Paramedic Photoshoot

We go behind the scenes of a photoshoot for the book.

We needed the perfect shot to accompany ‘The Next Day’ by Dublin-based author Robert McDermott.
Photo (c) Anna Dodog @WildDreamPhotography

An ambulance takes centre-stage

What do a paramedic, chocolate, and Louise O’Neill have in common? Not much, you might think. So then, why did six almost-strangers, including a mother-and-son duo, two crazy book club friends, and two almost twin-colleagues with identical names, and coffee-habits, get together on a sunny Sunday morning in West Cork? Why were there people lying on the ground? Eating cake? And having glowing halos super-imposed upon them – though their light already shone brightly? 

And no, it wasn’t my halo. Those of you who know me, know that any attempts at angel-hood would be futile at this point. Plus, angels don’t wear boots. ​

“But…”, I hear you cry.

Why was there an ambulance? A blue blanket? Full protective gear? And Cadbury’s Twirls?

Our two paramedics, Martin and Martin

Why did the instigator later have to appease the concerns of a concerned citizen, who’d seen the flashing lights and heard the sirens?

Lights, I tell you. It’s all about the lights.

“Lights on the Horizon”, to be precise. What we were doing on that early Sunday morning, in this strange world we find ourselves in, with all the bad news, and the grief, and the silence, and the worry, was to collectively find a way to make others’ lives perhaps a little brighter. Because we all need a little cheering up these days. We have been in lockdown for a very long time, after all.

Back to 2020, if we dare…

It’s timely, actually. Because this story begins during lockdown. But don’t worry. None of us want to cast our minds back, really. Most of us just wanted 2020 to be over, thank you very much. Most of us were thinking that Christmas might just be the highlight of this abysmally badly scripted year. Though deep down, we wanted Christmas to be over, too, with all its twinkly lights, presents, and home-baking in isolation. We’d had a lot of that these last few months.

But back to the lights. During lockdown, many writers and poets came together from all over the island of Ireland, to pen poems and tell tales, all on the themes of heroes and hope. The driving force was a collection called “Lights on the Horizon”, which was published in May 2020. It was a charity collection, and all proceeds went to frontline staff in the HSE and NHS. Fast forward two months, and Jeremy Irons gave us a huge boost when he wrote a few lines in support of our collection. We were so touched by this gesture, that someone so famous would take the time to even consider such an initiative, that the seed of an idea took hold, and we couldn’t shake it off. 

The great Jeremy Irons. Source Wikipedia Commons

The Vision of a hardcopy book

With “Lights” came a vision. What if we could raise even more money, while creating something beautiful? 

A literary time capsule, creating something beautiful to give people hope in these troubled times?

Antrim-based author and playwright, Andrew William Tinney

But before we started, we had to ask the very man who brought this idea to life: Author and playwright Andrew William Tinney – Author . Andrew had the original idea of a collection for frontline workers, and Andrew had brought all these authors north and south of the Irish border together in the first place. And with his blessing, we were going to take it to the next stage.

And so, phone calls were made, and one by one, publishing professionals far and wide were assembled. Who gave their time, and expertise, so generously, and absolutely free of charge.

Tess, our amazing editor, whose meticulous attention to detail, ideas and aura of calmness brought us through many a stumbling block. Ailbhe, who totally “got” the project from the word Go, and whose beautiful designs and fonts brought our project to life! Rosie , our brilliant Supply Chain mind, whose knowledge of gsms (don’t ask!), spines and jackets opened up horizons I never knew existed – and I don’t mean fashion!
And then there were the dozens upon dozens of individuals who have supported, encouraged, phoned, zoomed, emailed, messaged, massaged, poured wine, and cups of tea, and showed their support in so many ways. I will thank you all properly when the time comes.

​And then, there were those who turned up on that bright and almost summery Sunday morning; a perfect setting for an impromptu photo shoot, only brought to life the Friday before. Because, you see, we needed pictures. We had already assembled a few Ireland-based photographers already. Some had donated fabulous pics (thank you Esther Moliné and Clonakilty Distillery).

The original of the picture, which Clonakilty Distillery kindly gave us permission to use in the book. Can you spot where it features in ‘Lights on the Horizon’?

We wanted this book to be authentic. The stock image sites are all well and good, but it’s hard to find a picture of an elderly woman and an Irish ambulance, or a young boy who sees an angelic vision of a paramedic. The amazing Teresa McShane did fantastic job, standing in for those roles, as did the extremely talented David Dodog, who had accompanied his Mum, the incredible Anna Dodog, @Wild Dream Photography, on this photo shoot, and was happy to roll with everything we threw at him that day.

Two good deeds in one

Lights On the Horizon” is a memento of these times, and how we all got through it. It has beautiful photography, and stunning design. And it can sit, quite happily, on your coffee table, or in your car, or on your bookshelf, or under the bed, in time to come. And you will have cheered yourself up by buying a thing of beauty – and at the same time, you will have done something for a great cause. You will have supported our incredible frontline staff who have kept this country from collapsing during this horrible pandemic. You can buy it here.

Spread it like it’s Skippy

So please spread the word far and wide. Follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And please share, share, share. Go to our partners,, and purchase a copy. One for you. One for a friend. Or one for that hero in your life. You’ll get a lovely book – and you’ll be doing something fantastic. Remember that ALL proceeds go to frontline workers.

Oh, and what about author Louise O’Neill, you ask? 

Well, in September 2020, Louise gave our project another huge boost, when she took the time to write a few lines in support of our project. Thank you so much, Louise!

And, thank you, for taking the time to read. And thank you for all your support.


Publisher, ‘Lights on the Horizon’