I cannot believe that another year has passed so quickly and here we are at Christmas.
It has been a busy book year writing Rebel Sisters and doing lots of book events all over the place and getting the chance to meet so many readers.
There were wonderful celebrations to mark 25 years since the publication of Under the Hawthorn Tree.
The celebrations continue as it – alongside Wildflower Girl and Fields of Home – has just come out in China. I do hope readers there will enjoy ‘The Children of the Famine’ trilogy.
The Christmas tree is up; the house is decked out with holly and ivy from the garden. Even my dog, Buster, is getting into the festive spirit as he sits on my writing chair at my desk – with plans to write a book!!
Happy Christmas to all and wishing you a bright new year in 2016!
Big Celebrations for 25 years of Under the Hawthorn Tree at Smock Alley, Dublin!
What a special night with so many friends, book fans and family coming along to join in the celebrations for 25 years of Under the Hawthorn Tree. My wonderful publishers, The O’Brien Press, organised a very special night to mark the 25th Anniversary of its publication. It only seems like yesterday that the manuscript was dropped, with much trepidation and hope, into the letter box of O’Brien Press, book publishers. Michael O’Brien loved the book and before I knew it, young artist Donald Teskey was painting the cover and designing the wonderful chapter illustrations and my book was coming out.
The book was launched on the 23rd of May 1990 in the National Library of Ireland, Dublin by Dr Patricia Donlon, then Director of the National Library. Pat had been my lecturer in UCD when I did a course on children’s literature and kindly looked at my book. She recommended that I send it to The O’Brien Press, an Irish publisher who had just started developing a children’s list.
Walking into Smock Alley’s magical Winter Garden/Banqueting Hall to be met by so many friends and book fans was wonderful. There were hugs and chats and a great sense of emotion as Michael O’Brien, my publisher, talked about the book and gave me a very special gift of fine silver hawthorn twig necklace which I will always treasure.
Pat Donlon and I had a great conversation in front of a big audience about the wonderful journey Under the Hawthorn Tree has made since it was first published. It was overwhelming to see so many faces there that have been part of that journey and to think of all the wonderful things that have happened to my story of three children, Eily, Michael and Peggy, all desperate but determined to survive the Great Irish Famine.
The event was part of the Dublin Book Festival and there was lots of wine and photographs and stories. Afterwards we all headed for the Clarence Hotel, where the party continued until late into the night.
It was a magical night and one this very grateful author will never forget.
Marita with Nicola Pierce, Brian Gallagher and Grainne Clear. Photo by ROCSHOT
It’s that time of year again, the Children’s Book Festival, when I am travelling all over the place, meeting people and talking about books.
I had great fun at the Red Line Festival, talking in the Civic Theatre in Tallaght with author friends Nicola Pierce and Brian Gallagher and interviewer Grainne Clear about how and why we all love researching and writing about history.
Then I packed my bags and went down to Wexford for a few days during the Wexford Opera Festival. I had a wonderful evening in Wexford’s Library where journalist Tom Mooney and I discussed writing and met lots of interested writers and readers. Next day it was the kids’ and schools’ turn and I sure got to meet plenty of them at two packed out events in the library.
Wexford was buzzing and I joined all the crowds down on the waterfront watching the spectacular firework display which launched the annual opera festival. The streets of the city were thronged as it was such a warm autumn night. There is opera everywhere in Wexford town and lots of events – with some art too.
Marita, Wexford Library October 2015
I visited a great art exhibition held upstairs in Greenacres’ gallery with pieces by some of my favourite Irish sculptors, John Behan and Eamonn Ceannt.
The next day I talked in Enniscorthy Library to a lovely gang before heading off to meet my author friend, Don Conroy, for lunch… and a big chat about books…
The Children’s Book Festival will continue until the end of October with lots of fun events in libraries and book shops all around the country.
I seem to be surrounded by history at the moment. This year’s National Famine Commemoration was held in Newry – the first time this important event was held in Northern Ireland.
I took part in a large event organised for schools held in St Dallan’s Primary School in Warrenpoint, where children from over 30 schools came along to find out about the Famine. In the afternoon we did a live video conference with almost 90 schools and also linking with Pittsburgh in the USA, where former US ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, talked about his own family having to emigrate from the port at Warrenpoint during the time of the Famine.
As part of the Dublin Festival of History I talked to a lovely group in Dublin Castle. What a wonderful setting to talk, as it is steeped in centuries of Irish history.
The Dublin Festival of History runs until 10th October with lots more events in Dublin Castle and in libraries around the city.
It was lovely to go along to the Dublin’s Writers’ Centre for the launch of Martina Devlin’s thought provoking new book About Sisterland which is set in a society that is run by women.
I met lots of writers and publishing friends.
What a great way to kick-off the autumn book season by toasting Martina’s latest work!
Maebh Ruane, Marita, Claudia Carroll and June Considine
Marita, Martina Devlin and Sarah Webb