Win in draw.

The West Cork Trilogy
The West Cork Trilogy

All email subscribers to my new website at:  will be entered in a draw to be held on the 31st Oct ’14 to win three signed copies of my best selling West Cork Trilogy. (Or the omnibus edition for eBooks.)  I promise no spam or sharing, just an occasional news email about new books.

“What are your books about then?”

cropped-bannerwp5.jpgOne of the questions I’m often asked when people find out I’m an author is: “What are your books about?”  Such a simple question. I’ve tried many variations of answers. None are more than two sentences and usually I give only one because people’s eyes glaze if you try to give them more. I’ve so far failed to find a sentence that comes even close to properly describing the themes and subject matter of my novels. So… here is a longer answer for anyone who can cope with more than five second sound bites.

I have four groups of novels and novellas. The Daniel Series. The West Cork Trilogy. The historical with Prairie Companions and Skellig Testament. Romantic erotic in the novellas. The standard genres don’t fit any of these well so I try to avoid them in descriptions.

The Daniel Series: Thrilling erotic romance based on non-conformist idealistic characters, Lauren, Bonny and Daniel Dawes.  They are deeply drawn complex, compelling and real. The thriller element is based on the espionage activities two of the three are involved with. Historically accurate, these books reveal truths about Ireland and the Troubles, British collusion and secret service corruption. Other themes are sexual roles, love’s meaning, family issues raised by the four children, Dee, Kathy, Christine and David, that feature from birth to young adults. (These are NOT Irish ‘troubles’ books!) Irish readers tend to be offended by the stark glare of the Irish myth busting, anti-clerical, anti-tribal values of my protagonists. They live unconventional lives but are highly moral and strong in their defense of individual freedoms. Set in richly exotic locations in Ireland, North and South;  England; France; Italy and Canada.

The West Cork Trilogy also features the characters from the Daniel series but they are secondary to the main characters. Surviving Beauty and Beauty’s Price  feature a supernaturally beauty: Regan. We follow her life from age eight to young adulthood. The theme is the exploitation and abuse of her beauty perpetrated by her father who sells her image on the internet. Other subjects attacked are clerical child abuse and political apathy and immorality. All this is seen through the eyes of DI Jim Burrows who rescues Regan and with his wife Biddy offers her a new future.

Blue Sky Orphan features Bonny, Lauren and Daniel again but again in supportive roles. The main character is a high flying and feisty pilot, Emma. Again, the sub theme is family sexual abuse survival. Emma has buried her history and as this begins to surface she begins to take increasingly dangerous risks. Her husband Peter along with Bonny Dawes will help her survive this.

The Prairie Companions follows the intrepid pair Clara and Pat from England in 1905 to their adventures on the great Canadian prairies as wheat growers. This saga is character led like all my books. It’s also a romance as the companions, Pat and Clara, seek sexual freedom among the native Cree people of the plains. There is a link with the Daniel series and the trilogy as Pat is Daniel’s great aunt and he meets her in 1967 shortly before her death. All these novels have story lines that link characters or events.

Continue reading

What’s in a character name?

Leotie, Aaron, Bonny, Lauren, Daniel, Kathy, Dee, Christine, David, Dave, Jan, Marty, Mark, Dan, Bonnie, Raymond, Don, Jake, Kris and Ria. Pat, Clara or Alsoomse and Hurit, Sam, Chepi, Kanti, Regan, Mary, Jim, Biddy, Emma, Peter, Julie. Yes this is a list but all these are names of friends, close personal friends and they’d be offended if I left any out. I’m sure they would since they are all my creations: all are characters from my novels. Three are names taken from actual flesh and blood people in my life.  Continue reading

To Amazon or not to Amazon?


To be read, or not to be read, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous obscurity,
Or to take arms against a sea of gatekeepers
And by opposing end them. To dream—to hope,
No more; and by a rejection slip to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That writers are heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To self publish, to print;
To be in print, perchance to be read—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that print of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this old publishers way,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity for those who wait acceptance.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of agents,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d rejection, the publishers delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a Kindle Fire? Who would rejection slips hundreds bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary keyboard,
But that the dread of something after failure,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather print our self and sell
Than fly to booksellers that we know not of?
Thus rejection does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of endless waiting
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of Random House for the devil that is Amazon.

This was done for a friend who was worrying about publising wars that so many are fretting about now.

With only mild appologies to Will.

Peeling the Onion.

I strive to give my work layers of meaning so that reader could take what they want from the novels. They can be simple escapist thrillers or very much more. Marcia Quinn-Noren has read each of the West Cork Trilogy novels and has unpeeled the literary onion so beautifully, I felt compelled to share her reviews here. In her work illuminating the spiritual layers of ‘the maid’ in: Joan of Arc, The Mystic Legacy, she demonstrated her skill as a peeler of layers and someone sensitive to nuance and depth of meaning. I was therefore especially gratified when she brought that sensitivity to bear on reviewing my work. She has illuminated the trilogy as beautifully as she did her Joan. I’m thankful and delighted by the results. I know Marcia Quinn-Noren to be a stickler for honesty and she is a courageous battler against – bull,  so I will say: yes Marcia is a friend. I also know if she found fault with my work I’d hear about it, and how!  I say this so there can be no suspicion that these reviews are authors patting each other’s backs, a practice we both abhor.

Here are her reviews:

Review of Surviving Beauty, by Marcia Quinn-Noren.

New Surviving Beauty
New Surviving Beauty

The Dangers that Walk With Beauty,

A simple question framed on the book’s cover, above the image of a sun-kissed blonde, her perfectly wide-set eyes brimming with innocence, hints at the controversial topics probed within David Rory O’Neill’s courageous and compelling novel: “Can Regan survive the exploitation of her beauty?” The title itself suggests what many of us know full well, yet fail to consciously acknowledge. An element of danger accompanies the attribute of beauty.

This first volume of the “West Cork Trilogy” takes readers into young Regan’s world, where shadows stalk her every move throughout the precious days, months and years of her late childhood and early adolescence. Well paced chapters introduce a growing cast of finely developed characters, bringing intensity, suspense, confrontation, rescue and retribution.

The heroic force embodied by Detective Inspector Jim Burrows breaks the grip of evil that has held Regan and her friend Mary in a state of bondage. But wounded creatures suffer from their unseen scars, long after the trap has been sprung. While the coping mechanisms that served to support Regan’s survival are no longer needed, they remain fixed at the core of her being.

Jim’s strong convictions find support in the genuine, tender love he shares with his sensuous Biddy, the wife who stands beside him. Their relationship demonstrates the healing power of romantic harmony, allowing Regan to find the security, safety and serenity that had been absent from her life. Will the gifts so generously offered by Jim and Biddy provide adequate soothing balm to heal and transform Regan’s inner turmoil and confusion into calm self-containment? I look forward to finding the answer to this and much more in “Beauty’s Price” and “Blue Sky Orphan” as the trilogy continues.

Review of Beauty’s Price by Marcia Quinn-Noren.

New Beauty's Price
New Beauty’s Price

In “Beauty’s Price”, the second book of David Rory O’Neill’s “West Cork Trilogy” we are reunited with the characters introduced in “Surviving Beauty”. O’Neill’s themes combine incidents of high drama, action-packed enough to be in the “thriller” category, with soothing, authentic interaction between his extraordinarily strong characters. The lives they lead might be considered exotic, and far from conventional. Embracing their worldview requires the reader’s willingness to move away from the ordinary.

I am inspired by the bravery displayed by these characters as they move through their individual and collective emotional and physical crises, facing down whatever confronts them. What is most beautiful about their inter-relationships is that no one is alone here; they guard and protect one another, in scenes that combine acts of ferocity with moments of great tenderness. David and Regan are physically beautiful lovers whose happy ending seems certain, and yet we know that life offers anything but certainty. The evil acts and influences inflicted upon them by Eric Lang and Jo Dillon in “Surviving Beauty” left them both scarred on the inside. Those interior wounds now take their toll, years later.

As we have seen in the world of celebrity, when a woman is blessed with perfect beauty, the asset seen by the world as powerful, she will not necessarily be fortunate. She will not be treated with greater respect, but instead she will experience objectification. Looking into a mirror, she may only see her flaws.

She only knows that she is noticed, no matter where she goes, even into the supermarket. She feels the responses coming at her, and they are not all positive. Being ‘ogled’ can feel more threatening than complimentary. She may be more likely to attract the ‘wrong kind’ of man, the kind of man who wants to possess something of value. She eventually may discover that her beloved was smitten by his own idealization of her, and is terrified of facing the reality of her flaws and complexities.

Jim Burrows provides the final, heroic act of retribution that frees Regan and Mary from being forever imprisoned by the past. But David’s release is less clear. Will he survive beauty’s price? More will be revealed in “Blue Sky Orphan” as his shadow haunts the third book in the West Cork Trilogy. We must believe in his survival, as these characters continue to prove that the power of love stands victorious over adversity and evil.

Book Review: Blue Sky Orphan by Marcia Quinn Noren

BSOcoverMajor themes in the novels of David Rory O’Neill are human sensitivity, the power of open-hearted empathy, and triumph over adversity, brought by physical and emotional strength. In “Blue Sky Orphan” we are introduced to Emma, the character I grew to love most, in all the books of his West Cork Trilogy.

In the opening pages we find Emma the pilot, alone in the blue sky, bursting with the joy that comes from feeling such freedom, yet risk-taking, once again. For her, this is an all-too familiar game; cheating death, one more time. Taking risks has become more than second nature for Emma, it is part of her essence. She doesn’t know how to live any other way.

Instinct-injured women are drawn toward forms of danger that would repel those with “normal” instincts. Emma’s self-containment is unnerving for those who observe her closely. She considers herself the observer, and is almost unaware of being observed. Accustomed to attracting the attention of both genders, she remains internally preoccupied with her thoughts, duties and plans of action. Those who watch her ask themselves, “What is it that holds her together and yet apart, so very separate from the rest of us?”

All of that changes when Emma steps out of the comfort zone of her compatible partnership with the enigmatic Peter, into the world of his past, and the people and places he had kept secret from her. Becoming introduced to Lauren and Daniel, two primary characters who populated that world, would open her, change and break her, then make her whole again. Bonny, who completes the inexplicable triad is an enchantress whose spell-casting mesmerizes and captivates Emma.

The mutual attraction between these powerful women is perfectly natural, but their acceptance of one another’s power is utterly unlike what most of us have experienced. That power brings healing beyond measure to each of these individual women, and to the men who love them.

There are surprising, explosive confrontations within the pages of this book, as villainous pirates attack during a pleasure cruise, and Emma witnesses the kind of unholy violence that was part of Peter’s history with Daniel and Lauren. Ultimately, safety comes from the sanctity of the bond that holds these characters together.

What held true for me as I read “Blue Sky Orphan” is the ebb and flow that takes place in each human heart, that constant movement taking us in and out of connection to the hearts of others.

Falling for Autumn.

Yesterday the beloved ‘B’ and I went for a stroll in one of our favourite wandering sites, the Arboretum at Fota Park. This ex hunting lodge is located within the coastline of Cork harbour (The second largest natural harbour in the world, after Sidney. See below for history of Fota.)

The island in the pond.

The collection of trees and shrubs from all over the world is spectacular but beautifully compact, the very essence of picturesque. Perfect for a dander just as the leaves are changing, taking on their autumn shades and before they fall.

B calls this place the garden of sighs. She sighs a great deal when we walk here. The soft moist oxygen rich breath of the trees gives you a feeling of wellbeing that is both stimulating and relaxing. We try to go every few months to witness the changing costume of the seasons. I am struggling with a damaged knee and walking is still difficult but this is one walk I can do willingly. We always return feeling renewed and with our imaginations stuffed full of beautiful natural image replays.



A Paperbark Cherry, not that described.

One image stands out: the sunlit splendour of a mature Paperbark Cherry. This demanded fondling and wonderment at it’s silk ribbon wrapped red-gold beauty.

I now have a new scene for the novel in progress, Trial. David and Regan must walk here hand in hand. David is wrapped in Regan’s beauty but made melancholy by the falling of the year and their failing relationship.




(Fota’s arboretum and gardens are what they are today thanks to the Smith-Barry family who recognised the significance of Fota’s sheltered location and warm soil – “Fota” is derived from the Irish “Fód te” meaning warm soil – perfect for the growing and cultivation of rare trees and exotic plants.The development of the arboretum coincided with the great plant hunting expeditions around the world bringing back wonderful specimens from places such as the Orient, South America and the Pacific coast of northwest America.In the 1840’s, John Smith-Barry showed considerable foresight in generously spacing the trees, enabling them to thrive as they do today with stunning seasonal displays of colour. The family also recorded the plant collections throughout the 19th century and this important work of cataloguing, conservation and development continues today. Many of these plant collections are arranged in association with the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, and other botanic institutions such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Scotland. Fota arboretum and gardens were transferred to state care in 1996 and are now in the care of the Office of Public Works in conjunction with the Irish Heritage Trust.)


Taking liberties with the facts.

It’s often called artistic licence, some might say it’s not justified, others it’s a valid tool of the creator of the fiction that is the novel.

In my first published novel, Conflict, I use a location for some of the crucial scenes, which I knew to be historically inaccurate. The prime location for much of the action is a driving school located in Smithfield Square, Belfast. The old covered market that once stood there is the setting for several pivotal scenes. The novel is set in the late 1970s several years after the old market was burned down in a firebomb attack. It was eventually re-built in the form it now has. When I set these scenes, I knew I was playing fast and loose with the facts of the location.

So far, no reader has pulled me up on that, so for the record here is a little of the nostalgia that led me to use this location – even after it had been consigned to the history files I raided for these images. (They are taken from public access internet sources, if any are considered copyright protected let me know and I’ll take the offending image down.)

The bookshop

I set one scene in the second-hand book shop seen in this image.  This place was responsible for my youthful literary (and sexual) education. Harry Hall, book seller, sold and traded mostly cheap paperbacks but also mens interest magazines! A boy who looked older than his thirteen years might, if he was bold, buy such a magazine there. Perhaps to stash it under his bed for secret pleasures and revelations about the mystery of the much desired but unknown land that was the woman.

I began my collection of John Steinbeck’s novels in Harry Hall’s shop. I still have several first edition paperbacks bought there when I was perhaps twelve. The more common and long forgotten pot boilers were traded for the shillings, I earned on my paper rounds. I spent money earned in this way, feeding my mind rather than on the more usual: sweets and soda and the then new – cheese and onion potato crisps.

The market square.

Fiction and non fiction, anything and everything could be found in this literary underworld of cheap and often pulp fiction. So when I embarked, late in life, on a literary adventure, this my literary touch stone, had to feature in that work, even if the historical facts didn’t support that. I took liberties with an area infamous in Belfast’s cultural history, for the taking of liberties.


This history taken from:

An old map of Smithfield.

Smithfield Market became the focus of popular culture throughout the nineteenth century with, at one time, 27 public houses being resident on the square. Smithfield’s reputation for bawdy life was embodied by the location of Marshalsea Prison, a hospital, dispensary and a house of industry, on the square. The market itself was mostly open to the elements until the Belfast Corporation created a square roofed building sometime during the late nineteenth century. The market housed clothes dealers, auctioneer’s, theatres and a handball alley. One contemporary noted: ‘We penetrated into Smithfield court, which is not unworthy of the patronymic. This is, as we learned on the spot, the battle ground of the whole neighborhood; and wrathful pugilists resort thither, even from the most distant parts of the town, to settle their disputes after their own fashion, undisturbed by impertinent policemen.’

The Rev WM O’Hanlon expressed stronger views in 1853: ‘The very worst grade of our population will be found heaped together, corrupting and being corrupted, in this quarter. It is a sort of tumour … in the heart of our city.’ The square was at its most lively at the end of August during the Lammas fair. As SM Elliott testified: ‘Thousands of country people, especially sweethearts, gathered in Smithfield.’ The ghost of Biddy Farelly is said to walk the market at Lammas time, seeking out Luke White, her childhood sweetheart who deserted her to earn his fortune in Dublin.

With the advent of the covered square, Smithfield became, in the words of Robert Johnstone, ‘like the souk in an Hibernian Casablanca’, an underground paradise of bric-a-brac.

Prominent families included the Dawsons, the Kavanaghs and the Havelins, who still run premises on Berry Street. The last inhabitant of Smithfield, Joe Kavanagh, did not close his ‘I buy anything’ shop until 2000, which for many was the valedictory event in Smithfield’s history. The market continued to exist under the noses of the great industrial citizens, always regarded as a low place with dubious morals. For most of the twentieth century, the Belfast Corporation, as the council was then called, attempted to close Smithfield down.

An inside lane.

In 1974, the Corporation was planning to demolish the old bus station site, but they were saved the trouble by the efforts of firebombers in May. Amid the uproar of those years, nostalgia was a rare resource, but many were aware that a complex and colourful past had been razed.The market was rebuilt with prefabs in 1976, and a new brick building was opened in 1986. But to many in the city, the soul of the market was gone. With the advent of Castle Court, a smelly, dirty and disorganised market had little place in the city.To those who remember the old Smithfield or have listened to its tales, a certain part of the rough and ready exoticism of Belfast has been lost. As Herbert Moore Pim states in Unknown Immortals:’In Smithfield, breathing as it does the majestic maxim, “Man know thyself” we have a storehouse of splendours, for the loss of which nothing could compensate this city of success.’

Abandon Genre?

Let me declare an interest first: The limitations, (self-imposed or inflicted by big publishers,) that writing within a genre inflicts on my creative process, was one of the principal reasons I went Indie.

Genre is a thing most writers grapple with either during the creative process, or more usually after – when they are trying to wedge their work into one of the strictly enforced genre groups dictated first by agents, then publishers and finally by retailers.

My writing has always been defiant of an easy fit within in one or even three genres. I choose to avoid thinking about genre at all during the creative process. I follow the plot and the characters in a process of imaginative living and visualising that takes many twists and turns and does not conform to any genre specific rules.  That results in, thriller like scenes, physiological drama, free-flow internal dialogue, poetic literary description of places and people, sexual and sensual frankness and challenging perspectives on politics, history and society. There may be themes in each novel and subtexts that explore a given idea, but usually when I begin a new novel – I’ve no idea where it will go and certainly no idea what genre slot it might be crammed uncomfortably into.

Please don’t get the idea I’m complaining here. I think the advent of Indie publishing and the freedom afforded to writers by the explosion of eBooks and the possibilities offered by Createspace and other on-demand publishers, is the greatest liberation ever offered to those of us compelled to follow the uniquely human impulse to tell stories. However; even here in the brave new publishing world, we must face the task of ticking the menu-buttons to indicate what genre our efforts must be labelled with. I tried the catch all: Literary fiction. I tried: Thriller and it’s sub headings.  I tried: Family Saga. I tried: Historical Fiction. I even included: Lesbian romance. All this after the novel was completed, never during the writing.

Here I come to the argument of this essay: How much should we as writers allow concerns about genre to dictate how we write and what we write? There are obvious exceptions. Those who describe what they write as: Science Fiction, or perhaps: Erotica, or: Crime –  might think those genres present no impediment to them as writers. I would argue that even within these fairly clear genres, too, much concern about staying within prescribed boundaries limits the creative process and results in work that is less satisfying for reader and writer than it could be – if genre were not considered during the writing.

I am therefore suggesting, that we as writers, need to be braver about stepping outside the traditional boundaries of genre, at least during the creative process. I’d love to see these genre categories destroyed completely but I can see how that revolution might have downsides too.

Perhaps a compromise might be a whole new genre: Outside Genre or No Genre. Come on Amazon, let’s have that on your listings.

Priceless satisfaction.

This review is far and away the most satisfying I’ve ever had. When I set out to write a series or saga following characters through their lives, I wanted to involve the reader and give them a reason to continue through the series as they grew ever more familiar with the protagonists. I wanted them to befriend Daniel, Lauren and Bonny and share the drama of their lives. The big challenge was to do this with an original voice. I tried to step outside the expected and challenge the reader to think about the novels subjects and see things afresh. There are new and challenging perspectives on national identity, history, sexual roles, society and politics.

I was ambitious and I knew this unconventional subject mater and approach would not please all readers but I hoped it would intrigue and thrill others.

This review was the first to confirm I’d achieved success. I’m delighted.  Bless you AngieB, for even if I get other such reviews, I’ll always cherish this one. The first to see the work as I intended it to be seen. That is priceless.

5.0 out of 5 stars Such a unique & engaging story…, August 24, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Conflict (The Daniel Series) (Kindle Edition)

LOVE this book which was so new and interesting to me having never read anything like it … it captured my attention immediately and I was desperate to learn more and more about the well-written characters of Daniel, Lauren & Bonny and how their story unfolds… I have since ripped through all the available books in the Daniel Series and anxiously await the next publication “Pyramid” (6th in the series). This series has intrigue, danger & excitement, feeling, love & sensuality … had my emotions all over the place!