Friday, February 20, 2009

Irish author with CP, Christopher Nolan, winner of Whitbread Award, dies

From The Irish Times. In the picture, Christopher Nolan with his mother Bernadette (left) and Lady Goulding (right), founder of the Central Remedial Clinic, at the time Nolan received the Whitbread Award in 1988. Here's a nice remembrance of Nolan from the visually impaired poet and writer Kathi Wolfe in Scene4 magazine.

The death has been announced of award-winning Irish author Christopher Nolan (43).

Nolan, who suffered from cerebral palsy due to being deprived of oxygen during his birth, used a pointer attached to his head to write three books, one of which won the Whitbread Prize in 1988.

A statement issued on behalf of the Nolan family said he ingested some food into his airways yesterday and died in Beaumont hospital in Dublin at 2.30am Feb. 20.

Nolan, who was born in on September 6th, 1965, spent the early years of his life in Mullingar, Co Westmeath. He was educated at Central Remedial Clinic School, Mount Temple Comprehensive School and at Trinity College, Dublin.

“Despite the severity of his cerebral palsy, christy’s intellectual abilities were unimpaired, and loving words, he set out to become a writer,” said the family’s statement.

Nolan published a volume of poems and short stories entitled Dam Burst of Dreams in 1981 when he was 15.

His second book, an autobiography told in the third-person entitled Under the Eye of the Clock , was published when he was 22. It was awarded the illustrious Whitbread Book of the Year award in 1988. The book was later adapted for the stage by Michael Scott and performed as Torchlight and Lazer Beams.

In 1999, his novel The Banyan Tree , which chronicles the life of Westmeath woman Minnie O'Brien, was published to critical acclaim.

Nolan's talent earned him a number of other honours during his lifetime, including the Medal of Excellence from the United Nation's Society of Writers and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Lancaster University, which was conferred in 1991. He was named Person of the Year in Ireland in 1988 and was made a member of Aosdána in 1998.

He is survived by his parents Joseph and Bernadette Nolan and his sister Yvonne.

President Mary McAleese said Nolan was a gifted writer whose achievements were “all the more remarkable" given his daily battle with cerebral palsy.

“Christopher’s indomitable courage and determination will be remembered along with his literary gifts, inspiring many generations to come,” the President added.

Minister for Arts Martin Cullen TD said people should draw inspiration from Nolan's life.

“With grace and courage, and with the support of his family, he never gave up and he never gave in,” Mr Cullen said. “His bold creativity has ensured a written legacy.”

Fine Gael's arts spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell said Nolan “was an inspiration to millions and his influence will extend well beyond his richly creative literary works".

The Arts Council said it was “deeply saddened” by the news. Director Mary Cloake said Nolan was “remarkably talented” and praised his “brilliant command” of language.