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Author Niamh’s love of West Cork ‘Flares Up’ with her latest book

October 15th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

Author Niamh’s love of West Cork ‘Flares Up’ with her latest book Image
Niamh McAnally on the deck of Freed Spirit approaching St Lucia.

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IRISH-born and Florida-based author Niamh McAnally has just released her new book and has chosen West Cork as her place of solace after a busy few years.

Flares Up is an incredible true story of two middle-aged Englishmen who despite many setbacks, successfully row across the Atlantic in their wooden boat, Didi. After just launching the book, Niamh is on her publicity tour of Ireland, and has carved out some time in West Cork to spend with her good friend, Jeremy Irons.

‘We first met in 1985 when Jeremy was filming The Mission in Colombia. I went out with my dad, Ray McAnally, who was starring in the film, and I ended up working on the stunt team,’ says Niamh.

Many years later, Niamh wrote her memoir and reached out to Jeremy to ask him to take a look at it. They spoke about him writing the foreword for the book once it got picked up by a publisher. Although that book hasn’t been published to date, Niamh asked him to read her second book, Flares Up, and he gave it more than his seal of approval.

‘I told him I had this new book written and he was very gracious and wrote the foreword for it and came to Dublin to speak at the launch’.

This isn’t Niamh’s first time in West Cork. She has been here on many occasions and almost ended up working on Sherkin Island.

‘After leaving a job in France, I thought about applying for a job on Sherkin island in hospitality’.

Although she never made the move, she loves spending time here.

‘I feel so inspired here. I go for walks or just sit out looking at the sea as the sun rises. I love it. It’s so magical.’

Niamh grew up in Dublin and worked in media before falling in love with scuba diving. She spent her adulthood travelling and working in various countries. She spent time in Fiji working on volunteer projects and loved the people there who were so happy with their lives, despite having very little. She then went to Los Angeles where she worked in hotel management.

‘I was surrounded by people who had everything. People in cars worth $70,000 or $100,000 and yet driving around, they looked grumpy and miserable’.

‘I said, get me to an island without cars immediately!’

And that is exactly what Niamh did. She went home and googled islands without cars and three popped up. She ended up settling on Sark in France where she worked in hospitality. After the hotel chain she worked for closed, she decided to circumnavigate the world for a year, volunteering in various countries for five hours a day, five days a week, in return for somewhere to stay and food. Her final volunteer project was in Florida, to crew a boat for a sailor. That sailor was Gary Krieger, Niamh’s now husband. Niamh and Gary spent six years living on their boat, Freed Spirit, where Niamh rekindled her love of writing. They just happened to be docked in Antigua on February 20th 2020, when two Englishmen rowed into the harbour after travelling across the Atlantic Ocean.

Niamh took the incredible photograph that now appears on the front cover of her book, which shows Paul and Phil celebrating their achievement with flares up in the air.

She sat down with the two rowers over the next few days and the prospect of writing a book about their story came up.

‘I told them that if we were going to do this, it is not just about the row. They would have to dig deep emotionally to uncover why they really decided to undertake this feat.’

Within two years, and after many phone calls, emails and zoom meetings in the middle of a global pandemic, Niamh had her book written and a publisher picked it up.

‘This story is timeless. It’s about triumph over adversity. It’s a story of hope and people from all walks of life will relate. Whatever challenge people have in their lives, they can overcome it’, says Niamh. She will spend the next few weeks travelling around Ireland before heading home to Florida.

• Flares Up is available in bookstores as well as in e-book and audio book format on Amazon.

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