First Year students become published authors with creative story set in Cork’s northside

First Year students become published authors with creative story set in Cork’s northside

Special guest Pat Falvey with the three pupils behind Shadow, (seated) Daniel McCarthy, illustrator, Daniel Stewart-O'Donoghue and Kyle Higgins. Picture: Larry Cummins

At just 13-years-old three Cork students have become published authors with a creative story set in their own locality.

Kyle Higgins, Daniel McCarthy and Daniel Stewart O’Donoughue are the creative dream team of Shadow, their new book which officially launched on Wednesday.

The three boys are First Year students at Gaelcholáiste Mhic Shuibhne, the Aonad Lán-Ghaeilge of Terence MacSwiney Community College.

Special guest Pat Falvey with pupil Kyle Higgins and (rear) Phil O'Flynn, Principal. Picture: Larry Cummins
Special guest Pat Falvey with pupil Kyle Higgins and (rear) Phil O'Flynn, Principal. Picture: Larry Cummins

Shadow tells the story of an extraordinary dog with exceptional powers who finds his new home in Knocknaheeny.

“The location of Knocknaheeny was an important setting for the boys and Shadow is frequently seen on Harbour View Road and other iconic Knocknaheeny locations,” Principal of Terence MacSwiney Community College, Phil O’Flynn, said.

“Shadow is a true community dog and becomes a canine guardian angel for not just his three best friends, but for all the young people of the area.

“His emotional intelligence and instincts are supreme, and he is always ahead of the adults in sniffing out potential trouble or upset.

“There are real and fictional characters in the book which all blend in seamlessly.” 

One of Daniel McCarthy's illustrations from Shadow. 
One of Daniel McCarthy's illustrations from Shadow. 

The idea for the book was born one dreary December day when the boys were reading together in the school’s library.

“The boys were in a reading group together in the school.

“They were reading Black Beauty and they were bored by it, to be honest.

“One of the boys, Kyle Higgins, said ‘I think we should write our own book about a dog in Knocknaheeny’,” Ms O’Flynn told The Echo.

“They then decided on the breed, a Belgian Malinois.

“They’re a popular dog in the area. None of the boys have a Belgian Malinois, but they would probably like to have one!

“They did the research then in terms of where the Belgian Malinois comes from and all of that and the first three chapters of the book are really about the dog transferring to Knocknaheeny.” 

The book is the culmination of six months of hard work.

Illustrator Daniel McCarthy signs copies of the book. Picture: Larry Cummins
Illustrator Daniel McCarthy signs copies of the book. Picture: Larry Cummins

“The boys used to brainstorm with me every Monday. They’d come up with their new ideas for the next chapter.

“One day they said the dog needs to do something bad – he’s too much of a goody-goody dog!

“One of the boys came up with an idea, based on something that had happened with his dog.

“The dog had stolen the Sunday dinner chicken one time, so the dog in the story does that at one stage in the book.” The book is illustrated by Daniel McCarthy, who Ms O'Flynn described as a “gifted illustrator”.

Every decision about the book was made by the boys themselves.

“They chose everything about the publication of the book.

“We sat in my office one day and they had a conference call with a friend of mine who used to be a publisher. 

“He actually told them about paper weights, paper colour, gloss finish and all of that.” 

The publication of the book was funded by the school’s librarian.

“We have what they call a JCSP Library, Junior Cert Schools Programme Library, and basically the librarian who works within the school building said she would fund the publishing of the book,” Ms O’Flynn explained.

One of Daniel McCarthy's illustrations from Shadow. 
One of Daniel McCarthy's illustrations from Shadow. 

Shadow was officially launched on Wednesday, with renowned mountaineer and explorer Pat Falvey in attendance.

“He was very proud to launch the book as a northsider who himself is a published author.

“He gave a great address where he encouraged the boys to fulfill their potential and follow their dreams.

“The book has been selected for the ‘One Book, One Community’ project for all the senior classes in schools on the northside of Cork city. We’re really proud of that.

“I think this is just the beginning for the boys.” 

Shadow is now available to purchase from the school’s library at a cost of €5.

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