Born 1929 to an Irish farming family when all about us suffered the consequences of The Great Depression and Economic War. I was the lucky one, the precious late arrival after the early losses of siblings, the protected one who did not realise until years later the sacrifices made for me by parents and much older brothers. Years of wandering followed through England, Scotland, Peru, Australia and, at last, my home in New Zealand.
My living always involved the technology of the time. Sometimes this belonged more to the 19th than to the 20th century as in Peru where the whole chain of marine cables functioned without a thermionic valve, much less a transistor. With the correct piece of copper wire and a soldering iron we could and did keep the system alive from Panama to Valparaiso. Stories abound, as of the sole-charge night-shift operator of a coastal relay station who fell asleep on watch. No problem: the incoming tape would coil itself neatly on the floor for him to on-forward. However, a strategically positioned knot-hole allowed the tape to feed through to the grateful goat below. No doubt, he cooked up a technical explanation of his request for retransmission.
It amazes me now that I put so much effort into the Morse code and its derivative, Cable code, as if this was the final achievement of communications. Are we all that dumb in hindsight? In a few years will our successors look back in pity at our faith in the internet and its applications?
In middle years I was told of the fate of my baby-dead siblings. The anger would not leave me. I was forced to write about it and the novel Children of the Cromlech is the result. It is my imagination at work on my experiences. Not a literal truth but, I believe, the truth none-the-less. I hope some will find it valuable in understanding the iron fists of economics and of religion that ruled their forebears.
Where to find John O'Neill online
Where to buy in print
Ned Hickey - A Hero of Two Revolutions
by John O'Neill
This story about Ned Hickey, an Irish hero in Ireland and America in the War of Independence, is written for readers who love to dream, to imagine - scenes, faces, settings and yet do need a story on which to hang their vision of how the earth moves for ordinary humans in extraordinary times or circumstances.
Children of the Cromlech
by John O'Neill
Three young Irish growing up in the unromantic Ireland of the 1930's... As children they meet around a secret Druid's stone for illegal smokes... They follow very different paths, but later their lives reconnect in surprising ways when the Stone is destroyed and the village is bitterly divided... At last, however, they all find their own hard-won enlightenments.
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