Marita Conlon-McKenna

Are you a fan of author Marita Conlon-McKenna? Find out more about Marita and her popular children’s books in our author profile:

Marita Conlon-McKennaA bit about Marita Conlon-McKenna

Born in Dublin in 1956 and brought up in Goatstown, Marita went to school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Mount Anville, later working in the family business, the bank, and a travel agency. In 1977 she married James McKenna and they have four children, Amanda, Laura, Fiona and James. They live in the Stillorgan area of Dublin.

How she got started writing

Marita was always fascinated by the Famine period in Irish history and read everything available on the subject. When she heard a radio report of an unmarked children’s grave from the Famine period being found under a hawthorn tree, she decided to write her first book, Under the Hawthorn Tree.

Under the Hawthorn Tree

Published in May 1990, Under the Hawthorn Tree was an immediate success and has been reprinted many times. It remained in the Irish Bestseller List for over two years. As well as being hugely popular in Ireland, it also sold to Puffin in Britain and Holiday House in America; it has been translated into French, Dutch, German, Danish, Swedish, Italian, Japanese and Irish.

The book has been read on RTÉ Radio and is very popular in schools, both with teachers and pupils, and Marita is the most requested author for school readings. It has been made a supplementary curriculum reader in many schools and is also used by schools in Northern Ireland for EMU (Education through Mutual Understanding) projects.

Under the Hawthorn Tree has been filmed for RTÉ and Channel 4, screened as a four-part series by Channel 4 in March 1999. A Study Guide to the novel and film is now available, and a Channel 4 video.

The Blue Horse and further books

the blue horse marita conlon-mckennaMarita went on to write several more books for children which were also very well received. The Blue Horse reached No. 1 on the Bestseller List and in 1993 won the BISTO BOOK OF THE YEAR Award.

No Goodbye tells of the heartbreak of a young family when their mother leaves home. It was recommended by Book Trust in their guide for One Parent Families.

Safe Harbour is the story of two English children evacuated from London during World War ll to live with their grandfather in Greystones, Co Wicklow. It was shortlisted for the BISTO Book of the Year Award, 1995.

Marita’s first foray into the world of fantasy, In Deep Dark Wood, was a huge success. A strange new neighbour spirits Mia to a land of legend, and her brother Rory faces dragons and danger to rescue her in this story of wonder and magic.

Award Winner

Marita has won several awards, including the International Reading Association Award, the Osterreichischer Kinder und Jugendbuchpreis, the Reading Association of Ireland Award and the Bisto Book of the Year Award.

Titles Available by Marita Conlon-McKenna

Under the Hawthorn Tree, Wildflower Girl, Fields of Home, No Goodbye, The Blue Horse, In Deep Dark Wood, Safe Harbour, A Girl Called Blue

Also Available: Under the Hawthorn Tree Video

Do you have a favourite Marita Conlon-McKenna book?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.


  1. katie hartigan says:

    I have the book a girl called blue and I just loved it I don’t know how marita does it she has a TRUE talent I have nearly read all her books and marita if you are looking at this please come to limerick as I would love to have you sign my books;)