Author launches her debut novel at Waves

Philomena Gallagher launches her debut novel, 'Island Woman' with the members of the Young at Heart Club. INLM45-101gc
Philomena Gallagher launches her debut novel, 'Island Woman' with the members of the Young at Heart Club. INLM45-101gc

Having helped set up the Women’s Young At Heart Club, Philomena Gallagher was invited back to the club to launch of her debut novel.

Philomena, a retired community development officer from Portadown, spent a year of her life on the island of Arranmore (population of around 500) off the Donegal coast.

Drawing on that experience her first book ‘Island Woman’ is a ‘doomed’ love story set on the remote island in the 1930s.

Philomena is a grandmother of seven with a Bachelor of Social Sciences Degree from Queen’s University and a Master’s Degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

Waves Leisure Centre, where the Women’s Young At Heart Club meet, was the setting for the launch of her debut novel.

Sadie Hamill, chairperson of the Women’s Young At Heart Club, was delighted to hear the retired community development officer, who helped co-ordinate the establishment of the club in 2000, had ventured into fiction writing. It prompted Sadie to invite her back to Waves to launch the book in Lurgan.

The cover shows a couple entwined in one another’s arms. It’s aimed at the Irish-American market, and the prologue begins – ‘Below the grey Atlantic sky lies a crescent band of rugged land, the Island of Arranmore, County Donegal. Far to the west, great rollers of misty sea constantly demand attention and roar upon its beaches and staunch rocks. Crying gulls shriek and soar, attempting to ride the white horses on the roaring tide’.

Philomena, an avid reader since she was seven, underwent an adult Outreach Education programme, which led to a Certificate of Distinction in Women’s Studies and a tutoring position with the writers’ group at Pinebank in Brownlow.

As a result, she had several short stories, plays and poems published, as well as six CDs of her skilled story telling. And she wrote the authorised autobiography of the acclaimed Irish trumpet player Johnny Carroll – Erin’s own’ Man with the Golden Trumpet’, entitled ‘O Mein Papa’.

Philomena enjoyed working with 110 Ageing Well groups throughout the Craigavon and Banbridge areas from 1999 to 2009.

Her work won her an ‘All Ireland Inspirational Life Award’ 2010 for her leadership and motivation skills and was the first in Northern Ireland to win the award.

In October 2011 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and due to early detection (sending all women over 60 for a mammogram) her life was saved.

It’s understood Philomena’s home town of Portadown will feature in the follow-up - ‘Northern Woman’.

‘Island Woman’ is published by Harrison Print in Bridge Street.

To order a copy, telephone Philly Books/Harrison Print on 3833 0252, or get it on-line at