Thursday, October 23, 2008
family celebrate launch of Pat’s unique book
By: Michael Tracey
and Breathing is the curious title of a new book by Portlaoise writer
Pat Dwyer. To those who know Pat, the title will be of little
His mantra is “No matter how bad it gets for you, it
could be worse”. As his friend Tony Delaney said at the book’s launch
last Friday night, “it’s a unique title for a unique guy”.
Pat is a multiple sclerosis sufferer and Above Ground
and Breathing is his third book. It’s an anthology of poetry and prose
with travel as the main theme.
The book’s cover is an illustration of Pat with a
Mariachi hat on a beach in Uruguay. Pat’s love of travelling is
evident he has visited Cuba, Montreal and New York.
Originally from Thurles, he has
lived in Portlaoise for 20 years. He is married to Joan and has three
children, Isabel, Paul and Martina.
All funds from Above Ground and
Breathing will go towards MS groups. The aim of the book is to
highlight MS to many who know little or have misconceptions about the
Pat was diagnosed with the
disease in 2000, although he believes he may have had contracted it
“I always had trouble with the
leg,” he said. “As I played a lot of hurling when I was younger I
thought it might have been a sports injury.”
Pat remembers when he was told by
medical staff, almost casually, that he had MS.
“It was bleak. I was told by a
young doctor that I had MS. He said to me ‘it could be worse’. I was
on my own and as I travelled home on the train, I was asking myself
how I was going to tell my wife. We had young children at the time,”
Pat worked up until 2004 as a
civil servant before MS made it impossible to continue to do so.
Literature and poetry had always been a love for Pat but they have
taken on an even more significant role in his life in recent years.
“I’ve always had an interest in
poetry. I write as it’s like self-therapy. I never considered my work
as academic or anything but it helps me get out of my frustrations,”
A fan of Ernest Hemingway and the
wit of Oscar Wilde, Pat’s prose and poetry are honest, fresh and
witty. He deals with the heavy science of MS with a lightness of
The poems are not intended to be
politically correct, as he states in the book’s introduction. Pat
quoted WB Yeats to explain: “We make poetry out of quarrel with
What riles Pat is the common
misconception held by people about MS sufferers.
“They think when you have MS that
it must affect your mind. You would ask for something in a shop but
people would talk to the person that you are with because you would be
in a wheelchair,” he said.
There are several types of MS.
Primary-Progressive is one of the most severe and Pat has this type.
He has a daily regimen of light training to help him control his
spasticity. He is also an active member of Offaly MS.
Offaly Olympian Pauline Curley
officially launched the book in the Tullamore Court Hotel last Friday
Scores of family and friends
attended the launch including Laois TD Charlie Flanagan. Shanahoe man
Tony Delaney performed MC duties at the book launch. Tony said the
book’s content would affect how people thought about MS.
“It will impact on you,” he said.
“You will not read the book without it making you change the way you
think. It will make you gasp at times but it’s important that you read
Tony cited one of the book’s
poems, Will I be remembered, to say that Pat and his work will
certainly be remembered. Tony predicted that Pat’s words will be pored
over by students in years to come, such was the book’s relevance.
Pat expressed his thanks to
Tullamore Lions club and Tullamore cycling club, who sponsored the
book launch. He also thanked Jimmy Dolan and the Ballingar Community
Centre for their recent fundraising.
To conclude the launch, Pat gave
an emotional recital of two of his poems, When I die and Mushroom
picking in September.
To purchase Above Ground and
Breathing, or to get information about distributing the book, contact
Pat at 057 8620387.