KATHLEEN COMERFORD has been preparing drivers for driving test success since 1999. She trained at the UK’s Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and worked for several years with the IAM in Ireland. Kathleen trained fleet drivers in risk assessment and has worked with the Irish School of Excellence in running driver education programmes for transition year students.
Stephen Conlin was born in County Armagh, studied in Dublin and Belfast, and now divides his time between England and the Czech Republic. An early interest in historic buildings led to exhibitions and illustration work, including several postage stamp issues for An Post. He regularly carries out commissions for conservation bodies such as the National Trust in the UK, Historic Environment Scotland, English Heritage and Country Life magazine. His work is in the Royal Collection and public collections. He has been involved in fundraising for the Frauenkirche in Dresden, numerous Czech historic sites, and for Armagh Public Library.
Born in Dublin in 1956 and brought up in Goatstown, Marita went to school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Mount Anville, later working in the family business, the bank, and a travel agency. She has four children with her husband James, and they live in the Stillorgan area of Dublin.
Marita was always fascinated by the Famine period in Irish history and read everything available on the subject. When she heard a radio report of an unmarked children's grave from the Famine period being found under a hawthorn tree, she decided to write her first book, Under the Hawthorn Tree.
Published in May 1990, the book was an immediate success and become a classic. It has been translated into over a dozen languages, including Arabic, Bahasa, French, Dutch, German, Swedish, Italian, Japanese and Irish. The book has been read on RTÉ Radio and is very popular in schools, both with teachers and pupils. It has been made a supplementary curriculum reader in many schools and is also used by schools in Northern Ireland for EMU (Education through Mutual Understanding) projects. It was also filmed by Young Irish Film Makers, in association with RTÉ and Channel 4. This is available as a DVD.
Marita has written more books for children which were also very well received. The Blue Horse reached No. 1 on the Bestseller List and won the BISTO BOOK OF THE YEAR Award. No Goodbye, which tells of the heartbreak of a young family when their mother leaves home, was recommended by Book Trust in their guide for One Parent Families. Safe Harbour is the story of two English children evacuated from London during World War ll to live with their grandfather in Greystones, Co Wicklow and was shortlisted for the BISTO Book of the Year Award. A Girl Called Blue follows the life of an orphan, trying to find who she really is in a cold and strict orphanage. Marita has also explored the world of fantasy with her book In Deep Dark Wood.
Marita has won several awards, including the International Reading Association Award, the Osterreichischer Kinder und Jugendbuchpreis, the Reading Association of Ireland Award and the Bisto Book of the Year Award.
In her most recent bestselling novel for adults, The Hungry Road, Marita has returned to the subject of the Irish famine.
Tom Connolly was born in Charleville, County Cork, in 1934, the eighth member of a family of thirteen. His father and grandfather were both policemen. He joined the Garda Síochána in 1955, and retired in 1994, having risen to the rank of Detective Superintendent. He has been commended on many occasions for his impartiality and conscientiousness in conducting investigations, and was awarded the Gold Scott Medal for valour in 1975. Tom won senior county football championships with Clonakilty and with Round Towers, Kildare, and played senior inter-county football with both Cork and Kildare for a number of years. Tom’s wife Maureen died in 2008.
He has two sons, both Gardaí, and a daughter. He lives in Naas, County Kildare.