New book – Rebel Sisters

Rebel Sisters coverI am very excited to get the stunning cover design for my new book, Rebel Sisters, from Transworld, my lovely publishers in London.

The book is set during the 1916 Rising and I have been working on it over the past few years. It will be published in late January/early February 2016.

I hope all my readers will become as engrossed in the lives of three sisters – Nellie, Muriel and Grace Gifford – and their mother Isabella as I have.

They were incredible women who lived through one of the most important periods in Irish history and were involved in Ireland’s fight for freedom from British rule.

Celebrations for 25 years of Under the Hawthorn Tree!

It’s hard to believe that it is 25 years since Under the Hawthorn Tree was first published.

The O’Brien Press organised a lovely big event in Hodges Figgis Book shop on Dawson Street in Dublin to mark the occasion. Amazing kids and their teachers from three schools came along to meet me.

Everyone had lots of questions and I had a brilliant time, so thanks to everyone.

25 years on and I still love writing, have lots of pictures in my head and new stories I want to write…

Newry and Mourne Museum visit

Newry and Mourne MuseumI travelled up to Bagenal’s Castle, which is home to the Newry and Mourne Museum, to talk to a lovely group from the local schools about writing and the Great Irish Famine.

Earlier on, as part of the Museum’s ‘Living History’ initiative, the group had been shown how to make stirabout and to use yellow meal. They were also introduced to the strict rules and regulations of the Workhouse as they sat at long trestle tables in the Museum’s re-created workhouse dining hall.

A lovely trip and then back to Dublin and finishing my new book…

The Road to the Rising

What a wonderful Easter Monday with the sun shining and Dublin’s O’Connell Street transformed into to Sackville Street 1915 with no traffic and a vintage carousel, tram, cars, and a steam-engine!

Hundreds of actors dressed in period costume set the scene as thousands of us Dubliners thronged the crowded street, enjoying the demonstrations of millinery, hairstyling, men’s outfitting, baking and barrel making. Choirs and musicians from two open air stages sang songs of the period as we enjoyed a day of living history. There were guided tours, and a whole host of talks that were absolutely packed out in the Gresham Hotel, Wynn’s Hotel, Liberty Hall, the Abbey Theatre and the GPO, such is the interest in our history and the past.

As my new book is set during the period it really did help me to imagine those times and I attended a wonderful talk by family members of The Volunteers and one that gave us amazing detail about life for both the rich and the poor during that period.

I have never seen such a massive crowd on the street and the atmosphere was wonderful and friendly. So, congratulations to RTE and everyone involved in organising such a major public event that we will all remember.

A perfect two days was rounded off by seeing Paul Simon and Sting perform at the Three Arena. It was an absolute privilege to be in the audience and hear songs that are so special to so many of us. An unforgettable performance by two incredible musicians!


The History Detectives at the Mountains to Sea Festival

I had a wonderful time in Dun Laoghaire, at the Mountains to Sea Festival talking to lots of great kids, in a packed Pavilion Theatre, about writing and researching history.

My partners in crime were writers Brian Gallagher and Nicola Pierce. Get three writers together talking about one of their favourite topics and it’s going to be fun, revealing and crazy.

We went off for a long lunch, still chatting madly and did it all again with another session in the new DLR LexIcon Library.

Lots of great events on, so check it out if you get a chance!

Marita, Brian Gallagher and Nicola Pierce

Marita, Brian Gallagher and Nicola Pierce

Mountains to Sea 1

Grainne Clear, Marita, Brian Gallagher, Nicola Pierce and Sarah Webb