Thurles native Olive Collins will launch her new book ‘The Tide Between Us’ at Bookworm Bookshop on Saturday 9 September at 7pm. This is Olive’s second book – her first book ‘The Memory of Music’ was a top ten bestseller in Ireland.
The tide Between Us is set in Ireland and Jamaica. It tells the story of Art O Neill who records his life in his final years. He begins with his boyhood in Ireland where he lives in the shadow of the Lugdale Estate.
When Art’s father is wrongfully hanged for the assassination of the local landlord, Art is deported to the cane fields as an ‘indentured servant’ on Mangrove Plantation. When he acclimatizes to the strange exotic country and bizarre customs of the African slaves, he assumes his days of English tyranny are finished until the arrival of the new heirs to Mangrove Plantation.
The second part of the book is based in Ireland. It opens with the discovery of a skeleton beneath a tree on the grounds of Lugdale Estate with a gold coin minted in 1870. Yseult, the owner of Ludgale Estate watches the events unfold and recaps on the rumours that abounded about her father’s beginnings in Jamaica, a country with 25% of the population claiming Irish descent. As the body gives up its secrets, Yseult realises she too can no longer hide.
Talking about her inspiration for ‘The Tide Between Us’ Olive Collins says, ‘In the 1650s, when England captured Jamaica from Spain, Oliver Cromwell needed to populate the new colony. Some were convicts, many indentured servants and very few of the deportees had committed any great crimes. Deportation “beyond the sea, either within His Majesty’s dominions or elsewhere outside His Majesty’s Dominions” was one of the methods of dealing with the Irish Issue and, more importantly, of populating England’s new acquisition. One man whose crime was to harbour a priest was imprisoned and his three daughters were sent to Jamaica. In order to prevent the new arrivals forming communities, the three girls were sent to different corners of Jamaica. Large numbers of the Irish exiles died from heat and diseases. It was thought that the Irish would have a better chance of survival if they were introduced to the climate at young age. Cromwell then sent 2,000 children between the age of 10 and 14 years. Two years ago, I spent a month in Cuba. I imagined the exiled Irish and their surprise at the landscape and torturous heat of the Caribbean, the people and culture that was so vastly different to Ireland. At the time of my travels to Cuba, I was working on a different historical novel that required a great deal of research. When I finished the first novel, I was reluctant to take on another novel with the same level of research, yet the Jamaican story needled me to explore it further. I found the voice of Art O’Neill, an eleven year old boy who crosses the Atlantic in 1821 and, once Art O’Neill began to talk, he couldn’t stop.’
Though now living in Kildare, Olive Collins has close ties with Thurles and wrote much of ‘The Tide Between Us’ in her mother’s house here. She is looking forward to catching up with family and friends at the launch.
So, mark the date in your diary for next Saturday at 7:00pm in Bookworm.