I was delighted to see my children’s picture book, Millie and the Magical Moon, featuring on the most-watched TV programme in Ireland, the Late Late Toy Show.
My latest book, Millie and the Magical Moon is out now. It is my first picture book and is illustrated by Phillip Cullen.
Mum, Dad and Millie are off on their summer holidays to beautiful Inis Oirr. With a little help from the not-so-shipwrecked MV Plassey, Millie has a magical moonlit adventure!
Maybe it’s not quite so long since the Plassey’s last voyage after all…
During the month of October I’ve been busy travelling around the country as part of the Children’s Book Festival, visiting Libraries and schools in Westmeath, Offaly, Mayo, and Cork.
Here’s a picture of the display done by pupils in Scoil Naomh Eltin in Kinsale where I had a really enjoyable visit.
Documentary on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of ‘Trinity’, my radio documentary about the lives of the many people who live, work study, and play in Trinity College.
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and music, TRINITY explores the stories behind Ireland’s oldest university.
Patricia Mc Cormack and Paul Kelly tell what it was like to medical students in Trinity during the Seventies, while current chaplain Julian Hamilton gives an insight into his job.
Head of Sports, Michelle Tanner, talks about the huge range of sporting activity taking place in the college, and Linda Doyle explains the role of provost, and the fact that she’s the first female provost in the college’s 430 year history.
Aoife Lucy tells about being awarded the coveted role of scholar, with its benefits of academic opportunity – and free food.
We hear how Trinity has produced four Presidents and two Taoisigh among its graduates, and Leah Keogh from the Students Union discusses the issues that affect today’s students.
Linda Doyle tells what it’s like to live in the provost’s house at Number One Grafton Street, and librarian Helen Shenton talks about the stunning Long Room in the library and how the college is a repository for over five million books.
A vox pop features a colourful selection of people’s memories of Trinity, while Leonard Hobbs reveals how the college, despite its fabled past, is at the cutting edge of research and innovation.
Student Oisin O’Reilly enthuses about Trinity Players, one of the oldest college drama society’s in the world, and we hear of the many famous writers and actors who are graduates of the university.
Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan talks about the Trinity Access Programme and its success in opening up a college education to those who previously would have seen Trinity as out of their reach, and Daire Hennessy, a graduate of the programme, tell how he now mentors others to follow in his footsteps.
Aoife Lucy reminisces about her time living in rooms on the campus, while attendant Alan O’Keefe talks about his job, and the many changes he’s seen in the college in his 44 years of service.
Domhnall Fahey recalls social life in Trinity, while Patricia McCormack tells of her wedding in the historic college chapel.
We hear of the many films and tv series that used the campus as a location, and botanist Jane Stout then looks to the future, explaining Trinity’s role at the forefront of biodiversity.
Provost Linda Doyle gives an overview of the college’s many roles, and we finish with other contributors reflecting on their hopes for the future of Trinity.
Quotes from TRINITY:
“It was like a gateway into Wonderland for me.” Patricia McCormack, former medical student.
“He thought to himself: ‘God – I’d love to be there’, but didn’t think it was possible.” Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan, Deputy Director, Trinity Access Programme.
“The social side is probably more fun than you’ll ever have in your life.” Domhnall Fahey, business graduate.
“If you say: ‘What’s a university there for?’ I’d say to you ‘A university is there to change the world’.” Linda Doyle, Provost.
“We’ve got 850,000 maps – it’s so rich, what we have.” Helen Shenton, archivist and librarian.
“The best thing is seeing people flourish. That for me is the reason I get up every morning.” Michelle Tanner, Head of Sport.
“I’ve always thought of Trinity as this giant treasure chest, with resources that we can open up to the wider public.” Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan, Deputy Director, Trinity Access Programme.
“It’s a little green oasis in the middle of the city.” Jane Stout, botanist.
“My hope for the Trinity Access Programme is that we get to the stage where it’s no longer needed.” Daire Hennessy, graduate via the Trinity Access Programme.
Trinity can be listened to as a podcast on Documentary on Newstalk. https://www.newstalk.com/podcasts/newstalk-documentary
For their Decade of Centenaries project Meath County Council appointed me Writer-in-Residence.
Over a very enjoyable six-week period I worked with two schools, Boyerstown National School, near Navan, and St Patricks’ National School in Slane.
In both schools we did a collective creative-writing project based on events from the Civil War.
This picture was taken outside Navan library to mark the occasion, and features Tom French of Navan Library, Councillor Sean Drew, Cathaoirleach, Meath County Council, Dympna Herward, Meath Library Services, myself, Ciaran Mangan, Meath County Librarian, and Jackie Maguire, Chief Executive, Meath County Council.
Recently I wrote and directed a video on heritage sites around Castleknock village. Filmed by Conor Diskin, and with original music by Doc O’Connor, the film had its premiere at Castleknock Tennis Club, where it was launched by the Mayor of Fingal, Seana O’Rodaigh. The video has had thousands of downloads on YouTube and has been viewed as far afield as in Britain, Canada, China, the USA, Australia, and Singapore.
The film is fourteen minutes long, and here’s a link for those who would like to view it.
Monaghan Libraries have been doing a wide-reaching One Book, One County project with my novel TAKING SIDES, and it’s been a pleasure to visit schools all over the County Monaghan.
Here’s a picture taken with pupils at Scoil Lorgan in Castleblayney.
Very exciting to have my novel Arrivals translated into Russian. It’s just been published in hardback by Kompas publishers in Moscow with a new cover design, and a new title – By the Banks of the Otonabee. Here’s hoping my new Russian readers enjoy the story.
Documentary on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of ‘Connolly Station – A Day in the Life’, my radio documentary that tells the stories of those who live and work in the vicinity of Ireland’s busiest railway hub, Connolly Station.
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and music, Connolly Station – A Day in the Life looks behind the scenes at the country’s premiere railway station.
Jane Cregan of Irish Rail tells of the building of the station, and the role it played during the 1916 Rising.
Kevin Connolly, the Assistant Station Master, reveals how his day begins at five in the morning, with the station itself coming alive at around 7.00 am
We get an insight into life behind the scenes the Central Traffic Control Centre in Connolly, the nerve centre from which Ireland’s rail network is run.
Lisa Dunne of Been and Gone coffee shop talks of changing public tastes, and the lively interactions she has with customer seeking refreshments in the station.
The challenging task of maintaining tracks, level crossing, and bridges falls to Mick Danaher and he gives an insight into the complexity of ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
Keeping clean a train station that’s used by twenty thousand people a day takes effort and planning, and Kevin Connolly explains how it’s achieved.
Jane Cregan outlines Irish Rail’s plans to develop the former station car park and marshalling yard, then the narrator tells the little-known story of the commemoration in Connolly of the railway workers who lost their lives in the Great War.
A vox pop reveals a colourful selection of people’s best rail memories, then we hear how in 1971 Connolly Station was the scene for the famous showdown between customs officers and Irish feminists, who challenged the Republic’s laws banning the sale of contraceptive by buying them in Belfast and bringing them home on the train.
Kevin Connolly discusses the unpredictable day to day duties of the Station Master, while experienced commuters reveal their techniques for getting seats on rush hour trains and relating to fellow passengers.
Steam enthusiast David Houston talks about the work done by the Irish Rail Preservation Society and the highly-popular steam train outings run from Connolly.
Barry Scully discusses the impact of the Luas trams arriving at Connolly, then we hear of the contingency plans that go into place in the station in the event of an emergency closing of a rail line.
Sean Reid tells how the North Star Hotel – today re-branded as The Address – has always had strong links with Connolly and he reveals some of the hotel’s fascinating history.
We hear about the closing routine at the station each evening, and the programme concludes with contributors revealing what Connolly Station means to them, and their hopes for its future.
Quotes from CONNOLLY STATION – A DAY IN THE LIFE
“Last year there was a girl – and I saved her life.” Derek O’Brien, station operative.
“It goes back to my time in short pants. I was brought up right beside the railway line at Sandymount Station, it’s in my blood.” David Houston, steam train enthusiast.
“During the 1916 Rising the station tower was taken over by British troops, and they were sniping up Talbot Street at the rebels who’d taken over the GPO.” Jane Cregan, Irish Rail.
“I loved the trains in Connolly – the smell of the oil and the diesel.” Barry Scully of Transdev, the Luas operator.
“The best part of being on a train was that you could get up and walk around – and mind everybody’s business but your own!” Mona Rogers, ninety-nine-year-old passenger.
“The most impressive rail journey I ever had was with the driver of the Eurostar from London to Paris, traveling at 300 kilometres an hour.” Darren Bowe rail network controller.
“I love Friday especially because you’ve everyone going away on holiday. Everyone’s in fantastic form.” Lisa Dunne, Manager, Been and Gone, coffee shop in Connolly station.
“We’ve had a few incidents with lost property. A fella lost a canoe. I don’t know how he left it, because it was about seven feet long!” Derek O’Brien, station operative.
Connolly Station – A Day in the Life can be listened to as a podcast on Documentary on Newstalk.
I joined with the mayor of Fingal, Seana O’Rodaigh, and Betty Boardman, the Fingal County Librarian, at a prize-giving ceremony at St Patrick’s School in Donabate.
My novel PAWNS was the chosen book for this year’s Battle of the Books event, and pupils in St Patrick’s were the winners of a 600 Euro book voucher, for their entry in a competition based on PAWNS.
The pupils were enthusiastic, and it was a great day of celebration.