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Colm Tóibín wins David Cohen Prize for Literature 2021

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Colm Tóibín has been awarded the 2021 David Cohen Prize for Literature at a ceremony held this evening in the Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

Hermione Lee, chair of judges, said that the Irish author was the unanimous choice of all the judges: Reeta Chakrabarti, Maura Dooley, Peter Kemp and Prof Susheila Nasta. “I think of him as a Renaissance man who can do almost everything with equal brilliance,” she said. “He’s a novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, travel-writer, critic, teacher, journalist and activist for gay rights.

“His novels and stories imagine their way into the lives and minds of others with amazing empathy and skill. He’s a deeply perceptive writer who can also be lethally funny and daringly erotic. He’s a truly international figure, and a watchful historian of our times. He’s a beautiful writer of loss and grief, silence and quietness. He writes with the intensity of a poet and the lyric rhythms of a musician. I have never missed a book by him and every book of his I’ve read has been a revelation. He’s one of the essential writers of our times.”

Tóibín, whose latest novel is The Magician, about the German writer Thomas Mann, said: “When I attended the inaugural reception for the David Cohen Prize in London in 1993, I did not imagine for a moment that my own writing would ever be honoured in this way. Those who have won the prize in the past are artists whose work I revere. I am proud to be among them.”

Tóibín is the latest in a long line of distinguished writers to won the prize, which is awarded every two years for a whole body of work. Previous winners who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature are Harold Pinter, V S Naipaul, Doris Lessing and Seamus Heaney. Other Irish winners include William Trevor, Derek Mahon and Edna O’Brien.

Chakrabarti said: “Our outstanding winner – Colm Tóibín – is quite simply a class act in a highly competitive and talented field. He is a natural novelist, a writer of tremendous subtlety, simplicity and intelligence. His novels are rooted in time and place. He brings together seamlessly big public themes of politics and history with the personal struggles of individuals. He is fascinated by ambiguous characters, and writes of them in beautiful, spare prose.”

Dooley said: “The experience of reading Colm Tóibín often feels to me like an old friend drawing close to tell me a story. Whatever the form, whether it is criticism, essay, poetry or fiction, Tóibín’s distinctive voice crystallises in a register so compelling, intimate and engrossing that all awareness of his technical accomplishment is masked. He casts a spell. He is himself ‘A Magician’.

Yet those technical skills are extraordinary. This is a writer just as at home writing poetry, or for the stage, as he is, with subtlety and grace, creating character and narrative voice in his fiction. His personal essays are of wit and substance, and he has made brilliantly vivid, tender, presences of Henry James and Thomas Mann. His remarkable insight, careful attention and nuanced reading of the human condition is never clearer than when he is writing about women, from the Virgin Mary or Clytemnestra to his own Nora Webster. Tóibín’s work steps across countries, sexualities, and gender; he examines silence and writes with the greatest sensitivity of how it is to be alive. Colm Tóibín is a writer of dazzling gifts who, over decades now, has brought the interior lives of his characters to life with kindness, insight and precision.”

Kemp said: “The 2021 David Cohen Prize has gone to a writer of impressively wide range and outstandingly high accomplishment. The author of ten novels, two collections of short stories, three travel books and various collections of essays, Colm Tóibín is a writer of both exceptional versatility and steady consistency. With intense immediacy and piercing lucidity, his fiction – especially his masterpiece Brooklyn – explores persisting themes such as ways in which home life can support or entrap, uprootings can disturb or vitalise. Relationships between writers and their families, most recently to the fore in his masterly novel about Thomas Mann, The Magician, are a recurrent concern too in nonfiction works such as his brilliantly perceptive survey of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats and their fathers.

“Ireland, exile, gay life and creativity, politics, and travel are also subjects to which his novels and his other writings have brought unfailingly illuminating intelligence and literary flair. It was with happy unanimity that we judges awarded the prize to a writer who is a man of letters in the finest and fullest sense.”

Nasta said: “The more one reads Colm Tóibín, the more his imaginative universe resonates like a haunting piece of music. From the intimate portraits of his Enniscorthy fictions, set in an Ireland riven by conflict and change, to the wider historical and cultural compass of his fictional biographies, a sustained emotional integrity exposes the conflicts of his characters’ lives. One of the privileges of judging the David Cohen Prize is the opportunity it offers to read across a whole writing life. Already well known for his pioneering chronicling of gay sexualities and critique of narrow Irish nationalisms, the depth of Tóibín’s empathetic engagement with the full arc of human experience continues to amaze. Above all, his work compels us to recognise the vital power of writing as vehicle for interrogation and change.”

Tóibín went on to award the Clarissa Luard Award to Padraig Regan. The award, founded by Arts Council England, in memory of a much-loved literature officer, is worth £10,000 and the winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature in turn nominates an emerging writer whose work they wish to support.

Regan is the author of two pamphlets, Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real (Emma Press, 2017) and Delicious (Lifeboat, 2016). They hold a PhD from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, where they are currently one of the Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellows for 2021. Their first book, Some Integrity, will be published by Carcanet in January.

Regan said: “I am honoured to be selected as the recipient of this year’s Clarissa Luard Award, and deeply grateful to Colm Tóibín for nominating me. To have one’s work recognised by a writer one admires is always encouraging, and this is especially true of a writer like Colm, whose body of work has made it easier for younger queer writers like myself to find their place within Irish literary traditions.”

Tóibín’s previous awards include the Encore Award for Second Novel for The Heather Blazing (1993); International Dublin Literary Award for The Master (2006); Costa Novel Award for Brooklyn (2009); Hawthornden Prize for Nora Webster (2015); and the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award in Irish Literature (2019).

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Girl who fell from ‘Santa train’ settles High Court action

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A girl who fell out of a miniature “Santa train” on her way to visit a festive grotto has settled her High Court action against the operators for €192,000.

Freya Moore, who was six at the time of the 2016 incident, fell out through a door gap over which a chain was placed as the train was going around a corner in the Donegal attraction, it was claimed.

Her jacket allegedly got caught in part of the train and she was dragged for a short distance with her leg getting caught under the train before the alarm was raised, it was further claimed.

Freya, now 11, suffered a soft tissue injury to her leg and later required plastic surgery.

Through her father, Chris Moore, Breton Road, Lisburn, Co Antrim, she sued the operator of the Santa Train, Gerry Robinson, trading as Difflin Light Railways, operating at Oakfield Park, Raphoe, Co Donegal.

The accident happened on December 17th, 2016, when she was on a visit to the Santa Train excursion which involved travelling from “Oakfield Park Station” to a Santa’s grotto.

Liability was not conceded and there was a full defence to the claim.

In the action, it was claimed the defendant was negligent on a number of grounds including a failure to provide a safe premises and to ensure the chain across the door was at a height suitable to ensure a child of her age would not fall out.

It was claimed she was left with a scar on her right lower leg and may require further plastic surgery in the future. Afterwards, she was worried about accidents and falling out of a car and was anxious when visiting fairgrounds.

Micheál Ó Scanaill SC, for Freya, told the court the case had been settled for €192,000.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna approved the settlement with a payout of €2,000 for Freya and the remainder to be lodged in court until she reaches 18. The judge wished her the best of luck.

Mr Robinson died in October 2021.

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Catella invests €15.5m in Portuguese student accommodation

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The Catella European Residential Fund (CER) has made its first venture into the emerging Portuguese institutional investment market for student housing with the acquisition of an asset in the municipality of Cascais, just to the west of Lisbon, for €15.5m. The vendor is Value One HoldingThe property is located close to the beach in the Lombos neighbourhood of Carcavelos within the Cascais municipality and is a 10-minute walk from Portugal’s most prestigious business school, the NOVA School of Business and Economics, which has a student population of over 3,500. The centre of Lisbon can be reached within 20 minutes via two train stations. The 6,622m² property was built in 2020 and comprises 192 spacious single rooms (20m² on average) with a gym, rooftop terrace, study, music and leisure rooms and parking. It is 99% occupied and has obtained LEED Gold sustainability certification for its construction.

 

European student accommodation provider MILESTONE operates the residence under a management contract. MILESTONE was founded in Vienna, is a member of the Value One Group, an international real estate Developer and student housing operator and brings extensive knowledge of the conception, design and successful management of student housing, combined with international expertise. MILESTONE currently has 4,627 beds of purpose-built student housing under management and in development across Austria, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Italy.

 

Eduardo Guardiola, Managing Partner of Catella AM Iberia, said: This is a milestone for CER marking the vehicle’s first investment in Portugal. It is also an important step for CRIM as it represents the investment manager’s entry into Portugal. For Catella AM Iberia it marks our third transaction as advisors on a student accommodation acquisition in the Iberian region. The Portuguese real estate market is becoming increasingly relevant across both the affordable rental and student housing markets – which although very different in maturity and size offer some excellent investment opportunities.”

 

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Kirstie and Phil’s Love It Or List It viewers slam father-of-two who ‘clearly wants a bachelor pad’

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Viewers of Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it last night slammed a father-of-two who ‘clearly wanted a bachelor pad’ after he said he wanted a home where his children were ‘out the way.’

Sophie and Paul, from Aylesbury, who had spent the last eight years  in their home, had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years. 

The couple had allocated £90,000 to transform their house, but also had a £525,000 budget to look at new homes elsewhere. 

Following Kirstie’s advice on the show, they spent £80,000 converting their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension.

But many of those watching were unimpressed by Paul’s attitude after he said he liked their new playroom because it meant his children ‘couldn’t bug him’.

Viewers of Kirstie and Phil's Love it or List it last night slammed Paul, from Aylesbury who 'clearly wanted a bachelor pad' after he said a home where his children were 'out the way'

Viewers of Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it last night slammed Paul, from Aylesbury who ‘clearly wanted a bachelor pad’ after he said a home where his children were ‘out the way’

Sophie and Paul had spent the last eight years in their home but said they had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years

Sophie and Paul had spent the last eight years in their home but said they had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years

The couple allocated £90,000 to transform their home and added an enormous extension, as well as converting their garage

The couple allocated £90,000 to transform their home and added an enormous extension, as well as converting their garage 

One wrote: ‘He doesn’t like his in-laws, his kids or his house. Think he wishes he was still a bachelor.’

Another wrote: ‘The partner is just gross, he just keeps going on about not being a bachelor anymore and how he doesn’t want the kids to bug him.

‘I get the sense he still likes to think of himself as a bachelor, I can just imagine him on a night out without her.’ 

Appearing on the programme last night, Sophie and Paul had been together for eight years and had two children, seven-year-old Finley and three-year-old Georgia. 

Both Sophie and Paul confessed they felt their family had outgrown the space which they had been living in for the past 13 years

Both Sophie and Paul confessed they felt their family had outgrown the space which they had been living in for the past 13 years 

Following Kirstie's advice they converted their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension

Following Kirstie’s advice they converted their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension

But when Paul bought their three bedroom house 13 years ago, a family home was not the objective. 

He explained: ‘This was my bachelor pad. I’m team List It, I want something fresh and new for Sophie and the kids.’

Meanwhile Sophie said: ‘I’m definitely a home bird and I love being here.’

She said they relied on her parents ‘a lot’ because they lived at the bottom of the road.   

Paul said the living room was one of his pet hates because the family were 'always on top of each other'

Paul said the living room was one of his pet hates because the family were ‘always on top of each other’ 

Meanwhile the couple had converted the property's conservatory into a playroom but admitted it wasn't fit for purpose for their children

Meanwhile the couple had converted the property’s conservatory into a playroom but admitted it wasn’t fit for purpose for their children 

But Paul said: ‘My pet hates include the location, the small bedroom upstairs is a tiny box-room. 

‘The playroom downstairs isn’t fit for purpose, the kitchen needs overhauling and the garage is a mess.

‘The most important thing for me in a house is having the divide between adult space and children space and I think that’s important especially as they grow up.’ 

Sophie added: ‘We’ve been in a limbo now for three years where nothing has been done.’  

The first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was (pictured)

The first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was (pictured) 

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden (pictured, the kitchen diner)

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden (pictured, the kitchen diner) 

While Sophie said the bedrooms were 'nice' (pictured), Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was 'a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk'

While Sophie said the bedrooms were ‘nice’ (pictured), Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was ‘a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk’

She told Kirstie and Phil she wanted to extend their home, while Paul said: ‘I’ve fallen out of love with the property. We’re all on top of each other here.’ 

But Sophie admitted she was unwilling to move further than a 15 minute drive from her parent’s home. 

Kirstie warned they would have to go to the top of their budget to fix the home’s problems, suggesting extending the kitchen diner into the area where the current conservatory is.

Meanwhile she said they could also convert the garage into a new living room, creating space for a new hallway. 

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000 (pictured)

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000 (pictured) 

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen (pictured, the kitchen)

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen (pictured, the kitchen)

Paul confessed he liked the property because of it's playroom, adding it would 'keep the children out the way' (pictured)

Paul confessed he liked the property because of it’s playroom, adding it would ‘keep the children out the way’ (pictured) 

Upstairs, the extension would give space for four bedrooms and a master suite.

Meanwhile the first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was. 

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden.

While Sophie said the bedrooms were ‘nice’, Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was ‘a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk.’  

The final property was a large detached four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000 (pictured)

The final property was a large detached four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000 (pictured) 

It featured a large kitchen diner (pictured) and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom

It featured a large kitchen diner (pictured) and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom 

However the couple ultimately decided the downstairs living space wasn’t large enough for their family. 

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000. 

The detached home had been on the market a while, and Phil hoped that a deal could be done.

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen.   

After fifteen months of renovations, Kirstie and Phil returned to see the couple's changes to their property and were blown away

After fifteen months of renovations, Kirstie and Phil returned to see the couple’s changes to their property and were blown away 

Commenting on the couple's decision to have  a larger playroom for their children, Paul said it meant they 'wouldn't come through to bug us'

Commenting on the couple’s decision to have  a larger playroom for their children, Paul said it meant they ‘wouldn’t come through to bug us’

Paul commented: ‘Good playroom at the front…keep them out the way. Eventually this could be my main cave.’ 

And the final property in their search was in the quaint village of Stoke, with Paul saying: ‘I like the outside and it’s in a good location.’

The four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000, with a large kitchen diner and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom.

Outside, there was a double length garage which could be used for storage space. 

Fifteen months after the couple started the renovations on their home, Kirstie and Phil returned to find the property had been completely transformed. 

However despite Sophie and Paul's joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitud

However despite Sophie and Paul’s joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitud

They were blown away by the extension the couple had added to their home, with even Sophie admitting it was ‘bigger than they expected it to be.’

Meanwhile Paul added: ‘It’s definitely not a bachelor pad now.’

And commenting on the decision to build a separate  play room, he said: ‘The children can turn right [to the playroom] as opposed to coming all the way through here and bugging us.’ 

Overall the couple spent £80,000 and the property value has increased by £150,0000.

However despite Sophie and Paul’s joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitude. 

One wrote: ‘I think this guy just doesn’t want to live in the same house as his kids.’

Another added: ‘The guy on this obviously wants away from her parents and somewhere to shove the kids out of the way…he wants a bachelor pad…just come out and say it!’

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