Blog

The gift of a home

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Delighted to contribute to Bedtime Stories, a truly magical fundraiser for the home-saving work of @Thresholdire. Sign up to hear favourite children’s stories, Irish folktales and completely original stories from well-known voices. I often take my home for granted but, when I stop to think, I am so very grateful to have a roof, floors, […]

Bikes and books

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One of the best things about lockdown has been cycling. Faster than walking, less jarring than jogging, it feels like I’m flowing through our local almost-countryside. A combination of flattish roads and our cheapy old bikes makes it easily manageable yet demanding enough to feel nobly exercised. I love the deceptive simplicity of the movement […]

The stunning stones of Kerry

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The Old English word wundor means ‘marvellous thing, miracle, object of astonishment’. Kerry is full of them – the sea, cliffs and lakes, the writing and music and sport. And some of the greatest objects of my astonishment are also the most common: the stones. In a few hours we’ve seen three marvellous manifestations of […]

In-house adventures

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With staycations on the cards and rainclouds in the forecast, books will hopefully be playing a big part in the summer holidays. What better way to escape when you can’t escape? You can travel to South America with Eva Ibbotson (Journey to the River Sea) or to the Australian outback with Geraldine McCaughrean (The Middle […]

Arts Counsel

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The footage of the UK Health Secretary putting his arm around a colleague as he entered the House of Commons, after telling everyone for months to social distance, has caused unsurprising criticism in the media, and in me too. I had to laugh when Matt Hancock told the BBC he was ‘so sorry for a […]

Aunt they wonderful?

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Eva Ibbotson loved them. Enid Blyton confined them to the kitchen. Roald Dahl had it in for them (Spiker and Sponge were squished by James’s giant peach, and I’m sure Matilda’s Miss Trunchbull had nephews and nieces). Fairy tales aren’t keen on them, and history has condemned many to the woods as witches. But I […]

Wonder schools

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What exactly is creativity? It’s a word that can excite and delight or frighten, depending on family history, self-image and experience. There are a million ways to define it – and I’ve never seen a definition that quite does it justice – but one thing’s for sure: we’re all born with it and, I think, […]

My Secret Dragon’s Den

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A huge thank you to the young entrepreneurs of Scoil Naomh Treasa in Bellewstown, County Meath. Third and fourth class have put two and two together to make €700 for Nepal Leprosy Trust, a charity that works in Nepal to support people affected by leprosy (www.nlt.ie). After reading My Secret Dragon, the children spotted the […]

‘For me you’re just a person’

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An evening of brilliant down-to-earth inspiration last night at the IBBY Ireland Annual Lecture. Deborah Soria of IBBY Italia told the story behind the Silent Books project, which started in 2011 with her simple desire to offer practical help to refugee children arriving on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. Her vision has materialised into a […]

Dragon School

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What a wonderful morning at St Andrews School in Lucan. Two fifth class dragons (one with painted face and scales, the other in a scaly onesie) met me at the door. A wall of book reviews; painted pottery dragons; pupils dressed as characters; cakes and question after question about My Secret Dragon. It’s a gift […]