Under the Hawthorn Tree

UnderTheHawthornTreeThe first book in the Children of the Famine trilogy.

Ireland in the 1840s is devastated by famine. When tragedy strikes their family Eily, Michael and Peggy are left to fend for themselves. Starving and in danger of ending up in the dreaded workhouse, they escape. Their one hope is to find the great-aunts they have heard about in their mother’s stories.

With tremendous courage they set out on a journey that will test every reserve of strength, love and loyalty they possess.

Here’s a link to another page that has lots of extra information on Under the Hawthorn Tree for projects and so forth.

The other books in the Children of the Famine trilogy are Wildflower Girl and Fields of Home.


  • The International Reading Association Award (IRA) USA 1991
  • Reading Association of Ireland Award – Premier Award 1991
  • Osterreichischer Kinder und Jungendbuchpreis 1993
  • Short listed for Grand prix Europeen du Roman pour Enfants de la Ville de Poitiers 1994
  • Kinderverein Kalbach Klapperschlange Litteraturpreis von Kindern, Frankfurt Germany 1993 (the Children’s Choice book prize in the Frankfurt Book Fair)

    ‘Makes a whole part of our history come alive, while it still remains a thrilling adventure tale.’
    RTE Guide
    ‘…beautiful and moving …historically true but fictionally vivid and the relationships are tender and moving.’
    The Sunday Times
    ‘A sublime story … I don’t know any child who will not find this book enthralling’
    The Irish Times
    ‘The sense of the desperate time is strong and authentic’
    ‘The horrors of the potato famine in Ireland leap vividly from the pages of this first novel.’
    School Library Journal

    The main image on this page is the cover for the current edition of Under the Hawthorn Tree. It was illustrated by the extremely talented Irish artist, PJ Lynch.

    It’s always interesting to see how covers change over the years or what ones are used in different countries. Here’s a selection to look through if you’d like.