Looking at ‘Five Northern Ireland books to be proud of’ – last week the Mid-Ulster Mail drew up a list of five books by male writers for World Book Day – we thought we could balance the books on the day that’s in it.


      1. HETTY GRAY – NOBODY’S BAIRN by Rosa Mulholland, a popular children’s classic, published in 1884.

          HETTY GRAY NOBODY’S BAIRN Rosa Mulholland Irish Writers Centre

          Belfast-born Rosa Mulholland (also known as Lady Gilbert, 1841 – 1921) was an Irish poet, playwright and author of novels for adults and children. Charles Dickens is credited with helping to launch her literary career by publishing one of her novels in the periodical All the Year Round.

          The book focuses on the childhood and progression into adulthood of ‘Hetty Gray’, a child who has been found after a shipwreck, and who is first taken into care by Mr and Mrs Kane, a poor couple who live and work in Wavertree. Hetty later comes to the attention of widowed socialite Mrs Rushton, who ‘adopts’ her, as she finds her entertaining and precocious.

            2. GOODNIGHT SISTERS by Nell McCafferty (1984).

            Nell McCafferty, a native of Derry, is an Irish journalist, playwright, civil rights campaigner and feminist. 

            The effect of her unapologetically partisan approach to writing has been enduringly popular. She received an honorary doctorate of literature from University College Cork on 2 November 2016 for “her unparalleled contribution to Irish public life over many decades and her powerful voice in movements that have had a transformative impact in Irish society, including the feminist movement, campaigns for civil rights and for the marginalised and victims of injustice’.

            3. PARALLAX by Sinéad Morrissey – a poetry collection which won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2014.

            The multi-award winning poet Sinéad Morrissey was born in Portadown, County Armagh.

            Her fifth collection, Parallax, was praised by the chair of the judging panel, Ian Duhig, as ‘politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book … as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests’.

            4. THE MEETING POINT by Lucy Caldwell – a novel which won the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2011.

            Lucy Caldwell, a native of Belfast, is a multi-award-winning playwright and novelist.

            The novel follows the marriage of Euan and Ruth who leave their home in Ireland with their young daughter to do missionary work. Their story becomes intertwined with that of Noor, an overweight and depressed English girl who has moved to Bahain to live with her father, and her cousin Farid who initiates a dangerous relationship with Ruth.

            The plot was described as ‘cleverly constructed’ with ‘well-drawn settings and slick sentences’. The founder of the Dylan Thomas Prize Peter Stead called it ‘a beautifully written and mature reflection on identity, loyalty and belief in a complex world.

            5. ABOUT SISTERLAND by Martina Devlin – shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 2015.

            Martina Devlin, a native of Omagh, County Armagh, is a multi-award-winning journalist, short story writer and best-selling novelist.

            Set in the near future, in a world ruled by women, a world designed to be perfect, ‘About Sisterland’ is a searing, original novel which explores the devastating effects of extremism.

            Women lead highly controlled and suffocating lives, while men are subordinate – used for labour and breeding.  Selected to reproduce, Constance finds herself alone with a man for the first time. But the mate chosen for her isn’t what she expected – and she begins to see a darker side to Sisterland.


            This Saturday 11 March, the IWC will be partnering with Women Aloud Northern Ireland in celebration of International Women’s Day for a day-long celebration of women’s writing with a readathon, panels and a mass reading being held on Parnell Square. Join us on the day and check out this Women Aloud NI list of even more books from Northern Ireland to be proud of!