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The Emerald Diaries, a novel

The Emerald Diaries - Secrets of an Irish Clan

Shiny new, fully edited and re-imagined 4th edition of this historical fantasy/fiction novel.

Foreword by Will Millar, (founder of the Irish Rovers). Original inside illustration – A Gift of Words – by Fiona Van Housen.


SCROLL down to read a few combined passages from the first five chapters.

Does she hail from a matriarchal lineage of madwomen? Or an ancestry of female power and purpose?

Norah’s life and novelist career are thriving and her once solitary existence is opening to a newfound love, but her enduring desire for a deep connection with her often dismissive mother, Úla, still feels elusive. After the mysterious disappearance of her grandmother, Norah finds a peculiar box while sorting the contents of her Nana’s old barn. This recovery turns Norah’s life into a whirlwind of discovery. Secrets and revelations pour forth from a mysterious family diary that details the intricately connected stories and lines of her foremothers.

Falling under the spell of the Irish Seannachí (storytellers), Norah must ignore the laws of logic as she journey’s into the ancient traditions and long-hidden ways of knowing. Through the process Úla unravels the puzzle of her own tumultuous maternal relationship as she and Norah work to repair theirs.

When Úla unexpectedly finds herself ar death’s door, Norah must risk testing ancient ceremonial traditions for new world solutions to save her mother.

Fiction, fantasy, history, folklore, and impish flights of fancy pleasurably collide for a startling and intoxicating read through the ages of Ireland.

What People Are Saying About The Emerald Diaries

About the book:

ISBN: 978-1-7387936-2-4
Page count: 354
Word count: 94,594
Price:  $24,95 CAD
(Signed copy shipped from author +$15.90/book)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
(Audio Book & Hardcover coming soon)

“As you journey into Mary Murphy’s new tale, you may just hear a faint cry of a fiddle on the sea wind. She weaves a tale with the same love and magic that generations of Seannachie (storytellers) used to cast spells over their hushed listeners.” — Will Millar, founder of The Irish Rovers, Canada

“…altogether engrossing. I was immediately transported to the crackling warmth of an Irish hearth fire and to the timeless stories one always finds there.” — Potpourri Book Club, Corpus Christi, USA

“…enchanting and filled with dreams. It is Mary’s way with words and charming turn of phrase that captivates the reader and compels us to turn the pages.” — Literary Review, Ireland

“There’s the quality of ‘enchantment’ that Mary Murphy brings…an ease and flow to her writing that brings a sense of the fantastical…an imaginative, lyrical style that is both poetic and evocative.” — Whistler Book Awards, Canada

Order your signed copies directly from Mary. Free pickup in Downtown Courtenay, shipping also available ($$$ though). 

For more than 4 books, please contact us for special shipping rate.

Story Sample:

A few combined  passages from the first five chapters of the newly revised Edition


Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland   2014

Norah sat on the floor in front of the roaring fire with her tea, and let her eyes wander about the room. Her great-grandmother, Caitlín Norah Sinnott, had purchased the house in 1915. There were times when Norah felt she could hear the voices and see the shadows of not only her long past relatives, but the shadows and voices of all those that had lived there before. It was not so much that the rooms were housing ghosts; it was more an acute sense of the strong and energetic lives that had occupied and loved the place, a perceptible presence of those who had left their indelible mark in the very air she breathed.

It felt good to be home. The ten days in Canada at the International Writers Conference had been a whirlwind; and a trial of patience. True enough, there had been some positive aspects to the trip, but mostly, it was the usual politics of who knows whom in the foreground and petty nitpicking in the background.

Norah just wanted to write. Having never been one to join in the peculiarities of the writer’s world, she was seen as talented but shy, and to some, aloof. Norah would be the first to agree with this assessment. She knew her leanings were that of an introverted extrovert. Once behind a podium, or when interacting with customers, her genuinely bubbly nature bloomed brightly, but her day-to-day preferences aimed toward solitude and privacy.

Norah stretched and yawned, then gave herself a vigorous shake, hoping that might dispel her mental inertia. Sitting at her desk was often the best way to propel  herself into a creative writing frame of mind and so made her way, wearily, to her chair, collapsing into it. Phone calls could wait ‘til a decent hour to be returned.

She swiveled her chair in slow circles, all the while glancing at the photographs taped along the shelves of her desk. Norah knew she should be immersing herself in her writing but was finding it hard to concentrate. Her first few stories had materialized relatively easily, but recently, writer’s block had set in and that, combined with travelling, was creating mental strain and pressure, which is never a good thing for a writer to feel.

Writer’s block was not an overly rare occurrence for Norah, but she could usually resolve it in an odd but effective manner. It was not something she talked to people about, but when writing desperation struck or, frankly, when any part of her world became thorny, Norah would call on her inner voice. She knew full well that it was a peculiar quirk, but this inner voice had been with her since she could first remember. Her inner voice had a name. Genevieve.

Some of Norah’s earliest recollections included Genevieve. She would sit and chat away to her imaginary playmate on a daily basis. When she went to her nana’s house, this very house, Nana would encourage her to talk to Genevieve and would set up extra teacups and plates for Genevieve at the table. Her nana was a great one for storytelling and would include both Norah and Genevieve in many of her fanciful tales. Caves would be built out of sheets, boats out of chairs, faeries appeared, and other unearthly magic abounded.

Though Genevieve was still part of Norah’s life, these days she did not often speak out loud to her. Genevieve had become more like her conscience, her voice of reason, and a name to call upon when feeling perplexed. As Norah sat at her desk, she wondered if part of her drive to write fantasy-driven books was a deep desire to retreat to a world of childhood imagination; retreat to the magical time she had spent with her nana and Genevieve.

Perhaps it was nostalgic recollections combined with the adjustment of Canadian versus Irish time that was causing Norah to feel woeful, but either way, it was of no matter. Work was out of the question. This prompted her decision to focus her energies on wandering out to the barn to begin the no doubt laborious task of sorting through her nana’s stored belongings.

Norah threw on her coat, grabbed a torch, her phone, several large empty rubbish bags, and sloshed her way through deep puddles, out to the barn. The blackened space became dimly lit as she opened the hulking timber door and pulled on the flimsy dangling light cord. The bare bulb above her head swayed, buzzed and flickered, causing numerous shadows in the barn to dance. Norah eyed the three lonely horse stalls as she made her way to the back of the barn, contemplating future possibilities of housing creatures for which they were intended.

Feeling suddenly inspired, Norah ran up the narrow steps to the loft. The squeaking of the wooden floorboards, mingled with the pungent odour of musty hay, brought pleasant memories to mind. Two scruffy doves flew from atop the rafters, fluttering about the place before coming to rest on a woodpile down below. The irritated couple’s beady black eyes glared at the brazen intruder, and they commenced to fluff their feathers, and coo their annoyances.

 Norah proceeded to wander the loft, steering clear of the edge, running her fingers along old furniture, cardboard boxes, and bookshelves. It was hard to know where to begin. “Let there be light,” she said aloud.

Throwing wide the sets of thick bedraggled curtains that hung askew on their rods, Norah exposed two neighbouring windows. Though this action did make a smattering of difference, the filth of the panes, along with the layered cobwebs, did little to alter the loft’s muted light. Moving to the bookshelves, Norah spread and scrutinized the numerous magazines and papers.

 “Nothing worth keeping here.” Into the bag they went. Many of the empty glass canning jars were chipped and they joined the papers in the bottom of the bag. Several boxes, stacked on top of and next to each other, caught Norah’s attention and she began to open and examine the contents of each.

The last box was crammed into a space behind and under an old card table. Norah knelt down and tugged hard until the box dislodged. It was a peculiar looking green box, covered in dust. Norah leaned closer and wiped away the grey particles with her right hand, causing a puff of the delicate trespassers to swirl outward. Two words were written across the top. The name ‘Caitlín’ was clearly visible. The other word was barely legible, and Norah could not make out what it said. Placing the box on the open card table, Norah excitedly realised the box must have belonged to her great-grand mother.

 The green box was held together by brown twine that broke easily apart under Norah’s strong fingers. The first thing to greet her eyes was a bulky object wrapped in tissue paper. Removing the tissue revealed a lacy item, wrapped in plastic. What emerged from the plastic was a floor length, cotton and lace dress, with a high collar and long lace sleeves. Though the fabric had yellowed with age, it was still breathtaking. Yellow-white pearls encircled the neckline and on down the front of the garment to the narrow waistline. Norah held the dress up to her body in a deep hug. “Oh my,” whispered Norah. “This is glorious.”

Norah’s great-grandmother, Caitlín, had been what some would call eccentric. She was a woman who, through individual preferences and life circumstances, lived life along the opposite grain whenever possible. She Chapter 7 37 had arrived at the village in a cart pulled by a white and a black horse. A young baby girl, Bríghid, barely out of wraps, lay alongside her contented and unchallenged by their mode of travel. Caitlín claimed to be a widow from a distant county in search of a better life for herself and her daughter. It was a scandal to be sure. An outspoken young woman, travelling alone with a child, plenty of coin in her pockets and a determination to be reckoned with; most villagers found these characteristics to be unnerving at best.

Caitlín’s overall unconventional sense of style and grace unfailingly left its imprint on those with whom she came in contact. Her petite, straight backed, spirited gait caused many a head to turn as she circulated among the villagers, portraying a beautiful, yet mighty storm, unwilling to abide by the laws of platitudes.

She had bought the Malloy’s property immediately upon seeing it and had worked the land with the sweat and passion of any able-bodied man. Unless working the land, her untamed, wavy, nut-brown mane tumbled loosely to the small of her slender back. Those who dared venture a sustained pause to survey her cocoa-coloured cat-shaped pools would no doubt have been privy to a fervent and deeply mysterious soul.

Norah laid the dress to the side and peered once again into the green box. A large dark leather book peeked through the next layer of aged tissue paper. Gingerly, Norah removed the book and slowly unwound the fine brown ribbon that held it closed at a centre clasp. The front and back covers were so decayed that they were well in the process of pulling away from the spine.

What met Norah’s eyes, when she opened the book, was elegant handwriting in blue-black ink. An azure ribbon on the inside cover held a small skeleton key. The key was only about an inch and a half in length, and the solid crown was etched with a swirling design. The pattern looked familiar to Norah, but she couldn’t put her finger on where she had seen it before.

Norah read the first few sentences.

“I am hoping this diary survives through all life’s unexpected movements and uncertainties. I am also hoping that a future female family member is reading it, for a female alone will understand its importance and implications. I am known as Caitlín Norah Sinnott. This, however, is not the name given to me by my parents, Grace and Liam Furlong. At the time of my birth, they lovingly named me Genevieve Norah Furlong. Norah let out a yelp and dropped the diary onto the table. “Genevieve? Are ya joking?”

The instant roaring of Norah’s pumping heart permeated her ears, along with a sweeping heat, as blood surged through her veins. Feeling lightheaded, Norah picked up the diary and sat cross-legged on the dusty loft floor. As she re-opened the diary, a black and white photograph fell to her lap. It was a photograph of a woman that anyone would mistake for herself, except for the fact that the photograph was vintage. The woman in the photograph had to be Caitlín, rather Genevieve, wearing the very dress that was now draped on the table alongside Norah.

Caitlín . . . Genevieve . . . was small boned and finely featured. Her smile was full and genuine, and Norah could see how she would be viewed as both elusive and beguiling. There was a slight mischievousness about the way the corners of her mouth arched as she smiled and the intensity with which she eyed the lens of the camera. In her right hand, Genevieve held what looked like a kaleidoscope, about a foot in length. From one end, silver threads of light glimmered, as though a blast of light was escaping.

On closer inspection, peeking from around the corner of the barn, just behind Genevieve, was the impish face of a little girl of about ten years of age. It was obvious that the child knew she was being a little cheeky by imposing herself into the photo, as proved by her hand semi-covering a broad grin. Of course, the child had to be Norah’s nana, Bríghid.

Genevieve, Genevieve. Her great-grandmother’s birth name had really been Genevieve Norah Furlong. Where did the name Caitlín Norah Sinnott come from then? Still feeling lost and bewildered, Norah placed the photograph back in-between the two pages and returned to the diary.