My Kildare Life interview with Newbridge author Maria McDonald

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Sarah Peppard

Reporter:

Sarah Peppard

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sarah.peppard@leinsterleader.ie

My Kildare Life interview with Newbridge author Maria McDonald

Maria McDonald

Maria is an author from Newbridge, originally from Belfast.

Maria move to  Newbridge in 1976. She is  the eldest of nine. Her parents, Ernie and Mary McMullen, were well known in GAA circles. Her mother, born in Newbridge, Co Derry, died in 2002 and is buried in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Her dad still lives in Pairc Mhuire. In 1982, she married a  Kildare man Gerry.

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST KILDARE MEMORY?

My first memory of County Kildare is from 1973 when we stayed with my uncle’s family

in Pairc Mhuire for our annual summer holiday. We played endless games of rounders on the Curragh, had picnics by the Liffey and had so much fun we repeated the experience for the next three years.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT KILDARE?

Having the Curragh plains on our doorstep is amazing. For walks, cycles, picnics, it is a great facility.

Kildare’s proximity to Dublin is a great advantage. A forty-minute train journal can bring you into the heart of the city and easy access to its museums and theatres. Most of all, Kildare is so central to the rest of the country. An hour’s drive can bring you to Wicklow and its mountains or take the M9 to Waterford and its beaches. Everything else you need is in Kildare.

WHAT’S YOUR IDEAL DAY SPENT IN KILDARE?

It was only when my daughter brought her Cuban-American in-laws to visit that I realised how much we had to offer. We started with a walk by the Liffey. Newbridge Tidy Towns have done trojan work in that area.

It is a credit to them and deserves a special word of thanks. Restaurant Carlton in Newbridge Silverware for breakfast was followed by their factory tour and a look around the Museum of Style Icons. Then it was over to Kildare to the Japanese Gardens and National Stud, followed by an hour in Kildare village (I’m not a shopper but they liked it).

We drove back to Newbridge on a lovely spring evening and they enthused over lambs and greenery and the natural beauty we take for granted. We had a lovely dinner then into our local, O’Rourke’s Bar on the main street, where they were entertained by local trad musicians and pints of Guinness. They went back to Miami singing the praises of Kildare.

FAVOURITE KILDARE RESTAURANT?

If Gerry and I are going out to eat, our favourite restaurant in Newbridge is All Seasons on Limerick Lane. The Inn at Milltown is great for Sunday lunch while Crean’s Place in Kilcullen or Chat and Chew in Newbridge are great for Saturday brunch.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR WORK AS AN AUTHOR?

I am an avid reader and I love to write but the opportunity to indulge in writing fiction only came to me in recent years. With my family reared and my work-life curtailed due to health issues, I turned to writing to fill my days. I have had several stories published in Woman’s Way magazine and in Ireland’s Own. 

My first novel, Charlie Mac, is the fictionalised biography of my great grandfather, Charlie McMullen whose headstone in Milltown Cemetery on the Falls Road, reads ‘murdered for his faith’. I am currently seeking representation for my second manuscript Riverdale House and am working on the next, The Devil is Dead, a dual storyline set in the Curragh Camp 100 years apart.

Ink Tank Creative Writing Group was set up in November 2018 and in October 2019 we published our first anthology of short stories, memoir and poetry, Timeless in Kildare.

Thanks to the sponsorship and support from Kildare County Arts Service and Life Credit Union we were able to cover most of the printing costs so any profits from sales are going directly to St. Brigid’s Hospice and Homecare Services. Timeless in Kildare is available for sale in Farrell & Nephew, Newbridge and Woodbine Books in Kilcullen, as well as the Cottage Market in Newbridge town hall.