Award winning books…

Coming in May 2019, the eagerly anticipated new short story collection, Full of Grace.

full of grace cover cropped

The celebrated story of the Curragh Wrens and their    fight for survival during Ireland’s Great Hunger.


The Flight of the Wren The new award-winning novel from Orla McAlinden and Red Stag/Mentor Books launched on 6th September 2018. Click on the links to see and hear features in The Irish Times , The Sunday Times , BBC Radio Ulster and RTE Radio One The Ryan Tubridy Show.

“The past comes vividly to life in the hands of this skilled story-teller”

Martina Devlin

“Feminist with a Capital F… harrowing, honest and deeply beautiful”

Shane Dunphy

“An amazing rollercoaster…an addictive read”

Margaret Bonass Madden

Winner of the Cecil Day Lewis award 2016 and the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016

Purchase from any book shop in Ireland and online at , Mentor Books and Book Depository



The award-winning story collection, The Accidental Wife, dramas played out against “The Troubles”.

martina's bookshop

“Thought-provoking… visceral, authentic.”  Martina Devlin

“Resonating with universal truths…” Anthony J Quinn

“Superb…confident and stylish” Sue Leonard, Books Ireland

Eludia Award-winning debut short story collection

The Accidental Wife Contains The Visit, the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards Short Story of the Year 2016. Watch here to learn more about The Visit.

Chosen by Libraries Northern Ireland as the inaugural book in their public reading initiative, The Armagh Big Read 2017 and by BBC Radio Ulster for the Nolan Show book club (reading starts at 3 minutes approx.)

…an entertaining, vivid, intergenerational cast of (sometimes recurring) feisty characters, warts and all. Consistently engaging, the stories range from two to twelve pages, and span class, religion, gender, race, culture, sexuality and age – there are no taboos or polemic here. Meet addicts, bigots, plotters and schemers, thieves and hypocrites, adulterers and dreamers – ordinary people getting on with their lives, in a complex, extraordinary setting.

Alex Reece Abbott, The Short Story Review

Learn more about The Accidental Wife during this TV interview at 12 minutes in or this  radio interview

Purchase at Amazon or with world-wide free postage at Kennys






  1. Dear Ms McAlinden,

    My name is Sara Díaz Sierra and I was wondering if your novels contained literary dialect (nonstandard spellings to suggest a pronunciation typical of Northern Ireland). The reason why I would like to know that is because I am doing a PhD at the University of Extremadura (Spain) on how the Northern Irish accent is represented in contemporary literature.

    Best wishes,


    • Dear Orla,

      Breeda Ryan of Cahir (I’d say you know her LOL) recently loaned me a set of your books. I started with “The Flight of the Wren”. Extraordinary! I couldn’t put it down!

      I think you may have “Daughters of Dún Iascaigh” which Breeda co-edited. See page 74-75 where an 1860 newspaper article is included, telling about Cahir’s wrens.

      On to “The Accidental Wife”…

      Karol DeFalco

  2. Orla – just heard interesting chat on Tubridy about the wrens
    Had a similar phenomenon here in Cahir beside the Military Barracks – we call them The Kilcommon Wrens a Cahir. In 1860 Col. Knox of the Royal Artillery rounded up and made a wholesale arrest of 11 females of the very worst moral characters that could be herded together on a ‘plantation’ adjacent to Cahir cavalry Barracks and handed them over to the constabulary who committed them to Cahir Bridewell for examination !!!

    Joe Walsh

    • Hi Joe, thanks so much for getting in touch. As you know, the wrens, and women like them, struggled to keep body and soul together all over this land. So tragic and such a shocking indictment on our ability to pass suffering by and turn a blind eye. The recent explosion of homelessness, I feel, always reminds me of the Wren women. I tried so hard for so long to interest publishers and agents in the wren story, I am thrilled to help to bring new attention to their lives.

  3. Hi Orla. Delighted to hear from a fellow classmate (UCD vet. med 1992) that your debut novel has been released. What a fascinating subject – I have ordered a copy from The Book Depository here in the UK, and I greatly look forward to reading it. I too write historical fiction, and have been lucky enough to be doing it full time for very nearly ten years now. The very best of luck and good fortune to you from a fellow vet and writer! Is mise le meas – Ben Kane

  4. Ben, what a blast from the past, of course i remember you very well indeed. I didn’t know you had ceased the millionaire veterinary lifestyle and swapped it for the millionaire fiction writer lifetstyle. Wishing you the very best, and looking forward to reading your work. Orla

  5. Great to have you on Bookline Liffey Sound Community Radio Lucan and also Community Radio Youghal, Athlone Community Radio, Connemara Community Radio, Castlebar Community Radio, Kilkenny City Community Radio,Near FM Coolock Community Radio, Phoenix FM Blanchardstown Community Radio

  6. Hello Orla ,
    I have just read an article about the Curragh Wrens.
    Thank you for this amazing piece of history.
    I take part in a monthly singing session – we sing traditional Irish songs
    I’m wondering if there are songs about these women?
    Best wishes,
    Emer Grall

    • Hi Emer. The Wrens of the Curragh is a modern folk song easily accessible on YouTube, it’s very beautiful.
      Another recent piece is Wren by a group called Lankum.
      The old, beautiful and popular song The Curragh of Kildare tells the story of a young woman disguising herself as a man “a livery I’ll wear, and I’ll tie back my hair and in velvet so green I shall appear” and she travels to the Curragh to find the soldier she loves. Many of these women discovered to their cost that the soldier was already married etc etc and some undoubtedly ended up as wrens.

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