In 1880’s Ireland, with the Land War raging and evictions and boycotting overturning everyday life, three children from very different background form a secret – and dangerous – alliance.
Winds of Change explores the challenges faced by a range of characters against the backdrop of Land League agitation, evictions and boycotting in 1880’s Ireland. The story is told through the eyes of three Irish children: Clara Parkinson, Molly O’Hara, and Aidan Daly, whose contrasting circumstances result in differing responses to the unfolding turmoil.
Despite their differing backgrounds, Clara, Aidan, and Molly become friends – a friendship that in the tinderbox climate of the Land War brings real physical dangers. Meanwhile Molly has to grapple with her divided loyalties when her father takes part in evictions with the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Interspersed with time-slip elements from the present day, with student Garret Byrne exploring his family’s past, the story is set during the pivotal period of late 1880 to early 1881, a time when the face of Ireland was changing forever, with dramatic – and sometimes shocking – consequences for our cast of characters.
Set within a story of Garrett, a contemporary schoolboy working on a family history project, this book reveals the strange twists such research can reveal as the secrets of the past demand to be uncovered. As Clara, Aidan and Molly embark down the road of friendship, easily finding common ground, this is put to the test by circumstances out of their control. The idea of a “secret club” delights all three children with the excitement and fun, the secret meetings and intentions; wondering what the adults would think if they knew. It is thrilling. And the conflicts of the outside world, the battles taking place, the injustices heaped upon the poor and powerless, and the anger this is met by seem to have little to do with them. While the Land War rages and ultimately comes crashing in around them, ideas of friendship, loyalty and justice are battered and bruised. And when tragedy strikes…well, nothing will ever be the same again. Genuine, intriguing, a poignant look at history from a very personal perspective; a beautiful work of historical fiction that really makes you think
One publisher with a commitment to young people’s reading is O’Brien, and two recent titles combine exciting stories with genuine historical background that make them both entertaining and educational … Winds of Change by Brian Gallagher is set in the tumultuous period of the Land War … The Land War story becomes a real thriller and involves a tragedy that comes as a genuine shock — as in the best children’s literature, there is no sugar coating … The complex history and conflicting sympathies of the past are very neatly tied up with the present … Brian Gallagher has built up quite a record of books for young people set in historic times: I enjoyed his alternative history novel Resistance, set in an Ireland of 1942 which has been occupied by the victorious Nazi forces. Winds of Change is aimed at readers of nine-plus, but I’d recommend it as a good read for anyone up to the mid-teens and even beyond
An intriguing look at this pivotal moment in Irish history and how some family secrets refuse to stay buried
When writing for children, for whom this may be their first insight into an historical event, the point of view chosen by the author is more important still. As many teachers will attest, not every child will engage with facts presented in school history lessons, but build characters with whom they can identify, and complex situations and political events start to make sense as fact is absorbed through fiction. Balancing multiple viewpoints on moments in Irish history is something of a speciality for Dublin author Brian Gallagher, who has previously set his young fictional characters on different sides during the Easter Rising, Dublin Lockout, Civil War, and War of Independence. His latest challenge has been to take an even-handed approach to the subject of the Land War in rural Ireland in the late 1800s … three children, bound together by friendship and a shared love of music, each have divided loyalties defined by their different backgrounds, each more able than their adult relations to see events from other perspectives. Combined, their situations build for young readers a rounded picture … plentiful dramatic action … commands full attention throughout, educating and entertaining in equal measure
This was an amazing must-read book
a thrilling Land War tale … In this captivating novel, Brian Gallagher entwines the age old themes of friendship, loyalty and class division during Ireland's Land War era. Winds of Change follows the secret friendship of three children, on differing sides of the conflict, bonding over their love of music and youthful curiosity. Using 1880's rural Ireland as its canvas, the book skilfully weaves the complexities of the Land War discord and the nation's unrest with a lightness that always allows the new friendships of Clara, Molly and Aidan shine throughout the story. Their clandestine meetings brilliantly frame the dichotomy of their new-found friendships against familial loyalty. Finely paced, and cleverly implanted, we also follow Garrett in 2020 as he tries to trace his family history and unlock some ancestral mystery. The author shrewdly keeps us wondering, where and if the two timelines intersect. For teachers and children with historical leanings, Gallagher's depictions of the landlords' privileged existence, the RIC's conflicting allegiances and the tenants' struggles are clearly depicted … a great story
After years of being ravaged by famine, Irish farmers are being forced out of their homes. English landlords are evicting tenants – but the farmers have had enough and they fight back, starting the Irish Land War. Garrett, in modern-day Ireland, is writing a school project on this time. A time-slip story set against this backdrop introduces us to three young friends from the 1880s, each from very different circumstances: Clara is from a Big House, Adrian is the son of a tenant farmer, and Molly is the daughter of an RIC sergeant. Secrets from the past are uncovered in this engaging read.
Download Teaching Guides: Teaching guide to the book by Nicola Heaney
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