It took seven years to write, but then when you’re a mother of a growing family, and you only get to write when they’re gone to bed, that’s how these things go.
Ann MacMillan is the mother of eight children and the grandmother of 17.
When she first got married, after a spell as an air hostess, she was, needless to say, a very busy lady. But a love of writing, and of horses prompted her to take pen to paper.
“It took me almost seven years,” she explained. “I was pretty busy!” she adds.
That first book ‘Heather Goes Hunting’ was a great success.
It was published through Alan Figgis (of Hodges Figgis fame). Ann had sent the manuscript off, but it was six months before she heard from Figgis who said he would publish it.
“Ponies were a huge part of a young person’s life at the time,” she notes, “although that has changed now.”
Heather is the name of her eldest daughter, and the names of her other children populate the book, and a follow-up, just published ‘Heather in Summer’.
It’s not exactly a sequel to the first book, although it contains many of the same characters.
At about the same time, she was approached by the Leinster Leader to write a series of articles.
“I was told to do it in a series of interviews. Horse racing was what I knew, so that’s what I wrote about.”
Her enviable contacts in the horse racing industry stood her in good stead at this point, leading her to interview the likes of the owners of Grand National winners, the Mexican ambassador and the actor Tom Hickey (famous at the time for his role in the Riordans).
Having lived in Rathasker for many years, Ann now lives in Kilcullen, and enjoys her extended family.
She’s also working on a collection of writings under the interesting title of ‘My Accidental Memoirs’. “It’s not necessarily about me,” she explained.
At the moment, Heather in Summer is available in “all good book shops”, and is, the publishers note: “a delightful book for children, but many adults will also enjoy it as it captures so well the Ireland of it’s time.”