A trained surveyor, Ray ran a successful subcontracting business. Wanting to retire at 50, he volunteered to go to Bosnia.
“I got a taste for aid work,” he says. “From then on I worked at it for 3 or 4 months a year.”
Back in Ireland, involved in motorcycle sport, Ray trained in first aid with the Red Cross – but got interested watching the paramedics.
“I got cerebral malaria in Mozambique and was not allowed back for six months. I took a six-month course as an emergency medical technician, and that led on to a paramedic training.”
From there he got a job on ambulances, able to work between his trips in Aid work.
“I need a month off when I return from trouble spots to adjust; then I’m ready to work.”
He retired from the Ambulance service at 65.
“I started to write after Bosnia, because my head was all over the place. The shops were full for Christmas, and in Bosnia they had nothing. I couldn’t explain what was wrong, and my wife said, ‘write it down.’”
He kept notes throughout his career and wrote some articles for the Irish Times and the Huffington Post.
“I began to write the memoir in 2012, after I’d retired,” he says. “When I had half done, I joined a writing group.”
Who is Ray Taylor?
Date of birth: 1947 in Dublin.
Education: The High School, (then in Harcourt Street.) Left after Inter-cert. Job as trainee surveyor – Leaving Cert through night classes; Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, technician course; Building Surveyors Institute – membership exams.
Home: Skerries, County Dublin.
Family: Wife Liz. Jenny, Sam and David and 8 grandchildren.
In Another Life: “I’d be a doctor.”
Favourite Writers: Jeffrey Archer; Agatha Christy; Ann Rule; Ian Rankin.
Second Novel: Diary of a Paramedic. “I’m writing that at the moment – I’ve nearly finished.”
Top Tip: Write what you know about. Try and grab the reader from the first page. Persevere.
The Debut: Mr Ray Would Like a Monkey. Orpen Press: €15.00.
At 50, Ray became a humanitarian aid worker, working in Bosnia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Mozambique. He recounts the stresses both of the work, and of readjusting to ordinary life afterwards.
The Verdict: Hugely informative. Humourous and sometimes heartrending.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 16th October, 2021
© Sue J Leonard. 2019.