The Irish American Influence – Guest Post By Brighid O’Sullivan

Brighid O’Sullivan grew up hearing Irish folk tales from her father in Western Massachusetts. She’s been writing short stories since she was a child and as an adult has written for History Magazine, History Channel magazine, and her local paper. She works full time as a nurse and has just published her debut novel, The Sun Palace, a story of history and magic set in 6th Century Ireland.

In today’s guest post, Brighid introduces us to the Irish American influences that have inspired her writing. 

 

The Sun Palace By Brighid O’Sullivan:

 

In 2007, I began writing my first novel, The Sun Palace. I knew nothing about Ireland or her history, had not known my great grandparents who emigrated to America, nor had I ever been to Ireland. What I did know about being Irish was given to me by my father, though that knowledge consisted of a few Irish folktales, playing records (yes, records!) made by Irish musicians, leprechauns my dad swore were like his guardian angels (an American view actually), rides on a St. Patrick’s day float in Holyoke Massachusetts, and lots of “blarney”. My dad was full of stories, most of which I did not believe.

Parade Happy

So why did I set my novel, The Sun Palace, in Ireland?

I started to read more than ever, which soon led me into European and Irish history, as well as novels written by Anne Rice, Morgan Llywelyn, Sebastian Barry, and Diana Gabaldon. I have a passion for anything historical and I love books. I collect and read all sorts of history, European as well as American, beginning and ending with Ireland, a place I grew to respect and love.

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Writing fiction is a laborious activity but writing historical fiction is even more so. There are all those research books one must read, buy, borrow, steal, and find!

I knew that, and like I said, I love history, but imagine trying to remember all those stories by heart like the druids did, or worse, what if books were actually forbidden? Lots of things were forbidden in the beginning of Ireland’s conquest by the English. To name a few, having an Irish name, Irish dress, and Irish trade, and we all know how the divisions of religion came to be.

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I read somewhere, there are more Irish in America than in all of Ireland! According to several statistics, 89,000 Irish emigrated from Ireland in 2013 but 55,000, many of them European, immigrated to Ireland! I believe that, because I’ve since been to Ireland twice and upon landing in Dublin for the first time, found myself saying, “so where are all the Irish?”

In one of my blog posts on my website Celtic Thoughts I talk about how if there was no Ireland there would be no America. For every accomplishment, from the beginning of America’s independence, to putting a man on the moon, Irish men and women have been part of the equation.

The fact that I am a writer goes back as far as the original bards in Celtic Ireland. ‘Tis in my blood and who I am. Blood that was shed for Ireland and America both … blood lost in wars, famines, mass emigration, prejudice and even death. I cannot help but feel grateful for such a sacrifice.

The Sun Palace

Oh and my idea for The Sun Palace? That grew from the kernel of a thought, after reading Tristan and Isolde, an Irish love story.

Check it out on Amazon and if you are generous enough to leave an honest review on the Amazon website, drop me an email about it @celticbrighid@gmail.com. I welcome all positive as well as constructive criticisms. As a much appreciated thank you, I will make sure you get my next published novel FREE.

My name is Brighid O’Sullivan and you can find me on Twitter, Pinterest, and on my website Celtic Thoughts writing about Irish and Irish American history.

 

Thanks so much, Brighid, for introducing us to your writing and your inspirations. Wishing you every success with The Sun Palace, and all of your future writing endeavors.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

Silly McGilly Giveaway – Ireland’s Magical Leprechaun

Silly McGilly is a friendly little leprechaun who loves nothing more than playing tricks on children.

Silly McGilly's AirplaneSt. Patrick’s Day may be a long way away, but since today is September 17th, and our big Irish celebration is 6 months from today, why not seize the opportunity to introduce you to a little leprechaun, and host a giveaway to mark the day.

I suppose we can treat September 17th like St. Patrick’s half birthday. My eldest boy celebrates a summer birthday, so I thought he would miss marking the occasion with his school classmates. Not in America!

Half-birthdays have now been invented to create a little razzmatazz for summer birthday kids, midway through their year.

“Wow!” is all this Irish-born mother could say, upon seeing a colorfully decorated, half-birthday hat, sported home from school one winter’s afternoon. Somehow, I don’t think Sr. Mary or any of the other Irish nuns who taught me, were ever worried about half birthdays.

Even so, dear St. Patrick, Irish American Mom is getting on board with this “we’re half-way-there” celebration thing, and introducing everyone to none other than Silly McGilly, on this the mid-way point to your Big Day.

Who Is Silly McGilly?

 

Silly McGillySilly McGilly is a friendly, Irish leprechaun.  When March arrives each year, all leprechauns love to take a break from shoe-making. Silly loves to travel all over the world from Ireland in the weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, to play fun little tricks on children.

His story is told in a rhythmical, rhyming book, which lets little ones know to place Silly’s doll by a window each evening.  When  Silly sees the leprechaun doll he knows he’s welcome to come and play tricks.

That’s when the high jinx and leprechaun magic begin. Sometimes he leaves treats. He loves to write jokes or limericks. He’s even been known to turn food or even toilet water green.  His antics are as limitless as your imagination, but the creators of this fun little toy have many suggestions to help you create excitement in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day.

 

“I’ll work my shenanigans while you are snug asleep,

don’t worry that I’ll wake you, I will not make a peep.  

When you wake up, find the trick that I’ve done.  

I hope your whole family will join in the fun.”

- Excerpt from Silly McGilly’s book.

 

Silly McGilly In The WindowSilly can even be used in the classroom to add some green sparkle to those dark, cold mornings in early March. In schools he sometimes leaves materials for making a St. Patrick’s Day craft, and he’s even been so daring as to change pupils’ names. Everyone’s Irish with an “O’ or a Mc” before their name.  The possibilities for leprechaun school fun are endless.

Silly McGilly has his very own website, and there, parents and teachers can find ideas for leprechaun fun and games. Silly has even created downloadable learning templates, including Shamrock Rhymes, Letters to McGilly, and Silly McGilly Scrapbook templates.

 

Who Created Silly McGilly?

 

Silly McGilly is the brain child of three Irish American sisters from New Jersey. Michelle Dougherty, Eileen Cowley, and Victoria Coffey have always enjoyed celebrating their Irish heritage, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. Their own children inspired them to create Silly McGilly, the perfect little leprechaun to add family magic to March days and nights. You don’t even need to be Irish to join in the fun.

 

Title page of Silly McGilly

Charlotte Cheng beautifully illustrated Silly’s story.  When she is not creating art on walls, sidewalks and paper, she’s usually dreaming of Ireland.

 

How To Purchase Silly McGilly:

 

Silly McGilly can be purchased online for $34.95.  From 9/10/14 through 10/17/14 in celebration of 1/2 way to St. Patrick’s Day, autographed copies of the book are being offered.

Silly even has his very own Facebook page.

 

The Giveaway:

 

The creators of Silly McGilly contacted me to see if I would help spread the word about their magical creation. I love to support Irish American entrepreneurs,  so I’m delighted to share a little leprechaun fun with you through this giveaway.

The prize is a Silly McGilly giftpack, which includes one 8″ Silly McGilly plush doll, and one beautifully illustrated hardcover copy of the 8.5″x 8.5″ Silly McGilly book.  The set is beautifully packaged in a keepsake box.

Silly McGilly Giftpack

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post, or for an additional entry you can follow Irish American Mom on Pinterest. Then simply complete your entry on the following Rafflecopter widget.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 24th. Just check the widget below to learn who is the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A big thank you to Big Treasure Publications for providing this wonderful prize, and best of luck to all who enter. I’m looking forward to reading all your leprechaun inspired magical comments.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

And now a little bit of legalize through a quick disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have any financial connection with Big Treasure Publications and did not receive any cash payment for publishing this post and giveaway. I did however receive a giftpack including Silly McGilly’s book for review purposes.  This in no way influenced my review.  Thank you to all who support the wonderful Irish and Irish American enterprises who sponsor giveaways on my site.

The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories by Patrick Taylor – Book Review & Giveaway

The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories by Patrick Taylor is a collection of warm and amusing short stories centering around Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly as he tends to his patients in the quaint, whimsical village of Ballybucklebo.  This cozy Ulster village is home to a vast array of quirky, humorous and thoroughly entertaining characters. These charming and witty vignettes provide an amusing glimpse into an Irish country village of the early 1960’s.

The Wily O'ReillyThis is the first of Taylor’s books I have read, and I must say his writing is a joy, with a lovely dose of subtle and sometimes wry humor thrown in for good measure. I definitely categorize this book as an easy read. A collection of comical articles previously published in medical monthly journals, these stories are the origins for Taylor’s Irish Country Novel series.

I love short stories. They are so easy to read for a busy mom who is always in a pinch for time. When I finally catch my breath and sit for a few moments, or before I close my eyes at night, I love to read a story or two. 

These easy reading tales allowed me pick up where I left off every time. Whenever I laid the book down, I never lost track of the story line. Just perfect reading for a mom on the go.

 

1. About The Wily O’Reilly:

 

What better way is there to introduce you to the formidable, eccentric and charming Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly than through the author’s very own description found on the book’s jacket cover, where “newcomers to Ballybucklebo can meet O’Reilly for the very first time.”

“An ex-Navy boxing champion, classical scholar, crypto-philanthropist, widower, and hard-working general practitioner, Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly is crafty and cantankerous in these charming slices of rural Irish life. Whether he’s educating a naive man of the cloth in the facts of life, dealing with chronic hypochondriacs and malingerers, clashing with pigheaded colleagues, or raising a pint in the neighborhood pub, the wily O’Reilly knows a doctor’s work is never done, even if some of his “cures” can’t be found in any medical text!”

These charming and funny stories are told through the eyes of Dr. Taylor who is working alongside O’Reilly, the formidable Irish country doctor of Ballybucklebo.

 

2. About The Author, Patrick Taylor:

 

Patrick Taylor was born in 1941 and raised in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and now lives on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Taylor is a distinguished medical research worker, off-shore sailor, model boat-builder and seannachie (storyteller).

Patrick Taylor - AuthorWhen he completed his medical education in Ulster, he first practiced medicine in a rural Ulster village similar to Ballybucklebo. In the early 1970’s his family emigrated to Canada where his medical career flourished as a renowned researcher and educator in the field of human infertility.

Taylor’s keen editorial eye and talent for the written word inspired him to contribute prolifically to medical literature. He was editor-in-chief of the Canadian Obstetrics and Gynaecology journal for ten years. In 1991 he commenced his monthly medical humor columns contributing to En Passant, Medicine Chest and Taylor’s Twist, followed by his appointment as book reviewer to Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour.

In the mid-nineties Taylor began to write serious fiction. A number of works, all set in Northern Ireland, have now been published.  A full list of his books is available on his website.

When not writing, Taylor, an expert navigator can be found at sea amongst off-shore racing crews. His love of the sea is evident in his frequent contributions of sailing humor to boating magazines.

 

3. My Review:

 

As an introduction to the Irish Country Doctor series, this book is a perfect starter for readers new to Taylor’s writing.  I am thankful I read these tales before any novels recounting the antics of Dr. Fingal O’Reilly.
Irish-Country-DoctorSome of the anecdotes told in this collection are familiar to me, purely and simply because I’m Irish. Fingal O’Reilly’s stories remind me of many Irish characters I have known throughout the years. He’s a witty combination of some of my relatives, friends and acquaintances.

When feeling homesick, these stories are perfect as a reminder of why I love Ireland and her people.  Even if I only have a few minutes to spare a little Irish country story does my heart a world of good.

But rest assured you don’t have to be Irish to thoroughly enjoy these stories and wonderful characters.  Taylor’s writing flows beautifully, his prose told in a warm, fond narrative. It’s easy to picture yourself right there in the middle of this small Irish town of Ballybucklebo, surrounded by a cast of heart warming characters. I would go so far as to say, reading his work without a smile on your face is probably next to impossible.

I checked out the reviews of this book on Amazon and Goodreads.  Those who previously read all of Taylor’s books in the O’Reilly series, found this short story collection to be a little bit of a letdown. The contents were originally columns that were the basis for the book series. Some readers voice their disappointment claiming these stories are a little “disjointed and lacking the depth of character Taylor builds in the novels.” But the same reviewer acknowledges that as “stand alones, they are good.”  Again my conclusion is that I have been introduced to Taylor’s work at exactly the right time and with exactly the right book.

And so I warmly recommend this down to earth and easy to read book bulging with understatements of sly humor.  I hope you too will enjoy how these little vignettes transport you to the little village of Ballybucklebo, where you will come to admire and laugh, both at and with, these Irish country doctors.

 

4. The Giveaway

 

Patrick Taylor has generously provided a copy of ‘The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories’ as a prize for one of Irish American Mom’s readers.

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Saturday, July 12th, 2014 at noon.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us if you have a favorite Irish town or village.

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you should you win.  Your e-mail won’t be published or shared, just used to contact our lucky winner.

The winner will be announced on Saturday July 12th, at the end of this post.  I’ll send the winner an e-mail so I can mail the book.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to Patrick Taylor for sharing his book with Irish American Mom’s readers.

 

We Have A Winner:

 

Congratulations to Mary Ann, who is our lucky winner.

Thanks to everyone who joined in and enter this little giveaway, and a big thank you to Patrick Taylor and his publicist for providing a copy of this wonderful book as a prize.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.   I do not receive payment for my book reviews.  My first responsibility is to my readers and I am committed to honest reviews. All opinions given are my own.

Introducing Bríd Wade – Irish Artist and Writer

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Ireland’s newest crime writer, Bríd Wade.  Watchers, the first in a series of Dublin based crime novels, was released in 2013. Sleeping Dogs, the sequel, was released in June, 2014.  Here is a little background into Bríd’s inspiration for these Irish thrillers.

Sleeping Dogs by Brid Wade - 500

About Bríd (pronounced like Breed):

 

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Bríd’s family hails from the inner city, making her a true blue ‘Dub’. One of four sisters, she was educated by the Holy Faith Nuns in Larkhill, a school in the suburb of Whitehall. Always drawn to the arts, she studied piano at the Municipal School of Music in Dublin. Later she joined a band where she played the electronic organ and sang harmony with her sister. They were known as The Honeybees.

brid wade

Bríd Wade

At nineteen, she met her future husband and travelled to Manchester, UK, for a year before returning to Ireland where they married and she settled down to become a stay-at-home mum to their three children. At that time Bríd began to paint and studied with Liam Belton, RHA, a renowned Irish artist. In 1984 she became Secretary of The North Dublin Craftworkers’ Association, on whose behalf she ran the annual Christmas Craft Gift Fair in the city centre. This was the path to a new career within the exhibition industry which lasted until the Millennium.

In 2001, seeking a change of environment, Bríd moved to Kilkenny City and began to write. An avid armchair detective, she chose her favourite genre; crime fiction. Her aim was to create a character in a series of mystery stories based in modern Ireland. Matt Costello is that character. In 2006, she relocated to Inistioge, a picturesque village outside Kilkenny, where she continues to write and paint.

 

And now over to Bríd……

 

 

Bríd’s Thoughts On ‘The Arts':

 

Sometimes people scoff when ‘the arts’ come up in conversation; as if it’s a club to which only the privileged have access. Certainly, there are those who would perpetuate that view, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Each of us is involved deeply with the arts in one form or another. Whether through music, drama, literature or the visual arts, they form a major part of all of our lives. To some they are extras; bonuses to add to busy lives, while to others, like me, they are a means of expression I couldn’t live without.

Over the years I have been involved with drama, music, painting and, now, writing. At the age of fourteen I won a medal for the best actress at the Schools Drama Festival at the Gate Theatre, Dublin. It was the year my mother died. My father was so emotional and so, so proud – and convinced I was headed for the Abbey Theatre.

Bríd’s artwork can be viewed on the Fine Art America website and on an Irish site called The Street Gallery.

 

Hideaway - A Sample of Bríd's Artwork

Hideaway – A Sample of Bríd’s Artwork

 

On Reading and Writing:

 

It might come as a surprise that I’m not a huge reader. Oh, yes! I’ve read many, many books in my lifetime, but now… Books have taken on a different aspect. It’s a bit like working behind the scenes in movie land, or television. You can’t help viewing the end product using ‘inside knowledge’. 

You recognize the means – or tools of the trade – used to achieve the aim. For me, reading a book now is a far cry from when I sat on the floor in front of a blazing fire at the age of eleven and read my first novel – my sister’s Christmas gift to me, Huckleberry Finn. It was a magical journey into a whole new world and I loved every minute of it – just for the story; oblivious to the craftsmanship involved in creating it. Now, aware of how it all works, a book can be either a master class in writing from some great author or something I will abandon after the first few pages.

I’m an impatient personality, which may explain the way I write. Even when I’m actually constructing the story, if it takes too long to get to where I want to go, I’ll gasp with irritation and chop it back until only the ‘bones’ remain. But then, detective crime fiction isn’t known for long prosy narrative. So, setting the scene is as descriptive as it needs to be.

Generally, I write by the seat of my pants. I don’t have a plan. What I do have is an idea and I build up characters around it. It may sound difficult but everybody does it. Haven’t you ever heard half a story and put the rest of it together yourself? Chances are your conclusion was way off the mark (and there’s a moral there) – but you created a whole story from a few facts. That’s exactly what I do.

The Village Square, Inistioge

The Village Square, Inistioge – Bríd’s New Home

 Introducing The Matt Costello Mystery Series:

 

Someone once called me a prude because of my views on sex. To me, sex is the physical expression of love between two people. It’s personal and private – not open to exploitation to pad a story. I view violence and foul language the same way. I can swear with the best, but it will be in private, among those who understand me, and violence is not acceptable in any form. So, I hear you ask, how can I write crime stories without sex, drugs, violence and bad language? Therein lies the reason behind the Matt Costello Mystery Series.

In recent years we seem to be drowning in crime fiction drawn from Ireland’s seedy underbelly – suggesting that drugs are a way of life, as is violence and verbal abuse. That’s not my Ireland – never was. I grew up in a Corporation housing estate where there were diverse characters, including some bad ones, but, generally, the people were decent, honest, hardworking folk trying to do the best for their families. From my experience, things today remain the same.

I want to portray that Ireland. Yes, we have crime – awful, brain-numbing events sometimes, but it’s not our way of life. Yes, I do use the odd outburst, but that is part of our culture. We have so many religious pleas here in difficult situations, like, ‘Oh, dear God!’, or ‘Sweet Jesus!’, or just plain ‘God!’ Sometimes they’ll be accompanied by making the sign of the cross on our chests – and sometimes not – and they are said to register a grave or shocking situation, and to acknowledge a higher power.

Bríd's Next Door Neighbors In Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny

Bríd’s Next Door Neighbors In Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny

My hero, Matt Costello, is a gorgeous Irishman. He’s a clean-cut, clever, ex-Garda Detective turned PI. His offices are in Fairview, Dublin, overlooking the park. He’s strong, yet gentle, with considerable personal charm and a profound sense of fair play. Like any mature adult, he has scars and sometimes he doesn’t have all the answers – but he’s open minded and willing to learn.

His friend and business colleague, Dennis Hegarty, is a solicitor with a practice in the city centre. With a razor sharp mind, Dennis keeps an eye on the pitfalls surrounding Matt in his investigations – the biggest one Matt’s empathetic and tenacious nature, which can lead him into trouble.

The character of Matt Costello is largely based on two men I’ve had the good fortune to know over the years. I’ve taken traits from both of them and melded them into one. As a result, I have a very close and affectionate relationship with Matt. He’s almost real to me.

Watchers is the first in the series. Set between Dublin and Kilkenny, where I now live, Matt is on the hunt for a serial killer. In Kilkenny, where the remains have been found on a large private estate, he discovers that the land holds more than one secret. Before he’s finished, Matt will uncover them and forever alter the lives of a few people.

Published as an ebook by Tirgearr Publishing, Watchers is available from Smashwords, Kobo, Nook and Amazon. The second book, Sleeping Dogs was released in June, 2014.

For further updates on Bríd’s writing, life and artwork, you can follow her on Facebook.

 

A big thank you to Bríd for today’s guest post and for introducing us to her detective hero, Matt Costello. Wishing Bríd every success with her writing and beautiful artwork.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

Book Giveaway Winner: “Put Yer Rosary Beads Away, Ma” by Cahal Dunne

A big thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s giveaway for the new book Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma by Cahal Dunne.  It was lovely to read all of our entrants’ comments.

 

CahalHeinzHallOur lucky winner is…..

Debra

 

who said….

“I appreciate your bringing new items from Irishmen/women like this book to our attention. Thanks Mairead!”

Congratulations Debra. I’ll send an e-mail to arrange delivery of your prize.

A big thanks to everyone who commented and supported this giveaway, and thank you to Cahal Dunne for providing a copy of his wonderful book as a prize.

Best wishes to all :)

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom