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John Waters' new book inspired by county Sligo


Former journalist and author John Waters has described Sligo as 'an authentic part of Ireland' where he feels connected.

With the release of his latest book 'Give Us Back The Bad Roads' Waters discusses how he sees Ireland as unrecognisable from the country of hardworking, community-based people that he grew up in.

Addressing his writing to his father, who hailed from Sligo before locating to Tulsk and eventually Castlerea where Waters was born, Waters told The Sligo Champion that the book sees his 30 year career in journalism is interwoven with his father's life.

Though based in Dublin, Waters said he's spending more and more time in Sligo.

"I work a good deal down there. My father came from Mount Edward."

Waters only became a regular visitor to his father's home county after the birth of his daughter Roisín in 1996.

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"When she was a little bit older I started going down to Mullaghmore in the summertime. I became very attached to it," he explained

With the family farm no longer in ownership in the Waters family, the author decided to buy a house in the vicinity, as close as he could to Ballinfull.

"I bought that in 2000 and I've been up and down since and more and more as time passes by."

Asked if life is simpler in the west, Waters is objective in his response.

"I don't know if it's simpler, I just like the atmosphere of the place. When it's good it's great. When the weather is middling at all it's a fantastic place to be. It can get a bit claustrophobic when the weather closes in on you but most of the time it's really, really extraordinary."

In his book, Waters yearns for the Ireland of the past, sense of community and the 'bad roads'.

Speaking about his latest book, Waters explained that the reference to the 'bad roads' is lamenting an Ireland where every small village and town is now bypassed by a network of motorways.

"I believe Ireland has become unhinged in the last four to five years, it's just completely become unmoored from every value it ever had.

"Maybe this was happening through the Celtic Tiger but it didn't seem to register until after the crash."

Waters believes that a recklessness for the values held dear by traditional Ireland have been 'pummelled' by Dublin media, which he describes as 'propoganda'. He cites his frequent visits to Sligo as keeping him 'connected'. "As I've got older I feel more and more disconnected from 'official Ireland', from politics and so on, but Sligo keeps me connected and makes me feel that there's still an Ireland that I belong to."

Describing it as a 'relief' to get to his adopted county, Waters walks the beach close to his home before setting off on his working day.

"I just like the peace of it and sensing an authentic part of Ireland, a totally unspoiled place."

And does this escape to the wild reflect in his work?

"Yes, I can work much better there than probably anywhere else, it's quieter and if I can get down there for extended periods for a few weeks, I can really get a lot of work done."

Waters admits that if someone told him 30 years ago starting off in his journalism career in Dublin that he would be returning to his father's home 90 years after his father left it, he wouldn't have believed it.

It seems Land of Heart's Desire has a strong pull on Waters.

Give Us Back the Bad Roads is available nationwide.