Children of the Cromlech – in time and space, 1936.

 Children of the Cromlech - in time and space, 1936.

Tobin’s general shop, see ballonvillage.com for the history

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July 2, 2012 · 10:20 pm

A brilliant review.

Robina Adamson is an enormously talented illustrator who has enriched many books for us less talented writers.  She captures all I needed to convey in my book and sends the following review.

I  found the story well written with each character deeply interwoven with the other. They each struggle with their life’s path  and spiritual journey, eventually finding their place of healing. Mary’s life was turned about by her encounter with Father Joseph. Father Joseph was the most involved character and I began to wonder if the author John is the priest, as he understands a great deal about the politics, personalities and workings within the Catholic church. Joseph is a caring man with deep, unwavering convictions which eventually lead him out of the Catholic church. At first his mother is deeply shocked over this, but finds her healing in the possibility that she may one day become a grandmother. I cried when the stone Martin was working on was revealed. I felt very deeply the pain of Joseph’s mother and other women whose babies were buried in the grove. Martin, raised in an atheist home, becomes strongly aware of spirit as he hears the voices of children in the grove. He was also traumatised by the war and in particular the killing of a German soldier, who could easily have killed him but chose not to.The story is intensely believable. It is honest, compassionate and heartfelt – at times even heartbreaking. I loved this story and connected most with Father Joseph and his mother.

Many thanks, Robina.

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When exile begins

In the long process of writing and publishing Children of the Cromlech, I was forced to face up to the realities of my place in rural Ireland of the mid-century. I have commented on occasion that I was the lucky one, the one with the shoes, the cherished late arrival, the cuckoo in the nest. And so it was but now I have dug deep in retrieving memories and building a social scene from which I did not escape unscathed. The book is a realistic fiction based on distasteful facts. Two revelations – I was effectively exiled from Ireland at age 12 to a residential diocesan junior seminary not 12 miles away from  home. My only adult contacts were celibates, priests or nuns. Very quickly, I became a visitor and progressively a stranger in my own village and even to my family. I am not sure, even now, 70 years later, that I fully recovered. Too much was lost or hidden. The second and more important discovery is a question which remains – not why my characters and thousands of their peers escaped Ireland but why on earth did anyone stay.

 

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The Butterfly Heart

Whanau is a Maori word and concept. It embraces the extended family, outward, back and forward and is elastic. So, I embrace Paula Leyden and congratulate her on her achievement in winning the Children’s Book Ireland award for the 2012 Children’s Book of the Year. She is indeed a worthy winner. The book is filled with entertainment and wisdom, an essential homily without polemics, a story that opens windows between cultures. Above all else, it is a joy to read. Well done, that girl!

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Children of the Cromlech – the social scene

Why did anyone stay? That is the question I am left with on re-reading my book. In the 20th century, it was not hunger that drove the exodus from Ireland. Neither was unemployment the complete answer. Factor in frustration with a universal religious discipline and the subservience of the political and social decision-makers to the religious leaders and the motivation for getting out becomes overpowering. I have learned by writing the book why three young people of my generation left. So they are not real in historical terms but they are true archetypes and I respect them.

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Children of the Cromlech – The Book flies

Well, not in flocks but  in pairs. Two copies of the printed word took off this morning to SF.I have great memories of San Francisco and now hold the San Franciscans in the highest regard. Pillars of wisdom etc. Thanks, guys.

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Success!!

Shipped my first sale of the printed Children today to Lorraine in Ireland. Can’t wait for her verdict (a) as a woman on a rather robust piece of writing, (b) As an Irish woman on subjects I have obviously never experienced personally and (c) perhaps most importantly, as a reader outside the circle of  family and friends. Vanity, of course, but it pleased me to sign it for her. Go, the book.

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