40 Years of The O’Brien Press

Big celebrations as The O’Brien Press, my Irish publisher, celebrated 40 years of publishing!

unnamedIt was great to join the party at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin, where I met so many old friends from the book world. I still find it hard to believe that it is almost 25 years since they published my very first children’s book Under the Hawthorn Tree.

Michael O’Brien talked about how his father set up the business, how he got involved and first developed a passion for publishing good books and wanted to create a strong Irish focused publishing house. His son, Ivan, is now helping to run the company. Good luck and well done to all my friends, editors, designers and the team in The O’Brien Press.

Remembering ‘The Great War’

Softly March Away was a very special commemoration of the 22 young men from Greystones who were killed during The Great War and are commemorated on a plaque in St Patrick’s Church. They were brothers, cousins and friends, all with homes in Greystones, who enlisted in the army and lost their lives on various battle fields during ‘The Great War.’

Irish Times journalist Peter Murtagh, an avid local historian, researched the brave young men and their families and in a very moving tribute told their stories to a packed audience.

Softly March Away - WWIFrom archive film of Flanders, Gallipoli and the Trenches, photographic montages of the young soldiers and their homes in Greystones, to letters, telegrams, death certificates and parents’ letters to Lord Kitchener, these all added to the poignancy of this very moving event.

Interspersed was music of the time performed by mezzo soprano Dara McMahon and Tenor Patrick Hyland with a wide range of songs like, ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’, ‘Macushla’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier.’ The evening ended with the sounding of ‘The Last Post’ and the lowering of the standard of The Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

It was certainly an event to remember and a privilege for all of us lucky enough to attend. Well done to Peter Murtagh for putting it all together.

Children’s Book Festival!

October is the busiest month for writers with the Children’s Book Festival and so many events happening around Ireland.

So I packed up my book bag and headed down to Waterford City to talk to a huge group of wonderful young readers in the magnificent setting of the City Hall. I had lots of fun with everyone.

Then last week, I went up on the bus to Donegal. No trains, but I enjoyed the beautiful Autumn colours and scenery. I stayed in Letterkenny where I got to meet lots of great kids and young writers in the Central Library.

I also dropped into my local Dubray Bookshop for their ‘Books are my Bag’ promotion where they are giving away handy book bags when you buy some books….something I can never resist!

‘Beyond The Stars’ Book Launch

beyond the stars cover from nicolaWhat a big night! Lots of fun In Eason’s to celebrate the launch of Beyond the Stars – a collection of amazing short stories by 23 authors and illustrators including budding young author Emma Brade, who won the story competition.

The book is the brain child of Irish author Sarah Webb who persuaded everyone to either write a story or create an illustration for this magical book.

The book will raise lots of money for Fighting Words – the brilliant centre set up in Dublin by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love to encourage kids of all ages to get creative and write.

Sarah Webb and Marita

Sarah Webb and Marita

My story ‘The Snow Globe’ is about Cass who hates moving house. She buys a snow globe at a Christmas market and soon discovers its mystery and magic. The illustrations are by the wonderful P.J. Lynch who manages to capture my story perfectly.

Ruth Alltimes and her team at Harper Collins have produced a very special book which hopefully everyone will go out buy or put on their Christmas List.

Martina Devlin’s The House Where It Happened

On a bright sunny September evening, I joined lots of writers and journalists to celebrate the launch of Martina Devlin’s new book The House where it Happened in the Irish Writers’ Centre on Parnell Square. I hate saying goodbye to summer but September always brings books and lovely book launches.

A huge crowd turned up to cheer Martina on and RTE Journalist Anne Cassin launched the book. It is based on real life events and the trial and death of eight young women as witches back in 1700s in the Isle of Magee. Stirring stuff and a book I am dying to read!

Sarah Webb, Marita, Clare Dowling and Karen Gilleece

Sarah Webb, Marita, Clare Dowling and Karen Gilleece