Kathleen Watkins book 9 copy

Marty Morrissey and Maura Connolly pictured at the launch of Kathleen Watkin’s new children’s book, Pigín of Howth, at The National Gallery of Ireland

Picture:Brian McEvoy
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Ryan Tubridy this evening launched Kathleen Watkins’ new children’s book, Pigín of Howth, at an invite only event in The Atrium at The National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square West,Dublin. Its publication makes Kathleen a first time author at the age of 82!

Pigín of Howth is based on the stories Kathleen told her five grandchildren, Cian, Sadhbh, Saoirse, Kate and Harry, when they were growing up and the book is dedicated to them.

Pigín is a popular pig about town: friendly, curious, impeccably dressed and the most mannerly pig you could ever hope to meet. His adventures in Howth and beyond include friends Sammy Seal, Sally Seagull, The Badger of Ballsbridge and the fairies who live in Howth Castle – but Nanakit is his best friend.

The Pigín stories first began years ago when Kathleen’s grandson, Cian (now 11), was just 3 years old. After every story book in the house had been read and re-read – Cian’s granny (aka Nanakit) introduced him to her friend, a little piglet called Pigín. From then on Pigín stories were a constant request from all five beloved grandchildren.

Kathleen first mentioned the stories to publisher Nicki Howard of Gill Books in September 2013 at the launch of husband Gay Byrne’s book The Meaning of Life and from there work began on preparing the stories for print.

Kathleen says of this new direction in her life, ‘I can’t believe the stories created in my imagination are about to come to life. I hope Pigín and his friends will be as loved by families all over Ireland as they were by me and my grandchildren. It’s a dream come true and a nice surprise to suddenly embark on a new career at my age!’

Pigín of Howth, contains three standalone stories – Pigs Can’t Fly, but They Can Swim!, Pigín’s Magical Midnight Adventure and A Day to Wear a Top Hat – and is published by Gill Books, priced at €16.99, £14.99. The stories are accompanied by stunning illustrations from Margaret Anne Suggs.

Kathleen Watkins was a well-known harpist and folk singer when she became the first continuity announcer to appear on screen on Teilifís Éireann’s launch night in 1960. She married the broadcaster Gay Byrne and lived for many years in Howth where the Pigín stories are set. Although her Pigín stories have been told many times, this is her first book. Kathleen has served on the board of the Arts Council of Ireland and National Gallery of Ireland. In recent years she has done poetry readings in the National Library and National Gallery of Ireland.

For publicity enquiries, please contact Teresa Daly, Marketing and Communications Manager, Gill Books, 01 500 9521, 086 838 3559, tdaly@gill.ie.

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