A CAPACITY crowd filled Dalton House Day Care Centre in Gowran last Wednesday evening, 2nd December, for the launch of a book titled Life Through Our Viewfinder.
The book details the stories, life experiences and anecdotes of over fifty attendees of the day care centre, and was produced over twenty months.
Though the contributors might be average older people, some have extraordinary tales to tell as they recount their journey from childhood to the present time.
The project was initially born as an occupational therapy project for those attending the centre every Friday night, but as the scheme continued it became apparent that the quality and uniqueness of the stories being shared deserved to be shared a wider audience. A small number of the stories shared – referred to as “armchair stories” – were carefully transcribed and ‘ghostwritten’ on behalf of the attendees.
While naturally the book’s stories deal with a variety of local and broader historical issues, it is not meant to be seen an objective historical publication, but rather as the personal recollections of the senior citizens who attend the centre on a weekly basis.
In his welcoming address at the book’s launch, Gowran’s Parish Priest, Fr Pat Dalton, had high praise for the centre’s manager, Nellie Brett, who as chairperson of the project’s steering committee had huge input into the production of the book. Ft Dalton commented that it was Nellie who “sought the writers, gathered photographs and even engaged in some ghostwriting”.
Fr Dalton also lavished praise on Ashling Brett, who took on the laborious task of transcribing all the stories from the paper to the screen, and her husband Paul whose technical expertise was given voluntarily in laying out the book, and reproducing the pictures to an extremely high standard. The cover design was contributed by local artist Lorraine Brett.
After transcription and typesetting, there remained the final phase of producing the book – the delicate art of editing. The group were fortunate in securing the services of award-winning journalist Sean Hurley,who offered to do the final cut.
Launching the book last Wednesday, John McGuinness TD congratulated Nellie, her team, and in particular the contributors who made the publication of Life Through Our Viewfinder a reality. He remarked that he was very impressed with the book, and suggested that every home should have a copy.
The book has already proven popular and the committee plan to organise a sequel publication in the coming years. Half of all proceeds from its sale will be invested in the production of the second volume of stories, while half will be returned to fund the facilities offered at Dalton House.
The steering committee, who oversaw the management of the book from conception to publication, was also comprised of Jimmy Breen, Nancy Whelan, Des Kehoe, Jim Flanagan, Bridie Byrne, Michael Farrell, Geraldine Nolan and Fr Pat Dalton, PP.
Dalton House Day Care Centre – and the publication of the book itself – is supported with funding from the HSE. The centre provides a range of activities and services for the elderly such as ‘meals on wheels’, laundry, art, respite and computer classes as well as a weekly social gathering for bingo, card games, refreshments and singsongs.
The Centre is also assisted financially by the Government’s intermediate charity, Pobal, which pays the staff at the centre, and which also contributed to the costs of publishing the book.
Life Through Our Viewfinder is available from Teach Mhuire, Callan; Hennessy’s shop, Gowran; and from the Book Centre, High Street, Kilkenny. The hardback edition of the book, which has almost sold out already, costs €18.90 while the paperback is priced at €14.95.