Máire Malone is a Dublin born and bred author and poet who began writing at an early age. When she moved to the UK as an adult she studied Arts and Psychology and followed a career in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
The first seed of Hungry Trails was sown when a poem called Great People of the Irish Famine was published in Vision On, an anthology of selected poetry judged by English poet, Katherine Pierpoint, in 2005. A selection of poems and short stories have been prizewinners.
Máire's debut novel, The Dream Circle, was selected as a finalist in the Eyelands International Book Awards, 2019. Hungry Trails is her second novel.
She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband.
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Hungry Trails is a historical fiction story set in Attymass in Co. Mayo. The narrator is sixteen-year-old Julie Foley. It is 1847 and potato famine has impoverished Ireland. Corpses of men, women and children lie strewn across the ditches and fields, having dropped like flies from fever, exhaustion and starvation. Thanks to the generosity of the hedge schoolmaster and his wife, Julie and her family are given a lifesaving opportunity to emigrate to North America. But first they must survive the journey aboard one of the 'coffin ships' where thousands of their countrymen and women have perished before them.
Since childhood, Julie has yearned to become a teacher. Can Fionn McDonagh, the young Irish rebel and poet, persuade Julie to hold on to her dream despite the squalid conditions on board the Elizabeth and Sarah? Will Julie's faith keep her dream alive when her family settle in the working-class district of Griffintown in Montreal, and the only chance of earning a shilling is working in domestic service? Can Julie's dream of a teaching career survive as she toils under the cruel eyes of her employer, a wealthy Northern Irish widow who owns a mansion on Mount Royal?
As a tiny flower can take root and thrive between concrete slabs, Hungry Trails celebrates the resilience of the human condition.
As a tiny flower can take root and thrive between concrete slabs, 'Hungry Trails' celebrates the resilience of the human condition.
Book Excerpt or Article
I wrote the following article as background research while writing Hungry Trails.
Researching for Hungry Trails led me to write the following article.
From The Penal Laws to Irish Freedom
The effect of Phytophthora infestans resulted in the failure of the potato crop in the mid 1840s. However, in order to understand why the Irish famine almost halved the population, (one million died of starvation and fever, two million emigrated in search of better lives elsewhere) we need to know about the Penal laws of 1695. Irish people were impoverished by these laws long before the potato blight. Ireland stood in the shadow of Britain’s power for centuries. From the reign of Henry V111 and Elizabeth 1 to the invasion by Oliver Cromwell, Britain’s power over Ireland continued to crush the Irish people.
The Irish Penal Laws of 1695 stripped the Catholic Irish of religious freedoms and much of their land.
The following laws were implemented:
Any practice of Catholicism and communication in the Gaelic language was forbidden and termed as rebellious against the powers of Britain.
Catholic priests were banished.
Catholic schools were banned and Catholics were forced to pay a tithe towards the upkeep of the Anglican Church.
Teachers who dared to teach their students their religious beliefs in the Gaelic tongue did so in remote areas, hidden from the Protestant English.
The suppression of religious and cultural practices of Irish Catholics were some of Britain’s strategies that contributed to the weakening of Irish people.
Under the Penal Laws, Catholics could not hold commission in the army
Enter a profession, study law or medicine
They were not permitted to own a horse worth more than five pounds
Catholics could not possess weaponry or arms
Could not speak or read Gaelic or play Irish music.
The Popery Act of 1703 passed by the British Parliament forbade Catholics to pass down their land to their eldest son. Landowners were required to distribute the land equally amongst all sons.
Land became a tool used to bribe the Irish Catholics to convert to Protestantism. A Catholic eldest son was allowed full inheritance rights if he changed his religion.
Tension between Catholics and Protestants continued throughout the century, resulting in the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland in 1680 and the Williamite War in Ireland in 1689 between the Jacobites (supporters of King James 11) and the Williamites (supporters of the Dutch Protestant, Prince William of Orange). Following a year of bloodshed, the Williamite army claimed victory. Prince William was crowned as King of England. James 11 was eliminated and Protestant England was restored.
On the cover of my novel, Hungry Trails, are five wild geese soaring away from Ireland. I chose this as a historical symbol of those Jacobites who were allowed to leave for France with their families, an act known as The Flight of the Wild Geese.
One of the main effects of the Penal Laws was emigration from the Irish land. Many Irish Catholics as well as Protestants, fled Ireland in search of a better life elsewhere, often to other areas such as England, Wales, Scotland or to the Americas.
The Penal Laws physically and psychologically drained the Irish Catholics and drove them out of their native land. Those who remained formed a new wave of Irish nationalism that carried them through their many struggles and hardships, eventually, towards independence and freedom.
I leave the last word with Liam MacUistin,
"We Saw A Vision"
In the darkness of despair we saw a vision,
We lit the light of hope and it was not extinguished.
In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision.
We planted the tree of valour and it blossomed.
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision.
We melted the snow of lethargy and the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river. The vision became a reality.
Winter became summer. Bondage became freedom and this we left to you as your inheritance.
O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision.
Saoirse (freedom in the Irish language) in the aisling in the Garden of Remembrance.
In Irish the poem reads:
I ndorchacht an éadóchais rinneadh aisling dúinn.
Lasamar solas an dóchais agus níor múchadh é.
I bhfásach an lagmhisnigh rinneadh aisling dúinn.
Chuireamar crann na crógachta agus tháinig bláth air.
I ngeimhreadh na daoirse rinneadh aisling dúinn.
Mheileamar sneachta na táimhe agus rith abhainn na hathbheochana as.
Chuireamar ár n-aisling ag snámh mar eala ar an abhainn. Rinneadh fírinne den aisling.
Rinneadh samhradh den gheimhreadh. Rinneadh saoirse den daoirse agus d'fhágamar agaibhse mar oidhreacht í.
A ghlúnta na saoirse cuimhnígí orainne, glúnta na haislinge.
In May, 2011, this poem was read at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin in the presence of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 11, who laid a wreath in memory of those who died in the struggle for Irish freedom.
Howell, Samantha, ‘’From Oppression to Nationalism: The Irish Penal laws of 1695’’
MacUistin, Liam, ‘’We Saw a Vision’’ and ‘’An Aisling’’
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