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.

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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.

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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

 

“Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma” by Cahal Dunne – Book Review And Giveaway

‘Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma: A Salty Tale of a Young Man’s Musical Dreams and Struggles in 1970′s Ireland’ was written by Cahal Dunne, a native of County Cork, who now calls Pittsburgh home.

Today I am delighted to introduce this wonderful new book to you.  A copy of ‘Put Your Rosary Beads Away Ma’ will be won by one lucky reader.  So read on and check out how to enter our giveaway at the end of this post.

CoverFinal_Book

1. The Book

 

This fictional tale is loosely based on Dunne’s own experiences throughout his distinguished career as a composer, pianist, comedian, story teller, and television personality. 

The entertaining exploits of Billy Golden, a young man from Cork City, who struggles to make it big as a musician in 1970′s Ireland, are recounted in hilarious fashion.  Billy begins his career as a choir director, and music teacher, progresses to show band musician, Eurovision songwriter, then prominent Celtic rocker, and finally an acclaimed solo performer in the United States.

 

“The adventures of Billy Golden reflect the era in which I was raised in Ireland.

Without a few breaks coming my way over the years,

I would most definitely have been a rather unhappy veteran teacher by now.

I’m very grateful instead, to have had a lifetime of entertaining,

which I still enjoy more than ever to this very day. “

– Cahal Dunne

 

This book highlights Billy’s struggles and successes through heartwarming vignettes. Billy and his bandmates entertain the reader as they deal with the highs and lows of life ‘on the road’, sometimes with charming innocence. 

The trials and tribulations of a career in show business are shared in a vibrant, humorous and touching way.  Escapades of young musicians and their girlfriends, love affairs and broken hearts, dealings with a few shady managers and some decent agents, are all recounted as poor Ma is busy at home in Cork, wearing out her rosary beads, praying for young Billy.

Cahal Dunne is a natural story teller, who brings Billy Golden to life as he travels the length and breadth of Ireland in a beat up old van with his band mates.

Cahal Dunne - Irish Entertainer

 

2. Praise For ‘Put Yer Rosary Beads Away, Ma’:

 

I found this book to be a very entertaining read. My husband also read it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

“Anybody who ever played in or danced to the beat of an Irish show band has to read this book.

Apart from that however, it is a great read in its own right, and should appeal to anyone

who likes a story of a young man’s dreams and his struggles to make them come true.

A universal tale, beautifully chronicled.

- Sean O Se, Cork, Ireland

 

As a writer, who loves to edit and re-edit manuscripts, I did notice a few transitions from past to present tense throughout the text, interrupting the flow of my reading.  I mentioned it to my husband. He never even noticed any tense changes from one chapter to the next. And so, I decided I should switch off my editing eyes when reading anything other than my own manuscripts.

 

DunneRED

3. The Author

 

Cahal Dunne attended University College Cork where he received his Bachelor of Music degree.  He is the nephew of the former Prime Minister of Ireland, Jack Lynch.  He is a winner of the Castlebar Song Contest, and represented Ireland in the Yamaha World Song Contest in Tokyo with his own song, “Lover, Not Just a Wife.”

His song, “Happy Man”, won Ireland’s National Song Contest, and he represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel in 1979.  In February 1982 he performed some concerts in Michigan, and the following year he emigrated from Ireland to the United States. He now calls Pittsburgh home.

Cahal Dunne is a composer, talented musician, entertainer extraordinaire, and now an author.

Copies of this book can be ordered directly from the author’s website.

 

4. The Giveaway

 

Cahal Dunne has generously provided a copy of ‘Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma’  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, June 14th, 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 ever been to a concert by an Irish musician in America.

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 winner.

The winner will be announced on Saturday June 20th, in a separate blog post.  I’ll send the winner an e-mail so that I can mail the book.

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

 

 

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.

“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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Image Credit

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.

dresser

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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.

 

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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