A retired Cork principal  launches his debut novel aged 72 for charity

Retired school principal Con Lynch tells CHRIS DUNNE about his new book, which will raise money for charities close to his heart
A retired Cork principal  launches his debut novel aged 72 for charity

Con Lynch with his book, Along The Right Path.

ANYONE thinking they may be ‘past it’ when it comes to writing a book and getting published should take a leaf out of Con Lynch’s book.

The retired school principal, who lives in Mount Massey, Macroom, and taught in Rylane NS, has published his debut novel Along The Right Path at the age of 72.

“I made several attempts at writing a book,” says Con, who is donating the proceeds of his book to various charities.

“I began the page of my first book in 4th class in Irish! I got three quarters down the page.

“Over the years, I’ve binned several attempts at writing a book. It took me three years to write Along The Right Path.”

Con was active in student politics in the late 1960s — campaigning to alleviate world hunger and injustice, and for the protection and enhancement of small rural schools.

“I served at national level with the National Parents Council Primary and with the Principals’ Committee,” says Con. 

“I worked as a primary school principal for most of my teaching career. And I loved it.”

Along The Right Path is a riveting read, tracing vastly dissimilar pathways to ordination and the subsequent lives of two very dissimilar men.

The tragedies in the life of one man led him to the brink of alcoholism, wreck and ruin, but eventually, thanks to a ‘guardian angel’, he is led to walk along the right path. The other man turned his back on a thriving industrial components business to resolutely answer the call of the Lord.

“But his decision adversely affects the lives of his mother and her ageing parents,” Con reveals.

He is positively affecting the lives of others by generously donating the proceeds of the book to charities close to his heart, groups associated with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

“My dad had MS for several years,” says Con. 

“My bother Denis, also a teacher and a school principal in Ovens NS, contracted Motor Neurone Disease.”

Con’s extended family were affected by other conditions.

“Family members, aunts and uncles suffered from Dementia, and Alzheimer’s,” he explains.

Con is going along other paths to support local charities.

“Donations will go to the Senior Citizens to help fund meals on wheels during the pandemic,” says Con.

“The sole aim of this book is to do some good for some really great people that I know, and hopefully thousands of others as well.”

Con, who is married to Maria and dad to two boys and two girls, became a school principal at 21 and took on a nationwide walk to help send aid to Ethiopia during the famine in Biafra.

“The first time I saw a skeleton was on TV,” says Con.

 “I thought it was shocking. I had to respond as a Christian. We can say it’s not our business but I felt I had to act, that it was my obligation as a human being. I suppose it’s like the Good Samaritan; don’t pass by.”

Con’s book, which is dedicated to his parents, is written in a simple conversational style.

A brilliant young priest whose idealism and rigid legalistic approach causes problems for many; a teacher/musician who is compelled to change the course of his life, are only two of the powerful characters that Con introduces us to and who we want to get to know as their paths lead them to salvation of a kind.

The intricate ingredients in Along The Right Path include the industrialist Bernhart family residing at Bernstadt Hall, where marriage matters complicate family life and business.

The eventual heir to the family fortune, Paul Bernhart Beauvoir, was ordained a priest in 1984 when he was just 25 and warmly welcomed as a young curate. By the age of 33, he had served in five different parishes; having been transferred on four different occasions.

So what transpires when his path leads him to the parish Cooley Park?

Thomas Martin Kendley was 41 entering the seminary, having experienced tragedy in his life; the loss of his wife and infant twins was devastating for him. His human misery escalated when his only son Indie, age 3, drowned in a fishing accident.

Does the priesthood bring Thomas happiness and joy? Who else crosses his path to further hinder him or help him in life?

Going down so many paths — life, death, destruction, double-crossing; personal hell and redemption — Con has led us on a mighty saga, with citizens, the good, the bad and the ugly, who take sides in a battle for the soul of their community.

We get to know a faithful mother who finds true and lasting love and is prepared to pay the price to keep it. We discover the absconder who is missing a very long time who cannot be definitively presumed missing to be dead. Does he re-appear?

What is the outcome of Cardinal Paul and Bishop Thomas’s personal lives and Christian lives? They are only human.

Asking these questions, and dying for the answers, we race through the pages, desperately hoping not to miss any delightful or dangerous detail. The devil is in the detail.

Con’s book is a page-turner with surprises sprinkled throughout each chapter, taking us across the country and to other lands; Lanzarote, Rome and Poland.

Con must think his debut novel is a great achievement?

He laughs.

“I think retiring is my greatest achievement!

“Going through life, I’ve made enough mistakes! I’m very grateful in my heart for all I have. My best years are still ahead of me.”

Along The Right Path is in all local Cork book-shops and on amazon.co.uk, priced €15.50. All proceeds to charity.

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