Aged 10, Betty was made school librarian, and after leaving school she joined the library service. Whilst working there, in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, then in South Dublin, she took a degree, gaining a double first. She was proactive and was responsible for setting up one of Ireland’s first reader’s days in 2002.
“I left the libraries in 2007 – and cared for my partner, Brendan, who died from cancer in December 2010. Then I went freelance, and set up my own business, writing content and doing social media.”
Main contracts included the Mountains to Sea Book Festival and the Dunlaoghaire Arts Office, where she worked alongside her friend, Senior Executive librarian Marian Therese Keyes. They worked on a project to commemorate 200 years of the pier, by collecting photographs of people enjoying their time there for an exhibition.
“We took photographs the day President Higgins came on the anniversary, then got people to send in their photos and stories. We gained a sense of community – people clearly love the borough.”
At the close of 2017, the two decided to use the material to create a book. They completed it by June, and were shortlisted for the Journal.ie best Irish published book in the An Post Irish Book Awards.
Who is Betty Stenson?
Date of birth: 22nd February 1962, Abbeyfeale County Limerick.
Education: St Joseph’s College, Abbeyfeale. University College Dublin, 1984, Social Science with Library and Information Services. MA Social Policy.
Family: Son, Stephen.
The Day Job: Running, ‘The Write Way.’ “I’ve just started a contract with The Irish Writer’s Centre, programming education courses.”
In Another Life: “I’d paint.”
Favourite Writers: Influences include, Joan Didion, Margaret Drabble, Edna O’Brien, Jean Rhys and Lorrie Moore. “My favourite book is Precious Bane by Mary Webb.”
Second Book: “I’m planning to do some creative writing and see where it leads.”
Top Tip: “Use spreadsheets. And get permissions straight away.”
Website: www.thewriteway.ie Twitter: @bettystenson
The Debut: People on the Pier. New Island Books: (With Marian Therese Keyes.) €24.95.
Mingling history with the personal, this beautiful photographic book shows the enormous affection people have for the pier. It contains memories of childhood and of loved ones, in a joyous celebration.
The Verdict: A stunningly produced book to enjoy and treasure.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 12th January
©Sue Leonard, 2019