Forty years is a mighty long time and it’s that significant milestone that was the inspiration for John Whelan to put together a collection of pieces from his career in journalism.
John joined the Leinster Express in June 1978, straight after doing his Leaving Cert in St Paul’s Monasterevin. It was the start of a wide and varied career.
He’d rise to become editor of that paper and later the Leinster Leader and Laois Voice before going on to serve five years as a Labour Senator.
In recent times he has started his own communications business and has penned a regular column for ourselves here in LaoisToday.
Earlier this year he decided to put his journalistic experience in to book form – Growing Pains and Growing Up – and it was officially launched in the Dunamaise Arts Centre on Saturday as part of the Leaves Festival of Writing and Music.
It was a packed house with Laois Arts Officer Muireann ni Chonail acting as MC and novelist Dermot Bolger officially launching the publication.
In his speech, Dermot highlighted the importance of local journalism and how a book of this nature is vital in recording key local events from over the years.
John thanked Martin Connolly from Print Central for printing the book and to LaoisToday for publishing it and to Gavin Cowley for the design and typography.
He also mentioned a key editing stage – his wife Grazyna, daughter Faith and son Ricky.
In keeping with the tone of the launch, there was a rousing rendition of his Slieve Bloom ballad,’Clonbawn’ by Paddy Fitzpatrick from Ballyfin.
The event also was the local launch of Portlaoise author Helen Cullen’s much-heralded first novel The Lost Letters of William Wolf.
The book is a collection of pieces, published in a number of different outlets – from LaoisToday to the Leinster Express, Hot Press to the Sunday Independent.
Among the stories are tributes to the late local politician Jerry Lodge and photographer Jim Yorke, his role in the 2011 Presidential election, his recollections of being in the Christian Brothers as a young teenager and a fascinating interview with 1982 Offaly All Ireland-winning captain Richie Connor and his rise and fall through the Celtic Tiger years.
There is a Dublin launch of the book in the Palace Bar on Fleet Street this Wednesday, November 14, at 6pm while on Friday there will be a reading hosted by award winning broadcaster Ann-Marie Kelly on Friday evening next, November 16, at 6pm in The Pantry Café on Main Street, Portlaoise.
In addition, the Open Door Documentary on Midlands 103 on Monday Night at 7pm with AM Kelly is dedicated to the book.
Books now on sale in All Books and Nook and Cranny for €12.50.
The Friday event in the Pantry is from 6pm – and is free of charge.
Our photographer Julie Anne Miller was in the Dunamaise on Saturday where she captured a selection of images.
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