The Sunbeam Path – An Interactive Children’s iBook By Marion Rose McFadden

“The Sunbeam Path” – what an exciting name for a children’s picture book. The very name speaks of faeries and intrigue.

The Sunbeam Patch - CoverJust saying this title aloud makes me want to take a sunny journey to a land of make believe.

In today’s post I’m excited to introduce you to Nora, a delightful little Irish girl who follows a wisp of light dancing on the edge of the forest. A world of faeries and demifay awaits.  These enchanting characters were created by Irish artist and writer, Marion Rose McFadden. 

Maggie Green, a resource teacher currently living in County Donegal, graciously reviewed this book for Irish American Mom. 

She works with children with additional learning needs and has a deep understanding of how to integrate technology into education.

Maggie shares her insights on her wonerful blog “A Geek and a Teacher”.

But now let me hand you over to Maggie for her book review of “The Sunbeam Path”  ……

 

The Sunbeam Path – An Interactive Children’s iBook

By Marion Rose McFadden

 

Book Review by Maggie Green

 

My children, like most children, love stories. Every night we have story time. They both cuddle up beside me and they each choose a book and we read and we talk about the stories.

They have their firm favorites and the books that they now know off by heart and they sometimes read along with me or finish my sentences. It is wonderful to see their blossoming relationship with books and reading, and I hope to see it continue long into the future.

How faeries live

Some books stay with you for a lifetime. Even as an adult when I start to read books I loved as a child to my own children I am transported back to the place I was when I first heard the story.

Cozy in the crook of my father’s arms as he read to me, his soft soothing voice taking me to another world as the characters and magic of the story took shape in my mind.

My children are growing up in a different era. They are very much children of the digital age and they have experienced media in many different forms even at the young ages of two and four.

My children know their way around an iPad and recently we read our very first iBook together and to say that my children were full of wonder as I read was an understatement.

The book we read was called The Sunbeam Path by a very talented author called Marion-Rose McFadden.

The book follows the journey of a wonderfully authentic little girl called Nora as she embarks on an adventure which introduces her to the Demifay. The story is steeped in rich and evocative language which pulls the reader further into the magic.

The iBook gives you the option to read the story or to have the story read to you and we have tried both options numerous times.

As I read the story to my children they were mesmerized by the interactive nature of the book and became very excited as they burst the bubbles that Nora blew and touched the little beams of light that danced across the page.

Interactive Faerie Book

The illustration is magical and brought the book to life as the story progressed.

The Demifay in the story appealed to me greatly as a parent. Too often the manner in which faeries are depicted in stories are too adult in nature and I prefer characters that I can relate to.

TI want my children to have real expectations in life and I want them to be exposed to characters in stories with whom they can find a common ground.

The Demifay in The Sunbeam Path are not dressed in overly sexualized costumes. They are not society’s portrayal of what is beautiful. They are real, they are different and they come to life all the more because of this.

This iBook has become a firm favorite for my children and it is regularly requested throughout the day and at bedtime.

Demifay the faerie

My daughter can relate to Nora because she just looks like an ordinary little girl. The first time we read the story my daughter said ‘oh she does the same things as me – maybe I’ll see faeries too’.

My children have truly been touched by the magic of this iBook and I am sure that many more children will be filled with wonder as they enter the world of Nora and the Demifay.

 

 Digital Media Choices

 

“The Sunbeam Path” by Marion Rose McFadden in a cross-border collaboration with Digital Media Choices.

DMC, a non-profit group of social entrepreneurs, is a company based on the outskirts of Belfast, offering a wide range of expertise in developing digital media.

The Sunbeam Path beautifully illustrated Michael Murray utilises the latest iBook technologies to create a delightful, digital faerie-story experience.

Animation transforms the pages into a dynamic and fun experience, using interactive touch screen technologies, with a narration feature offering an engagin story-telling aspect.

 

Marion Rose McFadden

 

Marion Rose is an Irish artist who lives on the wild Atlantic coast in County Donegal. 

Here’s how she describes her work on her website:

 

“Resonating with ancestral memory,

the magic of light and half-light,

these paintings celebrate the echoes of what once was,

and is yet evidenced by land and by character.”

 

Wishing Marion every success as a writer and artist.

 

More Information:

 

This book is also available in Irish. It’s simply beautiful.

Irish Version of The Sunbeam Path

You can order the book on iTunes in an Irish language or English language version.

It is also available for the Kindle through Amazon.

A big thank you to Maggie Green and Marion Rose McFadden for this wonderful introduction to the world of the demifay.

Slán agus beannacht,

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

P.S. Irish American Mom does not have a business relationship with Digital Media Choices. This is not a sponsored post. I fell in love with this little story and simply wished to help spread the word about this lovely interactive children’s book through this blog post.

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.

To Ireland’s Far-Flung Exiles / A Poem By Irish American Mom

Ruined stone cottages lie dotted across the Irish landscape, permanent reminders of Ireland’s emigrants, forced to leave their homes by famine, and eviction. Over one million people left Ireland in the years of the Great Hunger from 1845 to 1850, and in the decades after many more followed.

Every time I see the old shell of a stone cottage I think of Ireland’s diaspora. In today’s post I thought I would share a poem I wrote dedicated to Ireland’s exiles, who made their new homes in America.

 

An Irish Half-Door

 To Ireland’s Far-Flung Exiles

by Mairéad Geary

 

They left these shores carting their memories of Irish summers:
Nettles drooping under the weight of glittering raindrops,
Wild blackberries beckoning on thorny bushes;
Yellow furze, purple heather, the colors of rural childhoods;
Lingering twilights, soft rains, rugged cliffs with secret caves,
Unceasing waves, bronzed for hours by the rays of the setting sun.

 

Heather and Gorse

On Ireland’s furrowed shores, I explore their untamed territory,
Discovering abandoned ruins, eerie memorials in barren fields;
Roofless shells with tumbling chimneys and spiritual hearths,
Systematically overgrown by nature’s wild abandon;
Eternal reminders of far-flung exiles, and their children’s children,
Dreaming of Ireland from some place far away.

An Old Irish House Ruin

I stand alone in green fields, gazing skyward at contrails
Pointing the way toward a western watery horizon.
My thoughts turn to refugees, viciously ousted,
Nothing but rags shrouding gaunt, emaciated bodies,
Silently trudging to port, in search of virulent vessels;
Some long forgotten, lost forever in their salty oblivion.

Irish Famine Eviction

Through melancholy mists and harrowing storms, some survived
The wretchedness of ocean crossing and mountain crossing,
Only to be scattered like rain drops upon thousands of valleys,
Where they learned to hope anew, paying tribute to their homeland
In sweat and tears; toiling to the rhythm of their songs;
Whilst laying the foundations for the winding roads of your dreams.

The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship -  at night

And when those deep-seated recollections haunt you,
Echoing from the land where your forebears sleep
Beneath enduring lunar stones, listen to the bleak cry of time.
Come wade through rain-drenched grass, in praise of summer days.
Let Ireland’s gentle breezes polish your scars, and the light of home
Illuminate the ties that bind you to a new and ancient world.

Graveyard at Myross, West Cork

To all those with Irish roots who will visit Ireland this summer, may you feel a warm welcome in your ancestral home. I wish you safe travels. May you feel a deep and meaningful connection to the land of our forefathers.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

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