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Haunting new novel inspired by abandoned Galway island

Judy Murphy

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Inishark: abandoned island off the Galway coast is the inspiration for the haunting novel, 'The Stolen Child'.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy talks to US-born writer Lisa Carey whose latest book of dark magic was sparked by visit to Inishark

The abandoned island of Inishark that rises out of the Atlantic seven miles off the north Galway coast was the inspiration for The Stolen Child, the latest novel from US-born writer Lisa Carey.

It’s a haunting, beautiful book about a close-knit community where pagan superstitions and Catholic beliefs exist side by side, and where dark magic simmers just below the surface.

Worlds collide when an American woman comes to live on her mother’s birthplace of St Brigid’s Island. The woman does so at a time when the few families on this isolated place without electricity, running water, doctors, priests or even a properly functioning pier, are being encouraged by the Irish government to move to the mainland. But this stranger, named Brigid, wants the islanders to stay for her own reasons.

She carries magic in her hands, as does a young island woman, Emer. When the two meet, they realise they share a secret. The magic they possess – good and bad – will not be contained and its consequences are far-reaching.

The Stolen Child has been described by Lisa’s fellow-novelist Belinda McKeown as “a novel to devour”, while Irish Times reviewer Sarah Keating declared that it “casts a spell upon the reader in its opening prologue and does not let go until the final, devastating moments”.

It’s the fifth novel from Lisa, but her first to be published outside America – the UK, Irish and Commonwealth publishing rights were bought by UK publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson.  She’s delighted to see it on Irish bookshelves as well as in the US where it’s being published by Perennial, HarperCollins.

Lisa lived in Ireland from 1995 to 2000, and it’s where she wrote her first book, The Mermaids Singing, in a “quiet, beautiful place”.

That place was Inishbofin, divided from Inishark by a narrow, but treacherous stretch of sea.

Inishark’s remaining six families were moved to the mainland in Autumn 1960. Inishbofin, with its larger population and somewhat superior services, survived to see better days and, while not without its problems, has a thriving community.

Lisa’s grandparents were originally from Renvyle in North Connemara and she grew up in America hearing about the Renvyle peninsula, especially the stunning beaches such as Glassilaun and Lettergesh. Eventually, she visited in the early 1990s, staying with family and creating her own memories.

“I graduated from college and asked for a trip to Ireland. My grandparents had come back to go on the beach, and a couple of cousins too, but I went with a friend from college.”

Then Lisa discovered nearby Inishbofin and was captivated.

“It’s the sort of place people come to for a weekend and stay for an entire summer,” she says with a laugh.

Lisa’s connection was even greater – she spent five years there. During that time, she graduated from Vermont College with a Masters in Fine Art, which she added to her BA from Boston college.

“I’ve always had a writing bug,” says Lisa who was born outside Boston. “It started as a reading bug; reading was my favourite thing to do – novels especially.”

So much so, that she remembers asking her dad if she could get a job writing the blurbs for book covers.

“At school, writing was always easier than maths or science. Writing an essay, I was relaxed. But I kept it a secret until after college.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Time and history conferred character on this home

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The Hermitage, Ballymoe: on the market with a €425,000 guide price.

The Hermitage at Lisnageeragh, Ballymoe is a property on which time and history has conferred a character that no new property could mirror.

Overlooking 16.3 acres of rolling green fields which are included in the sale, this is indeed a unique house and comes to market with charming well maintained stone buildings. These could provide further family accommodation, holiday rentals or craft studios.

The front hall has a beautiful, curved window and leads to two reception rooms on either side of the house. The sitting room has an open fireplace with a black cast iron surround and wooden floors which gleam from years of care and reflect the light coming from two large windows. To the right-hand side, the dining room also has an attractive bay window and an oil-fired stove and it is indeed the perfect social /entertaining space.

To the rear of the house the kitchen is a classic example of a successful marriage of the old and the new. Bespoke shaker style units combine perfectly with modern recessed lighting, attractive tiling and includes a pantry area to one side. A good-sized bedroom and adjacent bathroom complete the downstairs of the main house.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms one of which has an en suite shower. The main bedroom is a delightful space which leads to another small room, a perfect nursery or walk in wardrobe.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

A time when we learned once more that no man is an island

Francis Farragher

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Country singer Dolly Parton getting the jab: she sang about it and part-funded research on the vaccine.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the oft-repeated pub jokes whenever the price drink was increased, whether it by Finance Ministers or publicans who felt that their margins were being whittled away, was that: “As long as it doesn’t get scarce, we’ll be happy enough.”

Who could have believed though in the first month or two of 2020 that this scenario would unfold (at least in pubs), where the opportunity to meet friends – and the odd ‘auld enemy’ too – over a couple of pints in the local bar would be snatched away from us?

We probably have learned to adapt to the reality of the pandemic and most of us will remember the real sense of fear and constriction that pervaded our every word and action early last year.

2020 was the universal version of ‘annus horribilis’ – the term made famous by Queen Elizabeth in 1992 when royal marriages started to collapse like cards houses in the breeze.

Being of rural stock, I loved the little video earlier this from country music icon, Dolly Parton, who adapted a verse of her famous Jolene song to mark her first shot of the Moderna vaccine (she also donated $1 million to its research) in a very sincere effort to try and encourage the general public to get inoculated.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

I’m begging of you not to hesitate,

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

Cause when you’re dead that’s a bit too late.”

A year before that, times were indeed very strange across Ireland and indeed the world. I remember on the Sunday night before St. Patrick’s Day when a sense of incredulity greeted the news in my own local that ‘a lot of the pubs in Galway city were closing down’. Surely, this couldn’t happen in our own little watering hole in the sticks, but it did.

Michael Karmen’s soundtrack from the Band of Brothers series – a wonder piece of music even to my untrained ear – will always remind me of that early Spring period of lockdown in 2020.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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€4.5m worth of property sold during online event

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This detached house at Seacrest in Knocknacarra attracted a "staggering" level of interest.

More than €4.5 million worth of sales were recorded at the O’Donnellan & Joyce auction last week, where 350 people had pre-registered to bid on the 40 properties which went under the hammer.

80% of the properties sold during the auction or following negotiations immediately afterwards.

Among the properties sold at the auction were:

106 Seacrest, Knocknacarra, Galway. Guiding at €250,000 due to the extent of renovation and upgrade works required, the auctioneers were staggered at the level of interest in this 4-bed detached house.

Siobhra Hennessy, Senior Auction Co-Ordinator, said: “There is an increasing demand for city centre homes in need of repair. Couples want to put their own stamp on a property and often look for properties similar to this.”

Bidding commenced at €250,000 but quickly rose to over €350,000. After intense bidding from a number of internet and telephone bidders, the sale price of €364,000 was reached and the deal was done.

192 Bohermore, Galway. A 2-bed terraced house which attracted great attention, with many enquiries and bidders pre-registering. The house needs complete restoration and modernisation works but obviously appealed to a wide audience. It guided at €120,000, but sold for €179,000, despite the great amount of work required. Again, this is an example of a near-derelict building that offered great potential.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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