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  • Northside West

Former messenger boy delivers inspiring story

Monday, 11th June, 2018 1:00pm

Story by Jack Gleeson
Former messenger boy delivers inspiring story

Cabra creative writer Martin Donnery. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Former messenger boy delivers inspiring story

Cabra creative writer Martin Donnery. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

CABRA man Martin Donnery has won the prestigious DCU Creative Writing competition for 2018 - nearly half a century after leaving school without any qualifications.

The 61-year-old local writer was devastated when he had to leave Cabra College as a young teenager to help his family of 12 put food on the table.

Martin got a job as a messenger boy, delivering groceries and newspapers for local shops by bicycle. He also went door-to-door selling sticks for firewood that his hard-working father bundled up.

In later life Martin had lots of jobs including working several years with Eircom but the yearning to learn never left him and four years ago he decided to return to Cabra College and study for the Leaving Certificate.

“We all left school around 13 or 14 because basically there was no money in the house and we had to go out to work,” Martin said.

“I always yearned to go back and I finally plucked up the courage to do it about four years ago. I did six subjects and did better than I expected.”

Martin – who attended primary school at St Peter’s in Phibsborough – continued on with studying after the Leaving, attending adult courses at Cabra College on subjects ranging from Classical Studies to Horticulture.

He’s been studying creative writing for the last couple of years and decided to pen a story about Molly Malone after being inspired by the Dublin City Council Talking Statues initiative.

Molly Inconvenienced is a hilarious tale of the famous statue fighting back against the proposal to move her, and the judges in the DCU Creative Writing competition decided it was worthy of the top prize.

But Martin isn’t resting on his laurels and plans to continue with his studies.

“The ambition would be to do a book, maybe a book of short stories or something, and I might go on a do a degree,” he says.

Martin hopes his success can inspire other adults who missed out on education when they were younger to go back to college.

And although he’s enjoying his second chance in college, he sees room for improvement in the education system.

“I think they should change the system because you’ve to study for two years and then cram it all in to one or two days in the exam,” he said. “You should be assessed over a period of time. I think it’s very unfair because you could be having a bad day on the day of the exam and not do well.”

He also has words of advice for anybody thinking of going back to college.

“You have to put the hours in,” he says. “You must put in the work. You can’t just cram it all in at the last minute. I wouldn’t recommend that to any student.”

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here