist.   Despite being a sports fanatic, especially GAA, some of my best friends are not sports fans and more are.   

I hope that people who were involved in Kilkenny Macra back in 1994, take the time to reminisce and remember the value of friendship Macra gave you. Take the opportunity to pass on that legacy, which although the interests may have moved on and modernised, the values are still the same. Please pass the word that “Kilkenny Macra Na Feirme Back To The Future” is now available online for all to enjoy. Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It’s free and costs just the click of a button and follow me on other social media options. 

FIRST DECADE

I am delighted to announce the completion and publication on this website of my third history/factual book, FIRST DECADE – PILTOWN LADIES GAELIC FOOTBALL. It is about the first decade of Piltown Ladies Gaelic Football Club (Established 2010) recording the club history in words, pictures and with a lot of interesting statistics.  It has been a labour of love and passion assembled during the COVID-19 lockdown but compiled over a period of ten years when I was and still am the club PRO.

Feel free to read, download, share. It is available online at the following link to read or download [Click Link]; FIRST DECADE – PILTOWN LADIES GAELIC FOOTBALL

If you enjoy it, there is no obligation but if you could possibly make a donation of any amount to Piltown Ladies Gaelic Football Club. Whatever you think, it would be much appreciated buy those in the club. The club will need funds when the games return to get back up and running with several fundraising options now gone and a lot of competition from other local organisations for limited funds.  You can donate through PayPal (Details Below). ALL proceeds will go directly to the club and will be used to fund the club for the foreseeable future.  Thanks in advance for your generosity.

With PayPal, you can send money or make a payment to anyone with an email address or mobile number.

From your computer, here’s how to send money:

  1. Click Send & Request at the top of the page.
  2. Enter the recipient’s name, PayPal username, email address (piltownlgfc@gmail.com) or mobile number and click Next.
  3. Enter the amount, choose the currency, add a note (if you wish) and click Continue.
  4. Select “Sending to a friend.”
  5. Select how you want to pay and click Next.
  6. Review the information and click Send Payment Now.

DELETION

Deletion – Definition; The removal or obliteration of written or printed matter, especially by drawing a line through it; The removal of data from a computer’s memory; The removal of a product, especially a recording, from the catalogue of those available for purchase.  What about the removal of mankind?

I have just published my latest short story. It is called DELETION. It is FICTION.  But could it be true?  Read it and find out! (Click Button below)

Are you getting comfortable with the current situation due to the COVID-19 virus?  Should it be a bigger concern, if people are?  Have you thought through the practicalities of living your own life if no vaccine, cure or treatment is found?  Is it possible?  Deletion on the face of it is a morbid look of what could happen, but the important message it tries to give it, stay hopeful, stay positive and never give up!

It is a bit like my writing career. I’m always hopeful that people will read my library, even though it doesn’t seem to happen. I’m hopeful, drama groups will want to produce and perform my plays. I’m hopeful, publishers will want to publish my novels or stories. I’m hopeful filmmakers will want to turn my stories into films. So, I never give up.  I still write even if I am the only one that reads it.  I believe in the stories.  I’m not worried about the fancy well-constructed sentences. To me, it’s all about the stories.

Meanwhile, on the technical front, I have updated the website to improve navigation. Around the LIBRARY Please feel free to check it out and use the CONTACT FORM to let me know what you think.

DELETION

HOPE LIVES

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it looks like I have more time to write.  I hear the groans as I type. Cases have increased, deaths have increased, critical patients have increased, restrictions have increased and guess what? Unlike a huge number of other people who use social media, I am still NOT an expert virologist or anything like it. Sorry.

This world crisis has highlighted two things for me. One, there are a lot of good people out there, caring, thoughtful and helpful.  Two, there are a lot of stupid people as well, easily identified by their poor spelling and grammar on social media which highlights a severe failure of their education whilst they try to proclaim to be expert virologists, psychologists, statisticians, politicians, economists, therapists etc.  The list is endless but the facts are only important if they suit.  What a pity, your Inter Cert didn’t give you the career you deserved! What a pity!

However, even those good people can be careless with the words they use.  Lockdown! (I’m mentioning it once and that is it).   Over a period of a few weeks, this is the word that became synonymous with fear and terror and worst-case scenario. It was mainly used by the people in category two above who had no concept of the whole picture and how the world works, so the stigma attached to the word grew. However, people need hope, Yes, we have to do the right things and I believe as a nation we are doing pretty well. But do not kill hope for people.  My local radio station was almost in glee using the word to describe the latest restrictions on Friday night.  The word completely misses the complex nature of the world we live in.  Unfortunately, the word now casts a stigma over anyone who is outside, regardless of the reason. You can hear the pounding of the keyboard typing the “bad” word and asking, what are you doing out, you are going to kill everyone you come into contact with! If you are not a known health worker you are treated with distrust and contempt and as if you were an assassin. But it misses the bigger picture. 

The last few weeks, we have got used to the term, “Not all heroes wear capes”.  Our health workers have been immense in this war on the virus and it is a war!  A war in which every member of the human race is a soldier. A war in which they are the bravest of the brave. But not all our heroes are health workers either.  For example, it could be a farmer, food factory worker, delivery person or food retailer, keeping the supply chain going and providing us with nutrition. Important nutrition required for a war that has no set end date. Remember, during the great famine, about one million Irish people died.  At this point, COVID-19 is nothing compared to that! And the cure was simple, food!  It could be someone who works in a pharmaceutical factory making sure we still have medicines for the long haul. Remember COVID-19 did not cure or make heart disease, cancer or AIDS disappear.  It could be a mechanic, that fixes a doctor or nurses car so that they can get back to the battle and save lives.  It could be the maker who makes a bolt, that is required for the farmer to continue his operation which we have already established the importance of.  It could be any of the service engineers involved in our utilities. If we want to cocoon our older people. They need those utilities more than ever to communicate etc.  It’s isolation, not solitary confinement!

So, the next time you wonder about that young lad in the car and where’s he off too. Just think he might just be heading to work in a food factory, risking his health and the health of his family, so that you and me can eat and continue to do so.  I suppose I am biased as my son and daughter went to work in Dawn Meats this morning.  They are heroes too, just doing a job which may seem small but is huge in the bigger scheme of things. Meanwhile me and you, the best we can do is type words.  So, think before you type those words.  Stop judging. Do what you have been advised to do, yes.   And the next time there is an applause, the only people who should be applauding is you and me, the keyboard warriors. We are contributing very little to the war and I am thankful for all those people who are doing their best. It is not just about money. It is about survival in the longer term of our army, the human race and when this war is won, there will still be a world to improve and the keyboard warriors will have very little to contribute. 

During this time there is major responsibility on our journalists. I have started following Fergal Bowers on Twitter and to be fair, he is good at relating the facts and sticking to them.  Locally, Dermot Keyes, someone I have known with a number of years is doing a good job mixing information while adding tangents to keep the spirits up.  If Dermot reads this, I hope he introduced more quality control on his retweets. Although, I’d be delighted if he retweeted some of my reading material.  Yes, Seamus can be a hypocrite too, when it comes to getting his words out there!  Unfortunately, not all journalists are doing a good job.  At times like this the journalist needs to stop being a journalist and be a leader.   You have the power and the ability to use the language.  It is a weapon at the moment in this war, but the responsibility to use it wisely is paramount.  No army will win a war, if they are demoralised. History has proven that umpteen times.  Your prime function is not “the story” but rather the facts and the moral of all.

This morning, “The Indo”, once my first choice for written news, did the story that was the straw that broke the camels back. This camel.  I no longer trust or want to read their garbage.  The story was around an American university who had done studies to “suggest” that the 2 metres apart rule was nowhere near far enough away and it needed to be four times that. The word “suggest” was used several times in the article. Suggest and Alleged are words journalists use when they are not certain that what they write is fact.  So why in the name of God, would a journalist write an article that he or she is not sure about to frighten the be jaysus out of the troops worse than what they are. It is totally immoral and a case of a journalist and an editor putting the story before the feelings and deep emotions of the people.  and what in Gods’ name is any university with money trying to figure out the pole-vaulting distance of COVID-19 rather than using those funds to find a cure. Their funding should be stopped immediately and re-routed to places trying to find the cure.  The story is not important at this stage. Shame on those journalists and any like them.  Facts and the moral of the troops is the only things that matter.  Rant over!

I would like to finish this blog, by again saying that living in fear, is not living.  I do feel sorry for those who have no God of any kind.  A lot of them don’t trust our leaders who are human, so their minds must be very lonely when they are isolated.  Many of them try to use social media to become a God in their own world, decreeing and judging. It’s a sad world they inhabit.  At least if you have a God of some kind, he, she or it is there to turn to.  A mere mortal like I takes a lot of solace from believing and praying to a more powerful entity.  Hope must never die.

My recommended work for this blog is a short story I wrote some years ago called “Hope Lives”. I hope you enjoy it.

HOPE LIVES – CLICK HERE

If you enjoyed Hope Lives, please read some of my other writing on the website or contact me using the contact form.

LIVE OR JUST DIE

First and foremost. I am not an expert and everything that follows is just opinion, my opinion. This article is about promoting hope and beating fear.  Live and Not just die. The subject is the Coronavirus or COVID-19 which ever term you prefer. Like my last subject it is not a joyous subject, but like the last I cannot turn a blind eye to it.

In the run up to the recent general election in Ireland, the subject of climate change and the threat to our planet looked as if it would be foremost in the people’s mind.  However, the results based on the Green Party return, the main supporters of climate change policies, did not endorse that policy to any great extent. It did not bother me greatly as I do not subscribe to climate change being the greatest threat to mankind and question the control we have over a vast universe.  I do believe though, that man is the biggest threat to mankind.  The weapon of choice is most likely to be chemical or a virus.  Did man contribute to the existence of COVID-19?  The stories of the wet markets in Wuhan born out of the famines of the 1970’s certainly points the figure at man’s contribution to the existence of this virus which now sweeps through the world as I write. Is this the Armageddon virus? … I don’t think so, but it is certainly a wakeup call and then again as I said at the offset, I’m not an expert.  

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes COVID-19 as a pandemic. Pandemic if a frightening word, but all it means is that it is a disease epidemic that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents, or worldwide.  No surprise.  Is it serious? Obviously, it is, no question, but is it recoverable from? Of course, it is. Let’s not forget that.  Fact, in Wuhan and Northern Italy, the recoveries far outweigh the deaths, though I accept that is little consolation to the deceased or their loved ones. However, I will return to this in a while.

To recover from anything, one needs hope. Unfortunately, hope is being slowly eroded by fear.  Fear that is driven by people both through social media and even sources that were once considered reputable media.  If hope is eroded completely, there is no future and fear will take over which leads to the inevitable of man turning on man.  We have seen it in so many apocalyptic films and books. Maybe for rations, maybe for medicine, maybe for food. Maybe because some nation sees another nation as a weak touch to take advantage of. I hope not for toilet paper though. It is called war.  Nations who disagree on approach may find like two children in the playground who disagree, a primitive resolution.  Fear causes stress. Stress is known to affect your immunity.  Immunity is the one and only weapon you have in your arsenal.  Your body will fight to the last, but you must choose to give it a fighting chance.  Too much stress reduces your firepower.

In coaching parlance, respect the opposition, but do not fear it.  You have only jurisdiction over what you can control. You can control the personal sanitising and hygiene as advised and everyone knows that advice at this stage.  It still doesn’t guarantee the opposition will not find a chink in your defence. We know that there is no cure at the moment other than the battle your body is prepared to put up against it.  Give your body every chance.  Exercise regularly and do not stress your mind. Prepare for the onslaught. You need all your energy to launch that counter attack. The blanket defence will not work. You have to fight back when you are put to the pin of your collar.

A couple of things do come to my mind.  Firstly, this is not the world’s first or only pandemic. AIDS/HIV was one which commenced in the eighties. It is still there but very much in the background of our thoughts.  In 2018, 1.1 million people died from AIDS related illness worldwide.  The WHO estimate that in 2016, that there were 1.35 million road related deaths in the world. Who is afraid to get into a car and drive?  Yet we only have control over our own car, not the many thousands of other cars that are on the road. We’ve all seen the lunatics and it is never us. But we haven’t left that fear stop from living or driving.  WHO also estimate that there are 320,00 drowning deaths per annum in the world. How many of us will not swim because of this statistic? 

In 2016, Cancer was the highest contributor to deaths in Ireland with 30.7% of 30,667 deaths. However, worldwide, the greatest cause of death, is heart related issues including stroke.  It contributed to 30.1% of deaths in Ireland in 2016 or 17.9 million worldwide that year!! I have experienced heart attack twice (November 2016, 10 days apart). I am a survivor. Do I have a fear of it?  Yes, there are times. If I feel odd at all, fear can immerse me for a time. I do have what I call “moments”, some may have noticed. When I hear of a young person or even people around my age, dying from heart related issues, it does give me the shivers. However, when that emotion starts to consume me, I fight it, remembering I have recovered twice. I take my medication regimentally. I exercise to the best of my ability, allowing for two artificial hips. My weakness is probably my diet.  It could be better. But one thing is for sure, mentally my body and mind is up for the battle, should it happen again.  Mentally, I need to be strong and ready for the battle. Believe me reading too much bad news is not useful for developing mental strength. Again, in coaching terms, I focus on my strengths which I can control rather that the uncontrollable strengths of the opposition.

The power of social media is frightening when used indiscriminately. Too many people, who like me are not experts are posting and sharing information that is adding to the fear.  Sharing an article that suits your own thought process is not wise unless you really know the person the wrote it originally. They could easily be a waffler like me! I’m not an expert. You are not an expert. How can you tell if an unknown on social media is an expert?

To that end, it is a fact that there are vastly more people who have contracted COVID-19 and recovered than have died.  Why not share these people’s stories? They have experienced it. Using my heart experiences, they are more expert than anyone who has never had it. They are the people who can give us hope.  Let’s listen to them.  This is not to understate, that people will die, like our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated and the HSE experts.  It is not to reduce the effort put into precautions. Hope is important. And maybe there are people who were in the high-risk category who contracted the virus and have recovered.  Imagine the hope their story would give. Unfortunately, at the moment, people are too interested in the negative numbers rather than the positive stories. Stop people. THINK before you post your badly constructed, poorly spelt reaction or over reaction or blame of someone.  Think will your comment give hope or further despair?

The mentioning of the Taoiseach brings me to a something, I was trying to steer clear of and that is politics. Fact, I have no allegiance to any political party.  I do like the best people to run the country. To be honest the best people are actually cross party.  However, it is worth giving praise where praise is due.  The Government and the HSE are doing a brilliant job in what is uncharted territory.  A situation that changes on a daily, maybe even an hourly basis.  When this is all over maybe people will recognise that the HSE is doing a huge amount of the right things.  I know from my own heart events in 2016, I had no private health insurance, but the care I got was absolutely brilliant and I really appreciate that from the doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, administrators, helicopter crew and aftercare staff at St Luke’s, Kilkenny, Waterford University Hospital and Cork University Hospital.  Some parties and politicians came to the last general election with policies that they knew would never have to be implemented. They were promising the world with untold money, knowing that in reality it would never be tested.  Many of those who wanted change fell for the propaganda. You will note now, how quiet they are and probably how relieved they are at not being in power at this time, because you cannot promise the solution for COVID-19, a cure.  The people will see through that much more quickly.

I would like to finish this blog, by reminding people, that living in fear, is not living.  Hurl clever, and stay mentally strong and positive. Work on your game everyday and keep the spirits in the team high and unified. Victory can be ours!  And if despair does get to much of a burden, use the technology to talk to someone.  Social must not die from the virus. If the technology doesn’t work there is always the option to talk to your God, who or whatever that maybe. It is at times like these, the value of Prayer to give hope will be seen. Because if you do end up in isolation, that God, will be the closest friend you will have.   I hope when this is all over, we (as in the world) will be more honest and caring to our fellow mankind.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WOULD LIKE READING MATERIAL TO PASS THE TIME DURING THIS PHASE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE LINKS BELOW. YOUR INTEREST IS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED;

SHORT STORIES

NOVELS & NOVELLA

FULL LENGTH PLAYS

ONE-ACT PLAYS

POETRY

 

HOW COULD IT HAPPEN?

Last week I visited Poland and specifically the City of Kraków. It is a typical and beautiful eastern European city and the people are very friendly. Normally, when I go somewhere, I want to write a story about the place and use it as a backdrop to my fiction.  The place normally adds substance and variety to my fiction.  Yes, there was the intriguing and fascinating Salt mines with its underground Church, shop, theatre and restaurants as well as the wonderful House of Illusions, the lovely food from the reasonably priced restaurants, the horse drawn carriages and the brilliant architecture. However, Kraków’s biggest tourist attraction has its own real stories, too brutal and painful for many to hear, but also too true. 

Myself, Sheila, Jennifer and Lisa took in a tour of the concentration or more appropriate extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. There were no souvenir T-Shirts, fridge magnets, calendars or pens for what is the area’s biggest tourist attraction.   There was plenty of stories already there, told in a very solemn manner by the knowledgeable tour guide. The train tracks to the death camps. The accommodation, far from human luxury, crowded and even inhumane for animals.  The stories of torture and separation from family.  The shootings and the hangings were not even the worst. The medical and genetic experiments.  The thoughts of the agony and the failure to catch those final breaths in the gas chambers. The stark reminders with the thousands of shoes, the combs and brushes and pots of all kinds, but must brutality for me, the prosthetic limbs and the tons of human hair. Mostly brown, but made even more harrowing with the random cuts of blonde interspersed. Normal everyday things representing a massive inhumane atrocity.

The thought of the untold cruelty to men and women alike brings huge emotion. Even more grotesque when you consider the horrors inflicted on the children, very young children. Then there is that horrible glee you feel as you see where the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss was hung for his crimes, but there were so many more “humans” involved.  Over a million people were murdered in those extermination camps.  Mainly Jewish and Poles, but not all. There were many other races. How is justice ever achieved for those crimes against mankind?

Being one that always looks for the logic, my overriding thought was “How could It happen?” How could so many of the perpetrators let it happen? Surely as humans we should learn.  Surely it could never happen again. Then that evening I arrive back in the hotel. Turn on the television and watch Sky News.  The story of the refugee camps in Syria is prominent….

THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING.

(Edmund Burke)

I do not have an inspiration for any play, novel, short story or poetry after Auschwitz and Birkenau. I do know that in all walks of life, he above saying is so true, yet so often we as people, both men and women often do NOTHING.  I urge you never to forget and learn for the future.

It might sound like I am not recommending Kraków for a visit. On the contrary. I think everyone should visit. It is not all gloom, and do most definitely include Auschwitz and Birkenau, if only for it to serve as a reminder of the cruelty of the human race and the importance battling evil.  Let us never forget those people and what happened, ever.

THE STORY

The Story… If you Google the definition (and everyone loves to Google these days), you get an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.”  This is why when I write, The Story, is the most important aspect of my material, factual or fictional.  I write to entertain, I write to tell a story because everyone has a story and everyone is a story and reading the written, should be entertaining. The academic scholar and literary writer indulge in the extravagant words with exquisite narrative and description. Often the pace and the context of the story is lost in the elaboration of their finely manicured words. My words are more simple than most, but the story is the key.  The Story… Everyone loves a story no matter what the theme, setting or overriding emotion.

We Irish have a huge tradition of storytelling.  The seanchaí of old, pictured by the fireside with an attentive audience, entertained with stories of legend, folklore and current affairs of the time, long before television, Netflix, Amazon and the many other forms of streaming entertainment. The story is what mattered to them. It had to provide entertainment on the long nights before electricity became available.  The Irish culture is traditionally a social one and storytelling is the foundation that it is built upon. We love to socialise, from the fireside, the graveside, the church wall to the pub, the local shop or sports facility. We love to meet, talk, gossip and have a laugh. It is probably one of the reasons why we became known as the land of saints and scholars and produced so many renowned writers. Those special interactions. Even the guy on the bar stool regaled his audience with the story. His words and grammar were not always the best, but his story mattered and adapted versions would be narrated in workplaces and other hostelries thereafter.

Recently, I was at a book launch in Langton’s, Kilkenny. The book is called “Uncover, Discover, Recover” by Fergus Heffernan. Fergus is a man I have come to know and respect over the years through my hobbies of Drama and the GAA. The book is his story. It was a very good and intriguing launch with excerpts of the book read by local drama group members to great dramatic effect.  I have to admit I am very slow to read books and it will take me some time to finish it, mainly due to all my hobby demands and reading shorter articles in my thirst for quick knowledge. (I know! A bit hypocritical for a writer). It could possibly take me a few months to complete. Although I had no idea before the launch what the book was going to be about, I get the gist of the story from the launch and the bit I have read. It has two strong threads of suicide and sexual abuse both underpinned by mental health. I have known and respected Fergus for many years and the content surprised me. I did not know or even guessed. Just goes to show. However, it his story and it takes a lot more courage to write your own story, especially that story, than the fiction that I write. Fair play to Fergus.  I do hope the end of his written story offers hope and I am confident it will, because Fergus was there to launch the book himself, with a smile, to a huge, diverse and enthralled audience.

Hope is one key component of my stories. No matter what the content or context, I want my stories to give hope. Hope that they live happily ever after. Hope that they will find a way. Hope that they can live with the consequences. Hope that it will be better. Hope that there will be more. Hope is a belief in a better tomorrow. If you have hope at the end of a story, your story, the story has touched you, life gets better. 

The stories, I write are fiction, but many, particularly the Irish based ones are based on real life events. Others, particularly the westerns, are the product of my wild imagination. But they all tell a story. As I said previously we all have a story and we all are a story. Our stories entertain. Our lives entertain. Even the sad and tragic ones entertain and capture our imagination and empathy. Entertainment is not always about the happy emotion, but hope is. We Irish love to ask “anything strange, exciting or new?” The answer is more often than not “No.” But the truth is our lives are exciting when you think about it and every day is actually different and sometimes even strange.  The story is different every day, albeit similar. And maybe it is that similarity that causes us to miss the subtle differences. We are all diverse characters in one huge big story called Life.

My characters are often composites of people I know or the person I would like to be. We all strive to be someone else, better than what we are, but how many of us achieve that? Few I suggest. But writing and the story allow us to get close. It allows me to get close.  If you love a story and who doesn’t, I believe you will be entertained by the stories I tell. My website and online published library is now over two years old. I am disappointed with the number of people who visited here and/or have read any of my stories, plays, novels etc. My stories have to be read to have life, provide entertainment, to give hope. I really appreciate those that have taken the time and especially those who have gave me feedback, positive or negative.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are good friends. I need more people to read and share my content. That is my ultimate hope for 2020.  As I said at the start, everyone loves to Google.  Why not Google into my stories this Christmas. Share with friends and relations. Be entertained. Find hope. Most of all… Savour the Story!