To start this month’s blog, it is a Happy 21st Birthday to my son Jamie Peter Norris. That was the easy bit. Having written poetry for my daughters Jennifer and Lisa, it would be pertinent to do something for Jamie though he may not thank me nor did he ask me, but that’s fine too. This task did not sit easy at all as inspiration failed me and given my quirky dislike for poetry, it was a challenge that beat me.  However, in parallel, a number of artistic ideas were flowing around the eerie maze that is within my head.

One was inspired by a film that I really like called “The Shawshank Redemption”. Most of you will know it. I was always under the misconception it was based on a Stephen King short story and wondered how a short story could become such a detailed and brilliant film. I wanted to write a short story that could be turned into a film like that, but could not figure out how I could reduce the words to succeed. Then I discovered it was actually based on a Stephen King novella called “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”.  A novella is a long short story or a short novel with the word count generally varying between 20,000 and 40,000 words.  Now I was in the right territory. A novella beckoned, but on what subject.

In another parallel sphere, I was getting to the end of watching the TV series, “Castle”, one of my favourite US Crime dramas. I love the chemistry and wit between the main protagonists, Rick Castle and Kate Beckett and to be fair she is not half bad looking.  A thing that baffles me about US television police dramas, is the use of last names when calling each other.  The Cops almost always call each other by their last name or surname. Even when Rick Castle and Kate Beckett got married they still most often called each other Castle and Beckett rather than Rick and Kate. The trend was noticeable in other similar genre programmes like “Blue Bloods” and “Rookie Blue”. I think perhaps it is a North American thing. Then, coincidentally after one episode which I had discussed the phenomenon with Sheila, the following day, I was unexpectedly called “Norris” by a work colleague, ‘out of the blue’, to stick to the blue theme. No harm meant. It just made me think that it is unusual in Ireland, a bit American in fact. I didn’t find it offensive but it did give me a thought. How would an Irish crime drama go where the protagonists and characters only used first names? That would be more Irish and different. It would contrast with the Americans and I reckon it would be unique.  But what name to choose?

As I was looking for inspiration for a poem about Jamie, the thought occurs, why not Jamie for the main character? Not a bad name. I gave Jamie Norris the name (with Sheila of course). Why not borrow it back so to speak? It’s a good name for a lead character, but a novella is a huge leap from a poem.  But hey let’s see where it goes, I thought. I wanted the theme to be an Irish crime thriller, set locally in the South and South-East of Ireland and incorporate places that I know well.  The characters would only be known by the role or their first name unless there I was referencing real people rather than fictitious people.

Around the same time as inspiration was growing, I went to the “Cowboys and Heroes” festival in County Leitrim, a country and western festival headlined by the singer Lisa McHugh.  Really enjoyed my weekend in the North West and Lisa McHugh, so I introduced a Country and Western singer into the plot. This gave me the opportunity to write the lyrics of song which I called “Jamie(Click link for lyrics) for the purposes of my Novella plot rather than a poem. Not exactly about my son Jamie, but it is called “Jamie” in a novella called “Jamie”. It was as close as inspiration could bring me.  A leap and a small compromise. If any reader with a female country and western background wants to put the music to it, please contact me. At the moment, it is just words.

From here the novella snowballed into my most risqué piece of work yet. It is definitely not suitable reading for young people with murder, bad language, sexual innuendo and nudity involved but honestly no wildlife was really harmed in the writing of my first novella.  Locals will recognise scenes around Kilkenny especially Piltown, Hugginstown, Windgap and Paulstown, in Tipperary, Grangemockler and Carrick-On-Suir, as well as Mahon and Fota in Cork and Tinryland in Carlow.

To my son Jamie, enjoy your birthday and thanks for the inspiration and the use of your name.  Thanks to rest of my family who throw their eyes to heaven on a regular basis. To my work colleagues at Glanbia whose actions and words inspired different elements of the story, plot and characterisation.  I know you are a covert reader, but always delighted to have you as I target double figure readership.  Please read my debut novella, “Jamie” and share with your adult friends. To US crime drama fans, your crime drama has now been given a unique Irish slant.  To publishers, it’s new, it’s different and it’s Irish! Read it and try not to weep.



Happy 81st Birthday to Eileen Norris (Da Mammy) on Thursday (28th March). A harder working woman you will never find. A really proud and independent woman who has huge pride in her children and her grandchildren and all her family and dozens and dozens of cousins. I have dedicated my latest poem to her. All the writing I’ve done, I have never written about her before. So hopefully she won’t kill me and people will enjoy this short tribute called Eileen.


My eldest daughter Jennifer received her degree in PE & Biology at a ceremony in DCU recently. There is a great sense of achievement for the family to bring a child through the education system for them to achieve their goals in life. It was great for the family, her grannies and her godmother to get together afterwards to celebrate a huge milestone in all our lives.  I have no doubt as Jennifer starts her career in Dungarvan College; she will continue to be successful. The area I am interested in most, is her role as a PE teacher. There is no doubt she will offer her pupils every opportunity to develop a physical sport that is suitable for them.  Like me, she is very passionate about it.

Nowadays we see so many older people out running, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, even doing walking football. Gealic4Mothers & Others is a prime example of people returning to sport and enjoying it. Many of these people have come to physical sport late in life. Many did do sport when they were very young but like a lot of people, they gave it up at an early age. A lot earlier than they had to or should have.  Its very hard to turn back and do all those sports you could have but there are still opportunities ahead. I honestly, believe that they all regret the decision to end their youthful sports participation now as they get so much enjoyment and health benefits from their chosen activity.  It may be a reason why people think they have to push their child in multiple sports when for some, one done well would suffice. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could transfer the knowledge these older people got from their experiences to our younger generations so as they wouldn’t make the same mistakes and quit activities and sports early.

Wouldn’t it be great if our politicians could really see the benefits of sport and physical activity to young people and our health systems rather than just appearing in the best seats in the stadia on big event days!  We need sport and physical activity to be a huge part of our pre-school and primary education.  We need teachers in those schools who are passionate about sport and physical activity. We must have passionate teachers of PE at all levels of our education system. We need the facilities to be available and we need an end to the school bans on running in the playgrounds and if that means legislation to call halt to stupid threatened lawsuits, so be it! There’s a referendum that might be worth having. Banning stupid lawsuits for kids falling over in the playground! That’s another part of growing up, that is being ruined by the PC brigade. On top of that we need the availability of PE as a subject and an exam subject in all secondary schools, especially with more and more sports creating a professional level.  When all that has been achieved then the politicians will have earned the best seats in the house and that includes our President. I don’t recall PE getting a mention in any presidential election debates by any candidate in the recent campaign!  Many politicians are quick to complain about the health services, but not so quick to promote PE as a means to reduce the workload on our health services!

The sports sector delivers value for money and identifiable returns on investment for Government funds. A report on sport in Ireland (commissioned by the Irish Spots Council) from 2008, stated that on a total state investment of €618.3 million, the Exchequer received €922.7 million in taxes generated by the sports sector. For every €100 investment by the Government, it received €149 in sports related taxes. The financial benefits for the Exchequer through increased economic activity and reduced health service costs are enormous. Listen up Politicians!

Physical education prepares children to be physically and mentally active, fit and healthy for life.  The benefits include

  • Improved physical fitness, skill and motor skills development
  • Provides regular, healthful physical activity
  • Teaches self-discipline
  • Facilitates development of student responsibility for health and fitness
  • Influences moral development and leadership
  • Stress reduction by way of releasing tension and anxiety
  • Strengthens peer relationships
  • Can improve self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Helps you respect your body, classmates and teammates
  • Experience in setting goals
  • Improved academics

The World Health Organisation recommendations in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, and cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers says;

  • Children and youths aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.
  • Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.
  • Most of the daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.

As a GAA coach we often hear parents saying their child is doing too much.  I wonder are they really? Are they really fulfilling the daily recommendations?  In my experience most of them, think they are but are not. Is it more a case that the parent is tired of driving to training sessions every night of the week?  Do not use your apathy to restrict your child’s opportunity of physical activity, especially in a team environment among their friends and peers who can be great encouragement.  Many GAA grounds now have walk paths which can allow you to get your physical exercise in while maybe a chat with other parent friends with a comfortable underfoot. You get the same healthy benefits as your child and you set a huge positive example of the importance of physical activity.   I would encourage everyone to push the physical education and participation in sport agenda. There is something for everyone and every ability. No more excuses!