Irish Woman Pens Childhood Book

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A Northern Irish woman has penned a book based on her childhood which she spent in Moneymore, a small village in County Londonderry.

Now based in Edinburgh, Audrey Stacey (née Weir) has recorded her experience in ‘My Granny’ inspired by the news three years ago that she was about to become a grandmother for the first time.

This prompted much reminiscing about her own childhood and in particular her maternal grandmother.

And Audrey’s memories have been encapsulated in book form with illustrations of her granny by artist Sally J Collins, including one in which she is reading local newspaper The Mid-Ulster Mail.

Audrey, the daughter of Moneymore garage owner and regular Mid-Ulster Mail advertiser John Weir and Emily Weir (née Currie), is a former pupil of Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, and Queen’s University, Belfast, from which she graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Physics in 1963 and an MSc in Computing.

”This true story, of nearly 60 years ago, records my happy childhood experiences when staying with my granny,” Audrey recalled. “It also portrays a way of life that has long since disappeared.”

The setting is a little thatched cottage, called ‘Heather Bell’, near Tobermore which was without electricity and water. And sitting down to put the memories to paper was an easy task for Audrey.

“It was amazing how a multitude of wonderful happy memories of the time spent with my granny flooded my mind,” she told me. “The memories were so complete: the place, the people, my feelings at the time and all the fun. Immediately, I wanted to preserve these for myself, my children and my expected grandchild. So I wrote the story, showed it to friends, and found that it interested a wider audience.”

However Audrey said for the story to come alive, especially for children, it needed illustrations.

”A year ago I actively started to look for an illustrator and had the good fortune to come across Sally J. Collins who lives near Edinburgh. I viewed her published work in a bookshop and loved it,” said Audrey.

”We were aiming for authenticity and attention to detail. The production of pictures entailed much further searching of my memory. I was helped by my cousin, who was very good at remembering details, such as Granny’s clothes, the height of the barn roof compared to the cottage roof, location of bushes etc. I also visited Cultra, photographing objects such as settle beds and churns. Sally and I collaborated on all aspects of the book, mostly via email,” she said.

 The book is targeted at three to seven-year-olds, but it will also appeal to grandparents who will enjoy the trip down Memory Lane. Audrey is married with three children and she headed an information and standards department in the NHS in Scotland.

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