Details of my service, and how to contact me, are laid out here. I have 27 years’ publishing experience, and will be happy to discuss your requirements with regard to large or small editing, proofreading, indexing or writing projects.
My latest song …
I remember you told me
You were born on a ship at sea
All the oceans we’ve explored
Since the day I climbed on board
On Tuesday we found ourselves at Lissadell House, the ancestral home of the Gore-Booth family, six years after we first visited it and Co. Sligo. Back then we went to see and hear Leonard Cohen; this time the house itself – famous for its connection with Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) and W.B. Yeats – was the attraction. We looked out at the rain through the windows of which Yeats wrote (and Cohen recited):
The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
(from ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz’)
There’s an extensive and excellent Easter 1916 exhibition in Lissadell at present, including a lot of Markievicz paraphernalia. There is also a wealth of material related to Yeats and his brother, the prolific painter Jack B. Yeats. Continue reading
A new song that I’ve written.
You can’t drive a straight mile on a crooked road
Or walk away from reaping what you’ve sowed
Or fill your head with other people’s stuff
Because their dreams will never be enough
You will try
To live a life of peace
With love that will increase
The summer’s golden glow
When the dark
Of night will take its toll
The hope that’s in your soul
Will let you
Echoing the songs of long ago
Love will grow
When it’s time to start again you’ll go
With the flow
All the things you’ve done are in the past
All the days are flying by so fast
Still you try to read another sign
The time has come for crossing one more line
Soon the sun
Will bring another day
The night will fade away
New flowers will start to grow
And the life
That brings them out to play
Will find some other way
I watched the second part of the Christy Moore Journey documentary tonight, having watched the first part at the weekend. I’ve always liked Christy and his music: he is a man who clearly cares about a lot of people, but I wish he were not so selective in his caring.
A teenage girl who dies giving birth in a grotto will have a song written about her; names of the Birmingham Six and the victims of Bloody Sunday will be recited in songs. That is right and proper. But teenage girls killed by the IRA in Birmingham and children killed by the IRA in Warrington will not have a song written about them. Their names will not be recited. They are of the wrong tribe for compassion or for outrage. Neither will members of the ‘right’ tribe have their names recited if they were killed by the same tribe. Mary Travers, a 22-year-old Catholic teacher, was murdered by the IRA as she left a church. Christy won’t be writing a song about her.
Christy cares about injustices in Latin America, and that’s good. In our own situation, though, his songs show that he cares only about Irish nationalist victims – not about the victims of Irish nationalism. This is tribalism.
If you want to be a tribalist, that’s fine. Just don’t pretend to be something else altogether – a humanitarian, for example.
I admire the bravery of the rebels. I think things would probably have turned out the same (partition and an independent 26-county state) without the Easter Rising, except that there would have been less bloodshed in Ireland over the following seven years, and the new state would have benefited from the contribution of the likes of Connolly, MacDonagh, Plunkett and Collins, and might have taken a road that would have offered better lives to its citizens.
I don’t like to see history simplified and reduced to black/white, good/bad, them/us. I don’t like tribalism or wallowing in victimhood, or a belief that the Irish are somehow special. Perhaps the two most important words in any language are ‘Yes, but …’ We should question orthodoxies, including the orthodoxy of Easter 1916, in my opinion. We should challenge the idea that nobody was ever an Irish patriot unless they shot someone or blew someone up. Continue reading
Sean, it is five years today since you died. These have been the saddest and strangest years of my life.
There were rivers of tears in the early days—the tears are less frequent now. Back then every minute of every day was a terrible weight.
Your mum and I came through the extreme desolation—and the snow and ice—and into a phase where loss was an ever-present ache, but less raw.
I wrote about you: poems, songs, your favourite music, extracts from old diaries, your sporting interests, your extraordinary personality. After three years I seemed to have written all that was worth writing. Some things are unsayable, but I still speak to you every day.
We are strong and resilient. You would be proud of us for that. We have tried to live the right way. You inspire us with vivid memories of how you were. In April 2010 you told us that you had learned a lot about yourself in the previous six months, and we knew it was true. We have learned a lot about ourselves in the past five years.
We have changed. The channel of our humanity deepens and widens as life continues to flow through it. Though we love this world, we are not afraid of dying.
You would be hugely proud of your little sister. Susanna has been incredibly brave and determined. She has set high goals and achieved them all. It has not been easy, but her good humour and sense of fun are as contagious and lovable as ever. She has been out in the world and found lovely people there. She is a shining star, just like you.
We enjoy talking about you with your friends when we have an opportunity, either in real life or online: the light you gave off is still being reflected, although the source has gone; we like to glimpse it where we can. Many things we didn’t know about you till after you died; many photos we hadn’t seen. You are still in many minds.
Between ourselves, we talk about you often. We think about you all the time. Your life and memory are not stored in some compartment; they are in the air we breathe.
You helped us find out things we didn’t know. You and Susanna showed the world to us. Being with you was always an adventure. We were partners in discovery.
This year we went abroad and met a lot of new people; we got to know people in Ireland through new connections. You would be delighted about that: you always encouraged us to socialize and make friends; something you did as naturally as breathing, it seemed. You would have been proud of me for being invited to the conference in Canada.
No year is as good, though, as when we had both our children. No year ever will be.
As I wrote the first Christmas without you—you are a hero to me, and I will love you always. Thanks again for the 7021 days.
On 11 June, Pauline and I were sitting in a coffee shop in Dublin Airport when I spotted Liz, and she came over to join us. With time to kill before our flight to Toronto for the Editing Goes Global conference, the three of us drank coffee and chatted about what the weekend might bring.
There followed the longest flight that Pauline and I had ever experienced, then a short trip on the brand-new Union Pearson train to central Toronto. Tired, we had more trouble finding the hotel – the Intercontinental on Front Street – than we should have done. After a short time to freshen up, we made our way, with the help of Dawn’s map, to Il Fornello on King Street, where around 35 people – nearly all editors – were already dining. Many of them I recognized immediately from Facebook (Greg, Gael, Roberto, Joanna, Marie-Christine, Sara, Suzanne, Arlene, Dawn … and lots more); as the evening went on there were numerous hugs and short, happy conversations.
Twenty or so of us then went to the Strathcona Hotel, where I stood at the bar and spoke mostly to Dawn, Kara and Ted; we walked back to the hotel having wisely not drunk too much: it was very late by Irish time, and I had a busy day lined up, as had Liz. Continue reading