By Dan Dooner
Former Roscommon footballer, Ronan Brady from Elphin, has released a memoir entitled ‘Worlds Apart – An Alternative Journey to Becoming a Modern Man’, which details his decision to leave football and his career as a teacher behind in order to pursue a career as a contemporary circus performer.
Ronan (32) has since become internationally recognised within the circus world, particularly for his expertise in the Cyr Wheel. His memoir follows his journey so far, from growing up in Roscommon to his life as a circus performer.
Speaking to the Roscommon People this week, Ronan said that he decided to take the path less travelled while recovering from an injury he sustained playing football.
“I was all about football and I grew up designing my life around football. I decided in secondary school that I would go to college to become a teacher so I could travel home for the summer to be a county footballer.
“I picked up an injury which forced me to take a year out, and during that time I got into some circus training to build my fitness up. It was only when I moved away from football for a while that I realised I didn’t really miss it that much. I played it because I was good at it and received positive feedback for it so it had become something I just did. I made the choice there and then to do something I really enjoyed and to move into contemporary circus. It was a strange choice but it turned out to be the correct one,” he said.
The Cyr Wheel has transformed Ronan’s life, taking him all over the world as part of the smash hit show ‘Riot’ alongside Panti Bliss. He has also returned home to perform in the Roscommon Arts Centre and even made an appearance at half-time during the 2017 Connacht senior football semi-final between Roscommon and Leitrim at Dr. Hyde Park.
“Touring the world with ‘Riot’ introduced me to a different culture and meeting people like the wonderful Panti Bliss really opened my eyes. She taught me so many things about art and culture and diversity and how to be a better person.
“There was a certain level of conservatism and traditionalism in me growing up and while there are a number of positive things that go with that, there were also negative traits, biases and judgements, which aren’t so nice.
“The book details two very different worlds, the first being my life as a secondary school teacher and footballer and the second is the world of the arts sector and the arts lifestyle. The two seem so far apart and foreign to each other but it would be wonderful if they were closer together.
“I’d describe the book as an account of leaving one life for another. Sometimes we make decisions about life and we’re never really told we can change our minds. My story shows that it’s okay to pivot or to go in a different direction in life,” he said.
Ronan’s memoir shows commendable self-awareness and contains some hard truths, such as his admission that as a child he could be a bully. It also recounts some of the difficulties he has experienced, including unwanted advances from both sexes, and dealing with people assuming that he was gay.
‘Worlds Apart’ is an incredibly honest and humorous account of Ronan’s journey from insulated country life to the crazy world of performing arts.
Published by Mercier Press, it is currently available as an eBook on Amazon and Audible. The print version will be available in July, priced at €14.99.