“Hope In New York City” – A Young Adult Novel By Cynthia G. Neale

Hope in New York City: The Continuing Story of The Irish Dresser by Cynthia G. Neale tells America’s story, through the eyes of a young Irish immigrant, Nora McCabe.

Today I am delighted to introduce you to the second installment in an Irish American trilogy for young adult readers.


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In this book we experience Nora’s struggles, her inner turmoil and homesickness, and her journey towards becoming an American in the midst of prejudice and hardship.

Nora does not merely seek a new land, a roof over her head or a new nationality. She yearns deeply for a familiar sense of home. Through her daily struggles, she learns true belonging exists in the human spirit, and in the love of family and friends.

It is important to remember the Irish Famine, especially for those of us with family ties to the Emerald Isle. This book offers young readers meaningful and realistic insights into the experience of Irish immigrants as they arrived destitute on America’s shores.

Cynthia Neale is a talented writer, who progresses her tale in a lively, lyrical style. I admire her ability to write historical fiction in first person, present tense.

It’s many years since I could be classified as a young adult reader. The now familiar “YA” term didn’t even exist when I was a teenager.  The books of my youth were mainly written in third person, past tense, making this novel the first book written in first person, present tense, I ever read.

At first I found this point of view and tense a little off-putting, but Neale’s mastery of her story, and her skillful descriptions of the dangerous streets of New York, captured my imagination. With each page I turned, she reeled me in with her gripping narrative, and detailed imagery.

I quickly found myself deep within Nora McCabe’s young mind, coming to understand and empathize with her homesickness, yet wishing for her to let the past go. I cheered as she learned to open her heart to her new city, and to connect with her new neighbors.

I may be an old fashioned, traditional reader of 3rd person, past tense historical fiction, but by the end of this book, I came to appreciate the power and urgency of present tense storytelling. I now understand how immediate action and narrative can draw a reader in.  In this book, the dark and dangerous streets of 1840′s New York came to life.  I traveled hand-in-hand with Nora, learning to navigate and survive in her new and perilous world.

I did however have two minor issues with this book. Nora’s last name, McCabe, was not an appropriate choice for a family from County Cork. As an Irish person, I associate the name McCabe with the counties of Ulster rather than Munster.

In addition, the dialogue in this book did not reflect the nuances of Cork people’s conversations.  The word “wee’ was used too frequently. It is an Irish term for the word little, but is seldom used in Cork. It is heard most frequently in the northern counties of Ulster. These minor issues would probably go unnoticed by 99% of readers, but since my entire family hails from County Cork, the characters of this book were not true Corkonians for me.


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The Trilogy:


This sequel continues Nora’s saga, which started in The Irish Dresser: A Story of Hope during The Great Hunger.  Nora crawls into an old dresser to escape from Ireland to America and the devastation of the Irish Famine. Inside her dresser on board ship, Nora learns to turn hope into reality.

The third, and most recently published volume in this series, is Norah: The Making of an Irish American Woman in 19th Century New York City. Here our young heroine frees herself from the limitations of poverty, gender and class as she learns to overcome corruption and exploitation.

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A single volume or this complete trilogy would make a perfect Christmas gift for any young adult reader interested in history, their Irish roots or the making of America. I highly recommend these books for young students of Irish and American history.


Cynthia G. Neale:


Cynthia Neale is an American with Irish ancestry, who frequently travels to Ireland, and is keenly interested in the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish during the Famine. She grew up in Watkins Glen, New York, and now lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter.



Cynthia G. Neale

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I love this explanation of her writing style from her official web page:

“I seek to sew my stories together with the unbreakable golden thread of hope.This golden thread oftentimes is a rare and buried treasure that has to be found with great tenacity and prescience.Hope can come lilting and skipping throughout lighthearted and humorous stories, whether they are written for adults or children.”

Wishing Cynthia every success with this wonderful trilogy of Irish American tales.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


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Winner Of Our Book Giveaway: Would You Marry A Farmer

A big thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s giveaway for the new book Would You Marry A Farmer by Lorna Sixsmith.  It was lovely to hear all of your farming stories.


Our lucky winner is…..

Candy Musselman

who said….

“I married into the farming world – it is a whole other world that is like no other . One of my fondest memories which happens to be the grossest, when we were dating my farmer and I were messing around and he pushed me over the edge litterly into a large liquid poopy hole ! I couldn’t believe he would do that – he did help me out but not until I helped him in.”  ;)

Congratulations to Candy. 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 Lorna for providing a copy of her wonderful book as a prize. Best wishes and happy Christmas to all.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

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Book Review & Giveaway: “Would You Marry A Farmer?” By Lorna Sixsmith

Would YOU marry a farmer? This six million dollar question is posed by Lorna Sixsmith in her similarly titled new book.  Through the pages she wittily answers many questions for would-be farmers’ wives, which may leave you firmly believing an Irish farmer is the ideal husband after all.


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Today I’m thrilled to be part of Lorna’s virtual book tour, to help launch her new publication. Lorna kindly gave me an advance copy of her book to review and is providing an additional copy for one lucky reader of Irish American Mom to win.

A good book is an ideal Christmas gift. Over the next week I’ll share some titles, that are just perfect for your loved ones who are interested in all things Irish.


But now back to those farmers….


Although I may be a city girl, I spent many days, weeks and months of my childhood with my two grannies on their farms in County Cork. My farming experience, milking cows and bringing in the hay, helped me truly appreciate Lorna’s humorous take on Irish farming life.

For those girls set on finding a farming husband this book has it all. Lorna first explores the question of whether or not farmers are a good catch.

She includes a wonderful look back on marriage practices in years gone by, the dowry system and the ancient art of matchmaking. 

Old newspaper advertisements from eligible men and women seeking a partner with land are thoroughly entertaining. Some of these snippets date back to the 19th century.

In 1946 The Irish Press printed the following appeal on the 16th October 1946.


“Farmer, age 30, 40 acres, own farm, no encumbrance,

would like to correspond with farmer’s daughter,

age 25-30, good strong girl with view to above.”

I love the fact this potential suitor made no effort to hide the fact he needs a “good, strong girl.” No pretty weaklings need apply.

Next Lorna guides us through the process of finding a good farmer, with plenty of tips on types of farming, finding a farmer to date, and the language of farming.

But finding a farmer is just the first step. Many pitfalls await for budding agricultural relationships.  Rest easy, Lorna has plenty of advice including how to pick the right color wellington boots for a date, how to enjoy a romantic tractor ride, and the signs you are destined to be a farmer’s wife.

This book isn’t just for girls hoping to meet the man of their dreams in wellies. Anyone already living the good life as a farmer’s wife will appreciate Lorna’s honest take on agricultural life.

I laughed when Lorna discussed appropriate etiquette for attending the cattle mart. My own grandmother was widowed at fifty years of age, and shortly afterwards received a marriage proposal at none other than the cattle mart. Barely out of mourning, she tactfully declined.  Refusing her potential suitor’s romantic propositions must have been difficult while “examining the hind quarter of a fine bullock.”


Lorna and her family on their farm in Co. Carlow

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In the final section, Lorna offers solid advice on how to stay married to your farmer, once you have tied the knot. She explores the challenges faced such as lack of vacations, or romantic dates, how to feed contractors when you have only two eggs in the cupboard, bringing dinners to the field, and how to be mistress of your own domain.

Now if you believe you would never marry a farmer, let alone set foot on a farm, this book may still hold a chuckle or two for you. It offers wonderful insight into our Irish farming ancestors’ way of life. I highly recommend this book as a must-read guide, for anyone interested in rural Irish life, both past and present.

 Boxes of Would You Marry A Farmer

The Giveaway:


One lucky winner will receive a copy of Would You Marry a Farmer by Lorna Sixsmith.

To enter just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Saturday, December 14th, 2013.  Any comment will do but if you need inspiration why not tell us a little bit about any farming experiences you may have.

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

Winners will be announced on Saturday December 14th, so Lorna can get the winners’ prize in the mail.  Christmas delivery may not be possible, but it should arrive by the the New Year.


How To Buy This Book:


If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book, just pop over to Lorna’s blog Irish Farmerette.  The cost is € 17 which is approximagely US$20.27  or US$27.02 inclusive of postage.

A big thank you to Lorna for sponsoring this giveaway.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom


P.S. I did not receive any payment for this post, but simply received an advance copy of the book for review purposes. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.






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Would You Marry A Farmer? Confessions of an Irish Farmerette

Today’s post introduces a new book-in-progress by Irish farmerette, blogger, writer, wife and mother, Lorna Sixsmith.  Married for over twenty years, Lorna and her husband Brian live with their two children on  a busy dairy farmer in the South-East of Ireland. Her new book will tell the story of life as an Irish farmer’s wife.

When Lorna Sixsmith, aka Irish Farmerette, decided on a whim to write a blog post entitled ‘Advice to those considering marrying a farmer’ almost a year ago, she had no idea that it would reach over 50,000 views and form the inspiration for her upcoming book.

‘Would You Marry A Farmer? Confessions of an Irish Farmerette’ will be self published and available before Christmas.

Lorna is running a crowdfunding campaign on FundIt to generate pre-orders for her book, increase publicity and raise funds for some of the self publishing costs.  Lorna describes the book as being a social history of farming with plenty of humour.

The original blog post was shared over 9,000 times on facebook. Farmers (men and women) all over the world empathised with her experiences as a wife to a busy dairy farmer in the South East of Ireland and laughed at her descriptions of standing in gaps, separating cattle, having to be telepathic and acting as a chauffeur to her sleep-deprived husband.

‘Some women, particularly if they are from cities or towns, just don’t realise that farming is such a 24/7 occupation and many find it stressful and isolating at times. Many will be relieved to know that it isn’t just their husband who announces a cow is calving just as you are dressed up to go out for a party which, of course, means that you aren’t going anywhere.’

While the book is going to be written in a tongue-in-cheek style, it will also have serious social messages such as highlighting the invisibility and non-acknowledgement of many female farmers at times, not to mention spinsterhood, bachelorhood, marriage and the mother-in-law.

Cows from Garrendenny Lane Farm

Some Cows Of Garrendenny Lane Farm

The Irish Farmerette is providing some ‘sneak peeks’ into some chapter sections in the form of blog posts so do keep an eye on her blog. Lorna has decided to self publish her book and it will be launched in November so will make a perfect Christmas gift for farmers or anyone who used to be associated with the land.

To partially fund the self publishing, she is running a crowdfunding campaign whereby people can pre-order a copy and be amongst the first to receive it. Other rewards include one of her social media online courses and part of her top reward is to write a blog about a designated calf for the pledger, it will be updated once a month from the calf’s birth as she moves into the milking herd and beyond.

Currently over half way through the 35 day crowd funding campaign, the project has been funded by 35%. Using various social media platforms to reach those who might pre-order a copy or opt for one of the other rewards, Lorna has found twitter to be the most successful means of generating pledges.

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Lorna and her family on their farm in County Carlow

‘Some pledgers have been tweople I’ve been chatting to for some time, others for a matter of weeks and some are complete strangers but saw a retweet of my tweet and then engaged with me’.

You can follow Lorna on Twitter @IrishFarmerette .

‘Crowdfunding is like a second job while the campaign is running’ she adds. You can be extremely organised for Christmas by pre-ordering a copy of Lorna’s book and be part of her journey towards publication.

This book won’t happen this year without our help. Pre-ordering a copy of Lorna’s book through her FundIt page will help bring this wonderful publication to fruition. Crowdfunding works on an ‘all or nothing’ basis.  If she doesn’t make her total goal, she doesn’t get a penny. Your credit or debit card will only be charged if the project successfully reaches its target. 

If you feel like ordering some Christmas presents early, then why not go ahead and support Lorna’s project. I’ve already ordered mine, and am looking forward to a great read next winter.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

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Winners Of The Five Copies of Heartscald by Alphie McCourt

A big thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s giveaway for copies of  Heartscald: A Collection of Verses, Songs and Chronicles by Alphie McCourt.

It was lovely to read your wonderful feedback on the many books by the McCourt brothers. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments.


Alphie McCourt

A big thank you to Alphie McCourt and Pillar International Publishing for graciously providing two paperback copies and three electronic copies of this book for our lucky winners……


Mary Sullivan – Paperback Copy

Cynthia Scroggins – Paperback Copy

Robert Tully – Electronic Copy

Brian – Electronic Copy

Marie Hall – Electronic Copy


Here are a few snippets from some of the comments left on the giveaway page.


“I love all things Irish and look forward to reading Mr McCourt’s book.”


“I have a bookshelf full of McCourt books. I have all of Franks

and , at least, three of Malachy’s. How I wish I could have met

them and shared a Guinness or two.”


“What I remember most of Alphie are his askewed quotations such as :

“Better to be right and out on the street than to be half right and warm .”

“Say nothing and keep saying it .”

And my favorite : 

“We march at dawn unless there’s no bagels.” “


Thanks to everyone for these great insights.

Alphie McCourt stopped by to explain how he received the title of poet amongst all the McCourt brothers:


“I have been saddled with the word poetry because brother

Frank told Dominic Taylor at the Limerick Writers Centre in

Limerick that I was the poet in the family. By the time it came to

my attention Frank was dead. Otherwise I would have sued him

for defamation of character. People fear famine, floods, disease,

torture-even death itself- but they fear nothing more than

poetry. Me too. And so my stuff is mostly verse.”


In typical Irish self-deprecating fashion, Alphie McCourt may deem his lyrical writings simply verse, but his words are poetry to my ears.

Congratulations to all our winners.  I’ll send e-mails to arrange sending of each person’s prize.

A big thanks to everyone who commented and supported this giveaway.  I hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend.


Go Raibh Maith Agaibh

(Thank You)

Irish American Mom


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