writer in residence – decade of centenaries

I was pleased to work with two Meath primary schools, Lismullen NS, Navan and Scoil

Cholmcille Skryne, over a two-month period, to help the children explore the history of the revolutionary period in their local areas. 

The project is an initiative of the Meath County Council Decade of Centenaries programme,and is managed by the County Library service.

The picture shows  l-r Brian Gallagher, Maedhbh Rogan-McGann, Ciarán Mangan, Dympna Herward, Tom French, Cllr Nick Killian, Cathaoirleach of MCC, Barry Lynch DoS, Jackie Maguire CE MCC.

high density

Drama on Newstalk recently broadcast HIGH DENSITY”, my comedy-drama about the housing crisis that explores the tensions that arise in a community when one resident in a small cul-de-sac refuses to sell her home to a developer who wants to build apartments on the site.

HIGH DENSITY” is told partly from the perspective of Councilor Benny Kelly, a shifty local representative who is in cahoots with the developer. He also writes an anonymous weekly newspaper column called The Secret Councilor, a juggling act that enables him both to comment on, and drive events.

Deirdre Finnegan is the only resident in a crescent of cottages who is holding out against a developer.  The developer is offering the owners 150,000 Euro plus one of the new apartments – but only if all eight cottage owners agree to sell their sites.  As a member of the local residents’ association Deirdre clashes with the reactionary Mick Delaney, who is keen to take the inducement.

With other committee members divided on which outcome would be best for the area, the stakes are raised when Emma Johnson, a journalist who is also on the committee, writes an inflammatory article for her paper.

With past resentments and betrayals coming to the surface, the conflicts go beyond housing, and battle lines are drawn.  But just when it seems that matters might be resolved, a dramatic intervention takes place, with the outcome twisting in a direction that none of the participants expected. 

Starring Marion O’Dwyer, Claudia Carroll, and Mark O’Regan, “HIGH DENSITY” was written and produced by Brian Gallagher and was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.  HIGH DENSITY can be listened to as podcast on Documentary on Newstalk. See link below.


writer in residence

For their Decade of Centenaries project Meath County Council appointed me Writer-in-Residence.

Over a very enjoyable six-week period I worked with two schools, Boyerstown National School, near Navan, and St Patricks’ National School in Slane.

In both schools we did a collective creative-writing project based on events from the Civil War.

This picture was taken outside Navan library to mark the occasion, and features Tom French of Navan Library, Councillor Sean Drew, Cathaoirleach, Meath County Council, Dympna Herward, Meath Library Services, myself, Ciaran Mangan, Meath County Librarian, and Jackie Maguire, Chief Executive, Meath County Council.

castleknock video

Recently I wrote and directed a video on heritage sites around Castleknock village.   Filmed by Conor Diskin, and with original music by Doc O’Connor, the film had its premiere at Castleknock Tennis Club, where it was launched by the Mayor of Fingal, Seana O’Rodaigh.  The video has had thousands of downloads on YouTube and has been viewed as far afield as in Britain, Canada, China, the USA, Australia, and Singapore.

The film is fourteen minutes long, and here’s a link for those who would like to view it.

connolly station – a day in the life

Documentary on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of Connolly Station – A Day in the Life’, my radio documentary that tells the stories of those who live and work in the vicinity of Ireland’s busiest railway hub, Connolly Station.

Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and music, Connolly Station – A Day in the Life looks behind the scenes at the country’s premiere railway station.

Jane Cregan of Irish Rail tells of the building of the station, and the role it played during the 1916 Rising.

Kevin Connolly, the Assistant Station Master, reveals how his day begins at five in the morning, with the station itself coming alive at around 7.00 am

We get an insight into life behind the scenes the Central Traffic Control Centre in Connolly, the nerve centre from which Ireland’s rail network is run.

Lisa Dunne of Been and Gone coffee shop talks of changing public tastes, and the lively interactions she has with customer seeking refreshments in the station.

The challenging task of maintaining tracks, level crossing, and bridges falls to Mick Danaher and he gives an insight into the complexity of ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

Keeping clean a train station that’s used by twenty thousand people a day takes effort and planning, and Kevin Connolly explains how it’s achieved.

Jane Cregan outlines Irish Rail’s plans to develop the former station car park and marshalling yard, then the narrator tells the little-known story of the commemoration in Connolly of the railway workers who lost their lives in the Great War.

A vox pop reveals a colourful selection of people’s best rail memories, then we hear how in 1971 Connolly Station was the scene for the famous showdown between customs officers and Irish feminists, who challenged the Republic’s laws banning the sale of contraceptive by buying them in Belfast and bringing them home on the train.

Kevin Connolly discusses the unpredictable day to day duties of the Station Master, while experienced commuters reveal their techniques for getting seats on rush hour trains and relating to fellow passengers.

Steam enthusiast David Houston talks about the work done by the Irish Rail Preservation Society and the highly-popular steam train outings run from Connolly.

Barry Scully discusses the impact of the Luas trams arriving at Connolly, then we hear of the contingency plans that go into place in the station in the event of an emergency closing of a  rail line.

Sean Reid tells how the North Star Hotel – today re-branded as The Address – has always had strong links with Connolly and he reveals some of the hotel’s fascinating history.

We hear about the closing routine at the station each evening, and the programme concludes with contributors revealing what Connolly Station means to them, and their hopes for its future.


“Last year there was a girl – and I saved her life.” Derek O’Brien, station operative.

“It goes back to my time in short pants.  I was brought up right beside the railway line at Sandymount Station, it’s in my blood.” David Houston, steam train enthusiast.

“During the 1916 Rising the station tower was taken over by British troops, and they were sniping up Talbot Street at the rebels who’d taken over the GPO.”  Jane Cregan, Irish Rail.

“I loved the trains in Connolly – the smell of the oil and the diesel.” Barry Scully of Transdev, the Luas operator.

“The best part of being on a train was that you could get up and walk around – and mind everybody’s business but your own!” Mona Rogers, ninety-nine-year-old passenger.

“The most impressive rail journey I ever had was with the driver of the Eurostar from London to Paris, traveling at 300 kilometres an hour.” Darren Bowe rail network controller.

“I love Friday especially because you’ve everyone going away on holiday.  Everyone’s in fantastic form.”  Lisa Dunne, Manager, Been and Gone, coffee shop in Connolly station.

“We’ve had a few incidents with lost property.  A fella lost a canoe.  I don’t know how he left it, because it was about seven feet long!”  Derek O’Brien, station operative.

Connolly Station – A Day in the Life can be listened to as a podcast on Documentary on Newstalk.

pawns – battle of the books

I joined with the mayor of Fingal, Seana O’Rodaigh, and Betty Boardman, the Fingal County Librarian, at a prize-giving ceremony at St Patrick’s School in Donabate.

My novel PAWNS  was the chosen book for this year’s Battle of the Books event, and pupils in St Patrick’s were the winners of a 600 Euro book voucher, for their entry in a competition based on PAWNS.

The pupils were enthusiastic, and it was a great day of celebration.