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Lives Less Ordinary: Thirty-two Irish Portraits
Judy Kravis and Peter Morgan
Published by The Lilliput Press, 1999

If a good book is meant to stimulate and leave a strong impression of the characters within its covers, then Lives Less Ordinary by Judy Kravis and Peter Morgan must surely qualify. Wonderful portraits, in words and images, of thirty-two people who live a very different lifestyle to the norm. The people included represent a creative dissident Ireland.

The range of people and places is very diverse as is the approach to life and living. From the Black valley of County Kerry comes the voice, now unfortunately silenced, of Lily van Oost “I grew up saying ‘No’ to everything.” She describes her father as an “uncivil engineer” and refers to her husband as a “pink-assed accountant.”

Not far away in the neighbouring Cork County comes the voice of Moira from Coolmountain.
“We were young in the sixties and early seventies and that was a time when people did start to think, hang on, maybe I don’t want to be a chartered accountant. In those days you could just get on the Magic Bus to go to India after doing a factory job to get the money.”

Pat Liddy, a water-diviner, beekeeper and retired farmer has fifteen clocks in the room.
“I heard an old guy say one time you should always walk agin’ the people. If a hundred people are walking that way and you didn’t like it, you walk the other way.”
This Clareman was in Dublin once, in 1963, and never ventured any further south than Killarney but loves his frequent visits to Tulla.

Just three of the many characters that jump out at you from between the covers of this book. Many others like Noel Spence and his twin brother, who gave up jobs as teachers and then converted a henhouse in the garden into a replica of a fifties cinema, will fascinate the reader.

The authors acknowledge the support of University College Cork and the County Councils of Cork, South Dublin, Kildare and Offaly.

Judy Kravis has published short fiction and poetry. She teaches French Literature at University College Cork.
Peter Morgan is an artist whose work is in many private and public collections, including The Arts Council, University College Cork and The Tate Gallery, London. He teaches photography and video at the Limerick school of art and design.

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