Unique author finds her voice

Tatiana Tierney was born in the USSR and her first language is Russian. But having left her homeland 19 years ago, and having spent most of the intervening years in Ireland and England, she decided to write her debut novel in English, It was inspired by her husband Niall’s family history and is a journey of romance and survival that takes in Ireland, England and India. Tatiana and Niall who now live in Tuam tell JUDY MURPHY about their own extraordinary journey.

“I like challenges,” says Tatiana Tierney. There’s no denying that, given the approach that Russian-born Tatiana took to her debut novel, A Thread of Secrets, which she’ll be signing this Saturday, June 22, at Daybreak Books in Tuam from 12-3pm.

Tatiana, who lives in Tuam with her Irish husband Niall Tierney, wrote the book in English, rather than in her native language.

A Thread of Secrets, a romantic story which moves between Ireland, England and India, is loosely based on her husband’s family history and she felt it was best-served by being written in English.

“In Russian there’s a different way of saying things,” she explains. “The first draft was in Russian and I translated it, but it wasn’t saying what I wanted to say.”

Tatiana who left Russia as a young woman in 2005 and has no desire to return, met Niall in London when they were both living there.

She had grown up in the countryside in what was then the USSR before moving to a small city and eventually to Moscow. Her mother was a teacher and her father was an electrical engineer and while times were tough, it was a happy childhood, says Tatiana, the oldest in a family of three children. However, with her parents and two younger brothers now deceased, those connections are gone and it’s clear she has no truck with Russia’s current carry-on.

Having started off her working life as a vendor at street markets, this self-educated woman progressed to a professional career in Moscow, working in a recruitment agency and HR, as well as in event management.

She worked for a time in Turkey before emigrating to England, settling in the southern coastal town of Eastbourne initially and going to college in Kent. She continued her studies at university in London when she relocated there. And she met Niall, a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property rights.

He proposed in 2010 and having settled down, they moved to Switzerland for his work, then lived and worked in various places before returning to Ireland, moving to Tuam in 2018.

On his father’s side, Neill is a great-grandson of Eoin MacNeill, a leading light of the Gaelic Revival, an MP, and the founder and first leader of the Irish Volunteer Force.

Neil was born in Dublin but his family has strong connections with Galway, a county he has always loved. His grandfather, Michael Tierney, who came from outside Ballymacward, went to UCD, winning a scholarship to study Classics in Europe before going on to become Professor of Greek at UCD and, ultimately, its president in 1947. As president, he oversaw a period of great change, including moving the university from the centre of Dublin to its current home, Belfield.


Pictured: Tatiana and her husband Niall, who has strong Galway connections, have made Tuam their home.

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