A Toomevara-born author who was inspired to take up the pen by the legendary Tipperary Star columnist Willie Heaney, will open an unusual exhibition of signed books in Nenagh Heritage Centre on Tuesday, July 5.
Brendan Lynch’s exhibition will feature books and photographs inscribed by famous writers to him. The writers range from Brendan Behan and Maeve Binchy to Seamus Heaney, Norman Mailer and John Le Carre. The photographs include Sir Michael Caine and Michael Palin, snooker star Steve Davis and adventurer Steve Fossett, whom Brendan also interviewed.
There are also signed photographs of such motorsport personalities as legendary constructor Enzo Ferrari; Sir Stirling Moss, world champions Graham Hill and Jenson Button; racer and Great Train Robber Roy James, and Portumna record-breaker Sir Henry Segrave, the first to drive at 200mph.
Other signatures include James Joyce’s only direct descendant, his grandson, Stephen Joyce, as well as Irish writers as George Moore, Oliver St John Gogarty, James Plunkett and Toomevara-born US poet Katherine Guilfoyle Edelman.
Other exhibits include items signed by Charles Jarrott and Selwyn Edge, participants in Britain’s first motor race, the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup, which took place in Ireland; Toomevara-born David McClelland, a multiple British Championship race winner in the 1970s, and thte youngest-ever Grand Prix driver, Mike Thackwell, who once lived in Dromineer.
Other signatures include pioneer aviators, Arthur Whitten Brown, first to fly the Atlantic non-stop; George Herbert Scott, who made first return Atlantic flight also in 1919; New Zealand-born record-breaker Jean Batten, and Dublin-born Battle of Britain flier, Paddy Barthropp.
The exhibition also includes a letter written by Willie Heaney.
Brendan Lynch was born in 1937, and is the son of late Garda sergeant Patrick Lynch and former schoolteacher Siobhan Lynch. After a year in St Flannan’s College, Brendan studied at Nenagh CBS, where his teachers, Bill Small and Rodney Bent, inculcated a love of literature and the written word.
Cycling the 14-miles round trip each day developed the leg muscles that propelled Brendan to cycling success. He won his first race at the age of 17 and went on to represent Tipperary in inter-county and stage races. His biggest win was the 1956 100-kilometres Cooper Cup race in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
Brendan’s first job was in CIE’s Thurles office.
Encourged by Willie Heaney, Brendan wrote his earliest stories for Ireland’s Own, before emigrating to London in 1961. Here, he became a disciple of the pacifist philosopher Bertrand Russell and was imprisoned in 1963 for his Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament activities.
After 10 years of office work, Brendan decided to concentrate full-time on writing. With a limited budget, he also realised his motor racing dreams, returning to race in Ireland and winning one event at Mondello Park. Early racing stories for his local Fulham Chronicle led to Grand Prix reporting for Irish media and such UK papers as The Observer and The Daily Mail. He interviewed many world champions, including Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, John Surtees and Ayrton Senna.
He published his first book in 1988, the award-winning Green Dust history of Irish motor racing. He also travelled extensively in Asia, where he met his wife, Margie, whom he married in 1997.
Brendan followed Green Dust with four other books, the last of which was published in 2009, Yesterday We Were In America, the story of Alcock and Brown’s first Atlantic flight from America to Ireland in 1919.
His book, There Might Be a Drop of Rain Yet was the subject of an RTE television documentary. His next book, Prodigals And Geniuses, a history of literary Dublin, will be published this September.
“All are welcome to the Tuesday evening reception to launch the exhibition. I hope I may be reunited with the schoolmates I have not seen since 1955,” said Brendan.
The exhibition will be opened by incoming Mayor Cllr Virginia O’Dowd.