Christy and his three siblings were brought up by their widowed mother.
“My father died when I was 13 months old, so I can’t remember him.”
Christy walked out of school aged 12. He did various jobs around Dublin but was then taken to court for non-attendance at school and sent to an industrial school in Cork.
“At sixteen I joined the army and served in the Congo. In 1965, after my discharge from the army, I moved to London.”
With his lack of education, Christy was an adult before he learned to read and write. Once he felt proficient at it, he wrote down his experiences in the industrial schools, and of the Congo.
“I never finished the story, but I kept the notes. At 72, I realised it was now or never as I was in poor health. I used my old notes to start with and relied a lot on memory. It took two years.”
Who is Christy Fleming.
Date of birth: 13th February 1944.
Education: Christian Brothers school, Westland Row. A College in Exeter: Diploma in Bookkeeping and Accounts, 1974.
Family: Wife, Mary. Children Robert, Christopher, Alice and Brian.
The Day Job: Retired. “I have been a carer for my wife for the past six years.”
In Another Life: “I would have loved to remain in the army and progress up the ranks.
This was not possible because, after five years, I was discharged on medical grounds with epilepsy. I was devastated.”
Favourite Writers: “I’ve only recently become a book reader, and I haven’t any favourite authors yet.”
Second Novel: “I would like to continue writing, and there are some stories I haven’t yet told.”
Top Tip: “Always keep notes; and never spend longer than 3 hours at a time writing. The rest of the day is when good work comes to you.”
The Debut: You Ok, Christy? Memoirs of a Survivor. On Stream Publications Ltd: €15.
Describing appalling abuse, this memoir shows a feisty man who was always seeking justice.
“When I completed my story, it felt like I had dumped my demons on the doorsteps of the Irish Government and the Church. My nightmares diminished within days.”
Verdict: Shocking and heartfelt.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 15th December
© Sue Leonard. 2018