Lifestyle: It has been 14 years since Dubliner Michael Hurley settled in Lackagh, drawing on his love of history and nature to record the stories and wildlife of his new home. His latest book is a compilation of folk essays written in the 1930s by local children, as DARRAGH McDONAGH learns.
George Bernard Shaw observed that “youth is wasted on the young,” but Michael J Hurley’s prolific and passionate pursuit of his interests well into his 70s recently led his daughter to comment that “retirement is wasted on the old.”
The Lackagh resident ended working with Cadbury after 40 years in 2008 but, as Willy Wonka told Charlie at the end of another chocolate factory story, that was just the beginning.
Some 14 years later, Michael has authored more than 25 books, produced two DVDs, performed in a choir, and stepped on boards in a wide range of stage and pantomime roles.
The level of activity and achievement in his retirement has only been matched by the diversity of interests he has pursued since closing the chocolate chapter of his career with Cadbury at Coolock.
The Dublin native’s books brim with enthusiasm and expertise in areas including transportation, heritage, folklore, history, botany and wildlife; while his interest in theater and music has also found productive outlets.
And Michael’s decision to speed up at a time in life when so many others are winding down can be put down entirely to passion, as he proudly declares that he “never made a dime writing a book” and instead chose to divert the proceeds to charity, where they arise.
He was born in the seaside suburb of Baldoyle on Dublin’s north side, but says it was a place he had more in common with Lackagh as a rural community at the time. Large-scale development at Baldoyle did not take place until after 1966.
It was there that Michael’s interest in local history and heritage was ignited at a young age, when he attended a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital. He came across a single information sheet at the fundraiser, which described the history of the nuns in the area. He was surprised at how much he didn’t know about his own locality, and it gave him an insatiable hunger to know more.
For more information, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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