More tales of old Tipp penned by Dolla author

'Tales from Tipperary' is the title of the latest Dolla-centred book penned by Edward Forde Hickey, who used the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK to delve further into the storied past of his ancestral homeland.


Based on the author’s personal research and set between the aftermath of the Famine and the early 1930s, the tales are written in a colloquial and lyrical language that readers of Edward's previous four books will be familiar with. A similar cast of characters and events is portrayed in a rural setting that is fictional but also very recognisable to many local readers.

Beginning with a Galway man’s arrival in Tipperary shortly after the Famine, the book portrays the colourful lives of the children that followed and weaves a rich tapestry that includes the reliance of families on children’s rabbit-poaching with ferrets; acts of adolescent rebelliousness, like building a snowman as a surprise gift inside in an enemy’s back room; the death of a young hurler in his very first match; the tale of a child-saint and her ghostly return to see her newly-born sister; the confession box horror of an old woman and a humorous priest; children cattle-driving at dawn, and townie jealousies when an outsider from the mountains wins the Show Fair Cup.

A retired school headmaster living in Kent, Edward's parents sent him to live in Dolla with his grandmother during the Second World War. It was a formative experience for the author, one that inspired him to try to capture in literature the ways of the past in a locale where he keeps a small farm and regularly returns to visit his many family connections.

"I wrote 'Tales From Tipperary' in the hope that the book's stories would help today's readers and future generations to understand the past, empathise with its people and look with a refreshing insight upon a previous age when life was so very different from life as we know it today," Edwards writes in the preface for his fifth book.

"We all have a kinship with the past and today's interest in our ancestry has increasingly pre-occupied a number of us. In my own case, my researches led me way back to the mid-nineteenth century and in the past 60 years I was fortunate enough to have a number of conversations with some extremely old people - some of whom were born as far back as the 1870s and 1880s. My enthusiasm led me to make several repeat visits amongst the old folk living in the Tipperary hills and, as a result, I developed a strong empathy for the type of communal life and landscape occupied by their parents and throughout their own early post-famine childhood.

"Consequently, I ended up with several notebooks, filled up with lively character-sketches and amusing anecdotes, from which I was able (in my years of retirement and especially now during these 'lockdown' days) to put into print my Tipperary tales - with (I might add) one or two more similar books to follow.

"In the forefront of my mind at all times was my wish to revive in print and paint in words as accurately as possible the spirit of a previous almost forgotten rustic community living in Tipperary."

Jakob von Beyer, Director of publisher Addison and Cole, said of Edward's new book: "The lyrical style of writing really works in capturing and conveying the portraiture of the rural past."  

'Tales from Tipperary' was published on August 21st and is available in local book shops.

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