Arts Week with Judy Murphy
Catherine Doyle loves folk stories – her eyes light up when she’s recounting them or hearing a new one. The Galway woman has turned that passion to good use in her magical Stormkeeper quartet of novels, set on the Donegal island of Arranmore.
Based around a young boy, Fionn Boyle, who has been tasked with keeping his island community safe from its timeless enemies, the books are geared at young people aged 9+. Published by UK-based Bloomsbury, they’re reminiscent of Harry Potter but unmistakably Irish, drawing deeply on Irish myths and legends.
The Lost Tide Warriors, the second in the series, has just been published and the City woman is working on the third while promoting this one. Catherine takes it all in her stride, happy that she’s following her true calling, especially after a brief diversion along a different road.
After graduating with a degree in psychology from NUIG, Catherine embarked on a Masters in Health Psychology but the then 21-year-old immediately knew she’d made a mistake, realising that such a career “wouldn’t nourish me”.
It was too late to get a refund, so her decision to abandon it was brave and Catherine is grateful to her parents, Grace and Ciaran, for giving her the space to review her life.
She’d loved writing since childhood, and as she took a year out before returning to college to do a Masters in Publishing, her mother gently steered her in that direction.
“I wanted to write but hadn’t the confidence,” Catherine explains. “Suddenly, a passion flared up in my mother for creative writing and she signed us up for an eight-week night course at NUIG. I loved the homework, reading my work out loud and getting feedback.”
Grace was less diligent, frequently not finishing assignments and being late for class, which puzzled her daughter.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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