A wonderful work of storytelling and social history with treasured memories
Ireland of the 1960’s was seen as a vibrant time. It was a time when worldwide, what was accepted as being ‘the norm’ was being challenged.
Ireland also benefited from the economic boom and developing economy as policies of protectionism were abandoned and the country was opened up to international trade and industry. RTÉ television began on the last day of 1961. The 1960s also saw the end of censorship in Ireland, and the provision of free post-primary education. The Civil Rights movement began in the North of Ireland, and the start of the ‘troubles’, which continued to the end of the century.
However, if you are looking for events closer to home, you would do well to read Tom Byrnes book ‘Three miles of road-tales of a country life in the sixties’.
BOOK IS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD
CARLOW-BORN author Tom Byrne’s first book Three miles of road – tales of country life in the sixties’ was officially launched by Anna May McHugh (MD, National Ploughing Association) and RTÉ author and producer John MacKenna at the Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow on Thursday 23 June.
Speaking at the launch, RTÉ author and producer John MacKenna had this to say. “The book is a wonderful work of storytelling and of social history. I remember the first night Tom came to a writing workshop in the library, saying he had no idea why he was there but now we all know he had stories to tell and what stories! Life, death, laughter, sadness. Stories of love and loss and, most importantly, stories of the ordinary people and ordinary lives – each one as important as another. Kavanagh spoke in ‘Inniskeen Road July Evening’ of being ‘king of banks and stones and a mile of road’. Tom went two miles better in his beautifully titled book. The group that Tom was part of in the library were a wonderful, honest and open group and this book is proof that storytelling is in Tom’s blood. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt and important book and one he should rightly be proud of. It weighs 530 grammes. That much gold costs €30,000. This book is worth a lot more.”
A STRONG AFFINITY WITH RURAL IRELAND
Speaking with The Kilkenny Observer, Tom shared his thoughts. “Throughout my life I’ve felt a strong affinity with rural Ireland and the farming community and in my writing I’ve tried to capture the general decency of the people as well as their quirks, good humour and failings. As with life in Ireland in general, rural Carlow has changed so much over the decades, so I also wanted to reflect on those changes and put them on the record for future generations.”
Tom lives in Co Carlow with his wife Kathleen and their family and runs the award-winning Burnside-Eurocyl company with his brother Anthony and other family members.
The book focuses on Tom’s memories of growing up in rural Carlow and its mix of fascinating memories and colourful characters, both locals and visitors.
A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES
MC on the night John Nolan regaled the attendance with various stories such as the story of a local man who was drawing the blind pension, but when the darts tournament came up at the local pub at Christmas he couldn’t resist taking part when he saw the prizes on offer. In the end he came second and bagged a fine hamper.
According to the author, his memories and stories cross all topics. “There were tears and laughter, religion and sex, joy and strife, friendship and rivalry, mischief and mayhem, music and drama, life and death and the fear of the Telegram Woman. Sadly, the tragic story of the pregnant girl, whose baby was taken from her by the nuns, is rendered even more poignant by last year’s controversial “Mother and Baby Homes Report.”
Three miles of road is an entertaining collection of stories with a parade of colourful characters such as By the Wheely Mick, Black Sally, The Hootle Doran and The Russia Man, descriptions of the strange ritual of “blowing” and a game called meggars, and the dramatic impact of the assassination of President Kennedy. But above all, Three miles of road – tales of country life in the sixties is Tom Byrne’s invaluable contribution to our understanding of Ireland’s recent past.
Speaking at the book launch, managing director of the National Ploughing Championship , Anna May McHugh made the following observation. “This book by Tom Byrne will bring treasured memories to many families and create conversation and laughter throughout Co Carlow and beyond. Readers will appreciate the work, research and time Tom has given to this great publication. Even when we have all passed away his work will be a history for upcoming generations”
The book is dedicated to Tom’s parents and is highly recommended as a book that you can dip in and out of with each visit to the book promising to be a pleasurable one.
The publication is available in bookshops in Carlow and Kilkenny.