I loved every minute of my big Australian book tour but one special highlight for me was being back in my home place of the Clare Valley of South Australia and doing a talk at the Clare Town Hall (especially as there is a scene in The Trip of a Lifetime set in the Clare Town Hall). At the end of my talk, I was so touched (and speechless, actually) when the Mayor of Clare, Alan Aughey OAM, presented me with this beautiful reproduction of a painting by renowned local artist Harry Sherwin, depicting the Clare railway station in years gone by.
My late dad Steve was the railway stationmaster at Clare for 35 years, and as kids, my six brothers and sisters and I spent hours at the station. The painting not only shows the station building, and my Dad’s office, but in the distance, just visible, is the roof of our family home in Clare, the stationmaster’s house. I’ll be taking this painting back to Dublin with me this week, and it will be given pride of place in my attic office. My warmest thanks to Mayor Aughey and all at the Friends of the Clare Library for such a thoughtful, meaningful gift.
P.S. If you’d like to read more about my memories of being one of the Real-life Railway Children in Clare, there’s an article on my website here.