*Dermot Hayes gets a kiss from wife Marian. Photograph: Natasha Barton

ST PATRICK’S HALL in Corofin was packed to capacity on Saturday for the official launch of ‘The Road That Rises’ the memoir of Clare activist Dermot Hayes.

Members of the hall committee were vigorously searching for additional chairs in the store room of the Corofin Hall while safety notices regarding the fire exits had to be announced prior to the formalities such was the extent of the crowds at the hour-long launch which began and ended with traditional music.

Three different extracts from the memoir were read aloud at the launch which was attended by personnel involved in multiple organisations across the county be they political, social and community based. The author said attendees travelled from places such as Scotland, England, Cork, Meath and all over Co Clare while the launch was broadcast live online bringing the festivities to audiences larger than the hundreds physically present in North Clare.

Publisher Dominic Taylor, Dermot Hayes and Ghost Writer Breda Shannon. Photograph: Natasha Barton

“Comrades good evening,” said the main man of the evening, Dermot Hayes when beginning his address. He stressed the importance of communities and said this was evident with all proceeds from the publication going towards Corofin Hall and the Clare Leader Forum and believed it was in line with how he has been “committed to active volunteerism all my life”.

Hayes paid tribute to a number of individuals involved in making the idea of a book a reality including his wife Marian, daughters Aimee and Marese, siblings, ghost writer Breda Shannon, Dominic Taylor of the Limerick Writers Centre, Gabriella Hanrahan for managing the fundraising, Patrick McCormack and all the hall committee.

His long-time friend Gabriella set up a GoFundMe page last winter to try fund the publishing of the book, “I was nervous about doing a GoFundMe, to my surprise and my delight over 180 people donated from all over the world”.

Dermot Hayes with his memoir. Photograph: Natasha Barton

“There’s a story about us all,” the presenter of Radio Beams on Raidió Corca Baiscinn stated when encouraging those in the crowd to commit to telling their tale. He informed them that he would be signing more copies of the book at Ennis Bookshop this coming Saturday from 1:30pm to 3pm.

Corofin native Breda Shannon explained, “my job was to unravel Dermot’s life and piece it together,” a task that began eighteen months ago. “I didn’t know how long or how far the road would rise but it was a privilege to work with a man who never took his feet off the road no matter how big the setbacks, he never gave up fighting for rights”.

Based in England for over five decades, Dermot’s sister Andrea Barry was among those to travel some distance for the launch. Addressing the crowd, she said of her brother, “when I hear your name mentioned or listen to you on Radio Beams I’m so proud. When I look at your life and the many hats you wear I am so proud”.

Photograph: Natasha Barton

Andrea remarked, “the boy from Kells, Dermot Michael James Hayes has done it, he’s has a book of memories published”. She said, “I saw the Book of Kells in Dublin many years ago, I didn’t know there was another place called Kells, we now have our own Book of Kells, in my opinion your book is a story of bravery and courage”. Dermot’s memoir sees his contribution to society “recorded for posterity and history”.

Of Hayes’ involvement with trade unions, Andrea stated, “it takes great courage to question work ethics and improve the lives of others, it’s a gift Dermot. You have always puy your troubles aside and have never heard you say why me, huge respect comrade,” these comments earned rapturous applause from the crowd.

For the Limerick Writers Centre to be involved was a delight, Dominic Taylor admitted. “We’ve been trying to bring ideas about books, literature and writing. We try foster a thriving literary community,” he outlined.

Colin Thomas told the gathering he was the second choice to help launch the book due to the unavailability of PJ Curtis. “If anyone bloomed like the lotus above the strife of life it is Dermot. In many way our stories and poems are the former stone of who we are, the richness of a story is so important, I’ve no doubt this book will find its own way and be read in many corners of the world,” he said.

He continued, “the chapter of disability really shook me, in it Dermot suggests that if we could only find the gifts people with disabilities have and pay them appropriately”. This prompted Colin to note the contributions of Michael Davitt and James Joyce, “both had disabilities but left a legacy”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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