Fiacre has autism and is non-verbal, but he loved having stories read to him as a child. Favourites included Horrid Henry, Harry Potter, and history books.
“My mother, who is a teacher, read me a variety of books and my dad subjected me to hurling autobiographies. If they were busy, my sisters read to me.”
Fiacre learned to write in his teens, using an alphabet letterboard. As he progressed from pointing at letters to words and sentences, he became interested in writing articles and poems.
“A collection of my writing featured in two TV documentaries: Autism and Me, and Speechless. Patrick O’Donoghue of Merrion Press wrote to me and asked me to write a book. New writing and poetry occupied my days until finally I had the book. With my thoughts and words in print, I am verified.”
Who is Fiacre Ryan?
Date of birth: 2000, in Galway.
Education: Newport National School; Swinford Secondary School, Mayo.
Home: Castlebar, County Mayo.
Family: Mam, Dad, sisters Rebekah and Alison (who did the illustrations), my Granny, aunts, uncles and cousins, cat Alfie, dog Poppy, and horse Charlie.
The Day Job: Adult education, at NLN Castlebar and ATU Mayo.
In Another Life: “I would like to change the world and make it a kinder and fairer place.”
Favourite Writers: JK Rowling; JoJo Moyes; WB Yeats; Emily Bishop; Sally Rooney; Roddy Doyle.
Second Book: There may be one in the future.
Top Tip: “Stay positive and persevere. You never know what’s around the corner.”
The Debut: Speechless. Merrion €16.95 Kindle: €6.20.
In this ground-breaking memoir – Fiacre describes his experiences of growing up and learning to read as a non-verbal autistic student – and then to become the first to sit the Leaving Certificate.
He shares his frustration – along with his longing for inclusion. In his poem on the Coronavirus– he states, wryly, that ‘All behave like autistics now’
“I hope that I make a difference to someone’s life, and that my writing is inspirational and shines a light on living with autism.”
The Verdict: A beautiful book of prose and poems giving an insight into Fiacre’s creative mind.
Fiacre Ryan has been shortlisted in the Newcomer of the Year category at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2022.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 19th November
© Sue J Leonard. 2022.