38-year-old Conner O’Rourke returns to Inis Mór, a wild, windswept little island some 30 miles off the West Coast of Ireland, hoping to re-unite with the only woman he has ever really loved. His advertising agency in Sydney is going broke, the bank is foreclosing on his mortgage and he’s hearing poetic voices in his mind urging him to return to the land of his birth. His grandmother, whom he hasn’t seen in years, has written, saying that she's ill and must speak with him. But when he arrives she’s already passed, leaving him a cottage and a dilapidated old sailing boat. A mysterious seaman appears and offers to help him rebuild the boat and, as they work together, the old man tells Conner stories of Ireland. Stories of romance, courage, mystery and passion, stories that could change Conner’s life forever if he can only understand the message - If you’re looking for an engrossing romantic mystery, that will have you burning the midnight oil, don’t miss: 'The Storyteller of Inis Mór'. A riveting story of lost love, mystery and redemption. Frank O'Shea, literary critic for The Australian Irish Echo wrote: "O’Raleigh’s book: The Storyteller of Inis Mor, reminds one of the great Irish writers such as Sean O’Faolain and Benedict Kiely”.
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Brian O’Raleigh was born into an Irish family in 1941 in the English seaside resort town of Blackpool. He attended St Joseph’s College, Lytham, until the age of 14 when he was expelled for fighting with a Christian brother. At the age of eighteen, accused of being involved in an IRA threat on Blackpool Tower, he emigrated to Australia, just a few steps ahead of the English law. Arriving in Sydney he worked at a dozen different occupations including, salesman, construction worker, driver, bulldozer operator, factory worker, steel fixer, and for a short time only, sailor! After his first wife, Jean, left him with their daughter, Kathleen, he realized that his drinking was out of control and volunteered for the 6-Day-War in Israel in a desperate attempt to do something decent with his life. He met his second wife, Carol, in Tel Aviv, and for a little while, he managed to control his drinking. But on returning to London a year later, he immediately became involved in nightclub life of ‘The Swinging Sixties’, and, as his alcoholism progressed, he became more involved in crime and the associated violence. A year later, after launching a gang assault on the Earls Court police station, in a failed attempt to free a friend, he was forced to flee England once again, and, with police alerts at all International Airports in the UK, he managed to bribe the skipper of a small, French fishing boat to take him to Calais. Carol met up with him later and together they journeyed through France, Germany, Austria, Belgrade, Bulgaria, Turkey, crossing the Bosphorus at Istanbul, before traveling through Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan then through the Khyber Pass to Pakistan and then on into India, before arriving back in Australia broke, disillusioned and angry. A year later, still running from reality, Brian and his wife began building a deep sea sailing boat hoping that this would set him free from the alcoholism he had so despised in his father. But after 4 years of frustration and failed promises and, with Carol about to leave him, he realized one day that the boat would never be completed and he suffered a major collapse and became suicidal. This proved to be the catalyst that began his recovery and Brian never took another drink. Brian and his wife Kadek, both passionate readers and writers, now live at Bondi Beach, Sydney, Aust.Review:
Fantasy books and stories about the paranormal have become popular in a big way in recent years. The Twilight series and The Game of Thrones craze are obvious examples and there does not seem to be any falling off in demand. Brian O’Raleigh’s latest book belongs to the fringe of this genre. Although we are mercifully spared any vampires or werewolves there are shadowy people and those with unusual insights. The central character is Conner O’Rourke, owner of an advertising agency in Sydney. Aged 38 he is a middle-class alcoholic whose wife has left him, taking their seven year old son with her. Conner is trying to hold off the insistent demands of his creditors who are threatening to bankrupt him. He receives a letter from his grandmother, a woman he has only vague childhood memories of. She is living on the Aran island that gives the book its name and asks to see him before she dies. Conner returns to Ireland and meets a mysterious old seaman who helps him fix up a boat which was left to him in his grandmother’s will. The main part of the book describes the relationship between these two men, with the growing realisation by Conner of the shallowness of his life. The old man explains the ancient Irish tradition of the seanachai, (the storyteller). “That’s why the stories are so powerful. They not only tell us who we are, they tell us of who we once were, and that reminds us that we can be so much more than we are today.” A story such as this, with elements of the supernatural, does not need to follow the laws of logic or of sequence. Nevertheless it is very much in the tradition of Irish storytelling, with strong, vibrant prose that reminds of writers such as Sean O’Faolain and Benedict Kiely. There is a sympathy and affection for the island people and their lifestyle. There is nothing here that is either patronising or condescending; indeed the central theme of the book is the contrast between the simplicity of island life and the merciless chase after prosperity in a city such as Sydney. This is a well written story, a reminder of what the Irish people lost when they traded their tradition of storytelling and poems for the hunt for money and possessions. Frank O’Shea. The Australian Irish Echo. January 15 - 2015
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