Beyond Derrynane: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe
Beyond Derrynane traces the largely-fictional lives of several of the O’Connell family of Derrynane in County Kerry, Ireland in the mid-to-late eighteenth century, focusing on that of the Gaelic poet, Eileen O’Connell.
Wed at age sixteen, solely for the purpose of protecting and advancing the interests of the O'Connells - one of the few still-intact families of the now-fallen "Gaelic Aristocracy" - she is widowed before her seventeenth birthday. As resolute as she is beautiful, Eileen refuses to yield to yet another arranged marriage, but rather, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she spends the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna; Eileen’s ebullient elder sister, Abigail, also serves at court. Together with the General, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Habsburg Empire.
Beyond Derrynane has been described as being a multi-layered story, rich in historical and dramatic detail, populated by an array of colourfully-complex and memorable characters, whose lives and stories play out in a series of striking settings.
Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe
It's now the late-Summer of 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane opens, having spent almost six eventful years at the court of Maria Theresa, Eileen O’Connell has availed herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland.
Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teenage widow but, rather, as one of the most recognised figures at the glittering Habsburg court. Before departing for Vienna several months later she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict within the O’Connell clan.
Abigail, rather than being eclipsed by her colourful younger sister, has instead ascended to the vaulted position of principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa. No longer "just a girl from deep in Kerry," she is a beloved - and powerful - figure at court.
Hugh O’Connell, the youngest of the large family, leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade of the armies of Louis XV. But, perhaps as a foreshadowing of his adult life and career, more royal entanglement awaits him in France …
In the continuing saga, the O'Connells will confront intrigue, romance - even violence. Yet, despite their innate wisdom, cunning and guile, what their futures hold remains to be seen.
With his uniquely-descriptive prose, Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe as well as Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the epic unfolds amongst the O’Connells, their friends and enemies, as the tumultuously-dangerous worlds in which they dwell continue to gradually - but inexorably - change.