Wednesday 15 June 2016

Comment: Left Behind by Rex Lee

Left Behind

by Rex Lee

In the 70's, if you were young and attached to an organisation that had a partner in the European Economic Community (EEC), the world was your oyster. However, because the whole concept of a united Europe was still in the future, we were not fully aware of the possibilities presented. We argued fiercely, as only the very young could do, secure in the knowledge that it would, time after time, produce the right prescription for our new world.

A couple of years after the second opening to the EEC, which allowed Ireland, Britain and Denmark to enter the community and a few years before the accession of Spain, Portugal and Greece, I, along with most of the members of our local Macra na Feirme club, visited the Austrian Tyrol. Austrian EEC membership would, however, have to wait two further openings.

We were impressed with Austria, with its web of autobahns and flyovers, though there was a certain incongruity in the fact that each morning, on leaving our pension (boarding house or lodgings), we would see an elderly woman pushing a wheelbarrow of manure down an autobahn. We pondered this yet failed to furnish a suitable explanation. Why had the lady with the headscarf to do what she did? Only later did we realise that a few years previously, Innsbruck had hosted the Winter Olympics: hence, all the autobahns and flyovers. Most of the population had been left behind however.

I found that the Europeans shared an interest in both myself and my colleagues. This was obvious from the many conferences I attended. My fellow countrymen and I got a very warm reception from our counterparts. They were interested in the country we came from – and in us as individuals. After centuries of separation and non-involvement with the world, Ireland had come in from the cold. These Europeans listened to our opinions and demands, even when they were excessive.

It is sad that forty years later, Britain is thinking about leaving the European Union, having been a partner with us in this great adventure. Ireland has benefited enormously and surprised many by emerging as one of the most dynamic economies of Europe, from being one of the most sluggish. We have also progressed enormously on social grounds: the position of the disabled and of women has been greatly enhanced.
Melodies at Eventide by Rex Lee

Rex Lee is an author, film-maker, activist and campaigner on behalf of disabled people. His autobiography, Melodies at Eventide, was published earlier this year by The Manuscript Publisher (ISBN: 978-0-9576729-7-0). It is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Books Ireland Short Story Competition 2016

Following the success of the 2015 inaugural short story competition, Books Ireland have announced that another competition will take place in 2016, as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.

Cash prizes are on offer, including €400 for the winning entry plus a writing course at the Irish Writers Centre and publication in Books Ireland. Entries should be no more than 2600 words and must be original, unpublished and not currently submitted for publication nor for any other competition or award. Otherwise the competition "is open to all writers of any nationality writing in English, with no restriction on style or theme."

An entry fee of €10, or €5 for subscribers to Books Ireland or members of a creative writing group applies. The closing date for entries is 31 August, 2016.

Full details on how to enter are available from the website of Books Ireland where you can also view the results of last year's competition and read the winning entries.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Down the Decades by Mattie Lennon

A History of CIÉ captured and stored on DVD

Surprised by joy-impatient as the wind
I wished to share the transport-Oh! With whom
But thee ...
- Wordsworth

Patrick Kavanagh said that no one could write a comprehensive account of Irish life who ignored the Gaelic Athletic Association. Likewise, any attempt to chronicle events of the last seventy years would be far from complete if Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) was omitted.

Almost every family in Ireland has or had somebody working in CIÉ, the semi-State body that was founded in 1945. From 1950, it brought out an in-house magazine. The Link ran from 1950 and was replaced by Nuacht in the 1990s. The last Nuacht rolled off the presses in 2003.

Thanks to a few dedicated employees, most of these publications have been rescued from the jaws of obscurity and now, they are about to share the transport publications (which include more than fifteen thousand photographs) with all on DVD.

The first edition of The Link, dated 24 November 1950, published a letter from the CIÉ Chairman:
Dear Mr. Editor, 
On the occasion of the first issue of The Link, I want to offer you my best wishes for the success of the paper. 
I feel sure that you and your colleagues who contribute, or otherwise help, will do everything that can be done to make The Link a staff paper which will, as its name suggests, bind together the members of our staff in all grades and in all places throughout the country. 
I ask every CIÉ man to become a regular reader and in this way, co-operate with you in developing a spirit of unity and good fellowship in our organisation. 
Yours sincerely 
T.C. Courtney

The Editor, Frank Finn, thanked all contributors for, "... articles, notes, news stories and pictures, which have helped me to fill this issue."

The first issue carried articles on subjects as diverse as Charles Bianconi, the pioneer of public transport in Ireland; "The Goats of Westport"; new loading gear for loading cattle onto aircraft and an advertisement from Cotts of Kilcock, "Ireland’s biggest Mail-Order store".

In June 1951, the CIÉ lost property department had a "lost go-car" on its hands and in the Small Ads section of May 11, 1952, you could have purchased a beautiful 3-plate electric cooker for £17 10 shillings. Decades of "Gleanings from the garages", "Capital News", "Notes from the provinces", "Greetings from Christmas travellers" and accounts of funny happenings within the company are all there.

When Nuacht came on stream, it was soon published in full colour and had the effect of bringing employees with a literary bent, who were shy about their scribblings, 'out of the closet'. There is now in existence, the CIÉ Writers’ Group, which brought out a collection of short-stories, poems, essays and articles entitled, There’s Love and There’s Sex and There’s the 46A (2005) with a foreword by Professor Brendan Kennelly, who described the contributors as "... writers, ... keen listeners, sharp observers, constantly in touch with the foibles of humanity and, most striking of all, they are gifted storytellers."

Five years later, they published a second collection, It Happens Between Stops. American crime-writer, Lawrence Block (who was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994 ), wrote the following about it:
"The quantity and quality of work produced by this group, taken from a workforce of a few thousand people, would do credit to a city of many millions."

If you worked for CIÉ and did anything newsworthy, from 'missing a free' to acting as midwife on a crowded bus, there is a good chance that you are in there somewhere. If there was a picture of, or an article about, you or yours in any of these magazines, now is your chance to re-capture the past.

Down the Decades with The Link and Nuacht is available on DVD for €10 (including postage) from:
John Cassidy,
CIE Writers’ Group,
Dublin Bus Central,
Dublin 7

reproduced from Timeline of Irish History website

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Sorry for the Silence by Ian R. Braddock

Post-Punk Reflections and an Urban Answer to the Problems of Conscience

As the title may suggest, Sorry for the Silence by Ian R. Braddock is a volume of poetry that has had a long gestation period. At the same time, it also reflects a certain kind of soul-searching that comes with finding one's voice, having one's eyes opened and the discomfort with feeling mute in the face of difficult or challenging situations. The author chooses neither to to embellish nor to mitigate and this results in candid observations that demonstrate a rare and remarkable perceptiveness, informed by a characteristic candour and honesty.
I stood in my doorway and told a story
As tall as tall can be,
Aware that in running from the children's gaze,
I know how cowardly… I am.
The very least I can give these souls
That stand in the line to die,
Is an honest account of why I won't
Not some pathetic lie.
Shame on me.
- Liar by Ian R. Braddock, from the volume Sorry for the Silence
So who then is Ian R. Braddock? In his own words, he was born in in Manchester, England, had an 'unremarkable childhood', left school at sixteen to a series of dead-end jobs and found himself moving constantly sideways in terms of a career trajectory. Personal fulfilment, such as he found, was sought out in various degrees of hedonism but also, in writing and the pursuit of knowledge. Fortunately, it was the latter that eventually won out and has borne fruit in this, his first volume of poetry, which he describes as "the completion of a jigsaw, made up of answers found in libertarian/anarchic thought over years of 'pondering'."

During these pointless years, he started to write, especially at night when he could not sleep, which was frequently. It was the timbre of words/letters that hooked him: the internal rhythms, how it flowed and so forth. These were the years that hip-hop was fresh, so called 'punk' poets were hacking to bits his perceived stuffiness of their intellectual forefathers.

Sorry for the Silence is his visible answer to the problems of conscience. It is an urban answer and it is, along with his guilt, a driving force for the worthy idea of a better world. It is a collection of poetry that will be enjoyed by anyone who is not afraid to look at the world around them, acknowledge it qualities and its flaws, viewing both with a sense of equanimity until we can discern "the dichotomy of the human predicament: the relationship between what we want, what we need and the price paid for it."

Sorry for the Silence by Ian R. Braddock (ISBN: 978-1505377460) is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions. Further information is available from The Manuscript Publisher.

Search This Site

Popular Posts

Calendar – Dates for Your Diary