Seven Tales for the Hale and Hearty

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SEVEN TALES come in succession to DZC’s last five books. His brilliant trilogy THE SHOT, THE SWOT, and THE SLOT, each member of which is a poem of 864 lines, was followed by the superb WAR AND PEACE, and most recently by FORTY GOATS.

Made in Belfast

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Fra McCartney’s latest offering represents a personal journey in life and the people he met along the way. The author grew up on Belfast’s Falls Road and in 1966 he joined the Merchant Navy. It was, he says: “The only way a boy like me could see the world and get paid for it. I was forged in Belfast by my peers and this is my story.” Through this book Fra shares his travels and travails of life in Belfast and far beyond.

Beyond the Veil

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Georgette Crescent is a strong woman and an incredibly powerful witch. A loyal friend and, most importantly, a loving sister. That’s why when her younger sister Amelia is kidnapped by the evil Johnagock and held captive in their hell dimension, Georgette’s heart is broken. With the veil to the Johnagock realm sealed shut forever, there is no hope in ever rescuing her sister. Only one evil wizard has the ability to open the Veil, using dark magick. Georgette must swallow her pride and seek help from the one person she hates most in this world. Gregor. But first she must find him and second she must convince him to help her. With the help of her friends, Georgette will do whatever it takes to get her sister back.

Sister Patricia Maria Speight: Bringing God’s Love and Hope to People in the Margins

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Sister Patricia Maria Speight is a native of Belfast who has dedicated her life to serving excluded and marginalised people in Kenya and Zimbabwe. A religious sister of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, Sister Patricia has lived out her vocation as a missionary ministering to the poorest of the poor for more than four decades. Her work among the abandoned, the marginalised, the rejected, those stigmatised by the HIV/Aids pandemic, and so many others suffering from illness, hunger and poverty is inspirational indeed, and challenges all who espouse the Gospel message and Christ’s teachings to compassionate action.

Sister Patricia heard the cry of the poor and listened. She looked at the dire conditions in which so many are condemned to live and saw. She opened herself to the Spirit and responded. This book is a most timely and valuable work that tells the quite remarkable story of Sister Patricia Speight and shows how the Gospel message is lived out in the world today. The reader cannot fail to be moved and inspired by the courage, passion and example of this missionary sister from Ireland who left the comfort and safety of her own home to bring love and hope to God’s children in need.

Dr Aidan Donaldson is a former lecturer in the Department of Scholastic Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast and at St Malachy’s Junior Seminary. He currently works as Educational Consultant to the Catholic Schools Support Service for the Diocese of Down and Connor and is a noted author who has published numerous books and articles on a wide range of subjects including philosophy, education and theology, as well as the Church’s work in the missions – at home and abroad.

Blessed Carlo Acutis: Light the Flame of Faith

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The “voice of the Irish” once called out to the young Saint Patrick: “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us.” Can we dream that the people of Ireland welcome today another “little one,” also a young foreign boy, born in London and raised in Italy, who died at the tender age of 15 and who points us to a personal relationship with Jesus, especially in the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration? “Light the Flame of Faith” makes this dream alive by offering a clear roadmap for personal, family and community renewal and a program for parishes, schools, and other institutions, lived by the “kid in jeans and sneakers” with a passion for holiness – Blessed Carlo Acutis, on course to be the first millennial Saint.

A Young Life Stolen: A memoir of growing up in war-torn Belfast

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A Young Life Stolen is a deeply personal tribute to a murdered brother and son. This is Gerry’s memoir about growing up in Belfast as a city fell into the grip of fear and hate. Paul Armstrong was abducted and murdered in 1974 and in the decades since, Gerry and his family have searched and fought for truth and justice – to no avail.

This memoir relives the happy innocence of youth, mischievous teenagers living through their school lives not fully aware of the impending terror and tragedy that is closing in on their city and their streets. When the brutality of the Troubles strikes, the lives of families are shattered forever.

Gerry is well known for his tremendous efforts to ensure that Paul is never forgotten, and that the questions around his murder and the police investigation into it, continue to be voiced.

Fall from Grace

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A haunting novel, inspired by a remarkable woman’s journey through life and her universal story of hope.

Everyone it seems, has their share of dark secrets, either their own, or buried in the annals of their family history.

This book is centred around some of those momentous secrets. Secrets that, from the outset, threatened to rip a family apart.

Ultimately, they challenged the very spirit of human kindness, hope and endeavour.

Crescent Witches: A haunting Belfast tale

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Just over a century since the Great War had ended witches and wizards had defeated the evil Johnagock and banished them to a hell dimension forever. Many years then passed with all magical creatures living in peace across the veil hidden from the human world.

Then one dreadful night the young witch Amelia Crescent’s worst nightmares returned to haunt her once more; the Johnagock were back.

It’s now up to Amelia, with the help of her sister Georgette, to uncover the dark secrets of their family’s past and discover the truth behind their parents deaths in order to defeat their evil foe once again.

Author Margaret McMahon is from the heart of Belfast city. She has a daughter and a son. Margaret trained and worked as a professional florist and also worked in an Irish language school. This is her first novel.

The Hotel Waiter with The Holy Water

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Alois Hitler, Jnr the older half-brother of Adolf Hitler, spent some months in the latter half of 1909 working in Dublin’s premier hotel – The Shelbourne. From Dublin he eloped with a teenage Dublin girl, Bridget Dowling, ten years his junior, to Liverpool. Surprisingly, there has been very little attention paid to this fascinating historical detail.

This darkly comic novel focuses on the elder Hitler’s short time in Dublin. It is based on the few facts known to us – that in his spare time from work in The Shelbourne, he liked to gallivant around Dublin while posing as a Hotel Consultant. A con-artist, in fact. And that he first encountered Bridget Dowling at the Royal Dublin Horse Show in Ballsbridge. As well as the fact that they had their first date in The National Gallery, Merrion Square. Among the celebrities whose brief presence in Dublin in 1909 coincided with the longer stay of Alois Hitler, Jnr, were Enrico Caruso, Ernest Shackleton (who stayed in The Shelbourne) and James Joyce who set up the first motion picture house in Dublin in December 1909, called the Volta. Each is rewarded with a walk-on part and one even with a small talking part as well.

Shakespeare: What’s the Problem?

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A fascinating book from Shakespeare scholar Tom Hall. As he says: “I have tried to communicate interesting possibilities about Shakespeare’s early life when seen against what is known or likely concerning his environment; particular emphasis is placed on the ‘lost years’. I have dealt with the reasons why theories have arisen regarding these years, 1564-1581, before suggesting how problems can be experienced about the authorship in later years. My approach is deliberately personal rather than intellectual or scholarly, and is intended to be accessible to readers without a detailed knowledge of the plays.” Definitely plenty of food for thought in this book.

Dreaming Refuge

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My name is Patrick Doyle, which is an unusual name for a person coming from the loyalist working class Shankill Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My early life was set against a backdrop of orange parades during the marching season’s flute bands and loyalist murals. My story starts in 1972 when I was almost twenty two years old. It tells of my transformation from violence to finding other means of solving differences. The change was brought about by extremely strange circumstances. This is my very strange story.

Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979: A Prehysteric Farce

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This is a novelistic love-letter to Belfast City & environs, and a rather comedic one at that. It follows the trials & tribulations of a newbie journalist (and dino-enthusiast!), his drinking pal, a pompous middle-aged archaeologist at Queen’s, a legendary German palaeontologist, a mischievous young couple under their tutelage, and a 16-year-old schoolboy who dreams of other worlds… They gradually become connected, and all because of dinosaurs. The story unfolds amidst the strife & chaos of the Troubles -and a bit of how it was 66 million years ago, too.

The book celebrates and re-imagines 1979 Belfast in meticulous detail. It also, rather mischievously, celebrates the recently confirmed discovery of Ireland’s first dinosaur fossils. This somewhat Swiftian story pokes fun at just about everything living, half-living or just plain extinct. It will appeal to lovers of Belfast and to those fascinated by the ancient beasts who used to roam its streets… before they were streets… Might dinosaurs, wondering whether to engage in fisticuffs or not, have first quizzed each other on their religious affiliations? Find out in the pages of this wild, and thought-provoking, romp. 

See more here:

Against the Tide

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It is the job of historians to revise earlier accounts of history. As new public records, for example, continually become available, it will be necessary to revise previous accounts of certain periods of history and actors in that history. But the dominant narratives of Irish history since the 1960s have been written by a group whose revisionism claims for itself the virtues of value free and objective empirical research as exclusively forming their accounts of Irish history. As Bertolt Brecht said, however, “Whenever there are great virtues, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong”. What is wrong in this case is that such revisionism masks a particular set of ideological beliefs that result in, for example, the displacement of the Famine as the central, immiserating event in nineteenth century Ireland. This collection of essays, some previously published and some new, revises the Revisionists on their general approach to Irish history, the early history of Ulster, the Famine, the Plantation, Ireland’s status as colony, and challenges their findings through advancing counter-arguments in the spirit of academic debate and research. It is the first such collection that challenges Revisionism in various intellectually thoughtful and stimulating ways, and establishes a dialectical counter-narrative to it. Terence Bradley

War and Peace

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‘War and Peace’ was written in order to provide the Renaissance song ‘Watkin’s Ale’ with a decorous text. The poem has already appeared in FoMRHI Quarterly 121 (May, 2012), whose genial editor, Mr Christopher Goodwin, does not object to its new manifestation. You won’t understand the rhythm of the poem unless you look up the tune of ‘Watkin’s Ale’ on the internet.   ‘War and Peace’ has a perceptible all-Ireland dimension. Bray town centre appears on the front cover. Offaly, Belfast, and Cork feature in three of the pictures. (‘Old Friends’ is based on a medieval icon of Naboth.) For its part the rear cover involves a severely stylised view of the Blue Lough, near Annalong, Co. Down, where the author sometimes goes for a swim, and where Snow White is believed to have conferred with Arthur O’Shaughnessy. History can be a jolly complicated business. David Crookes

They Came in Cars and Carts

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The first edition of They Came in Cars and Carts was published in 1989 by the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Resources Centre primarily as an educational resource. The book acquired a wide readership and eventually sold out the relatively small number of copies printed. This reprint is meant to appeal to those who missed the original edition but are interested in the importance of fairs and markets in the development of Ballyclare. In this context I believe the book should attract the attention of younger generations who have had no direct experience of the fairs and markets held in the town. Nowadays books benefit from the digital revolution in printing technology and allows a quality of product impossible to achieve when the first edition of the book was published. This edition has been printed professionally making creative use of such modern digital technology. The 1989 publication appeared along with the gradual return to normality following the decline of the rigid security measures associated with The Troubles. The improved security situation encouraged official and local community groups to return to the organisation and promotion of events traditionally associated with the annual May Fair carnival. It is quite a co-incidence that the present book is published amid similar efforts from local groups to revive the May Fair activities abandoned as a result of the restrictions imposed upon large group gatherings to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic. Ballyclare is presently experiencing a surge in new housing developments. The recent opening of a long – awaited by-pass to alleviate traffic congestion has proved a popular benefit and is certain to lead to a further increase in the population of the town. I hope that the reprint of They Came in Cars and Carts will enjoy a wide readership among new arrivals keen to discover how the markets and fairs of former years added significantly to Ballyclare’s prosperity and renown. I am confident, too, that the sadly dwindling band of ‘auld residenters’ will find many prompts in the book to rekindle treasured memories of happy times spent at the Ballyclare May Fair.

Rhymes & Ructions: Ballads and Banter from Ballyclare

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Each Day is a Farewell

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The Diary of an Irish Pedaller

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The Slot

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The Deep Heart’s Core

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When Nora Gallagher leaves Donegal to work in a college in Edinburgh she is torn between the excitement of her new career and the call of home. Lodging with Rosie, an elderly family friend, she sees how lonely a city can be for the old and vulnerable. Nora sets out to help Rosie and to improve the prospects of the troubled teenagers she supports in college.

Astute and determined, Nora attracts the praise of her maverick colleagues and the jealousy of her conniving boss, Liz. She also attracts the attention of Gerard Falconer, a wealthy landowner, who opens his estate to disadvantaged students. Nora struggles with her own values, her growing fondness for Gerard and her desire to support her ailing grandfather at home.

By foiling the plans of local criminals preying on Rosie, Nora is unaware of the danger both women now face from a more serious predator – a danger which tracks them back to Donegal, where Nora has returned.

The King of Love

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John is the different Gospel, the most difficult but the most
enriching. It begins in the eternal loving heart of the Trinity,
‘for God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that
everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have
eternal life’ (3:16), and ends in an Hour of Glory, as John sees the
death and Resurrection of Jesus, and the outpouring of the Spirit.
The author gives a guide to all 21 chapters of the Gospel, with 22
passages for Lectio Divina, and 10 Stations of the Cross according
to John, to supplement our traditional ones. It’s the fruit of a long
pondering and love for this Gospel, so it is personal and, from
experience, medicine for a faltering spiritual life.
It is for everyone from student to pensioner, a challenge to all
to deepen their spirituality and their relationship with the living
Lord. It’s a sipping drink to be savoured slowly, rather than a
binge. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Albert McNally, a priest of Down and Connor, studied scripture
at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome 1968-71. He spent 30
years teaching at second and third level and 17 years as a Parish
Priest before retirement.

Silver’s City

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Silver McKee was probably the best-known man in Belfast at one time. This excellent book from Fra McCartney recounts some of the tales and tribulations of Silver’s time in Belfast.

Fra McCartney was born in Belfast in 1949 when the world was starting to change dramatically. Early in his life he developed a love for horses, horse dealers, and the ordinary man or woman who made good in this great city or in far off distant lands they emigrated to.

His days in the merchant navy took him to many countries but the lure of Belfast always brought him back and this book is very much about the characters rather than the city itself.

Stories of a Lifetime

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Jack McKinney retired in 2003 following four decades as an assistant and principal teacher in primary schools in
East Antrim. While working in Ballyclare he developed an interest
in the local history and culture of the town. This led him to compile
a series of accounts of Ballyclare’s history – notably its markets
and fairs, elementary education and the town’s celebrated papermaking
In 1980 he founded the Ballyclare and District Historical
Society and in 1993 was a founder member of the Ulster-Scots
Language Society acting as the first editor of Ullans, the society’s
This book draws on Jack McKinney’s interest in local cultural heritage and his feeling for the lore and language
of rural communities as expressed in the colourful speech and anecdotes of the eccentric characters he regularly
encountered in Ballyearl and Mossley.
The stories of the time he spent as a pupil in Mossley Primary School and a teacher in Abbots Cross and Ballyclare
Primary Schools contain lively descriptions of unusual events and eccentric behaviour by pupils and staff.
There is also much to learn and enjoy from contrasting pupils’ experiences and the conditions in schools in the 1950s
and 1960s with what is normal in today’s technological age.
This book, unashamedly nostalgic, will be enjoyed by all readers as an authentic but
light-hearted picture of the life of an ordinary teacher toiling at the chalk face.