Michelle uncovers dark secrets in new novel

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Michelle McDonagh’s eyes light up as she describes childhood trips to Connemara with her parents, who are both now deceased.           She and her sister, Cathy were in the back of their station wagon while her father, Séamus, was driving and her mother, Lucy, brother, Shane, and maternal granny were also squished in.

Those were the days before seatbelts were obligatory, when the McDonagh girls would shout at their dad as they went over bumps.

“Can we do jumpies?” was their plea.

They’d bring a picnic and pick a venue – sometimes it would be Kylemore Abbey, a place she loves to this day.

Kylemore plays a key role in her new novel, Somebody Knows, published this Friday, following the success of last year’s debut offering, There’s Something I Have to Tell You.

Michelle’s second novel, a thriller, centres around journalist Cara Joyce, who, as her adoptive mother is dying, overhears a shocking piece of information about her own origins.

Cara’s life is thrown into turmoil as she follows a series of connections that lead her to Lucia Casey, a young woman from Kylemore, whose body had been found buried in a bog there nearly 30 years ago. Lucia’s disappearance and death have remained a mystery ever since.

The Casey family are wealthy and well-connected and, as Cara begins to investigate the circumstances of Lucia’s death, the journalist finds herself thrown into their privileged world, while her own family worry about her obsession with this case.

Michelle, from Galway City, moved to Cork 15 years ago and lives in Blarney with her husband, Greg, and their three children.

Returning to Connemara, staying in Kylemore, and visiting Kylemore Abbey as she researched this book brought joy to the former Connacht Tribune journalist whose heart remains in Galway.

“It’s stunning, the energy of the place,” she says of Connemara.

As for the novel’s protagonist, Cara, Michelle says she could be any mother, trying to balance family and work.

The young, married mother who begins to unveil the truth about her adoption, becomes overwhelmed by what she’s uncovering. She’s trying to combine family life with her busy job, aware that her husband is under financial pressure – and she’s angry at her adopted parents.

“You are juggling so many balls and when you are under pressure, balls can fall very easily,” says Cara’s creator.

As she digs into her own past, Cara learns about Ann Lovett, the 15-year-old girl who died giving birth beside a grotto to Our Lady, in Granard, County Longford, in January 1984. Ann Lovett’s infant son also died. There was an outcry at what she had endured, and the debate that ensued led many Irish people to revisit their attitudes towards unmarried mothers.

Pictured: Michelle McDonagh’s new novel is set in her home town of Galway City and in Connemara.

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.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up