Jack Kelly’s “invaluable” book launched at WHAT

77 Years A-Dreaming, by renal dialysis patient Jack Kelly, was officially launched on 30 Nov. The memoir was described as “an invaluable reference to life in Portlaw” and “a valuable insight into the social history of Ireland” by Mary Butler, TD, as she officially launched 77 Years A-Dreaming: Recollections and Reflections on a Wonderful Life at Waterford Healing Arts Trust, University Hospital Waterford (UHW).   77 Years A-Dreaming is available to purchase at Waterford Healing Arts Trust and The Book Centre, Waterford.  Cost €10.

Jack Kelly with Mary Butler, TD, who launched his book
Jack Kelly with Mary Butler, TD, who launched his book

Jack Kelly has spent the last year writing and crafting 77 Years A-Dreaming, his voyage of discovery through his countless memories and stories, reflecting a life lived to the full: From his childhood in Portlaw to the heady days in London in the swinging 60s and 70s and back home to Portlaw in his later years coping with unexpected illness.  Launching his “fantastic, valuable” book, Mary Butler spoke warmly of Jack and his family, who she has known all her life, and their many connections in Portlaw.  “To write a book about one’s own life is truly amazing, to delve down, remembering good times and bad, with such honesty and humility, to see the changes in society, Jack’s book provides a valuable insight into the social history of a different Ireland, a time that is, sadly, slowly slipping out of our living memory.  Jack’s book provides a mirror for today’s generation,  to appreciate and value the struggles and strife, the triumphs and the tribulations of a very special generation, a people that were born into a very different Ireland, a new state trying to find its feet in the aftermath of the second world war…  If today’s generation is to truly realise its potential, it has to recognise its past, and Jack’s book certainly provides an invaluable reference to life in Portlaw…  into a bygone era that laid the foundation for the modern state that we enjoy today.  I’m really looking forward to reading Jack’s book over the Christmas break… It will make a fantastic present for family and friends, at home and abroad… Congratulations to you, Jack, on what is an absolutely fantastic achievement.”

Boyer Phelan, an artist with Waterford Healing Arts Trust, who worked with Jack on his book said “I am delighted to be here celebrating a poet, a philosopher and a feminist … and a true seanchaí”.  Brenda Ronan, Nurse Manager of the Renal Dialysis Unit at UHW, added “It’s a privilege to be here.  Dialysis isn’t easy, and to see Jack turning something difficult into something so positive is an inspiration for all of us.”
Dr Elizabeth Abernethy, Jack’s consultant nephrologist at UHW, added her congratulations, saying “Knowing Jack’s sense of humour and his wonderful way with language, this is going to be a great read over Christmas.”

Claire Meaney, Acting Arts Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT), said “Our heartfelt congratulations to Jack on this tremendous achievement.  It’s brilliant that we have got to share your beautiful book.  We would also like to thank our funders the Arts Council, the HSE and the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund, which has been funding our arts programme in the renal dialysis unit at University Hospital Waterford for the last 11 years.”

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation.  Established in 1993, WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and other healthcare settings.  WHAT has been running an arts programme in the renal dialysis unit of UHW since 2007, supported by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund.  WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity. WHAT also supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie