A book front cover with title 'Never Know Your Place' and subtitle 'Memoir of a Rulebreaker'. Author identified at top as 'Martin Naughton with Joanna Marsden'. Blue/green background with snapshot-style black and white 1970s photo of a smiling teenage Martin Naughton with brown hair in wheelchair with professional footballer Billy McNeill beside him and a curious crowd behind. O'Brien Press logo bottom right

Never Know Your Place: Memoir of a Rulebreaker

Joanna co-wrote the memoir of activist Martin Naughton, widely considered to be 20th century Ireland’s most significant disabled activist. Never Know Your Place: Memoir of a Rulebreaker (O’Brien Press) will be in books shops in March 2024.

‘Martin Naughton was a protector, a leader, a gamechanger. In reading this narration of his life, tears filled my eyes.’ Dr Rosaleen McDonagh, playwright, rights activist and author of Unsettled.

‘Martin was a formidable and tireless campaigner for the right of people with disabilities to live in their own communities and homes.’ President Michael D. Higgins

The story of Never Know Your Place

In 1960s Ireland there was a special place for disabled children: behind the walls of an institution, cut off from the rest of society.

At just nine years old, Martin Naughton was one of these children. Along with his younger sister Barbara he was sent to a Dublin institution, far away from his Irish-speaking home in Spiddal.

But Martin wouldn’t be sidelined. With the help of some unexpected characters – and an unlikely encounter with his Celtic Football heroes – he began to change the way a generation of young disabled people saw themselves.

This is the story of a boy who not only won his own independence, but also led the fight for freedom for all disabled people.

An excerpt from Never Know Your Place featured in the publication of the TULCA Visual Arts Festival in Galway (November 2023).