Fairy Hill Book Launch

Marita and publisher Ivan O’Brien

What an exciting and busy day! First, there was an enormous ‘World Book Day’ Zoom organized by the amazing Sarah Webb and Halfway Up the Stairs Children’s Book Shop in Greystones in Wicklow and publishers O’Brien Press with 80 schools and classes from not only Wicklow all over Ireland taking part.

Ivan O’ Brien and Trish from the bookshop welcomed everyone and Sarah, Judi Curtin and I all talked about our favourite thing….Books… It was such fun and some classes had dressed up as their favourite book characters.  I even got the chance to read a little bit from my new book Fairy Hill to everyone.

Then into town for the official launch of Fairy Hill in Dubray Books on Dublin’s Grafton Street. It was such a special night as so many friends and family turned up along with some wonderful young readers to celebrate my new children’s book Fairy Hill, which was sheer joy to write. 

The joy was tinged with a little sadness as my late publisher Michael O’Brien was not there to see the book in print but his son Ivan of O’Brien Press did a wonderful job launching my book with his thoughtful and kind words.  Huge thanks are due to Susan and all the Staff in Dubray Books for arranging the launch and to Dubray books for the great window displays for Fairy Hill. Thanks also to the great team in O’Brien Press for organising a night to remember.

Marita with friends authors Sarah Webb and Tom McCaughren in the Dubray Bookshop, Grafton Street, Dublin.

World Book Day…Keep Reading!

World Book Day is one of my favourite days of the year as it is the one day that celebrates all the things I love, books, reading and writers…. There are events being held all over the county and in schools everywhere with book quizzes, fancy dress and lots of fun. Bookshops all around Ireland are taking part and there are special World Book Day Euro 1.50 tokens being issued for every child to put towards buying a book or to exchange for one of the selection special of World Book Day books.   World Book day was founded in 1995 and started in Ireland and the UK in 1997 and has continued to grow and expand over the 25 years.

On World Book Day this year it’s very exciting as my new book Fairy Hill will be launched on 2nd March and I will be taking part in massive schools zoom with writers Sarah Webb and Judi Curtin in the morning with also a number of events in schools and bookshops over the coming weeks meeting lots of young readers and classes. 

First off this week I met the girls from Loreto on the Green Junior School in Dubray Bookshop on Grafton Street to talk about books and writing and the next day a class from D7 Educate Together School in Dubray Book shop on Henry Street.   I love meeting readers of all ages and encouraging everyone to just Keep Reading!    

It’s official! ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ was the most borrowed Irish book in Irish Libraries in 2022

Under the Hawthorn Tree Covers

Finding out that Under the Hawthorn Tree’ was the most borrowed Irish book in Irish libraries for 2022 is the best news ever. The list covers both adults and children’s books so it is a really big deal.  I am at number 4, the highest book by an Irish writer, just behind Harry Potter, the Mister Men and Little and Diary of a Wimpy Kid…I am so proud of all my readers who have gone to the library and borrowed my book. Thanks to all my lovely readers

Nineteen of the twenty most borrowed  books on the list are children’s titles which shows that children are reading and are going to the library. It is great to see so many young readers using those all important library tickets .

I love libraries and getting my first library tickets for Greystones Library was a momentous game changing moment for me as a kid as I didn’t grow up in a bookish house. Once I got those magic tickets in my hand I was up and down to the library borrowing books cycling on my bike with my back carrier bag full of books to read and imagine that I was in the story. 

Without those library tickets and those books I’m not sure I would ever have become a writer!  I dreamed of writing books and someday seeing one of my books on a library shelf. So dreams do come true….. I love big libraries like the National Library, Boston Public Library, Trinity College Library and all the lovely local libraries I visit and use, school libraries, classroom libraries and best of all, the very special small shelf in a child’s bedroom which holds their very favourite books. 

It is wonderful to see that libraries play such an important part in our lives and reading choices. 

 Top 10 Most Borrowed Books 2022 (Previous year in brackets)

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (10)

2. Little Miss: My Complete Collection Box Set by Roger Hargreaves (4)

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney (-)

4. Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna (1)

5. Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by DAV Pilkey (-)

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney (-)

7. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (-)

8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney (-)

9. Thomas and Friends: My First Story Time Set (11)

10. Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild by DAV Pilkey (-)

Greystones Library

Irish Film and Filmmakers get 14 Oscar Nominations

Catherine Clinch in An Cailin Ciuin

What a brilliant time for Irish filmmakers, actors and writers to see their work recognised with 14 Nominations for this year’s Oscars. 

Martin McDonagh’s powerful and moving ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ which was filmed on Achill Island leads the pack with 9 nominations.  McDonagh is up for Best Director, Best Original Screen Play, and Best Film.   All four actors are nominated with Colin Farrell up for Best Actor for his stunning performance alongside Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon nominated for Best Supporting Actors, with the film also up for Best Original Score and Film Editing.

Paul Mescal is nominated for Best Actor for ‘Aftersun

‘An Cailin Ciuin’ directed by Colm Bairead is nominated for the Best International Film by the Academy … A first for an Irish language film.  The film is based on the book ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan, one of my favourite writers.

Richard Baneham is up for visual effects for Avatar the Way of Water. Jonathan Redmond has been nominated alongside Matt Villa for Best Editing for their work on Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. Tom Berkeley and Ross White’s ‘An Irish Goodbye ‘is nominated for Best Live Action Short.  The success of Irish film is an incredible achievement and we will all be watching with baited breath and pride on Oscar night on March 12th.

Oscar Nominated Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson

New Year and a New Book

Happy New Year to All My Readers!

Here’s hoping that 2023 will be a better year for the World and the Planet and that Peace, Justice, Care and Kindness will prevail across the Earth.

It is an exciting time for me as my new children’s book Fairy Hill  is due to be published at the end of February 2023.

The story has been in my head and heart for the longest time and it was a joy to write about Anna who comes to stay with her Dad in Ireland. Upset at first Anna gradually comes to know and love the old house and the fields and lake, beach and woods. There are new friends and she learns to surf and to ride but Anna senses that she is being watched. As she begins to uncover the mysteries of Fairy Hill and its secrets Daniel, the mysterious boy she meets down by the lake, warns her that her little half- brother Jack may be in danger.  Soon Anna is caught up in a desperate fight to find her brother and save him from a powerful and magical foe. 

The story is inspired by one of my favourite poems The Stolen Child by W.B Yeats which I first read when I was about eleven or twelve and has stayed with me ever since.