Author Brian Gallagher reflects on his epic D15 school tour for Draiocht during November 2015 ..
1 month, 31 schools, 107 classes, 2590 pupils – and 1 hoarse author!
It’s been an amazing month as I visited almost every school in Dublin 15, some of them in new suburbs that I had barely heard of, despite the fact that I live in Castleknock.
Wherever I went though, one thing was the same – I got a warm welcome and huge engagement from the pupils.
With ‘Friend or Foe’ being an adventure story set at the time of the1916 Rising, the timing was good for the coming centenary, but what the pupils seemed to really relate to was the fact that all of the story is told through the eyes of a group of children – children their own age, who lived in Dublin 100 years ago.
My school visits entailed talking about the creative process, life as a professional writer, the challenges involved in weaving fiction around factual events, a reading by the author and generally culminating with a Question Answer session – and what questions!
“If Id been alive in 1916 which side would I have been on?”
“If stranded on a desert island, which three characters from ‘Friend or Foe’ would I want with me?”
“If I was a superhero, who would I like to be?”
“Was I alive in 1916?” (Do I really look 100 years old?!)
The questions were insightful, challenging and funny and overall the tour was a wonderful opportunity to meet young readers and to hear what matters most in a novel, from their perspective.
I’d like to thank Sarah Beirne, Nicola Murphy and Emer McGowan from Draiocht for all the work and support involved in organising this tour, and also Sarah O’Neill, Arts Officer with Fingal for additional financial support.
And finally a word of gratitude to all the pupils and teachers I met. Thanks for the hospitality – it made for a really memorable month!
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