I was very honoured this month to receive the Burke Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse through the Arts from the College Historical Society (the Hist) in Trinity College Dublin.
The Hist is the world’s oldest undergraduate society, and set the model for debating societies throughout the British Isles and United States; in Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.
The College Historical Society was founded in 1770 and it was there that Edmund Burke, Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet first made steps into political debate. Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, were all former members and medallists.
The Hist is the venue for so many important speeches and debates in Trinity College and has been addressed by Douglas Hyde, Winston Churchill, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many world renowned figures.
Previous Burke Medal recipients included writers W.B Yeats, Salman Rushdie, Jung Chang and Hilary Mantel and actor Ralph Fiennes.
Standing in Trinity College surrounded by such a history, I was very proud to receive the Edmund Burke Medal. I really enjoyed meeting and talking to the students of Trinity College and members of the Hist. I will always treasure this very special medal and honour.
There was more good news at the end of last week when I discovered that my new book, Rebel Sisters, is number one in the Original Fiction bestseller list in Ireland. Thank you so much to all my readers.
I was very honoured to have my book launch for my big 1916 book, Rebel Sisters, held in Dublin’s National Library on Thursday 4th February 2016.
The library is one of my favourite places and so much of the research for the book was done there, that it was very fitting. Sandra Collins, the Director of the National Library of Ireland was so generous to host the launch and made everyone feel very welcome.
Eoin McHugh, head of Transworld Ireland said more kind words. I was overwhelmed by playwright and author Frank McGuinness’s praise for the book. As Frank read a chapter from Rebel Sisters, he seemed to bring the words to life and held everyone present spellbound.
I was very privileged also that some family members of those that took part in the 1916 Easter Rising also attended.
It was such a very special night with family and friends and some of my fellow writers there too. My agent Caroline Sheldon and editor Francesca Best both came over from London to join in the celebrations.
Gathered in this wonderful, much loved building, surrounded by the National Library’s 1916 Commemoration Display, which included words and photographs of so many of the people that I have written about in the book, was strangely perfect.
I found it all very emotional as my very first book Under the Hawthorn Tree was also launched in the National Library over 25 years ago.
The celebrations and party for Rebel Sisters continued in nearby Davy Byrne’s (it is mentioned in the book).
Thanks you so much to everyone for coming along. It was a wonderful night that this grateful writer will never forget!
It’s the 1st of February and not only am I celebrating St Brigid’s Day and the start of Spring, but also the official publication date for Rebel Sisters, my big 1916 book.
St Brigid’s Day has always been a very special day for me, as it is a celebration of women and all things creative. As my book is about the Gifford sisters and the women of 1916, it sort of seems fitting.
A box of books has arrived from the printers and I find it hard to believe that after all the researching and writing, Rebel Sisters is finally published.
Now I just need to find some rushes and reeds and to make a St Brigid’s Cross…