Documentary on One

Dam-burst of Dreams

The extraordinary story of Christy Nolan, Irish poet and author disabled at birth by severe cerebral palsey leaving him paralysed from the neck down (Broadcast 1981).

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Dam-burst of Dreams


Christy Nolan was born in Mullingar, Co Westmeath in 1965. He was physically disabled at birth by severe cerebral palsy, leaving him paralysed from the neck down. When Christy was six, his mother was told by a doctor that he had the brain of a baby, but a subsequent test found he was of exceptional intelligence.

The Nolans decided to sell up and move to Dublin so that he could attend the Central Remedial Clinic School there. When he was 11, he was given access to a new drug, Lioresal, which helped him gain some control over his head and neck, allowing him to use a typewriter with a head stick. For the first time in his life, he was able to communicate with words.

He made a remarkable career as a novelist and wrote several books by using a pointer strapped to his forehead to painstakingly tap out letters on a keyboard. This documentary from 1981, was produced around the time that Nolan published his first book 'Damburst of Dreams' when he was just 15.

His second book, 'Under the Eye of the Clock', an autobiography written in a biographical style, received critical acclaim and went on to deliver him the Whitbread Book of the Year award in 1988. His final book, 'The Banyan Tree', a fictional work detailing the life of a married woman, was published in 1999.

Christopher Nolan died in 2009, aged 43.

Featuring contributiuons from Christy's mother Elizabeth Nolan and extracts from his poetry.

Produced by Patrick Farrelly

Presented by Hilary Orpen

First broadcast 9th June 1981

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