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It’s been an incredible year for Irish writers. Some of the most heartwarming, hilarious and honest reads have been released this year, including Once, Twice Three Times an Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen and Overcoming by Vicky Phelan with Naomi Linehan.

We have teamed up with the wonderful people at the An Post Irish Book Awards to give one bookworm the dream prize. We have six of the best Irish fiction books up for grabs and you’re in for a real treat. All of these books have been nominated for the National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year category.

The books include:

Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen (Gill Books)

Filter This – Sophie White (Hachette Ireland)

Postscript – Cecelia Ahern (HarperFiction)

When All is Said – Anne Griffin (Hodder & Stoughton)

Schmidt Happens – Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)

Seven Letters – Sinéad Moriarty (Penguin Ireland)

To be in with a chance of winning this incredible prize then head over to our Instagram account here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to the widest range of readers possible.

Each year it brings together a huge community passionate about books – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise the very best of Irish writing talent across sixteen categories, including Novel of the Year, Children’s, Cookery, Crime Fiction, Popular Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports, Short Story, Poetry, Teen and Young Adult and Irish Language.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

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Bookworks, the airwaves are set to get a hell of a lot more interesting. Sunday evenings will once again come alive with literary debate on RTÉ Radio 1 with the return of The Book Show this December, with new presenter Rick O'Shea at the helm. 

Rick, an avid bookworm, has said he considers his upcoming role presenting the show to be "the job of a lifetime".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Book Show, which will be broadcast on Sunday evenings, will also produce extra content which will be available to listeners via podcast. The show celebrates books and the world of writing with readings, discussion, author interviews and special features

"I run the largest book club in Ireland, The Rick O'Shea Book Club on Facebook, with 28,000 members. I'm a lifelong obsessive reader and have been immersed in the book world for the last five or six years, doing interviews with authors at arts festivals and book reviews on radio, so this is the logical culmination of all those things" Rick O'Shea said.

Rick has been a broadcaster with RTÉ since 2001. He was previously on RTÉ 2FM and presented RTÉ  Radio 1’s The Poetry Programme. Rick currently presents weekday mornings on RTÉ Gold.

The last season of The Book Show featured authors John Boyne, Eimear McBride, Eoin Colfer and Liz Nugent,  who each guest-presented programmes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Book Show will return to RTÉ Radio 1 on December 8 from 19.00-19.30pm for three weeks. 

A Christmas Day Special of The Book Show will be broadcast at 17.00-18.00pm on RTÉ Radio 1 on December 25.

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As we approach the festive season, we’ve started to think about Christmas presents. What should we buy our little sister, our mum, our neighbour, our best friend? One of the best things to give a loved one is a book. It’s a personal and touching gift that always goes down well.

We have already started scouting out presents for our nearest and dearest, and Charlie Mackesy’s book is at the very top of our list.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Meet the Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, four unlikely friends, and the creation of artist Charlie Mackesy. You may have seen these four friends already – they’ve been shared thousands of times online, inspiring all who come across them with their life lessons of hope, kindness and friendship.

Charlie has amassed over 120,000 global followers on his Instagram where he shares daily posts of the conversations between his characters. His illustration have brought joy to thousands of people – his illustrations ‘help’ and ‘kind’ have been shared over 1,000,000 times around the world.

Charlie commented, “My hope is that the book goes some way to helping people live more courageously, more honestly and with more love for themselves and others.”

For adults and children alike, this is Ebury Publishing’s 2019 gift book of the year.

Have a look at some of the stunning illustrations featured in Charlie’s book. We can guarantee you’ll be flying out the door to your nearest bookstore to pick up a copy of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse:

You can pick up a copy of Charlie’s book here.

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Once in a while we are blessed with a book that transforms your life for the better and this year that book is Everyday Ubuntu by Desmond Tutu’s granddaughter, Mungi Ngomane.

This book will capture readers interested in ancient wisdom and personal development. It shares a warm, inspirational message of togetherness for a divided and fragmented world.

Ubuntu is an ancient South African philosophy that says, ‘I am only because you are.’ It is the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others. By embracing Ubuntu it’s possible to overcome division in a world where the wise build bridges, not walls.

Exploring ideas of kindness and forgiveness, tolerance and the power of listening, Everyday Ubuntu shows how we can all benefit from embracing others. Including practical applications and mindful exercises, it is an inspirational guide to a more fulfilling life as part of the large family to which we all belong.

In Everyday Ubuntu you’ll discover 14 simple and engaging lessons with clear takeaways and reflections that will help us all to live better, together.

Read an extract of Everyday Ubuntu below:

1. Accept the situation. This is the way you’re feeling, so honour it – cry and release your emotions. Ubuntu tells us that we need to take care of ourselves and be honest about our feelings. This helps to identify why you’re feeling hopeless. Is it because of a recent upset? Or is it a long-term struggle? Whatever it is, naming the reasons for your feelings will help you to release them. 

2. Take action. Some call it ‘wallowing’ but hopelessness can easily feel like a spiral into which you’re sucked and out of which it is impossible to pull yourself. You feel lethargic, unmotivated and in despair. Listen to your internal dialogue. It might contain phrases such as, ‘but I can’t’, ‘there’s no point’ or ‘I’ve already tried’. The first step is turning those words around and changing every negative into a positive. Say these new phrases out loud – ‘I can’, ‘I won’t give up’ and ‘I’ll try again’ all send a powerful message to our subconscious. 

3. Live in the present moment. Do something to make yourself feel better physically, even if you’re struggling mentally – the two are linked. A long brisk walk, calling a positive friend, eating wholesome food. These are all small things we can do to help change our immediate concerns. Worrying is wishing for what you don’t want to happen, so don’t agonize over the future. Focus on the present. Do anything that takes you out of yourself, even if it’s just for a few moments. 

4. Write a gratitude list. Ubuntu shows us that we all have something for which to be grateful, so now is the time to examine the good stuff in detail. You might be thankful for your physical health, your family, caring friends, the delicious cup of coffee you’re drinking. Name the things you feel good about right now. It’s an exercise that will shift your mood, energetically and quickly. 

5. Set goals. If you’ve reached a place of desperate hopelessness, you need to put in work each day to overcome the feeling. Get going by setting yourself new goals, and begin with very small ones – incremental and easy-to-achieve steps. 

If you’ve lost your job, start by reaching out to trusted contacts for advice, then build up to looking at job adverts before applying for positions. If you’ve been ditched by a partner, give yourself time to grieve and talk things through with a counsellor or friend. Allow yourself space to heal before even thinking about dating again. If you’re in despair because you’ve gained weight, find a simple exercise app to inspire you, build up the amount of exercise you do every day, find a workout buddy, then look at food plans to help you make a bigger transformation. Small steps help hope to gather momentum. 

6. Find your faith. This could be a long-term goal that evolves over time. It doesn’t have to be a religious faith, but having faith in something you can trust is something everyone needs. It could be faith in your abilities or your choices. You could put your faith in going for a daily run to improve your mental health or in eating nutritious food so that you have energy for the day. 

Build some of these hopeful ideas into a new daily routine. They’ll bolster you and give you an inner strength and hope on which to rely when things become difficult.

Everyday Ubuntu by Mungi Ngomane is published by Penguin. You can order your copy here.

 

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Opening up about mental health struggles is quite a nerve wrecking thing because there are still so many people who will judge you and your issues.

We have made major strides in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in recent years and that is thanks to the plethora of people who proudly share their own stories and experiences.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Authors like Matt Haig, Claire Eastham and Bryony Gordon have helped encouraged their readers to be more open about mental health because there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Millions of us struggle with our mental health, even celebrities like Sam Smith, Emilia Clarke and Naomi Campbell do, who are amongst a huge group of stars who will share their personal stories in Scarlett Curtis’s book It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The writer’s second book will be published by Penguin Hardback on October 3, 2019. 75 empowering figures will share what mental health means to them in the collection of essays.

Contributors include Elizabeth Day, Davina McCall, Simon Amstell, Miranda Hart, Lena Dunham, Gemma Styles, Jessie Cave, Ben Platt, Dawn O’ Porter, Adam Kay and Martha Lane Fox.

The Feminists Don’t Wear Pink author said, “I think more than anything I made this book for myself. Not for me now but for 19-year-old me. The me that decided that she didn’t want to be alive anymore. The me that felt so alone. The me that felt so ashamed.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Scarlett added, “All the royalties are going to the INCREDIBLE @giveusashoutinsta – the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text line in partnership with Sussex Royal.”

You can pre order your copy here.

Feature Image: Instagram/scarcurtis

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Eleanor Segall has penned a book about what it is really like to live with bipolar disorder. The inspirational author’s book Bring Me To Light is bound to open your eyes about a disorder that affects so many people across the globe.

Eleanor spoke to Shemazing about mental illness, becoming a published author and opening up about her personal struggles and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 16.

Having dreamed of being a writer since she was a kid, seeing her book for sale is a true pinch me moment for Eleanor. “I couldn't dream that I would write a book of my life story or its circumstances at 31. When I was ill in 2014, I knew I wanted to share my story to help people with bipolar disorder and mental health conditions. Helping others is the reason I have written the book and why I kept going with it. I want to break the stigma bipolar and particularly psychosis has. It is such an honour to be published and Trigger seemed like the perfect home for my book.”

In her book, Eleanor opens up about extremely personal moments in her life, including the manic episode that led to her being sectioned in 2014. The writer said being so open was the toughest part of the writing process, but she knows these stories will educate readers about mental illnesses.

“Mental illness can happen to anyone (there is no stereotype) and that it is not anyone's fault. I hope [the book] helps people in their own recovery, knowing you can achieve and recover despite chronic mental illness and you can do the things you want to do, even if its harder to do at times.

Eleanor stressed, “You can be brought to light again after darkness- illness or difficulty. Recovery is possible and you should never give up hope.”

One of the most difficult moments in Eleanor’s life was when she experienced mania and psychosis, “I was sectioned in 2014. I had to be restrained and injected with haloperidol (anti psychotic med) against my will, to calm me down. Living on a ward for four months wasn’t easy as everyone was so ill but it has all made me who I am and made me reach to be as well as possible.”

Despite the lows, Eleanor has always remained hopeful about her recovery, stressing that it is more than possible.

“Bipolar disorder is a chronic, serious and life threatening condition that can run in families but it also makes us more creative and determined to try harder. 

“Having bipolar is not the end if it can be managed well, but it does cause suicidal ideation and mania or hypomania and it can be a difficult one to treat at times. Never forget that recovery is possible.”

You can read more about Eleanor’s personal story in her debut novel Bring Me To Light. 

Bring Me To Light by Eleanor Segall is published on November 5. The eye-opening and beautifully honest read will become one of the most beloved books of Winter 2019.

Bring Me To Light is published by Trigger Publishing, part of the Shaw Mind Foundation.

You can order a copy here.

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The release of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood is one of the biggest literary moments of the year. Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale author have been awaiting this release forever and it’s safe to say they will not be disappointed.

It has already been shortlisted for The Book Prize 2019 and it hasn’t even hit bookshops yet.

Chair of Booker Judges, Peter Florence said, “[It is] a savage and beautiful novel, and it speaks to us today, all around the world, with particular conviction and power… The bar is set particularly high for Atwood and she soars over it… I can’t wait for everyone to read it.”

The Testaments will answer everything readers have wanted to know about Gilead and its inner workings. Atwood said, “The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in,” so there’s no doubt this tale with hit home, especially for female readers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Atwood brings the iconic Handmaid’s Tale story to a dramatic conclusion in this gripping sequel. More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood will cement itself in the literary world and become one of the most iconic books of our time.

Published by Penguin on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

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People who open up about their mental health struggles are a true inspiration. Speaking about those raw and brutal disorders can feel impossible, but talking about them is one of the best ways to beat the stigma.

One person who knows this all too well is writer Eleanor Segall, who has penned a book about her life with Bipolar 1 disorder.

Her book Bring Me To Light tells the true story of how Eleanor got her life back on track and turned a devastating illness into a life-changing opportunity to do good.

In Bring Me To Light, we first meet Eleanor as her life was beginning. She had everything going for her; an aspiring actress and a family girl, she never thought her future would be derailed by mental illness. 

After a spate of depressive and manic episodes, panic attacks and social anxiety, Eleanor found herself in The Priory at the age of 16.

The diagnosis? Bipolar I disorder.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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But Eleanor didn’t let it stop her for long. Now a successful blogger, journalist, and pillar of the mental health and Jewish communities, she writes about finding recovery and hope after being unwell. Her story of picking herself back up again and surviving against the odds will resonate with many – and it can help you find that light in the darkness too.

Eleanor Segall is a freelance writer and journalist, mental health blogger and advocate. She has lived with bipolar and anxiety disorders since her diagnosis at just 16-years-old. Her mission is to increase understanding and end the stigma around mental illness. 

Eleanor blogs for mental health charities such as Time to Change, Mind and SANE, and has written for publications including Metro.co.uk, The Telegraph, Glamour and Happiful Magazine and Happiful.com. 

Her own blog, Be Ur Own Light, was recently listed as a Top 10 UK Mental health blog by Vuelio. Eleanor is a frequent radio guest-speaker on mental health, and has recorded several podcasts. Additionally, she volunteers with the charity Jami, the (Jewish Association of Mental Illness) in London.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bring Me To Light by Eleanor Segall is published on November 5. The eye-opening and beautifully honest read will become one of the most beloved books of Winter 2019.

Bring Me To Light is published by Trigger Publishing, part of the Shaw Mind Foundation.

You can order a copy here.

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The Hunger Games books were a massive part of my childhood so it’s safe to say my heart skipped a beat when I found out that author Suzanne Collins has penned a prequel to the bestselling series.

The name of the book has yet to be released and it is currently referred to as Untitled Panem Novel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The untitled prequel will be set 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games. The tale will take place in Panem on the morning of the reaping of the tenth Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collins opened up about the fourth installment in the beloved series that had readers gripped in the early noughties.

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Photo: Tumblr

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period ten years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

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We can’t wait to get our hands on a copy of The Hunger Games prequel.

The book is set to be published on May 19, 2020.

Feature Image: Favim

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Normal People quickly became one of the most beloved books since it was first published in 2018.

The book has kept people entertained on their long commutes to work. It has been enjoyed by readers lounging on a beach in Spain. Bookworms have gotten lost in the pages as they drank an early morning cup of coffee. Readers have kept it next to them on their nightstand and failed to go to bed on time because they were so wrapped up in the tale.

It has been sitting merrily at the top of bookshelves all around the world, especially here in Dublin, where the story itself takes place.

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It has received heaps of love, praise and adoration from readers and critics alike from every corner of the globe so it’ll come as no surprise to hear that author Sally Rooney has won the top prize at the Britsh Book Awards.

The Irish writer’s second novel was crowned book of the year at the prestigious awards, beating former First Lady Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sally, who was unable to attend the awards, was described by the judges as a “generational talent.”

The best-selling author gushed about the honour: "It's an enormous privilege and an honour for me to receive the overall Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

"I want to say thank you, specifically, because I feel I had an extraordinary lucky experience with this book.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"I've received such enormous support and generosity from my own publisher, Faber & Faber, of course, and also from the bookselling community generally, from libraries and librarians, and the community of people who love books.

"It has been a really privileged experience for me, and I do feel astonishingly lucky."

Feature Image: : Richard Saker for the Observer

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Many of us are obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise, and would do almost anything to have the most immersive wizarding world experience possible.

Amazingly for Hagrid fans, you can now rent a holiday cottage which is inspired by the fictional home of Rubeus himself, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.

The Groundkeeper’s Cottage has recently opened at North Shire near Saltburn on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, and is almost exactly a replica of Hagrid's Hut in the magical series.

Image: Charlotte Graham/Cover Images

With International Harry Potter Day just around the corner, on May 2, the cottage couldn't have arrived at a better time.

The cottage has three interlocking circular slate-roofed buildings featuring stained glass windows, an open plan living room, seating in front of a feature fireplace, wood beams with Hagrid paraphernalia and a lantern-lit wooden door.

The owner Carol Cavendish has loved Harry Potter since her early 20s, and has incorporated small Potter-themed touches such as an ink bottle and quill and bespoke copper basin in the bathroom.

Image: metro.co.uk/Charlotte Graham/Cover Images

The cottage itself took £195,000 to build, and the holiday rental can sleep up to six people. If you've got a dog, or your very own Fang, you're also welcome to bring one well-behaved pet for an extra cost.

She's made a comfortable retreat for any wizards or witches to adore, for just £195 (€225) per night.

*Runs to book slot*

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Grab your brooms and get down there before it sells out years in advance.

Feature image: housebeautiful.com

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By Domhnall O' Donoghue

Actor and journalist Domhnall O’Donoghue explains how his experiences living in between two brothels served as inspiration for his second novel, Colin and the Concubine:

Before 2016, I'd always believed myself to be streetwise. Without tooting my own horn, I was certain that I had a good sense of all the shenanigans that were going on around me. You might imagine my disappointment, therefore, at learning that I’d been living slap bang in the middle of two brothels, and despite all the obvious signs, it took me weeks to realise that these ladies were more than just convivial social butterflies.

The first brothel took the form of a massage parlour and was located next to the entrance of my new apartment complex in Dublin city centre. Just after receiving the keys from the landlord, I was busy unloading my suitcases and boxes from the boot of my boyfriend’s car when I noticed a series of men enter and exit the premises – most of whom were in the older age bracket, over 65, say.

‘Aren’t these gentlemen just marvellous, taking such good care of their ageing bodies,’ I thought to myself, as I lugged another box into my new abode. ‘When it comes to aches and pains, so many men suffer in silence! I must ring my mother and get her to encourage Dad to make an appointment – hasn’t he been complaining of a sore lower back recently?’

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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That evening, inside, as we treated ourselves to a well-earned glass of vino, having unpacked all our wares, I began noticing how frequently the intercom for the apartment directly next to us sounded. I remember looking at the clock at one stage – it was close to midnight, and a school night.

‘Great, it seems like we have friendly neighbours,’ I commented as I made light work of the Sauvignon Blanc. ‘We must invite them over dinner one of these nights.’

While a meal never materialised, it wasn’t long before things became a little fishy…

As the days passed, our initial admiration for our neighbours’ hospitable nature soon made way for exasperation. It seemed that time wasn’t an issue for their guests’ visits and no matter the hour – be it four in the afternoon or four in the morning – the loud intercom blared resulting in our forty winks been reduced to single digits.

Similar to our own, their apartment was on the ground floor. It faced out onto our communal courtyard and I was struck by the fact that their curtains were never drawn; their windows were never open.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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However, I finally had my lightbulb moment about a week later when two incidents occurred simultaneously that allowed me to properly deduce what was at play right on my doorstep.

The first incident took place during the dead of night. My trip to the Land of Nod was suddenly interrupted by the sounds of screaming in the hallway.

‘I want my money back! I didn’t even get to do anything to her!’

Never one to ignore a juicy scuffle, I jumped out of the bed, raced to our door and peeped through the spy hole. A young, inebriated chap was storming the hallway demanding his money be returned to him post haste.

A male figure then appeared at my neighbours’ door and threw a note at this unwanted figure – who I suspected wasn’t the local pizza delivery guy soliciting a tip.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The following morning, I was returning from the reception area having just picked up the post and I spotted a chap waiting outside my neighbours’ apartment. He was handsome and athletic and wore casual clothes while a backpack was draped over one shoulder. I noticed that his face looked somewhat panicked and despite the distance between us, I was certain that I glimpsed beads of sweat on his forehead. Then he did something rather peculiar.

He blessed himself.

Before he became aware of my presence, the door opened and the seemingly devout Christian cautiously entered the apartment. As I passed, for the first time, my neighbour and I locked eyes – she looked Eastern European and was strikingly beautiful if somewhat peaky. My smile wasn’t reciprocated – instead, it received a curt slamming of the door.

While I wasn’t going to be considered for a job at CSI anytime soon, I finally understood what was happening: I was living next door to a brothel. And maybe that massage parlour outside the complex wasn’t exactly what it appeared to be either…

For the duration of my stay at that address, I was doing a large amount of work from home and I became intrigued by all that was happening across the hallway. It emerged that there were two women and one man – all from Romania – living and working there. As a way of entertaining myself, I began having  a little fun with their male callers – purposely bumping into them in the hallway and being nothing short of a nuisance.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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'I don't suppose you could help me find my missing cat?’

'My name is Domhnall and I've just moved in – you must be my new neighbour. What's your name?

‘Oh, are you the plumber I just called – my apartment is this way.'

That sort of nonsense – but those looks of panic etched across their faces as they tried to make up some excuse or other almost made up for the sleepless nights.

Running parallel to this tomfoolery, the marriage equality referendum was being debated passionately on the radio, television and across the media. How often I rolled my eyes skywards when I heard or read the argument that the gay community was “a threat to the institution of marriage” when there were queues of men – many of whom were married – lining up outside my next-door neighbours’ apartment and the massage parlour.

However, it wasn’t just in these two aforementioned properties where happy endings occurred – these experiences gave me the material to write my new novel, Colin and the Concubine, a light-hearted farce about a baker named Colin who – surprise, surprise – lives beside a brothel.

My stint in that particular apartment was short-lived but I believe that soon after I left, the Gardaí caught wind of the high jinks taking place and neither brothel continues to exist today – at least in those locations. Where those ladies are today is anyone’s guess; my only hope is that they aren’t in danger.

Colin and the Concubine is available nationwide and online from mercierpress.ie.

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