'Do your bit to beat Covid' plead Cork Persons of the Month

Award-winning writers appeal to public to follow public health guidelines
'Do your bit to beat Covid' plead Cork Persons of the Month

Award-winning authors William Wall left, and Tadhg Coakley, Cork October Persons of the Month, urging people to follow public health guidelines. Pictures by Harry Moore and Darragh Kane

Two award-winning writers who have been named Cork Persons of the Month for October today have urged people to follow public health guidelines to halt the spread of Covid-19.

William Wall and Tadhg Coakley both said everyone needs to play their part to protect themselves and others.

“If we all do our bit we’ll get through and be in good shape for the time when a vaccine comes,” Mr Wall said.

“All plagues die out eventually. We just need to hold it together until that happens.

“So we should wear our masks, wash our hands, reduce our contacts and avoid crowds. 

“We’re not just doing it for ourselves, but for our relatives, for our neighbours, for our friends, and for our community. And we’re doing so our nurses and doctors and hospital staff are not overwhelmed.” 

Author Tadhg Coakley.
Author Tadhg Coakley.

Mr Coakley asked people to consider how much is a human life worth and if that is more than your right not to wear a mask or social distance.

“How about somebody old, or someone who is already sick? Surely their life is worthless, isn’t it?

“Less, maybe than your entitlement to have a big sing-song in your local or celebrate with your teammates? Sure, so what if somebody in a meat factory or Direct Provision gets sick?

“I missed out on so much, why shouldn’t I have a house party with my pals? Does waving a tricolour and shouting abuse at people wearing masks or immigrants make you a patriot?

“Or are you a patriot if you get up at six in the morning fearful of the nursing shift you have to put in, but you do it anyway?

“To look after people who caught the virus from a family member just back from a trip away?

“So what if you have a few symptoms, it’s probably just a cold, isn’t it? Self-isolating is such a bore, isn’t it? Living with Covid-19 is the best we can do, isn’t it? How much is a human life worth?” 

Mr Wall, who was born in Cork City and grew up Whitegate, is a former English teacher at Presentation Brothers College. He published his first work, a collection of poetry, in 1997, and won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. His first novel, Alice Falling , was published in 2000.

Since then, he has published six novels, all set in and around Cork, four collections of poetry, and three collections of short fiction.

His This Is The Country novel in 2005, an attack on Celtic Tiger politics in Ireland, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

Author William Wall. Picture Dan Linehan
Author William Wall. Picture Dan Linehan

In 2017, William Wall received international recognition by becoming the first European writer to win the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in the USA for his collection of short fiction The Islands. He has also won the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition, and the Virginia Faulkner Award.

Mr Coakley, from Mallow and who now lives in Ballinlough, began writing later in life after taking early retirement from his job as a librarian in CIT.

He enrolled in the MA in Creative Writing in UCC and wrote his first novel,  The First Sunday in September which was published in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Mercier Press fiction prize.

His next novel, Whatever It Takes, a crime novel set in Cork, was published in August 2020 and was named as the 2020 Cork One City, One Book, as part a project which transforms Cork into a citywide book club, with. His most recent work is a biography of Cork dual-star Denis Coughlan.

Awards organiser Manus O’Callaghan said it was time for Cork people to say thank you to Mr Wall and Mr Coakley for their work.

Mr Wall said Cork is a city of many writers and great talkers and has given him so much material to work with over the years.

Mr Coakley said he is delighted that he chose to pursue his passion for writing the fact that people enjoy it is “truly heart-warming”.

The Cork Person of the Year 2020 will be announced in January.

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