The book launch for Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland took place in Croke Park’s Hogan Suite on Saturday night.
Peaky Blinders actor, Cillian Murphy has worked closely as a patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research at the University of Galway over the past ten years and this beautiful book is a culmination of his work there alongside 72 co-authors including President Michael D Higgins, jockey Rachael Blackmore, ex-footballer Paul McGrath, and drag performer Panti Bliss.
John Kelly was MC for the night with Mary Coughlan taking to the stage to sing a haunting version of ‘I’d rather go blind’.
The book itself intersperses thoughts, poems and essays based on the concept of empathy and how introducing empathy to fraught situations can help to diffuse them.
The researchers involved in the data at University of Galway believe that empathy is a skill children should learn at school to help combat bullying and become more rounded individuals.
The launch ended with drinks and finger food in the Hogan Suite. It was an elegant set-up and a very far cry from my last visit to Croker to see Garth Brooks!
Cillian Murphy, originally from Cork, moved his family back to Ireland from London in 2015 and settled in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. He joked at the time that he made this move because of his young sons’ burgeoning English accents.
Armed with a copy of Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland, I joined the short queue to have it signed by Cillian. I was hoping for a steely Tommy Shelby stare but received a warm smile instead. I did get it inscribed with ‘No F***ing Fighting!’ which any Peaky Blinders fan worth his salt will recognise!