By David Hennessy
An Irish author based in Manchester has released a special Christmas novella in aid of an Irish homeless charity.
Caimh McDonnell is known for his Dublin Trilogy books of crime fiction with a dark comic edge with feature his anti-hero, Bunny McGarry. The new Bunny McGarry novella Bloody Christmas is raising funds for The Peter McVerry Trust.
Caimh is also a stand up comedian, comedy writer for television shows like Mock the Week and is a former announcer for London Irish Rugby Club.
Caimh told The Irish World: “It’s been fantastic. I think we’re over £7,500 raised now. We set a target of £5,000 and it made that before it had actually been released which was amazing. We’re hoping we can get to 10 and a bit more before the end of the month. It’s been fantastic.”
Caimh chose the charity because he has seen the huge issue that homelessness has become: “You literally have to walk by it every day. The one thing I notice everywhere in the last five years is that there seems to be an extraordinary worldwide increase in homelessness.
“It’s a very complicated issue and there’s loads of different reasons, all of which I appreciate. I don’t know what’s gone wrong.
“But generally it seems to have become such a huge thing. Homelessness in Dublin is extraordinary. The level of homelessness in young people is phenomenal.
“We asked a few different people and several people came back to us with them with the Peter McVerry Trust suggestion. I like the fact that they deal with quite a lot of people that other people might give up on. It felt like that was a strong case to support them, they’re doing a lot of work that a lot of people don’t want to do. We were delighted we were able to support them.”
Homelessness has cropped up in Caimh’s writing before. He wrote in his second book, The Day That Never Comes of homeless people taking over a building in Dublin just like in reality homeless in Dublin took over the NAMA building in 2016. Caimh wrote it before it happened: “Probably how I got the idea was hearing somebody talking about how many buildings were lying empty while people were homeless. That idea was in my head and then weirdly life imitated art right when I was editing the book.
“It’s just a case of not having the political will to build housing and to deal with it. In Ireland, it might bring down the government, the lack of housing. It’s a weird thing that I guess we all sort of get used to, get a bit numb to it. The homeless do get dehumanised and all that sort of thing.
“I was lucky. I grew up in a, not rich, family but typical Irish middle class. I had two parents who were very focused on education and stuff like that. We(me and my siblings)’ve all gone on to do pretty well for ourselves.
“A lot of people don’t realise that they were born into a lucky situation whether they realise it or not and there are people out there that don’t have the same advantages that they do. Some of them will still make it but statistically the odds go down if you’re not in a safe, stable environment.
“I’ve got friends who have fallen off and started doing drugs, ended up homeless and stuff like that. None of us are self made people. We’re all made partly by our environment. If you realise that, I think you probably should do more to help those who haven’t had the same chances as you.
“We should pay more attention to it all year round but Christmas is the time people do, I guess.”
The Dublin Trilogy is also being optioned for television as Caimh has been having discussions with companies who want the rights to a Bunny McGarry series.
Bloody Christmas by Caimh McDonnell is available as a limited edition e-novella until 31 December with profits being donated to the Peter McVerry Trust.