Touching lockdown story makes the cut for Laois woman after Ray D'Arcy appeal

Story by Ballyfin writer Frances Harney chosen from thousands of entries

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


frances harney lockdown

The Cast of ' Disorder in the Court' with playwright, Frances Harney (Seated) pictured before their performance last weekend in the Mountmellick Arts Centre. Photo Kevin Byrne

A story inspired by the Covid-19 lockdown written by a Laois woman who has dedicated her life to creativity and the arts is set to feature in a new book.

Keeping in Touch by Frances Harney from Ballyfin is among just 150 stories to make the cut and be included in the Harper Collins publication ‘A Page from My Life’.

Frances took the time to explain to the Leinster Express how she put pen to paper.

"Last spring, when I first heard Ray D’Arcy announce the competition ‘A Page from My Life’, some of my best, and some of my worst days, immediately sprung to mind; sporting successes, awards and play productions mingled with illness, loss and disappointments. I even considered writing about a solo parachute jump I did some years ago. Days slipped by however, and ‘The Page’ remained blank.

"‘Lockdown’ happened in mid-March, and we were all plunged into the ‘Age of Social Distancing’. With unexpected free hours and travel restrictions, I took to ‘the Den’ in our back garden with my note pad and sturdy, very old, transistor radio. During the unseasonal, wonderfully hot weather of May as my husband, Liam, and myself, were sunbathing, my article emerged. 

"The 500 word ‘Keeping in Touch’, flowed onto the page with surprising ease. It is primarily about the importance of touch as a significant human activity and  I suggest that touch is fundamental to human communication and wellbeing," said Frances who is the sister of the Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick.

Frances also explained what is at the heart of the book - something that was robbed from thousands by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

"Touch is the first and most profound language we learn. The absence of a handshake of sympathy at funerals, or of welcome at gatherings, or even the hand hold of comfort in times of trouble or fear, are presently restricted, or even absent from our lives. In such absence, we’re beginning to appreciate the power in the holding of hands," she said.

Frances thanked everyone who had seen the beauty and poignancy her story should be published.

"I feel very privileged to have had my memoir read by Ray D’Arcy on RTE radio 1, and to be chosen by the panel of four judges, Emer Mc Lysaght, Donal Ryan, Emilie Pine and Eoin Colfer for inclusion in the Harper Collins publication ‘A Page from My Life’. The book which includes 150 of the thousands of submissions, is available from Eason, Kenny’s and Dubray book stores. 

All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to The LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.