Ten minutes with… Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Ten minutes with… Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Sarah Moore Fitzgerald was born in New York in 1965 but grew up in Co. Dublin. Today she is Associate VP Academic at the University of Limerick, and Chair of Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. She has written two novels for young adults, Back to Blackbrick and The Apple Tart of Hope. She lives in Limerick with her family.

What are you up to right now?

I’m spending the weekend at home with the kids — just hanging out. Our weekdays are always so busy and packed that I like to designate our weekends as stress-free zones.

Who are your heroes?

As I think about this question, I realise that most of my heroes are writers or teachers. I once had a teacher called Miss Deane who opened my eyes to lots of important ideas in literature simply because of her own passion and excitement about books. She’s a real hero to me. Some others include Seamus Heaney, Christopher Hitchens, Jane Austen and JK Rowling.

What’s been the best decade of your life so far and why?

This one. This is the decade in which my lifelong ambition to become a published novelist has come true. But I loved my thirties too — the decade in which all my three children were born.

What song sends a shiver down your spine?

Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues. I think it is the greatest love song ever written.

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

Coliemore Road, Dalkey. It’s where I grew up, in a house that backed out on to the sea directly opposite Dalkey Island. A magical place full of great memories.

What makes you angry?

I get angry when I see smug complacency in the face of injustice or suffering, but I have to confess to a more trivial source of grumpiness too. While I adore my children, they have habits (that I’m sure I also had as a teenager) which drive me into paroxysms of disproportionate rage — leaving the toothpaste uncapped, not closing the top of cereal boxes, balancing a sticky knife precariously on the rim of a jam jar. I remind myself that there is no malice in these careless actions. It’s just because their lives are too full of important interesting things for them to notice.

What book influenced you most?

So many books have influenced me, but I name The Catcher in the Rye because it is so wonderful and because I first read it at such a formative stage in my life.

What was the worst moment of your life?

When my dad died in 2012.

Which local star in any field should the world outside Ireland know about?

Eoin Devereux, a sociologist who works in the University of Limerick who is also a short story writer. He’s a beautiful writer and a story of his appears in the recently published 100 stories, 100 books [published by Poolbeg]. Everyone should read it.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

More time to write. I have a very engaging full-time job and three kids, so life is busy. I’d love to have more time at the end of each day for writing fiction.

Can you recommend an interesting website?

Yes, as chair of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, I’d like to plug my team’s fantastic website, showcasing the excellent work that’s going on right across the Irish HE sector: www.teachingandlearning.ie

What is the best lesson life has taught you?

Persistence in the face of failure. I think one of the things we should teach more consciously is the importance of being resilient, of learning from failure, of extracting important lessons from disaster.

What is your favourite film and why?

Some like it Hot. It’s just so full of joy and mirth and wit — and I never get tired of watching it.

What do you believe in?

The importance of creativity and of the arts as a crucial part of everyone’s lives.

What trait do others criticise you for?

Excessive enthusiasm.

What are the best and worst things about where you live?

I live in Blackwater, Ardnacrusha. The best things about it are all the trees, and the fabulous Blackwater river flowing by our gate but there are no footpaths, so walking can feel a bit hazardous sometimes.

On what occasion is it OK to lie?

I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it might incriminate me.

What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?

Eating ice cream in bed.

Who is the love of your life?

My husband, Ger Fitzgerald.

The Apple Tart of Hope is out on February 12