Novelist Pat McCabe to be guest at NUI Galway conference

Renowned novelist Pat McCabe will address an NUI Galway family support conference entitled “Reflecting on Contemporary Challenges” tomorrow (Friday ).

Reading excerpts, both humorous and sobering, from his books including The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, the Monaghan born author will reflect on the complexities of childhood and family life.

Known for his dark comedic fiction set in small town Ireland his novel Winterwood was published in 2006 and was named the 2007 Hughes & Hughes/Irish Independent Irish Novel of the Year. His latest novel is The Holy City (2008 ). He is also the author of short stories, children’s books and several radio plays broadcast by RTÉ and the BBC.

Pat McCabe’s talk is the centrepiece of a wide-ranging programme of presentations and workshops on contemporary challenges during the event which runs on June 18 and 19.

It will focus on the difference that communities can make to children and families and how work with families can be the key to community regeneration. The conference is organised by the university’s child and family research centre which carries out research, education and training in child and family care and welfare.

The centre’s director, Professor Pat Dolan, is the Republic of Ireland’s only UNESCO chair with a focus on children, youth and civic engagement.

“This conference is a timely opportunity for professionals, policy makers and researchers to reflect on the many issues raised by the recent Ryan and Monageer reports and the Baby P case in the UK,” he says.

“Important discussions are needed about how to protect children while recognising that in most cases the best way to do that is through supporting parents and through putting in place extensive preventative programmes, particularly in the early years.”

Fr Aidan Troy, who served as a priest in Holy Cross, Belfast, during the school dispute in 2001, will deliver a talk entitled “Walking the Walk in Adversity, Family Support and Personal Discovery”.

Other speakers include Dr John Davis who is the head of the Department in Educational Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Dr John Canavan is joint founder and associate director of the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway and Professor Tony Fahey is professor of social policy and head of the school of applied social science at UCD.

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