‘Fermanagh spake’

The Impartial Reporter’s Rodney Edwards talks about his career and his new book ‘Sure Why Would Ye Not?’

Tell us a bit about yourself – background, how you got into journalism

I always wanted to be a journalist, even when I was a pupil at Enniskillen High School. I was always writing and needed some sort of ‘way in’. I got in touch with The Impartial Reporter in Enniskillen about doing some work experience. The then editor Denzil McDaniel got me in and I was able to get a flavour of journalism and I loved it. I began writing for the paper, alongside other newspapers in Belfast, London and Dublin. I did a bit of radio, and local television, then a few years later, in 2009, a job came up at the Impartial and I got it. I have been there ever since and enjoy the thrill of giving people a platform and breaking stories. I tackle local issues, challenge those in authority, question the decision makers, and hopefully give people a voice. In 2013, I was named Northern Ireland Weekly Journalist of the Year and last year, I was voted tenth most influential journalist on Twitter by Press Gazette. Fermanagh is a fabulous place and a great place to work as a reporter.

 

Explain ‘FermanaghSpake

Fermanagh Spake is my column in The Impartial Reporter on two oul fellas, Bob and Charlie hashin’ away about this, that and the other. They use Irish words, phrases and old sayings. The column started around two years ago, as a guide to local lingo for the G8 leaders ahead of the summit in Enniskillen, and has taken on a life of its own. In doing the column I realised that this type of language was not unique to Fermanagh and is actually heard in communities across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. For that reason, and the fact that the column had become enormously popular, I decided to write a book capturing this unique part of our culture. Almost 200 people turned up to the launch in October.

What was the inspiration for Bob and Charlie?

For several years I have been reporting around Fermanagh and further afield, and in that time I have met many hilarious characters. These are the type of people that make up communities across the country: good natured hardworking, amusing, people. Everywhere I’d go, I’d see two old men hashin’ and putting the world to rights. I wanted to do something that shone a light on this great Irish spirit and sense of humour. It wasn’t too difficult, all I had to do was listen to people in the street, in shops, in restaurants and I could see and hear Bob and Charlie. So many people tell me that Bob or Charlie remind them of their father, grandfather, uncle, brother or neighbour.

Do you have a favourite word or phrase in ‘Sure, Why Would Ye Not’?

It has got to be Ogeous handlin’. This is said during times of great panic and mayhem, such as in the immediate aftermath of spilling a glass of fizzy pop over your keyboard. It makes me smile every time.

How did you find the experience of writing your first book? 

Exhausting, but enjoyable. I love writing and always have and spent my childhood reading books by Roald Dahl. I enjoyed the way in which his books transported you to a different place. That is the joy of writing. In saying that, this book will not transport you to a different place, instead it might actually transport you back to your childhood. It is my hope that it will remind you of the goodness, the craic, the people and the place that you call home, whether you read it in Ireland or elsewhere.

How has the book been received outside Fermanagh?

Blackstaff Press and I have been really overwhelmed by the response. The book has shot up the charts on Amazon, was considered a best seller a fortnight before it was released, has sold out in shops across Northern Ireland, and is being enjoyed by nine year olds and eighty nine year olds. I am also delighted that it is being read in Australia, America, Bosnia, Italy, Canada and other countries by so many ex-pats who want to be reminded of home. I am very grateful for all the support, not least from the likes of Eamonn Holmes, Tim McGarry, Hugo Duncan and Dr. Leah Totten 

What part has social media played in promoting the book?

Twitter and Facebook have created awareness and helped me reach a global audience. Social media has helped at every stage of the process, from selling the book to ensuring that all my book signing events so far have been well attended. It is also enjoyable to interact with readers of the book who have been giving me feedback plus sharing some of their favourite spakes. I actually think it’s very important to engage with your readers, and social media allows me and them to do that. 

From the Book

Ogeoushandlin’, an atrocious pickle; a terrible situation

Bob: Do ye mind the time Corrigan had the bad tooth?

Charlie: I do, sure Thornton pulled it out with a bit of bailer twine.

Bob: That’s right, in me kitchen, the wife went bananas.

Charlie: He let out some squeal, didn’ he but?

Bob: Ye would a heard him a mile away, crowin’.

Charlie: He was a wile smoker so his oul teeth were rotten.

Bob: The kitchen was rotten, too. The wife never shut up aboutit for a week.

Charlie: An ogeous handlin’ is right.

Any plans for a sequel?!

It is very early days, we’ll see if there is an appetite for more. But at this stage, I am not ruling it out.

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