Moving from England at 4 years old, Lucy always had conflicting identities. And at primary school in Greystones, County Wicklow, she befriended twins from the travelling community who were collected from school by horse and cart.
“They took me under their wing,” she says, “and I felt much happier.”
Living in Roscommon, Lucy suffered severe anxiety panic attacks and found school impossible.
“I changed school five times, then was home schooled. But afterwards, I wasn’t ready for college, and did a two-year portfolio preparation course.”
Since college, Lucy has worked on a few community arts-based projects.
“I was an Intern in Belfast on women’s perspective of the history of the Port and Docks, and I’ve worked in a family resource centre, and at Youthwork, Ireland.
Who is Lucy Kelly Desmond?
Date of birth: 1989 in London, to Irish parents.
Education: GMIT Galway, Textile Design. Chelsea College of Art, course on book illustration. “I adored third level and made some lovely friends.”
Home: Dysart – between Athlone and Ballinasloe.
Family: Mum and Dad and cats Simba and Marcel.
The Day Job: “I’m really busy with the book. I’m on the panel of Artists in Schools and hope to do school visits.”
In Another Life: “I’d always thought of being a vet, but I’m not keen on blood. I’d work with animals in some other way.”
Favourite Writers: Andrea Levy; Erik Ravilious; illustrators Angela Barrett, and Nicola Bayley. “And I like graphic novels. Marjane Satrapi was a big influence on me.”
Second Book: “I’m working on different ideas.”
Top Tip: “You need determination because opportunities often fall through. I keep my rejections in a folder. It’s a reminder that I’m brave and I tried. And it takes the sting off the fear.”
The Debut: The Horse, the Stars and the Road. Little Island: €11.48.
This sumptuous picture book, written and illustrated by Lucy, tells the story of a traveller boy who takes a trip in a wagon with his uncle, and learns to take pride in his identity.
“I hope the book spreads understanding. My biggest hope is that it reaches a traveller child and helps to give them a sense of their culture.”
The Verdict: This beautiful, heart-warming tale bears an important message.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 22nd October.
© Sue J Leonard.