posted 24 Nov 2012, 16:15 by Oscar Duggan
updated 21 Jul 2013, 02:02
A lively attendance was evident at Roscommon County Library on Thursday (15th November) for the launch of the eagerly anticipated memoir, Where Did They Get You?
by Roscommon writer, Bridget P. McDonnell. More than 80 of Bridget’s family, friends and neighbours, colleagues from her nursing days, members of her local golf club and other invited guests turned out for what proved to be a great celebration.
Introducing the proceedings, the author, Bridget McDonnell, thanked everyone for coming and handed over to Oscar Duggan of The Manuscript Publisher
. He went on to speak about the background to the book, how it came to be published, its resonance and importance for Ireland of today. He said that the writing of a memoir is a personal undertaking but the decision to make it public makes it part of a shared, collective experience.
In my estimation, this book represents a valuable contribution to the national conversation which we should be having at this point in our country’s history and I commend the author for making it available; just as I would now like to recommend it to all you to read.
He said that it was a multi-layered narrative which is fascinating as a travel memoir, for the insight it offers into the nursing profession, as well as an important undertaking in documenting and recording the experiences of the Irish diaspora.
The economic downturn that has been experienced in Ireland in recent years has something of a circular narrative to it - much like the book that we are launching here today. Problems like high unemployment and emigration, that we thought had been banished, have now come back with a vengeance. When events like these happen it is instructive to look at how we dealt with these problems in the past. In Ireland of today we are sending another generation out into the world to find work. Yet the situation is not altogether the same as it was in the past. At least we are sending them out with better prospects; they are better educated and will not be facing the same barriers of prejudice as those the Irish emigrants of a previous generation had to break down. Credit for this belongs to people of Bridget’s generation who acted as pioneers, carrying the flag for their country in a difficult time.
He went on to explain how the genesis of the project to publish Bridget’s memoir came about as a result of a meeting he had with the author earlier this year at the SiarScéal Festival, which has taken place annually in Roscommon over the last six years:
By coincidence, next year’s SiarScéal Festival (in March 2013) is taking place on the theme of 'The Gathering' - an effort to reach out to the Irish diaspora. If there is one lesson to be learned from past experience, it is that it is important that we do not lose touch with those generations of Irish people who go abroad to find work. We know from Bridget’s memoir that these people never really lose touch with their roots and indeed many of them come back. They hold the key to our shared future.
He then introduced the keynote speaker of the night, Richie Farrell, Roscommon’s County Librarian. He was lavish in his praise for the book which he described as an exhaustive roller-coaster commenting “who would have thought one could fit so much into a life?” He also mentioned that it challenged his skills as a librarian to categorise the book since it comprised elements of memoir, autobiography, history, travel literature, personal development, psychology. He also appreciated the way the book was packed with cultural references which reminded the reader of where you were when the events were taking place. He concluded by congratulating the author on producing a work of such strength and importance.
- Where Did They Get You? by Bridget P. McDonnell is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online - price €12.95 plus P&P.
- The seventh annual SiarScéal Festival (celebrating The Gathering) commences 7th March, 2013 and takes place over three days. Full details, including programme of events and entry details for the Hanna Greally Literary Competition are available from the SiarScéal website - www.SiarSceal.com