Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Kelegeen by Eileen O'Finlan | Blog Tour with Guest Post and Giveaway

by Eileen O'Finlan

About Kelegeen

Historical Fiction
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc. (March 1, 2018)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN-10: 0228600294
ISBN-13: 978-0228600299
Kindle ASIN: B07B52K2TB
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Ireland 1846

Meg O’Connor, daughter of poor Irish cottiers, eagerly anticipates her wedding to Rory Quinn. Her dreams of marriage and family vanish along with Ireland’s potato crop when Kelegeen’s inhabitants awaken one morning to find their sole source of food destroyed by blight. 
At first Meg and Rory are able to use their skills, hers of sewing and his of wood carving, to provide for themselves and their families. But tragedy and a costly mistake end those means of survival forcing them into more dangerous ventures. 
As An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, continues to churn through Ireland ravaging the country’s peasantry with no let up in sight, Meg is compelled to make the most difficult decision of her life. What she chooses could be the salvation of the O’Connor and Quinn families or it could separate her forever from all she knows and loves.

About The Guest Post


Since I was young, I've had a fascination with Ireland. My mother is half Irish. Though I am also German, French, and Native American, it is the Irish with which I have always most strongly identified.

I was first formally introduced to An Gorta Mór (the Great Hunger) in a high school history class. There it was referred to as the Irish Potato Famine, though the Irish never call it that. I wrote a paper on it for that class which was my first foray into research on the Great Hunger. I still remember one of the books I read to prepare for that paper. It was called Paddy's Lament by Thomas Gallagher. That book brought to life the horrors of An Gorta Mór in a way that has haunted me ever since.

Many years later, while working on my undergraduate degree in history, I again found myself studying An Gorta Mór as part of an Irish history course. My professor, a man who believed strongly in bringing as much creativity as possible into the learning experience, gave me the assignment of pretending that I was a parish priest in Ireland at the time of the Great Hunger. I was to keep a diary as that priest, noting all the daily occurrences of “my” parishioners. This assignment was given so that I would go beyond the political, financial, socioeconomic realm, and delve deeply into the lives of the people living through this great tragedy. It made it personal. The people who lived and died during the Great Hunger could no longer be statistics on a page for me, but real people who suffered, struggled, sometimes died, sometimes survived, but who were once as real in this world as I am now.

I relished that assignment, heart-wrenching as it often was, because it gave me greater insight into the lives of real people at a specific time in history. I've never been able to tolerate history as nothing but names, dates, and big events, important as those may be. People make up history. People are embedded in it. It is their stories that give it life.

When I finished the assignment, I realized I had the bones of a novel. I had been writing for years, my fondest dream to become a novelist, so this revelation was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. After many years and several rewrites, the simple diary became the novel, Kelegeen.

Though I wasn't thinking of it during the writing of Kelegeen, I remembered later that my own Irish ancestors came to America to escape An Gorta Mór. The story I wrote could have been their story. I hope I have done my brave, resilient ancestors proud.

About Eileen O'Finlan

Eileen O’Finlan calls her writing “history with a twist” because she is intrigued by the unusual and little known aspects of history – the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two. Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides with her 93-year-old mother and two cats.

Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio. She is proud to say that Pope Francis owns a copy of her debut novel, Kelegeen. Erin's Children, the sequel to Kelegeen, will be released by BWL Publishing, Inc. in December of 2020.

Author Links






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