Former Echo reporter launches rugby book

By Mary Dennehy

Patrick McCarry The New Breed coverFOUR years ago Patrick McCarry moved on from his post as The Echo’s Ballyfermot reporter to travel and further his writing career.

This week, the Tallaght-native is back filling column space in his local paper, not as a reporter but to talk about his recently launched rugby book, The New Breed – which, colourfully documenting the first 20 years of Ireland’s professional rugby era, has been attracting a lot of media coverage and positive reviews.

Despite a busy promotional schedule, which most recently saw Patrick appear on TV3’s The Late Review with Tom McGurk, the local writer took five to speak with The Echo.

How long did The New Breed take to write?

From conception to actually getting the book in my hands, it took 13 months. The interviewing and writing stage took me from August last year to February 2015 and, after that, it was a matter of refining it, getting a snazzy cover and prepping for the launch.

What inspired you to write the book?

It was an ambition that was with me from a young age, but one I was not sure if I would ever get to achieve. After a meeting with my publishers Mercier Press last summer, I set upon the idea of bringing the story of Irish rugby’s first 20 years – as professionals – to life.

Any predictions for the Rugby World Cup?

England will have their work cut out for them escaping their pool, but if they do, they will reach the final – squeezing us out along the way. New Zealand to win the lot. Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney to give us a highlight reel moment or two along the way.

Johnny Sexton Patrick McCarry cropped

If you had to give one piece of advice to the Irish team, what would it be and why?

Remember that game against Scotland in Edinburgh? Play with a bit more of that spirit in games and you should go a long way.

Which player is your money on to perform well for Ireland?

Our half-backs, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton. They were the world’s best back in March. Let’s hope they can do it again when the whole world – Southern Hemisphere and all – is watching.

Getting a book published is no easy feat, any words of advice for writers hoping to get their work noticed?

The advice I got from my English classes at Old Bawn Community School (and St Maelruain’s before that) was – before launching into any tale, have a plan and know where you want to go. Nine times out of ten that will see you right. It also breaks down the size of your task. Bite-sized portions. I always loved to write, so keep writing – whether it’s a blog, match reports, plays, short stories or a really considered, super pivotal tweet. It will stand to you.

Were you inspired by anybody or any authors as a child? When did you first put pen to paper?

My favourite author, growing up, was Roald Dahl. I loved Matilda and The Witches, and Fantastic Mr Fox. Charlotte’s Web (E.B White) was great too. From the age of 10, I really enjoyed writing stories. They were mostly football related and involved me scoring winners for a non-league side in the F.A Cup, becoming chairman of the club after our promotion and holding car-wash fundraisers to buy Inter Milan’s misfiring striker, Darko Pancev.

Patrick McCarry resized

What was the most memorable story you worked on while with The Echo?

I was with The Echo for three years and I can honestly say that the team there was the best bunch I ever worked with. We all started in the newsroom at roughly the same time and learned how to nail stories on the job. Some, literally. There are a couple of harrowing, heartfelt stories that I’m glad people allowed me, and The Echo, to share. One that stands out, right now, was the case of the kidnapped parrot from a back garden out near Markievicz Park, Ballyfermot. Myself and [community activist] Henry Harding very nearly almost cracked that case.

What does the next year hold for you? Is there another book in the pipeline?

I hope to be kept busy with The New Breed and am available to switch on the Christmas lights at The Square, or anyone’s house (once I get a cup of tea and some Mini Rolls). I worked with former Ulster and Ireland player Stephen Ferris on his autobiography so I’m looking forward to its release later this year.
My wife, Caitriona, has demanded a serene 2016 but my publishers are keen for me to bash the hell out of a keyboard again, so I’m brewing up a pitch that involves me travelling to New Zealand for the 2017 Lions Tour.

Published by Mercier Press, The New Breed is available in all good bookshops now.

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