Hickey, Tony

Children's author Tony Hickey recalls how he was inspired to write from a young age:

'I was born and lived in Newbridge, Co. Kildare, quite close to where Mary Arrigan lived and went to school with her older brothers. At that time Newbridge was a very small town where most people's lives were confined to the distance they could walk or cycle. The local libraries were of great importance to all age groups. Indeed, they and the cinema were our main windows to the outside world. It was during a visit to the Children's Library that an event occurred that was to lead many years later to my becoming a writer and to setting up the Children's Press, the first publishing house totally dedicated to publishing new Irish fiction for children.

I was the last child to get to the library that Saturday morning. Mr. Connolly, the librarian, was about to lock up and to save time, he selected a book for me called The Turf Cutter's Donkey by Patricia Lynch; a title that did not fill me with joyful anticipation but it was a rainy day and having nothing else to do I began to read the book and soon discovered a fantastic adventure story that took place in a world identical to the one I lived in with characters that could have come straight out of the school I attended. For the first time I realised that the world around me was a world as exciting to my imagination as any far-away place and so when I started to write for children I always use Ireland and its people for my books.'