with Aidan J Herron
(Skerries Historical Society – October 2016)
There was standing room only at the October AGM of Skerries Historical Society – this may have been less to do with members keeping an eye on their committee and more about the launch of the long-awaited addition to the Time and Tide series: Time and Tide 10. Local historian and historical fiction writer, Aidan J Herron, came to launch the book.
Skerries is peculiarly well supplied with authors – it must be something in the air! But Aidan was a particularly apposite choice to launch this collection of local history papers. In ‘To the Beat of a Savage Drum’ he wove fiction around carefully researched historical fact to bring the Battle of Waterloo to life, gain the approval of a multitude of reviewers and win the 2015 Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair.
The ten contributors to Time and Tide 10 largely confined themselves to fact. Their offerings cover nearly 250 years of history. Some papers look at every day life as described by ‘incomers’. One 18th century visitor commented that Skerries men were ‘mostly of the amphibious sort’ – a slightly odd way to refer to fishermen which conjures an image of frogs to my mind! A century later and Skerries was praised for its ‘neatness, order and cleanliness’. As Aidan commented, had there been a Tidy Towns Competition a hundred and fifty years ago, Skerries could have walked it.
There is also tragedy in the book. Many Skerries men lost their lives in the American Civil War and some who survived were never able to settle back into civilian life after the horrors they had seen. A century ago Muriel MacDonagh was a victim in another armed struggle. She lost her husband, Thomas MacDonagh, in the 1916 Rising and then her own life while swimming in Skerries.
Time and Tide 10 is dedicated to Steven Hope who has overseen each volume of Time and Tide since we first began the series in 1998. Sadly Steven passed away in July and we are greatly indebted to his widow, Pat, who gallantly undertook to finish the book for us in time for this October launch.
Time and Tide 10 is available from Paddy in Skerries Bookshop, Greg Reddins, Skerries Mills or one of our meetings on the second Tuesday of each month, price €15. It is also available from this website. Check out the contents and cost of P & P here.
Report by Oona Roycroft