Wish You Were Here: Art & Creative Writing from RADE's Programme 2020/21

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OLV Building, Cathedral View Court, Dublin 8 / (01) 454 6406 Email: info@rade.ie www.rade.ie

WWW.RADE.IE Tel:(01 (01) ) 454454 TEL: 8733 8733

Published 2021 Content © respective contributors Dedicated to the memory of Anne-Marie Jordan CREDITS Contributors Jason Bissett Margaret Rose Brennan Kellie Anne Byrne Mark Gillan Conor Greene Brian Hill Myles Howe

Anne-Marie Jordan Sean Kelly Mary Killeen Marc McDonnell Geraldine Owens Thomas Pepper Salvatore Scala Roseanne Teelin

Editors Niamh Hanlon Sinead Moloney Cathal O’Grady Art Facilitators John Devoy Sorsha Galvin Holly Pereira

Creative Writing Facilitators David Butler Karl Parkinson Nicole Rourke Design & Layout Oldtown

Board of Directors Paula Byrne, Lorcan Claffey, Dominique Cleary Tuohy (chairperson), Matthew de Courcy, Theo Dorgan, Geoff Power (Secretary), Anna Quigley (Treasurer), Eoin Ryan




‘Wish You Were Here’ is a visual art project by RADE artists, facilitated by artist Sorsha Galvin. Over eight weeks, participants created a series of collages using historical photographs from the Duchas Irish folklore archives and their original artworks. The project started with participants creating a series of abstract images, using colour and images of patterns in interesting ways, to make up the background for their collages. They then worked on finding interesting images of people, places and animals from the folklore archives and added those images to create a narrative in their collages. Stories of home, childhood memories and family are some of the themes that emerged for the participants. Once everyone had decided on their designs, they started putting together the final images that we’ve included in this publication. We would like to extend our warmest thanks to Sorsha Galvin for facilitating this project with us. November 2021







One night me and my mate were bored. My mammy and daddy were in hospital. My mammy had to get an operation so my father went with her. Me and my sister were babysitting and we weren’t allowed to leave the road, all we knew was where our school, graveyard and church was. There was a homework club next to the school, so I said to me mate, let’s go over to the homework club and try to get in through the window. So we went over and we seen a box of Cornflakes through the window. So I picked up a rock and smashed the window, took the Cornflakes and heard dogs bark. There was a little cottage at the corner of the gates so me and my friend ran and, as we came up to the gates, a man came running up after us and we ran into the church and hid in the confession box. We were eating the Cornflakes, then the priest came and asked what’s going on and we said there was a big scary man chasing us so the priest let us stay and help clean up. So half an hour later we came out, no sign of the man. Around the corner my ma and da came back from the hospital. They seen us and asked us what we were doing and we said nothing much, walking around, so that was grand! The next day in school, I got called out of the class and the Sister had my mate with her. I knew straight away that she knew so we talked about it and I denied it all the way. Nothing more came about it, so grand – continued on as normal.





When I was 12, I won a drawing competition, I drew five cats, took a few seconds. It took the rest of the class about a week to do their pictures and your man came in on Friday to call the winner out and I didn’t really care – I had no interest in it whatsoever. There was only one winner out of the whole school so when your man came in and took the paper out with the winner on it, the class was nervous and I paid no attention when he called my name out. I was in shock and didn’t know what to do. The class weren’t too happy and I was in shock. I got to go to a big place in town for dinner and a surprise and my picture taken with Ronan Keating. I was a big fan back then and my mother and teacher came along. They got drunk, I was on the lemonade, the best evening ever – a day I’ll never forget.

When I woke up everything had changed, I was convinced I was still dreaming. I wasn’t groggy or hungover. Then the realisation of my surroundings became apparent. It was a small dark room in which I could hear a lot of activity going on outside the door. I lay in the bed, quite confused. Then I heard the rattling of keys and a door unlocking. A man with an American accent bellowed, “Simpson, breakfast!” What the fuck? I immediately leapt out of bed and looked around. A few books, the bed, of course, a toilet and a wash basin, a mirror and a huge orange jumpsuit. I looked in the mirror before using the toilet and it was OJ Simpson looking back … After putting a lot of thought into what was going on and dismissing the fact that I might be dreaming, the only conclusion I could come to was that I had died and gone to hell.




When I was a child, sometimes I would love to be back there, but that’s impossible. And although I was a troubled child, I have many good memories. Many of them in the pub on a Saturday. I didn’t like the pub itself per se, the most boring place on earth, but the upshot was the bottle of Coke with the straw and the packet of pub crisps. Neither taste the same these days. Another plus to the pub of a Saturday was that the more drink the ma and da had, the more generous they’d become. So I’d get me ten pence and escape out of the darkened smoky confines of the pub and out into the beautiful sunshine of the Saturday afternoon. I’d run down the main street and I’d be straight into the darkened smoky confines of the video arcade to waste me da’s money on a game of Donkey Kong. I could only get past level one so the video arcade was short-lived. I would escape back into the Saturday sunlight to return back to the smoky confines of the pub for another 10p, and this would go on until they were drunk enough to drive home. I would be regaled by a very poor rendition of ‘Old Shep’ by me ma.







The bracelet was already inside the bag when she saw the security guard’s eyes were on her. She didn’t know what to do. “I thought your friend was security today.” I was but not on the shop floor, I was on CCTV that particular day. I thought maybe I could ring them and put them wide but what if someone hears me, I’d hang myself. Looking at them trying to steal a bracelet of all things was so intense you’d think it was the crown jewels. It was like watching a game of cat and mouse. Another couple entered the back entrance, so I thought to myself – put the eye on them! Over the walkie talkie I said to keep an eye on the couple in the back aisle, that I know them to see. With that every security guard began to walk around. “Yeh, eyes on them, me too!” With that the girl discreetly put back the bracelet. All of a sudden there was a clatter, the shutters came down. The second couple pulled out weapons and asked for the money. When the shutters came up there was a car right outside, they made their getaway. When the Garda came and questioned everyone, they pointed at me and said that I said I knew them from before. I just froze! I said to myself – I’ve some digging to get out of this hole.





Walking from my granny’s to the bus stop, we had to pass the two fields where the horses grazed. One day, one of the bold kids flung a banger into the field. Well Jaysus, between people screaming, horses galloping and cars skidding, I could hear all sorts. I looked back to see my granny with her hands to her head. I cried for her, and she was the only one who was safe. I grabbed me sister and pram and we both got between my ma and da. A few of the bold kids came running with their coats and jumpers off, waving them and shouting, “Get up! Click, click! G’won outta that!” They got most of their horses to one field and everything settled down a bit. “Fair play to you, thanks!” It was hard to understand. To me they were heroes. They only got called bold when I wanted to play with them. I was told I was a good fella for not running off but I wanted to be one of them, good or bad.

I wake up at 6 am in the morning. I make a cup of tea and a slice of toast with jam. I put the radio on, get a shower, get ready. I leave my place at 9.30, I go to mass in St. Kevin’s Church to light holy candles for my family and friends. St. Anthony’s my favourite saint and Tuesday’s St. Anthony’s Day. When I finish my class I go see my friend Sandra. We meet up in town, then go to Stephen’s Green park, enjoy the fresh air. For a while we feed the ducks and the swans. Sometimes we go out to Howth. It’s lovely and calm, the weather’s warm and breezy. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. Sometimes I walk up to Mount Jerome, Harold’s Cross. The park is lovely, birds singing. I bring a few sandwiches and a bottle of water and enjoy the rest of the day. Thank God. Roll on the summer.




When I was 18, myself and my friend Rose went over to Wales for two weeks and had a great time. We were in the Flowing Tide, a pub in town, we had a couple drinks and Rose asked me did I want to go to London to see my sister. I hadn’t seen my sister Rosanna in three years. And my niece and nephews, Paul, Anthony and Samantha. So myself and Rose got the boat over, but missed the train to London so we stayed in Wales. We booked a B&B, two single beds, lovely and clean. People in Wales were very nice to talk to. The money was very small. Rose was playing bingo on the boat and I was having a few glasses of Harp at the bar. We met two nice men from China. I couldn’t understand what the man was saying to me and Rose was laughing her head off! My mother was minding the dog and we had to get back to Dublin. We couldn’t leave because the tide came in. We’d to wait three days before we could leave and nearly missed the boat. Rose had an argument with a policeman and they ending up bringing Rose to the Garda Station. I went down to get her out. The policeman said if Rose didn’t stop shouting, she’d be brought to the courts. I got Rose a cup of coffee to sober her up and the policeman let her go. What a great time we both had, great memories. We talk about the good times; we know each other 47 years.








Got up and went straight for a piss then went to wash myself. As I was brushing my teeth a bit of my tooth fell into the sink. I couldn’t believe it! I started to shout – look at my tooth! Victoria just started to laugh at me so I went into the kitchen and the dinner dishes were still in the sink. I went mad at Victoria. She was meant to do them but she was still laughing at me, so I got my coat and went to my clinic. As I was walking to the clinic, I saw two fellas fighting over a smoke. I knew one of them so I gave him a smoke and said – don’t be fighting over a smoke, friends are hard to come by.

Lockdown? I never heard of such a thing, Allowed head out with friends when they ring. A reason to pick out some decent clothes, ’Cause wearing pyjamas is getting old. A trip on the bus, no fuckin’ bother, If someone sneezes, it’s harmless fodder. Gather with mates and share a meal, We’re in the same room and it’s no big deal. See an old friend and give them a hug, No need to worry about catching a bug. Meeting other people is such a laugh, Even when it’s part of a hard day’s graft.


Paul, a young man of about 24 sits on a cold, rock-solid bench at the back of a church with his mother. Up ahead, a middle-aged woman steps out of the confessional, collecting her granny trolley on the way. She curtseys at the row adjacent to Paul and his mam and begins to mutter to herself. “Go on in then, ya little bollix,” his mam says. “Thought ya weren’t supposed to curse in church, wha’?” “Well it’s nothing compared to what you’ve been up to this past few weeks. Now get in there and tell the Father everything.” With a face simultaneously stern and sour, shoulders squared defensively and arms swinging, Paul makes his way towards the confession box. Swiping the curtain back with careless abandon he hears a thud from the other side of the box. He imagines he startled the priest and smirks to himself as he sits down on the stool, also hard as a rock. “Could you close the curtain behind you, child,” the voice on the other side of the

meshed grid says. “Grand job, yeah.” Closing the curtain, Paul is taken aback by how dark the tiny box becomes, he starts to get nervous. After a long silence he starts to speak, “So eh, yeah, I’ve no reason to be here. My ma sent me to see you for some reason …” “You have not sinned since your last confession? Even so much as taking the Lord’s name in vain?” “You mean like saying ‘fuckin’ Jaysus’ or ‘God’s sake’? Nah, I never do that. Oh shite, sorry Father. Oops, sorry again.” “Never mind that, can you think of no reason your mother asked you to come see me?” “Haven’t a clue, she’s a bit mad to be honest. She’s really into this Jesus stuff. I’m not so much …” “Well I’m not here to convert you, son, but if you are so inclined, I would ask you to take some time and repeat the Lord’s Prayer three times.” “Ah deadly, sound, Father. See ya later!”






THE RIGHTS ON THE WALL A collaboration between RADE and Holly Pereira, grant funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).


N 2020 RADE was delighted to be awarded a grant from the IHREC in the inaugural year of their new grant scheme on the basis of a human rights-themed project proposal submitted by RADE. A series of workshops were held via Zoom through which the participants explored and discussed human rights, from how human rights came to be recognised and enshrined, to human rights issues arising in everyday life. The group explored the rise of the concept of human rights in the Enlightenment through to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, before examining a number of landmark human rights cases taken in Ireland. Issues and themes that arose consistently throughout these workshops were then focused on and further examined in a series of visual art sessions leading to various symbols, signs and colours being identified as ways to portray in visual shorthand these issues and themes. At the conclusion of these sessions, muralist and graphic designer Holly Pereira joined the group to work these ideas into a practical mural design and then supervise and assist in the painting of the final mural in the last few weeks of August. The mural addresses some of the human rights issues faced by our participants and members of the wider community especially in terms of accessing public services, discrimination and stigma. We hope that the journey of learning and creativity taken throughout this project has served as an opportunity to develop our participants’ knowledge and understanding of human rights as well as express themselves creatively. In addition, we hope that viewers and visitors to RADE will be impacted by the mural and come away with a greater

understanding of the rights issues many people face and how knowledge and understanding can overcome these barriers. Over the course of the workshops, a focus on a number of specific topics became apparent through repeated discussions of these issues. The areas of focus were: BODILY INTEGRITY Many participants reported feeling that they do not have a choice or a voice when it comes to questions of prescribed medications and courses of medical care. This was particularly so when it came to engagements with mental health services. Some of those who had been engaged for a long time with particular services felt that things have improved somewhat in recent years but that there is still room for much more patient engagement in medical care planning. Many felt “spoken down to” when interacting with senior staff in some services. Some also reported not being entirely sure what medication they were being prescribed, or for what purpose. All in all, many participants with experience of interacting with health services felt that the power dynamic of the relationship was skewed in favour of the professional health staff. PERSONAL INFORMATION & FREEDOM OF INFORMATION Some participants said that they’d made Freedom of Information (FOI) applications in relation to decisions affecting them taken by local authorities

and other bodies. They felt that the process was over-complicated, expensive and time-consuming, and often the results were unsatisfactory. The overall impression was that systemic barriers are in place to deter people from making FOI requests. Much discussion also focussed on sensitive personal information held by public and private organisations. It was felt that in many cases the amount of information asked of people interacting with these organisations was excessive and intrusive. Questions and discussions also arose in relation to DNA information especially in relation to accessing parentage information. The recent HSE data breach/hacking incident also came up and was a cause of much discussion and concern for the group. ACCESS TO SERVICES Barriers to accessing certain services were a cause of frustration and concern for many participants who had direct experience of this. In particular, it was reported that many mental health and addiction-related services have stringent entry requirements that must be met before a prospective client can avail of their services. One participant recounted how at one time he was in crisis and needed to access a mental health service. However, the mental health service would not engage with him unless he could prove that he was drug and alcohol-free. This was a source of great frustration as he was at the time drinking heavily as a form of self-medication due to his poor mental health, and wanted to stop having to

do this with the aid of the mental health service. Another example was certain addiction services requiring prospective clients to have reduced their drug intake to certain levels before entry. Many participants felt that the levels set were almost unattainable without the assistance of the services in the first place. DISCRIMINATION Almost all participants reported experiencing incidents of discrimination on the basis of appearance or social status. Some reported feeling that the type of clothing one wore could have a

direct influence on the standard of service received in certain settings. One participant questioned whether security staff would treat two people, one wearing a rugby shirt and another wearing a soccer shirt, differently. Another participant reported being stopped in a supermarket and asked to show a receipt for goods she had already purchased. She questioned why she had been singled out from all the other customers. One participant said that during a hospital stay she had gone outside for a moment and while outside a doctor had approached her and loudly accused her of drinking on the premises. Again she felt

singled out from all the other patients and felt this was because of her appearance. Another example of discrimination was in the field of employment. Some participants stated that they felt that coming from one postcode or another had an effect on ones’ employment prospects when applying for jobs. Many felt that what schools people went to also affected employment prospects. The conclusion reached by the group was that many of these types of discrimination are prejudice-based and difficult to overcome through legislation, and that commonly-held negative attitudes toward certain demographics need to be changed. AUTONOMY While working with Holly during the final design phase of the mural, she asked if there was any one theme which kept being returned to in course of the project. The concept of autonomy came up in almost every topic covered in the workshops, and seemed a fitting word to go with the final mural design as it encapsulated the centre-point of many discussions and also reflected the aspirational aims of the project in terms of educating and empowering through knowledge of human rights. Autonomy in decision-making, autonomy in careplanning, autonomy in choices, and autonomy over one’s personal information all were discussed in great depth during various workshops. It is hoped that those who took part in this project have come away from it with a greater sense of autonomy, agency and freedom in their lives.