If you could write a letter of advice to your 16-year-old self, what would you say? Some of Ireland's best-known personalities went back in time for a new book and the result is a collection of correspondence that covers everything from deep personal anguish to words of encouragement and hope for the future.
Writer Nell McCafferty tells her 16-year-old self: "If your father hits your mother, tell him you don't like it. Get your sisters and brothers to join with you in that conversation. Grab what joy you can from your young life, which by now is full of that thick excitement and growing up sexually. Do not do anything sexually that does not please you… The minute you leave this island, you will be free, out of the house, away from the family."
Broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan advises her younger self to eat more. "What's with this eating no food lark? Honestly, being 5ft 10½in and weighing seven stone isn't sexy – not even one teeny teeny bit. I can tell you now that you look woegeous – no sensible guy would fancy you in a trillion years."
Musician Damien Dempsey offers some words of encouragement, reflection and humour. "Please, I implore you to use your guitar for firewood and get a trade. If you stick at music you'll drink buckets of Guinness and eat many, many burgers for 20 years until you're eventually 25 stone and have to do lunchtime gigs in Supermacs just to clear your slate – just kidding, but only just."
Forty-nine Irish writers, artists, sports stars and other celebrities have offered insights into their lives as teenagers and their dreams for the future.
"When you glimpse an opportunity, grab it with both hands, take your chances and give it everything you've got. Have fun, enjoy the ride," writes athlete Sonia O'Sullivan.
Journalist Kevin Myers addresses the turmoil in his life as a teenage boy. "This is the darkest hour of your life, I know. Dad dropped dead a few weeks ago, intestate, and Mum has no money, and I'm sorry to say, things will continue to deteriorate… I know you have only one really big question. Your endless interest in women: when does it go away? Sorry lad: can't help you there."
There is universal message carried throughout the letters: life will continue to throw all sorts of unexpected things at you but it's how you deal with them that counts. And don't sweat the small stuff.
"Always remember, love is the greatest thing and there really is one for everyone in the audience," writes senator David Norris. "What's more, on top of that if you are lucky or greedy, a second helping or two is often available as well, so keep on sucking diesel."
Former champion boxer Barry McGuigan offers words of encouragement. "I can't begin to tell you how many exciting and sometimes despairing times lie ahead for you in the coming years – it really is something, so tuck up and roll with the punches… In a couple of years you'll be encouraged by 'someone' to perm your hair – for God's sake, resist at all cost!"
With Love, From Me... To Me, edited by Joseph Galliano, is out now, published by Transworld, €13.99
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