Big Celebrations for 25 years of Under the Hawthorn Tree

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.

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