Over two years, I have been privileged to run two memoir courses each lasting six weeks. Each week, for two hours, a number of people joined together to write their memoirs. I facilitated the course, providing opportunities to trigger memory using the senses and other stimuli. PowerPoint was my preferred method of information, and about three days after the session, I would send the presentation to the students. This cut down on note taking and provided a permanent record of the points raised.
The students had time to write and read their work. Some stories were short, others longer. Some brought a tear to the writer’s eyes. All were beautiful – experiences as unique as the people who wrote them and which had universal themes that everyone can identify with. Love, compassion, betrayal, respect, frustration, laughter.
Last Friday, at Ballinacree Community Centre, a collection of memoirs under the title Down Memory Lane was launched. Four anonymous sponsors helped fund the publication and the group decided that the proceeds would go to the patient care fund of the Oldcastle day care centre for Alzheimer patients. The book is an excellent publication.
I was MC for the evening and had the privilege of not only introducing the writers but also a number of other people who were supporting the event.
Clare McCabe is a third-year music student and she played the harp. A beautiful instrument and the sound so appropriate for the celebration of memory. She recently entered her first talent contest and won. During the evening we heard words from Samantha Hennessy, Secretary of the Oldcastle Alzheimer’s Association, who helped everyone understand the effects of the disease; Jackie Breen of LMETB who substantially fund the courses and who praised the Ballinacree community for
its support; and Maria Bourke, the founder of Heart of Ireland. Her speech demonstrated the power of memoir and proved that she had read the stories inspiring laughter and tears. Some of the writers read a story or a sample from a story.
We raised a lot of money for the charity and if we receive more orders we will consider a second print run. There is a third course coming up in the autumn and I am looking forward to hearing more stories. We received great feedback and I am delighted it went so well for all the writers.
A second print run is scheduled. If you want to order a copy, please email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you who would like to attend a course, one will be starting on 7 October and finishing 11 November. It will be held on a Friday evening from 7-9 pm at Ballinacree Community Centre. The cost will be €10 for the complete course. To register, contact Mary Clarke of Brigid Heery at Ballinacree Community Association.