Current titles – being queried
Spike Island – A complete history of Ireland’s historic island’
John is currently querying ‘Spike Island – A complete history of Ireland’s historic island’. The book is the result of an exhaustive research project that aims to share for the first time the in depth story of this multi-faceted island. Spike Island was used as a 7th century monastery, an island prison on four occasions over 400 years, it houses a military superstructure and had 207 years of continuous military occupation, while it was also an island home for many centuries. Each aspect of the islands rich past is extensively retold, with accompanying information on epic events like the Irish Famine and the Napoleonic Wars that shaped the destiny of this tiny island.
For all this military and penal endeavour, it is the personal stories that most interest John in his retelling of the islands past. Once records abound from the 1700’s, the story is shared through the eyes and experiences of the Captains and Convicts and Sinners and Saints that walked the islands shores. From rioters, rebels to island residents, all have a voice in this complete history of a truly historic site.
Written with both international visitors and Irish in mind, the book starts from the very beginning, the island formation through fire and ice, right up to its earliest human occupation and struggles between Ireland and its near neighbors. This background and earliest beginning allows even foreign visitors with little grasp on the Irish story to understand just why this island is so significant, and to better take away with them the Irish origin tale.
The crafty criminals, rebels and rioters of Spike Island Cork.
The penal history of Spike Island is unrivalled anywhere in the world. Joining a very small list of global island prisons like Alcatraz, Robben Island and Devil’s Island, Spike Island stands head and shoulders over them all for its diversity, scale and impact on the global penal approach.
This is largely because Spike Island held four separate prisons over four hundred years, in addition to its monastic, military and social use. The first operated in the 1650’s during the time of Oliver Cromwell. A convict depot was opened in1847 which was converted to a formal prison that lasted 36 years until 1883. In 1921 the Island became a Republican prison during the Irish War of Independence, housing Ireland’s freedom fighters. It again saw use as formal civilian prison from 1985 until as recently as 2004. During these periods, thousands of fierce and fascinating inmates filled the island cells.
They included daring escapologists like Limerick’s Dennis Hourigan, who had already escaped from two Irish prisons by the time he arrived to Spike Island. He was determined to make it a third, and when his cell was found empty one night, it seemed he had achieved his goal.
He shared the escape urge with Henry Sweers, who not once but twice braved the freezing waters of Cork Harbour, resulting in some extraordinary punishment measures. They shared the island prison with the most notorious convicted murderers of their age, who ranged from the clearly deranged to the deadly devious – and even those who may have been innocent
Men like the Gravedigger, James Dwyer, who attempted to murder a shop assistant for the price of a suit. Or young Edmond Power, the boy they made a murderer after a decade of penal abuse.
These convicted murderers were joined on the island by some of the more crafty thieves from Britain and Ireland, personified by Manchester’s James Grey, aka ‘Jack in the Box‘. The sneaky sleuth had constructed an ingenious way to gain access to the riches of the train carriages and liner luggage compartments of his day, where great wealth was being transported by the wealthiest of the nation.
Heroes of Ireland’s Independence struggle held on the island in 1921 include Westmeath’s Tom Malone, alias Sean Forde, who faced a death sentence if his true identity was exposed. The period saw a daring escape of seven internees under cover of darkness in November 1921, risking searchlights, machine gun posts and soldiers with orders to shoot to kill. There was also riots, hunger strikes and prison shootings.
The most famous inmate of the modern prison, 1985 – 2004, was the General, Martin Cahill, a famed Dublin crime boss responsible for the second largest art heist in history. He was also a brutal enforcer, willing to meet his aims by any means necessary. These represent just some of the incredible stores contained in the book, of cunning and crafty thieves, deadly murderers and irrepressible Irish Republicans.
John is currently querying this title.
Amer – An American Eagles story
A fictional fable for those seeking direction, one that seeks to inspire and motivate. Separated from his family as an egg by a violent storm, Amer finds himself hatching in a Colorado chicken coup. Loved by his mother and adopted family and knowing no different, he lives as a chicken and learns their ways. But a voice inside tells Amer he is made for more, and he yearns for a life beyond the wire fence.
With the help of a wise cockerel, can he overcome his doubts and insecurities, follow his instinct and find his way home?
John in currently querying this title.