Sunday, November 21, 2010

Joy and Tragedy

On Wednesday night, our baby son Sean was born. Overdue almost a week, his arrival was unusually speedy with myself and Her Outdoors making it to the hospital just over an hour before his arrival. We joked with a nervous taxi driver that he might have to add another passenger to the meter by the time he penetrated the dense traffic aftermath of a soccer international at Lansdowne Road.

Little Sean is already an inquisitive little soul who loves peering around him and many have said he looks remarkably like his brother, Plot 34's eight year old Head of Secret Tunnels. To me he looks like a wrinkly little old man, albeit a really cute one. What do you think?

Baby Sean at four days old

Tragically, on the same day Sean was born, Steve MacDonogh, the publisher of Plot 34 and the founder/owner of Brandon Books passed away unexpectedly aged only 61. Steve was a legend in Irish publishing. He made headlines many times in his career through the David versus Goliath court battles he fought for the principles of free speech. One of the last of the truly vocational publishers, he spent early years in America where he mixed with Allen Ginsberg and Janis Joplin among others. He set up writing co-operatives here and first published Neil Jordan, apparently with Steve touring the country on his motorcycle, shop by shop, to sell Jordan's books.

Steve MacDonogh, publisher, writer, champion of free speech R.I.P.

In the two years preceding the publication of Plot 34 - Blood, Sweat and Allotmenteers and through mainly lengthy email exchanges and phone calls to his Dingle base, I encountered a supremely talented professional with a mischievous streak who clearly loved his vocation and knew his business inside out. Steve's lone efforts from his Mount Eagle eyrie on Ireland's westernmost tip meant Brandon Books always punched above its weight. Unusual among publishers, Steve took chances and my book and many others besides  wouldn't ever have been published without him. Thanks Steve. Ireland will miss a publishing champion.

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