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Gary Rutherford and his new book of short stories, ‘A Bowl of Irish Stew’

Gary Rutherford and his new book of short stories, ‘A Bowl of Irish Stew’

Gary Rutherford and his new book of short stories, ‘A Bowl of Irish Stew’

fingalindependent

A Balrothery man has gathered the personal stories of ordinary people and published his first non-fiction book in order to raise money for Pieta House, a charity that remains very much close to his heart.

'A Bowl of Irish Stew', written largely on mental health issues, features many stories which have never been heard before, according to the man who compiled the stories, Gary Rutherford.

While some of the authors come from a writing or related background, most are simply everyday people who have a personal story to tell.

With the book's launch being held on October 23, The Fingal Independent spoke to Gary, who explained the idea behind the book: 'Ireland is full of people like me who have personal stories, who maybe have never talked about them before, and have never written a book. I wanted to tap into that, and particularly into the area of mental health', he says.

'It's something that I pitched about five or six years ago to Joan Freeman, who was then Director of Pieta House. I planned on putting it together back then, but life just got in the way, so I was determined to put it together this year.

'I've seven kids myself, and we've been service users of Pieta House ourselves, so that's really where the idea came from.

'When you hear Joan Freeman talk about mental health, it's families like us, normal people who have benefited from the service.'

While 'A Bowl of Irish Stew' doesn't just include stories on mental health, there are many that focus on the issue. One, Gary says, was written by a well-known author whose father took his own life when she was 13-years-old, an event that had a huge impact on her family.

Another story was written about the slow path to recovery of a relation of Gary's, who was paralysed after a sudden spinal injury. These are just examples, Gary says: 'of some of the incredible stories' in the book.

Gary funded 'A Bowl of Irish Stew' entirely by himself. His mission, he says, was to sell 10,000 copies, so that he could donate €10,000 to the mental health charity:

He said: 'The idea was that I would be the publisher. I got a print company to publish it, with the idea being that if it was successful, I would set up a not-for-profit and start publishing more books. So, I plan for it to be part of a series. I've sold over 100 copies already; if it only sold 100 books, it's not going to be a franchise, but if it's very successful, then I'll publish another one.'

At the moment, Gary is concentrating on the book launch, where he'll have copies of the book for sale.

The book, he says, will be put onto a website he created, as well as onto the Amazon and Kindle websites. 'If it makes €10,000 for Pieta House', he says, 'at least I won't be thinking to myself in 20 years, 'God, I wish I'd done that' or, 'I should have done that.''

As well as members of the public, family and friends, he says, many of the authors will also be at the launch.

Gary said: 'It couldn't happen without the writers', he says, 'Some of these stories are deeply personal, and in some cases they've never been told before. The launch is really about honouring them, and the stories they have to tell.'

'A Bowl of Irish Stew' will be officially launched at The Bracken Court Hotel, Balbriggan on Tuesday October 23 from 7-9pm.


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