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22 March 2019

Award Winning Author, Donal Ryan, Visits Newbridge College

Award Winning Author, Donal Ryan, Visits Newbridge College

On Thursday 28th of February, Newbridge College was fortunate to receive a visit from award-winning author Donal Ryan.

Some of his most well-known novels are “The Spinning Heart” and “The Thing About December”. As we are studying “The Spinning Heart” for our Leaving Cert comparative course, everyone in the class was excited to learn more from Ryan, and there is no denying that it proved to be an immensely beneficial learning experience. Discussing the polyphonic novel and hearing the evident emotion that Ryan felt towards his characters was insightful. The way in which he spoke made it easy to forget that these characters are not real. For me, I suppose, it was this connection and compassion which stood out for me. For Ryan, these characters are not mere figments of his imagination. Bobby, Triona, Seanie; they all remain real to him, as people suffering through the trials and tribulations of life at his hand.

201903 Author Donal Ryan 2_1.jpg

The visit started off as most do in school; we filed into the library, finding our seats, chatting with anticipation and praying that it wouldn’t run into lunch time. Ryan’s friendly demeanor as he sat cross-legged at the head of the table encouraged an abundance of questions. These were answered with humour and with words of inspiration. Whatever the question called for, Ryan delivered. In the space of just over an hour we managed to discuss “Ulysses”, “Fifty Shades of Grey” and everything in between. Ryan held everyone captivated throughout the entire talk- not an easy feat when dealing with a group of teenagers.

201903 Author Donal Ryan 4.jpg

I came out of the talk, undoubtedly like many others, feeling well and truly inspired to write. Stephen King said that “the scariest moment is always just before you start”, we have been urged by Ray Bradbury to “find out what our hero wants then just follow him”. But while creatively put and undoubtedly true, neither of these lines have inspired and motivated me like one from Ryan did. He told us that “the only way to be a writer is to write”. While yes, it is short and simple, it is a line that has stayed with me since he said it. This truism is undeniably effective and abundantly helpful.

201903 Author Donal Ryan 3.jpg

A great deal of thanks is owed to Ms. McCluskey, teacher and librarian at Newbridge College, for organizing the day and of course to Mr. Ryan himself. I speak for everyone when I say that we are so grateful for the time and effort taken to make it possible. This experience will have undoubtedly enhanced our ability to in some way do the wonderfully complex characters of Donal Ryan’s “The Spinning Heart” justice in our upcoming exam. Not only that, but we were able to walk away after a well-rounded discussion of the importance of practicing kindness and expressing feelings. Ryan said that as someone always writing from the perspective of “silent” men, suffering from inner turmoil, he wanted to encourage more people to speak about their feelings, seek help and remember that things will always get better. If nothing else was taken away from the talk on Thursday, Donal Ryan instilled the idea of hope in all of us, told us to always remember to look for it and reminded us that even when it seems impossible, there is always hope.


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