‘Once Upon a Time in the North West’-a new novel

Author and journalist Garbhan Downey.
Author and journalist Garbhan Downey.

In 2010 it was heralded that the coming decade in Ireland would be one crammed with centenaries.

Without doubt many of the events that transpired in Ireland 100 years ago still reverberate very loudly to this day. And so, it was from these momentous events that journalist and author Garbhan Downey drew inspiration for his latest work.

‘Once Upon A Time in the North West’, the eighth novel from the Derry writer, charts the fortunes of a family run newspaper in the city from its foundation in 1912 until the meeting between former IRA leaders and Queen Elizabeth II in 2012-one hundred years on.

This story will take readers to both sides of the Atlantic; through the War of Independence, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, gerrymandering and political corruption, the formation of JFK’s Irish Camelot, the Civil Rights Movement, sectarian murders, the hunger strikes and the ceasefires.

As all this develops the novel focuses on the death of a well-connected Irish newspaper owner, Sean Madden. His passing triggers a secret hunt for his memoirs. As owner of the North West Chronicle, Sean Madden had accumulated a in-depth memoir of what actually happened and hugely at odds of official accounts. As such, the Americans want to get their hands on it before the British and the Irish. Yet, Madden’s hard-nosed granddaughter Maeve, heir to the newspaper, has her own interests to protect as well.

Therefore, this historical novel-cum-21st century mystery makes for a pulsating page turner that transports the reader on an epic journey of war and peace, love and loss, politics and criminality across the twentieth century.

As, the saying goes. ‘every secret has its season’ and all of Sean Madden’s-and all of Derry’s- are about to be laid bare.

Despite the fact that he has always sunned the limelight, Sean Madden felt it was important to leave a full record of his 90 years on the planet. But, naturally, this could involve spilling the beans on many matters people would prefer to remain private.

Garbhan Downey has spent 25 years in the publishing industry in the North West of Ireland as a journalist, writer and editor. He has also worked for the BBC as a producer and presenter. A grduate of University College Galway, he lives in Derry with his wife Una and two children and says his new book is dedicated to his colleagues in North West newsrooms over the past quarter of a century.

‘Once Upon a Time in the North West’, a Guildhall Press publication, will be launched on Wednesday, December 8 at the Rathmor Centre, Creggan.