Ballygally Polar Bear

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When a polar bear lands on the beach at Ballygally he’s naturally confused. But with the help of a friendly puffin from Rathlin Island the polar bear takes his fist steps in exploring the surrounding area. They also befriend the owner of a fish & chip shop. Join them on their first outing together as this unlikely trio set off on a journey to understand their world better… and to get fish.

Ballygally Polar Bear brings three new characters to life. This may be their first adventure but there are certainly going to be more to follow


Roll Back the Years

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This work continues the story of the Ring of Gullion area in South Armagh as explored in Hugh’s work ‘The Ring of Gullion, Where Poets Walked’ a collaboration with John Campbell RIP and Gerry Clarke (published by Cottage Publications). This work explores the stories of the people, characters and way of life from the Ring of Gullion in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The work also includes a collection of Hugh’s unpublished poems – ‘Undug Rigs’.

Hugh Murphy lives in the village of Lislea within the Ring of Gullion, South Armagh. He has lived there his entire life and his works are inspired by the environment and people of the area.

Hugh has written extensively in both English and Irish. Hugh’s published works in English include the anthologies ‘The Broken Wall’ and ‘Where Ditches Meet’; and ‘The Ring of Gullion, Where Poets Walked’ a collaboration with John Campbell RIP and Gerry Clarke. Hugh’s published works in Irish include ‘I Dtreo na Carraige’ and ‘Dialann Anama’ and numerous articles in literary magazines. He has also written a number of one-act plays and has broadcast often on both radio and television.

Hugh’s poetry has been included in the literature courses at Northern Ireland GCSE A’Level and Queen’s University, Belfast.

Who is Jesus?

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Peter Bates has been a Christian since 1977. He has been involved in traditional, charismatic and evangelical churches in the ensuing 45+ years. His Christian service has included youth work, Bible teaching, preaching, creation apologetics and pro-life campaigning, as well as general membership of small church pastoral groups. His secular career has involved financial consultancy, secondary mathematics education and software development. In 1989 he obtained a First Class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His personal interests are many and varied. As a young man he was an enthusiastic supporter of Newcastle United and football in general; and a keen listener to many types of pop and rock music. He has a long standing interest in politics, religion and history and is a keen chess player. This is the second book he has written. His first book, “You can Believe This”, was published in 2007, and described the message of the Bible for those with little or no knowledge of Christianity.

From Flaxmills to Vineyards

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This is the story of a parish, a family, a young man’s progress from roller man in a flax mill, at age 14, to the vineyards of New Zealand. Now at age 85 Frank’s story covers the years from the start of WW II to the present day. It is also a reminder of how the drinks business – wholesale and retail – coped with and survived the Troubles.

Born in 1930s Mid Ulster, Frank McGreevey looks back on a life that was lived to the full by seeing and getting the best out of the people he met along the way. After a near idyllic upbringing on a small farm, real life kicked off in the swinging 60s of Belfast. Whether sensible or not, Frank took on challenges which could have been disastrous, but inevitably led to better opportunities. Risks like renting a run-down pub in Co Down in his early 20s or moving to Ballymena and beginning a sales career which lasted nearly 40 years. Then building brands under the Guinness banner, visiting wine producing countries on business, from Europe to South Africa to America to New Zealand. Or getting married in the early 60s, raising a family of four – which now extends to 10 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. Definitely a life well lived.

No more porridge in Papertown

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The origin of this book was a project undertaken in 1984 by a senior class in Fairview Primary School on the history of paper making in Ballyclare. Not a lot was known then about the industry by most people in the town. However, driven by the pupils’ natural curiosity and persistence in asking questions about the topic from former workers in the mill, older relatives and friends and neighbours, a surprising amount of information in the form of memories, documents and photographs of the paper mill was uncovered. These form the basis of what appears in the following pages.

Facts and statistics relating to the production of paper products at the mill can astound modern readers. Consider the vast quantities of water drawn from the Six Mile Water in a year, or the tonnage of coal and wood cellulose delivered to the mill by the narrow-gauge railway towards the end of the nineteenth century. In the modern economic climate, where so many products are imported into Britain from Asia, it is surprising to learn that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries large quantities of paper manufactured in Ballyclare were regularly exported to East Asia, China and South America. Dare one ask how many people from the town nowadays would be aware of the connection between paper made in Ballyclare and the establishment in Dublin in the 1920s of the Gaelic Athletic Association? All will be revealed here.

In the 1980s paper from the mill was still to be found in the most unusual places in Ballyclare and in use for curious functions. Rolls of paper turned up in the recesses of cupboards and drawers. Apparently, sheets of paper had been ‘diverted’ from the mill’s supplies to serve as what was known locally as a ‘Ballyclare Tablecloth’. A section of a ‘couch roll’ salvaged from a process in the mill was found still in use in 1984 as protection for the surface of a drawing room table.

This is the latest local history book authored by Jack McKinney. As with his previous books, he delivers a carefully constructed history with deftness and subtlety.

City of Mann

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The Great Sentient Cities.
Unmatched in intellect. . .
Unparalleled in size. . .

On the planet of the Sentient Cities, City of Mann is by all accounts an ordinary city. Leaving his home for Epicurea where he gets his first job as an intern at CitiCorp, life as a grown up City could not be any better. But as the questions of existence begin to take their toll, his Ruler, Politicians, and often silly Citizens within the walls of his facade are pushed to the brink.

In a gentle little tale of epic proportions, leave the constraints of time and space far behind as you traverse the enchanting realm of Citykind – where every moment is a tapestry of fun, sadness, and the inexplicably odd. And as he grapples with the whimsical and the poignant, philosophy and faith, join Mann as he questions the very meaning of life and is shown the purpose and provision of the wonderfully strange place he calls his home.

Life by Design

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Life by Design is a guide to overcoming anxiety and living your best life using interior design principles. With her real-life experience and down-to-earth approach, Interior Designer and Life Coach Emma Quinn shares the story of how she struggled with

anxiety, insomnia, and birth trauma after her daughter was born.

As a Designer, Emma explains how she works with clients to enhance the form, function, and flow of their homes. Her design work involves space planning and balancing colour, texture, furniture, and lighting to create beautiful spaces that her clients have grown to love. Interior Design is a true passion for Emma and she describes her personal style as ‘Classic Contemporary.’ She loves challenges that help her to create outside her comfort zone.

A few years ago, she created her Design Manifesto. Emma explains: “It is basically a list of twelve principles which help inform and guide me through my work as a designer.”

To the outside world, everything was great for Emma. She had the perfect family, the perfect career. She was building her ideal family house so surely, she had the perfect life?

Except she didn’t; far from it.

Emma: “I was suffering in silence with severe anxiety and insomnia. I felt like I was on edge all the time, like I couldn’t relax or something bad might happen. I was having constant flashbacks about my daughter’s traumatic birth, and could not shake the feelings of guilt, and of being utterly helpless and out of control.

“I continued to struggle for eight months before reaching the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

From there Emma seeks to turn life around. She explains in this uplifting book how she applied principles from her work as an Interior Designer to her everyday life to help her overcome these issues and how you can do the same. This beautifully illustrated book will make you laugh, inspire you, and motivate you to overcome any challenges that have been holding you back from living your best life. Get ready to design and live the life you truly deserve.

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. 

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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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