Harold Wilson posted the following review of Mary’s Ireland 30/12/2016
I have just finished reading Mary’s Ireland and absolutely loved it. While set in difficult times, I found it a heartwarming story that focuses on family life . I particularly admired Mary and Nikoda’s strength of character, forgoing cultural familiarity to follow their hearts. I enjoyed the warmth and humour resonating in everyday activities demonstrating the importance of human connections to build resilience and overcome adversity. I will definitely recommend Mary’s Ireland as a good read and look forward to continuing the journey in Mary’s Poland
Anne McNamara posted the following review of Mary’s Ireland 02/01/2017
I have emerged from the journey through Mary’s Ireland and feel as if I have been ‘through the mill’.
The author, Mark Eyles has written a remarkable story. His research must have been all encompassing and certainly painstaking.
I like the clever way he has interwoven the two stories of Mary and her husband to be.
I am amazed at Mark’s use of Hibernian English for the dialogue of many of the Irish characters.
The lives of those people in Belfast at the time seem very grim and they were. It must have been so hard with the sectarian tensions, world events, the precariousness of poverty and the behaviour of land owners and the ‘big bosses’.
Congratulations on a great work. Mark has me worried by saying at Mary’s Ireland launch that the next books are grimmer but I can understand why.
Well done and all power to Mark to keep going!
Anne McNamara, Canberra
Paula Xiberras wrote the following review in the Tasmanian Times 21/7/17
Recently I spoke to Mark Eyles, the author of ‘Marys Ireland’, the first in a trilogy about Mary Cannon, a young woman working in a pub in nineteenth century Ireland when she meets and falls in love with a Polish sailor Walenty or ‘Nikodo’.
The novel is set when Poland is under Russian occupation which is juxtaposed with Ireland under British rule. Life is difficult for Mary and her family losing two sisters, one in infancy and another in early adulthood, the latter along with her mother, passing away from common illnesses of the time. There is the constant panic to keep everything spotlessly clean to prevent the spread of germs leading to illness.
The family has little materially but there is plenty of fun and sparring in their home. As is to be expected in an Irish family the characters are colourful, including the neighbour Mrs Shannon who like the river is able to seep into the very fabric of the family.
A mixture of Catholicism married well with superstition co exists in Mary’s Ireland. The family are staunch church goers which helps them through their difficult times, as Mark says during our chat ‘illness and faith’ often go together. Even in this religious environment Mary still holds belief in curses such as that perceived from the local police officer Griffin.
Although political themes run through the book it is ultimately a love story, of love for family and country and for Mary love for her Polish beau.
There are some lovely expressions from Mary describing her reaction to the sailor such as ‘’you have given me a tummy full of bumble bees and dragons’. An expression suggesting both lightness and fiery passion.
We some slightly politically incorrect humour from one of Mary’s brothers when he attempts to describe Mary’s beaus steadfastness and nationality to Mrs Shannon.
When he says “Nikoda will not be rushin’ anywhere because he is standing still, …because he is a Pole”.
This is a novel of both tragedy and joy and the triumph of faith and love. Mark Eyles has done a fantastic job also in recreating the authentic dialogue of the time.
Mary’s Ireland is out now published by Aurora House