Born in West Belfast in 1948 into a family with close ties to both the trade union and republican movements, Gerry Adams is the eldest of ten children. His mother was an articulate and gentle woman, his father a republican activist who had been jailed at the age of sixteen, and he was partly reared by his grandmother, who nurtured in him a love of reading.
His childhood, despite its material poverty, he has described in glowing and humorous terms, recollecting golden hours spent playing on the slopes of the mountain behind his home and celebrating the intimate sense of community in the tightly packed streets of working-class West Belfast. But even before leaving school to work as a barman, he had become aware of the inequities and inequalities of life in the north of Ireland. Soon he was engaged in direct action on the issues of housing, unemployment and civil rights.
For many years his voice was banned from radio and television by both the British and Irish governments, while commentators and politicians condemned him and all he stood for. But through those years his books made an important contribution to an understanding of the true circumstances of life and politics in the north of Ireland.
James F. Clarity of the New York Times described him in the Irish Independent as "A good writer of fiction whose stories are not IRA agitprop but serious art."
Patrice Aggs was born and brought up in the United States, but now lives in West Sussex, England. She has illustrated over thirty-five picture books for children. In the early 1980s she was part of the team which produced the animated film The Snowman.
Patrice is currently writing picture books, illustrating and printmaking. She lives on a farm in West Sussex with her husband and two teenagers. The Giraffe Who Came to Dinner is the first book she has both written and illustrated. Her latest books, Ooh La Booga Bomp and Strawberry Squirt are part of the popular O'Brien Pandas series.
Sheila Agnew was born in New York and grew up in Dublin with her sister and two brothers. They liked to pretend to be the children in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Although Sheila couldn’t quite make it to Narnia, she set out to experience what she could of this world. After graduating from UCD., she practiced as a lawyer in London, Sydney and New York and got to work in such far-flung places as Accra, Cairo and Bratislava.
Sheila has wanted to be a writer since she was seven and fell in love with Danny, the Champion of the World. In 2002, she took time-out from her legal career to write and to travel around Asia. In 2011, she moved to Argentina to learn Spanish and work on a horse farm. The following year, she relocated to Dingle in County Kerry where she wrote Evie Brooks. Sheila based the character of ‘Ben’ on her own black-and-white spaniel of dubious lineage.
Sheila now lives and writes in New York City.
Visit www.sheila-agnew.com to read Sheila's blog and to find out more about the Evie Brooks series.
Brendan Anderson was born in Belfast in December 1945. He has worked in print for thirty-five years – first as a compositor, then as a proofreader, a typesetter and page make-up artist. Selected by an enlightened editor at the Irish News to be trained as a journalist in 1989, he became senior reporter and security writer for that paper within two years. He has covered all the big stories of the Irish troubles, and interviewed and questioned all of the major players. He has had unrivalled contacts with republicans and loyalists, and is frequently interviewed as a security analyst on Irish and British television and radio, and consulted by British newspapers. Seconded to the University of Ulster, Belfast, to lecture in Practical Newspaper Journalism in 1998, he joined the staff of the university as an associate lecturer in Journalism in 1999. He is a freelance writer for a United States weekly newspaper. He is a father of three, and grandfather of ten, and lives in Belfast.
Mairéad Ashe FitzGerald grew up in County Clare. She is a graduate of NUI Galway and University College Dublin where she studied Archaeology. Mairéad taught Irish and History before working in publishing for many years. Being invited by OBP to write books allows her to indulge her passion for research into Ireland's history, archaeology and literature.