Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison

Mullaghmore mountain on the Burren, County Clare, Ireland

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marilyn miller writes from toms river, nj, united states
cora, i've just finished "eye of the law" & meant to write down a word i saw. i blieve it was spelled craic & thought of nuala duffy of shanagarry b&b in limerick. i think that may have been the word she used once while i was staying there. i meant to ask her what it meant but didn't. i blieve i heard the same word on national public radio & it sounded like crack. is this the same word? also, if u just recently saw a brehon manuscript how did u research ur stories? finally, my grandparents came from monagea, limerick & doonane, clare. i don't like 2 fly but am coming back 2 ireland this september. plus my deceased mother-in-law's maiden name was harrison & 16 yrs ago she still had a cousin living somewhere north of galway. finally, isn't it amazing that ireland was so "civilized" in 1510? that's a bit of my american sarcasm.

Wed Jul 21 16:14:48 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Dear Kelly,
It's lovely to know that you are enjoying 'Sting of Justice'.
Yes, the Burren is lovely - especially in the sun! At the moment we are having the usual very wet July and everyone is hoping for a fine August. I exercised a novelist's privilege and chose the opening years of the reign of King Henry VIII when the summers were splendidly warm and sunny.
As for the spelling of the mountain, this is minefield because any mapping of Ireland was done by the English who wrote the names of places as they sounded - different maps have different spelling. I stick to one map, Tim Robinson's map of the Burren, as he did a lot of research, and spell according to that one.
Michigan sounds lovely and I hope you enjoy your job. I always did, but my retirement occupation is proving fairly enthralling also. I do so enjoy writing about my fictional school - I wish I had made them all a bit younger - with my book 5 I am faced with having to part from Enda who is a favourite of mine!

Sun Jul 18 09:32:19 2010

Kelly writes from United States
Dear Cora,

I'm halfway through "The Sting of Justice"- and have truly enjoyed learning about Ireland as I read this very entertaining mystery story! I've also been inspired to bake a few oatcakes, and to search the internet for pictures of the areas you've described in your book. I see now that I should have gone to your site first - you have so many lovely pictures! I was wondering why, when I look for the mountain of Cappanabhaile, I can only find Cappabhaile as a reference on google. Was Cappanabhaile the medieval spelling of the mountain? Ireland is such a unique and beautiful place - there really is no other like it in the world. I live in a similarly unusual location - Michigan - surrounded by the 5 great freshwater lakes. While reading your guestbook I was not surprised to find that you were a teacher. I can "feel" the teachers touch in your writing! I am a teacher (for almost 25 years now) in the public school system - 4th graders (9 - 10 year olds). I intend to search out the rest of your books as soon as I finish this one! I also want to read the children's books. Congratulations on a successful series!

Sun Jul 18 03:47:49 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Thank you, Paul, that is very high praise and I feel a bit overwhelmed by it
I am so enthusiastic about Brehon law that sometimes I fear that I might overdo it - it's reassuring to know that you think I get the balance right.

I think that my best mystery is either 'Michaelmas Tribute' or, in America, 'A Secret & Unlawful Killing' or 'Writ in Stone' but the most interesting from the point of view of the Brehon law - and a favourite of mine - is 'Eye of the Law'

Good luck with the cooking, Jean.

Sat Jul 10 08:52:11 2010

Jean at The Delightful Repast writes from USA
Hello Cora, I came to your website by way of your comment at Your comment painted such a picture of rural Ireland, I was moved to investigate! I'm the person who contributed the poundcake and trifle recipes for the Supper at the Netherfield Ball (Pride and Prejudice) post you were commenting on.

Like many others, I tend to romanticize the era and choose to not think about the unpleasant things like the lack of modern dentistry and indoor plumbing! And I suppose cooking (my main hobby as well as what I write about and blog about) is a bit easier on a gas stove with temperature regulation.

Looking forward to visiting your site again in a day or two when I'll have plenty of time to enjoy it.

All the best,
Jean at

Tue Jul 6 22:42:38 2010

Paul Schoaff writes from USA - Florida
I have seldom experienced such a sure-handed rendition of historical fiction. The balance you exhibit, between educating us of the special place and time you chose and the intricate but comprehensible plot, is masterful.

Congratulations, you have a new fan. I can't wait to find the rest of your books about the Burren. (or is it just "Burren", not "the Burren"?)

Mon Jul 5 22:59:45 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I walked around Poulnabrone the other day - just checking on the wild flowers that are in bloom in late June as the book I am writing now is set around midsummer.
It's amazing to see how many people from every country, every continent of the world were gathered there. The Burren is no longer a the best-kept secret in Ireland.
I grew up in Ireland, but never heard of it - and yet it is as beautiful in its own way as Killarney and Connemara.

Mon Jun 28 10:08:59 2010

Sue writes from Channel Islands
Dear Mrs Harrison

Just wanted to add my thanks and appreciation for your lovely series about Mara, which I found quite by accident when looking for books about the Burren on Amazon, one day!

I've visited the Burren several times and have fallen head over heels in love with this magical place. I'll be returning this summer with my children, and will be searching out more places mentioned in your books.

I am really looking forward to your next book.



Mon Jun 28 10:00:00 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Dear Ali,

I think you are like me - I read fast, also and when I like a book I can't wait to read the next in the series.

I'm just on the last pages of writing book 6. Like you, I'm fond of Nuala and there's quite a bit about her in this book. It's fun to write lots of books set in the same place and bringin in the same characters as a backdrop to the mystery. I was just passing the ruins of Lissylisheen the other day and I could almost picture Ardal O'Lochlainn on his strawberry mare riding down the road ahead of me!

My brother lives in Australia - in Sydney - and he loves Austalia and says that Ireland in his memories (we lived in Cork) is such a miserable place - always raining. However the there were a few wonderful summers in the beginning of the reign of King Henry VIII so I feel justified in letting the sun shine!

Sun Jun 27 07:35:37 2010

Ali writes from Australia
I have just finished all 5 of the Burren mysteries (in less than a month I'm afraid). I have now posted them all to my mother. She'll love them too, I'm sure. Please write more soon!
I love the way the characters are so fully described, yet there are not too many to keep track of. I think my favourite may be young Nuala, although I love all the characters. You describe the exuberance of all the youngsters so well. I can picture them them gambolling about like puppies when released from their lessons.
I am so pleased there is another series to enjoy describing the very interesting early justice system of Ireland. I also love Peter Tremayne's books.
Burren sounds like a fascinating place. Yet another interesting location to visit...

Sun Jun 27 03:48:12 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I've just read your email, Carol - have just returned from Scotland.
Thanks for the compliments. Like you and your daughter, I and my daughter share a taste in reading and she was the one that recommended Ellis Peters 'Brother Cadfael' books to me - I think they certainly were part of my inspiration for my own 'Mara' books.

Sat Jun 19 21:31:31 2010

Carol Cook writes from Canada
Dear Cora, Have just finished reading "My Lady Judge", a delightful book and introduction to the past.
I must tell you how this all came about. In an email to my favourite mystery book shop, (walls lined with books and ladders to climb to reach them, and a little dog, Percy, whom I haven't met as yet) I asked for recommendation for an Irish mystery, by an Irish person, living in Ireland, to be read prior to visiting Ireland. You have introduced my daughter, granddaughter and myself to a part of Ireland, we never knew existed. We did get to visit the Burrens and walk around, and oh, so very sorry we had not more time. The three of us loved the area and wished we could have stayed to explore.
What a treasure to be able to read such a lovely storey and relate to where it took place. Thank you, Cora. Fortunately, my granddaughter, Meghan, is a "reader" and I will give her your book for she and her Mom, to enjoy. We had only a week, a celebration of a young lady's 16th birthday and a chance for us all to be together and see where parts of us came from.
Sincerely, Carol Cook

Thu Jun 17 03:40:52 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Thanks, Tricia, that's great to hear! I'm busy with number six now and hope that you will enjoy that also when it is published.

Fri Jun 11 14:32:56 2010

Tricia writes from England
Dear Cora,
Having visited Ireland on numerous occasions, I was thrilled to discover your Brehon books......and now I'm completely hooked. We've just come back from Ballyvaughan, it was wonderful to visit places mentioned in your books, made me feel really close to Mara....she's such a charismatic person.
I'm now on my 4th book, and once again can't put it down.
Once again .....thank you

Wed Jun 9 13:08:58 2010

Francis Close writes from Northern Ireland
Hi Cora.........just ordered 15 copies of the Famine Secret at Drumshee from Tara Book Co......................thanks very much.............I look forward to doing it with the children in September..........................Maybe we will see you in the Glens sometime in the school year 2010-2011.....will keep in touch...........

Thanks again and all the best

Francis Close (Principal, Glenann Primary School, Cushendall, Co. Antrim)

Tue Jun 1 15:40:09 2010

Rebecca writes from France
Hello again!

The family were very touched to be remembered after by "a world famous author" (as Tabi put it!) and send you their best wishes. Yes, I remember Sarah and James although we weren't in the same year, and I also remember taking Mara for walks in Dawbourne woods. I have very happy memories of St Michael's and do often wonder if my own teaching style is a reflection of the many teachers who have touched my life over the years.
I was also amused to see that you share a love of French wine with your main character. The whole culture of food and drink that there is in France is one of my favourite aspects I must admit, although my love affair with all things french started after a family holiday whilst at secondary school. After Ashford Girls, I went on to study French and Spanish at Durham and spent my third year abroad, 6 months in Madrid and 6 months in Nice where I met my future husband. I have been teaching in the French school system as an official 'fonctionnaire' for 4 years now but recently went back to university to start a phD in American cinema studies. As I am working at the same time I won't be looking to present my thesis before another 3 or 4 years if everything goes to plan!
You always encouraged me to do my best at school and even today you are an inspiration to me as you have done so much in your life in different fields which proves that if you put your mind to something you can do it. So I just wanted to say again what a pleasure it was to discover your books and I will let you know how my own attempt at writing (my thesis) evolves.

Best wishes,

Sat May 29 14:08:12 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Dear Rebecca,

How wonderful to hear from you!

Yes, you are quite right. Mara was my dog when you were at primary school. Do you remember Year 6 volunteers playing hide-and-go-seek with her in the wood across the road?

My heroine wasn't Mara in the beginning. Her name was Macha, which is an ancient Irish name, but everyone in England, my agent, the publisher and my editor seemed to have great difficulty in pronouncing it with the proper 'huh' sound in the middle so they asked me to change it. I thought of 'Mara' my so intelligent, so feisty dog, and so renamed her.

I love France - everything about it - language, literature, countryside, wine (especially the wine) and so quite envy you.

Nice to know that you enjoyed the books. I've heard from sarah Bilik - do you remember her? And met James Warren and a few others when I went to Tenterdern for the launch of 'My Lady Judge'.

Please give my love to your mum and to Tabitha, and to yourself, of course. You were a very bright girl and I'm sure make a very good teacher.

Thu May 20 17:15:26 2010

Rebecca Landi née Franklin writes from Nice, France
Dear Mrs Harrison,

I was delighted to discover the first book in your Burren Series, especially as I'm one of your old St Michael's Primary School pupils and have many fond memories of my time there and of you as our headmistress! My mother came across 'My Lady Judge', got hooked and sent me the first two installments of the series for Christmas. I have only just got round to reading them and was delighted by the setting, characters and storylines. Although my first thought when seeing the name Mara was of your puppy back at primary school, I'm sure that was her name!?

I've followed in your footsteps and am now an English teacher in France, so more grammar than literature, but still very interesting. I won't bore you with any more details, but I just wanted to say what a delight it was to discover your work.

Best regards,

Thu May 20 15:41:26 2010

Nina Meyer writes from USA
Dear Ms Howard,

I just finished your STING OF JUSTICE. It was such a delightful book with a twist at the end. I have added your books to the list of must have books. Thank you for you wonderful writing and the hours of enjoyment I got reading it.


Wed May 12 12:21:40 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Jackie: I'm about quarter of the way through 'Summons to Labour' and it's going well! It should be out in the UK in September. US is always a few months later, I think.

Larry: I'm glad you said that about writing well about young people. These bits just write themselves. I think that those six boys are as real to me as kids that I have actually taught.
A year or so ago I actually saw, in the British Library, the manuscript of Brehon Laws written at Cahermacnaghten. It was compiled by Domhnall O'Davoren and his scholars. They seemed a very bright sparky crew - complaining in marginalia about their master and the food and joking about Semus and the drink.
At the moment I am struggling with what to do about Enda. I like him very much but he has just passed his final examinations and really should go out into the world. I am so sorry to part with him as he is a great favourite of mine.

Shauna: Yes, I did send to that address - but I have re-sent so hopefully it should arrive. I think emails are a bit strange at the moment with all this volcanic dust over Ireland.

Wed May 12 10:51:38 2010 writes from Larry Mitchell - Canada
Just finished A SECRET AND UNLAWFUL KILLING and enjoyed it very much. You write beautifully with a deep understanding of children and the young. I was charmed from the get-go and look forward to reading the rest in the Mara series.
I am requesting my library to track down some of your childrens books. Even tho I am 64 I love to read quality childrens literature.
From some of what I've read hear it may be difficult finding some of your books here in Western Canada. However, there is always Amazon and I understand much of your stuff is available there.
Thank you so much for the great pleasure you have given me.
Warm regards,

Tue May 11 04:28:04 2010

Jackie Wallace writes from USA

Just finished your last book Eye of the Law and have read all six so far. I pray you are writing another as I need to know if Mara has her baby or not. Wonderful writing. My friends are enthralled with your books also and can hardly wait for me to finish each book so they can read them.

Tue May 11 00:02:01 2010

Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Morag: I agree with you about Amazon. I spend a lot of my money there. Living as I do in the remote west of Ireland it is hard tofind any much other than the latest bestseller in bookshops. Once you have found out about a book you can get it on Amazon.
I'm so pleased that you like my 'Mara' book. I am just writing book 6 at the moemnt and am pleased to find that it flows along and almost writes itself. More often than not it is some one of the Brehon laws that triggers a book. In book 5 it was the law that said a woman on her death bed must be believed when she names the true father of her child.
intersting about Saxon law. I must confess I know nothing about it. I must look it up.

Sheena: I have listened to the auido edition of the first two books and thought they was very well done. The reader got advice from Galway university - and that's great.

Shauna: I hope that map of places was ok and that you could open the file. It would be wonderful to have a real map on my website.

Sun May 9 20:31:24 2010

Sheena Rennie writes from Yorkshire
I am SO pleased to find your web-site - but even more happy to have found "My Lady Judge" on my library shelves. For information to Eileen McCarthy Burbage who wrote earlier - I found it first as a talking book, read by a very authentic-souding Irish voice which gives some hints at pronounciation. I have now listened to that twice and read the paper copy twice thinking I might have to wait years before finding another story!
I, along with many of your other correspondents, feel that Brehon Law seemed so much more humane and sensible! Bring it back!! Interestingly my brother-in-law tells me that in fact English law prior to the landing of the Normans was similar.
I look forward to meeting with Mara again soon. Thank you for all.

Sun May 9 18:14:19 2010

Morag Rothwell writes from Milton Keynes England
Dear Ms Harrison,

I discovered your "Burren" books about a month ago in my library, they are fantastic! I'll now be buying them to read again and again! Your descriptions of the law and the land and the people have awakened an interest in me to find out more. It's such a shame that a "conquering" people have to try and stamp out things they look down on or feel are "outdated and simple". The Brehon laws sound so much more practical and logical, as you say, what is the point in putting some one in prison for what was really no crime at all. I'm looking forward to reading your London books as soon as I find them. Thank goodness for Amazon! My daughter now knows exactly what to get me for birthdays etc. Thank you!

Sat May 8 19:17:45 2010

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