THE ‘can-do’ attitude of people in rural Ireland, particularly in West Cork, where she lives, is something which has always intrigued writer Alice Taylor.
Whether it’s the young Lisheen rowers going for – and winning – Olympic gold, or the determination of people in Courtmacsherry to set up their own community co-op store when the last shop in the village closed down, or the incredible Ludgate facility in Skibbereen, country people, she believes, have an innate ability to overcome adversity.
In recent years this ‘can-do’ attitude was reflected in the work of the West Cork Development Partnership which channelled ‘much needed Leader funds into the more remote areas of West Cork,’she declares.
‘The decision to remove that responsibility from the WCDP is to be regretted and I hope it will be rescinded,’ she said adding that the organisation reflected the ‘can-do’ attitude in rural Ireland.
‘It is very important to look after the little places. We need to look after our roots,’ she says, adding that she believes that the resilience of rural communities comes from the very roots of village and community living. ‘It’s very much a case of Mind the Neighbours,’ says the Innishannon resident and celebrated author who is about to publish her 23rd book, Tea and Talk.
The book opens with an invitation from Alice to the reader, to some ‘tea and talk’ under an old apple tree in the garden of the house where she has lived since the early 1960s.
She raised her family here, ran a guesthouse and is now absorbed in writing, painting and gardening, as well as sharing her life with neighbours around the village who, like her, are involved in local affairs.
In Tea and Talk Ms Taylor is once again writing about village life and neighbourliness – but this time about life today, and particularly about life today in her home village of Innishannon.
The book covers a variety of topics, from the local GAA club and determined local initiatives to restoration of an old Famine Graveyard and historic tower, to the troubles of the village’s GAA club and the importance of its celebrated parish magazine and journal of record, Candlelight.
Tea and Talk will be launched on Friday October 7th at the Innishannon Parish Hall by Margaret O’Sullivan, former school principal in the village.
Ms Taylor, who has lived in Innishannon for more than 50 years, has looked on as the area steadily changed.
‘I wanted to capture village life as it is in today’s Ireland but at the same time I wanted to create an awareness of the value of village living and the importance of neighbours and the community,’ said Ms Taylor, adding that her new book examines local initiatives such as the restoration of the Famine Graveyard at Kilpadder just outside the village, and the long-running restoration project surrounding the very historic St Mary’s Tower in the heart of the village.
‘The overall message of the book is to examine village life, its strengths and its structure. I am trying to create an awareness of the value of community and the need for maintaining old rights-of-way,’ she says.
The book highlights the ‘sheer solidity and value of rural communities at a time when they are threatened by rural depopulation,’ she adds, pointing out that, however, village life is ‘not all roses and sunshine’, and that this, too, is reflected in her book.
‘There is always dissent of some sort in a village!’ she notes.
The launch of Tea and Talk will take the form of a tea party, reflecting the cover of her new book which is a photograph of the beautiful fine bone china cup and saucer, a 1930s wedding gift to the previous inhabitants of the house, ‘Auntie Peg and Uncle Jackie’.
Tea and Talk by Alice Taylor is published by the O’Brien Press €16.99