Literary Festival to hear how local historian Danny Grace helped create a memoir set around Nenagh

Author Maggie Wadey comes to Nenagh with The English Daughter
The story of how author Maggie Wadey Castles found her mother’s roots and the warm welcome she received from local historian Danny Grace feature strongly in her moving historical memoir, The English Daughter. In it she tells of coming to Nenagh following her mother Agnes Kavanagh’s’ death to find the places where her mother had spent her childhood.
Now, Maggie Wadey returns to share the memoir with the people of Nenagh at the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival, in what will surely be one of the highlights of the week’s events.
Literary Festival to hear how local historian Danny Grace helped create a memoir set around Nenagh
“Back to her roots” is the title of the event, to be held in the Heritage Centre at 6.00 – 7.30 pm on Friday October 4th. Maggie will read from her novel which is based on her mother’s stories of growing up in Puckane and will discuss her work with Danny Grace himself.
It was not until 1996, when she was in her 80’s that Agnes Kavanagh, Maggie’s mother, received a family photograph with the inscription on the back “the house on Knigh Hill, Tipperary, approx. 1928”. This coincided with a time when Maggie would sit with her mother and hear the stories of her mother’s childhood.
Agnes Teresa Kavanagh was one of nine children of John and Kate Kavanagh, from Borrisokane and who lived in Ballinree, Drominure and Clashnevin, Ballymackey, and finally Knigh, Puckaun. Maggie found her mother’s birthplace, a small cottage on land now owned by Maureen and Rodger Mounsey when she visited the area and enlisted the support of Danny Grace to find the places where her mother grew up.
Maggie describes the warmth of Danny’s welcome. She knocked on his door and announced ‘My family were at Knigh. I’m Agnes Kavanagh’s daughter’. Then what in god’s name are you doing standing there on the doorstep? Come on in’. And so, the journey began! Danny introduced Maggie to all the locals who knew her mother growing up. Annie O’Brien tells her of the day the Kavanagh’s came to Knigh hill. How the family ‘lived better’ than most, they ate ‘hairy bacon’! A fact confirmed by Danny, who added, (‘with benign amusement’) the Kavanagh’s had notions! Joan Cleary recounts going to Maggie’s uncle Pat’s funeral. Maggie hears how her grandfather like to wear a sprig of white stock in his buttonhole going to Sunday mass. He always wore a hat, had blue eyes, and as Jim O’Brien says, ‘John Kavanagh was a gentleman’.
Playwright Marina Warner writes of ‘The English Daughter’; Maggie Wadey has created a portrait that is both a rich and touching tribute to the heroism of daily survival, and a remarkable, nuanced and powerful work of social history about rural Ireland and wartime England, about precariousness and stability’.
Come and meet Maggie and Danny during the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival as they discuss this fascinating story in a room where her mother went to school in ‘the Convent’ at Nenagh District Heritage Centre at 6.30pm on Friday 4th October.
Tickets can be booked online at Further information and full programme visit

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