Hawthorn Days

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Marita with two of the school’s Gardening Club  

This year the country side is all a bloom with white and pale pink hawthorn blossom.  It is everywhere in the fields and hedges and roadsides, the fairy tree in all its glory giving a truly magnificent snowy display. I have never seen the like of it as I traveled to Waterford  to visit The Ursuline Primary School. I got a warm welcome  there and the  students and teacher Catherine Tuomey showed me a small hawthorn  tree they  had planted there over ten years ago to remind them all of reading ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’.

The tree has grown and was just starting to blossom when to my surprise the school placed a plaque there in honour of my visit. The Ursuline School is one of the oldest schools in Waterford with amazing pupils, and even has a busy gardening club!

May is a lucky month because The Irish Public Library Borrowing figures have just come out.No surprise to discover that children’s books top the list and are borrowed more than any other books from the libraries across Ireland.

Top 20 Books Borrowed in Irish Public Libraries 2018:

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
    2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney
    3. The BFG by Roald Dahl
    4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
    5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
    6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney
    7. Awful Auntie by David Walliams
    8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
    9. Wonder by RJ Palacio
    10. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    11. Ratburger by David Walliams
    12. Matilda by Roald Dahl
    13. The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams
    14. Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
    15. Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl
    16. Demon Dentist by David Walliams
    17. Diary of a Wimpy: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
    18. Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams
    19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
    20. Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna

Delighted to see there at number 20  is ‘ Under the Hawthorn Tree‘ – the only Irish book by an Irish author!  As I say hawthorns are everywhere….IMG_0492 (3) Marita and some great readers from The Ursuline Primary School, Waterford 

Blazing a Trail…Irish Women Who Changed the World

IMG_3928What an amazing launch in Dun Laoghaire’s Lexicon Library for Sarah Webb’s wonderful new book Blazing a Trail…Irish Women Who Changed The World.

Sarah and talented Illustrator Lauren O’Neill have shone a light on 28 amazing intelligent, hardworking, pioneering Irish women who have influenced people both at home here in Ireland and across the world.

In terms of design, Blazing a Trail is visually stunning and an exhibition of Lauren’s illustrations from the book is currently on display at the Lexicon.

Sarah has done a huge job in compiling, researching and finding out more about these incredible women some of whom I’m ashamed to admit I was not even aware of.

From Maureen O’Hara, Sybill Connolly, Eileen Grey, Nellie Cashman, Aleen Cust, the list I promise is truly varied and this is a book that deserves to be read by girls of all ages.

Ossian Smyth Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Librarian Marian Keyes helped to launch the book alongside O’Brien Press Editor Aoife Walsh.  There was a great surprise when a few members of Sarah’s talented young writers group, complete with wigs and costume, entertained us with dramatized scenes from the lives of three of these remarkable women.   What a brilliant night and what a brilliant book!

‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ on Stage at the MAC Theatre in Belfast

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I am getting very excited as it is only a few week to go until  the stage production of  ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ opens in Belfast’s Mac Theatre.  It is the first ever Irish stage production of the book!!

I went up to Belfast to meet the cast and crew and sit in on rehearsals.   I found it a bit strange and emotional at first to watch actors playing characters that I have created and care about so much on stage.

However I feel my book is in very good hands as Cahoots Northern Ireland is a world class children’s theatre company, who have produced some truly original and innovative theatre.  The brilliant Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney is directing the play, which was adapted for stage by Charles Way. There is a stirring original score by Garth Mc Conaghie with some amazing songs which really added to the story.

I do hope lots of young fans and older fans of the book will come along to see the show at THE Mac Theatre in Belfast.

The show opens on Thursday 27th September and runs through until Saturday 7th October 2018

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