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The Incredible Naked Flying Man of Achill

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FANTASTICAL CREATIONJohn Blakey’s character, Icarus O’Toole, likes nothing more than flying naked along the cliffs of Achill. Blakey has written and illustrated the book.

Edwin McGreal

Readers will be relieved – or perhaps disappointed – to discover that The Legend of Icarus O’Toole, The Incredible Naked Flying Man of Achill is a work of fiction.
Icarus is a fantastical creation of renowned artist John A Blakey and the journey the book and accompanying audio book and CD have went on is a story in of itself.
Blakey got well-known English actor Hugo Speer to voice the audio book and we interviewed both in Westport in February 2019, after recording had finished.
Trouble was, some edits were needed and Speer was so busy, that he could not get the time to polish off the edges.
So all the work was down the swanny and Blakey had to start from scratch, recording the audio book himself. He has dedicated the book to ‘my dear friend Hugo Speer’.
Plans for the launch of the book itself have been perpetually delayed by Covid-19 so Blakey is releasing the book, audio book and CD now with hopes of official launches taking place when circumstances allow it. There are also plans for a double vinyl release.
For the CD and audiobook Blakey worked with the renowned Clew Bay Pipe Band and Matt Molloy. Indeed, it was the promptings of Des Cafferkey of the Clew Bay Pipe Band which led to Blakey basing Icarus O’Toole in Achill – he was initially due to be based in Doolin in Co Clare. The high sea cliffs of Croaghaun in Achill took the place of the Cliffs of Moher.
Blakey was born in Leeds to a family of Irish heritage and his wide-ranging career as an artist has taken him all over the world, including a two-year stint as artist to the Sultan of Brunei.
He describes the story of Icarus as ‘a humorous satirical love story’ and Icarus himself as ‘a delightful character who falls victim to his own eccentric ways’.
Icarus enjoys a carefree childhood but his running naked along the cliffs at Croaghaun is viewed with suspicion, especially when he reaches his teenage years.
He falls in love, is shipped off to a mental institution before going on quite the adventure when he is released.
Blakey has written and illustrated the book, as well as doing the voiceover for the audio book.
The multi-talented Blakey has produced a brilliant story, so wonderfully illustrated by his comic illustrations.
It is, as Hugo Speer told us last year, a ‘fantastic’ concept, ‘an incredible flight of fancy’.
The book, CD and audio book have been released in the past month. The book is available in Tertulia Books in Westport, the CD can be bought in Achill Tourism while both the book and audiobook can be bought on Amazon.

Win copies of The Legend of Icarus O’Toole – The Incredible Naked Flying Man of Achill. We have two copies of the book and three copies of the CD of music featuring Matt Molloy and The Clew Bay Pipe Band. To enter, simply email with your name, address and a contact telephone number with the subject line of the email as Icarus O’Toole. There will be three winners, each winning a book and a CD. Postal entries can be sent on a postcard to Icarus O’Toole competition, The Mayo News, The Fairgreen, Westport, Co Mayo. Closing date, Friday, September 19.

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