Mary Crowley writes Contemporary Irish Literature. Author of A Sweet Smell of Strawberries and Under a Dark Cloud . Her fictional work generally focusses on strong emotional relationships and family conflict, adding intrigue and humour, with a sprinkle of hope but most of all heart.


Mary lives in County Waterford, on the South East Coast of Ireland, with her husband and three children. Having worked as a Dental nurse and Dental Health Educator for many years she decided to follow her dream of writing and went on to study creative writing and journalism. With several short story publications in magazines and winner of a short story competition, Mary is currently working on her third novel along with writing for a local newspaper and freelancing.


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Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 – #FamilySaga – Under a Dark Cloud by Mary Crowley

Thank you Sally Cronin for a wonderful review of Under a Dark Cloud

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

Delighted to share my review from April 2020 for Under a Dark Cloud by  Irish author Mary Crowley

About the book

Under a Dark Cloud is a grippingly emotional story of shattered dreams, haunting nightmares and bitter memories. Kelly Henderson wants reprieve to emerge from Under the Dark Cloud that shrouds her life.

Kelly Henderson returns to Bunreen, a small town nestled in the South East of Ireland, weeks after her husband’s tragic death, wanting to re-establish a relationship with her mother and sister. However, as the taxi approaches her old home, she is harshly reminded of the night her mother Lorraine banished her to live with her father in Scotland, when she was only fifteen years of age.

Kelly’s’ heart is heavy…

View original post 838 more words

Waterford Connections – Tyrone Power, Actor.

Over centuries Ireland has been renowned for famous names gracing stages, televisions screens and achieving sporting accomplishments.  Nestled in the south east of the country, Waterford city and county can proudly lay claim to several famous names from musicians to actors, academics, authors, and athletes among many.  This month Waterford Connections looks at the achievements of not just an actor who became a legend, but four generations of his family becoming legendary on stage and screen around the world, starting with William Grattan Tyrone Power, born in Kilmacthomas Co. Waterford.

William Grattan Tyrone Power, Actor, Comedian (1797 – 1841)

William Grattan Tyrone Power (November 1797 – March 1841), was known professionally as Tyrone Power. The Irish stage actor, comedian, author, and theatrical manager was born in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford to Tyrone Power and his wife Maria (nee Maxwell). After the death of his father, Maria took William to live in Wales, where he ran away in search of a career in acting. For many years he toured the country with theatre groups before settling in the Isle of Wight for a couple of years, where he performed on stage and met his wife Annie Gilbert (Married in 1817).

Tyrone returned to Ireland to appear in theatre in Dublin, but after a few months returned to touring in Great Britain.  In 1822 he found his first real success in the business appearing as a comic Irish actor and went on to succeed Charles Connor after his death in 1826 as leading Irish comedian in Drury Lane.  He later brought his fame to America making his fortune whilst also publishing novels. On his regular trips to America, Tyrone invested in buying land along with stakes in US banking. 

Tragically, he was returning from America in 1841 aboard the steamship President when there was a horrific storm, taking the lives of all the passengers on board. Tyrone had seven children, the eldest Sir William Tyrone Power, Agent-general for New Zealand, and the author of travel books. However, his grandson known as Tyrone Power II, followed in his footsteps becoming an actor.

Tyrone Power II/Tyrone Snr, Actor (1869 – 1931)

William Grattan Tyrone Power was succeeded by four sons and three daughters. One of his son’s Harold Littledale Power became a concert pianist and married stage actress Ethel Lavenu.  However, it was their son named Tyrone Power who would keep the famous Waterford family name alive on stage and then in films. Frederick Tyrone Power, known to historians as Tyrone Power snr, preferred to be known as either Tyrone Power II or Tyrone Power the Younger.

Tyrone Power II was born in London, the family later emigrated to America, where he was sent to Florida to become a citrus farmer. Acting being his true calling he abandoned the citrus ranch to make his stage debut in ‘The private Secretary,’ in 1886.  Going on to tour America, Great Britain, and Australia in theatre, he also became a matinee idol, acclaimed for his role as Brutus in ‘Julius Caesar’ in 1912. Sadly, it was during the filming of ‘The Miracle Man’ in 1931, he suffered a massive heart attack and died in the arms of his 17-year-old son Tyrone Edmund Power Jr.

Tyrone Power III/ Tyrone Power Jr, Actor (1914 -1958)

Tyrone Edmund Power Jr, also called Tyrone Power III was born in Cincinnati, Ohio also developed a love of acting whilst still at school. After his parents’ divorce, Tyrone lived with his mother, but regularly corresponded with his father, who encouraged his acting career.  He was playing an a small role in ‘The Miracle Man,’ alongside his father as lead actor, when his father died of a massive heart attack. 

Although coming from a line of famed actors, landing roles did not come easy for the young Tyrone. He appeared in small roles until 1936 until a screen test with 20th Century Fox, led to a contract. It was then he became a big name on screen, procuring leading roles, until World War II when he served in the US Marine Corps.  After the war, he returned to his love of acting, becoming one of the most famous screen names of the 20th Century.  A matinee idol adored by women across the world, he played the role of Don Diego Vega/Zorro, a bandit hero by night in ‘The Mark of Zorro.’ Along with films such as ‘The Razor’s Edge, ‘Nightmare Alley,’ and ‘Black Swan’ in 1942 with Irish actress, Maureen O’Hara, to name but only a few of his screen accomplishments.

Married three times, Tyrone Power III, had three daughters whom he loved dearly, (two of whom followed him into acting), but he wanted a son to carry on the famous name.  He finally got his wish with third wife, Deborah Minardos Power, when his son Tyrone Power IV was born on 22nd January 1959. Tyrone III however, ill-fatedly never got to meet his much-wanted son as he died of a heart attack just two months before his birth on 15th November 1958.

Tyrone Power IV, Actor (Born 22nd January 1959)

Although the fourth actor in the line of the famous name originating from Waterford, Tyrone Power IV, is billed as Tyrone Power Jr.  Following in the famous Power footsteps he has starred in numerous films since his career began in 1985 with the film ‘Cocoon.’  Since then, he has starred in Cocoon – The Return, Soulmates, Healer, The beautiful Illusion, played Elvis in ‘Elvis in Paradise,’ to name but a few of his movie successes, as well as appearing in the famous sitcom ‘Cheers.’  Tyrone Power IV Lives in Los Angeles, California and has one son Tyrone Keenan Power.

This was a lovely, connection to research, so I decided to take a look at the history of the name Power and add a bit of trivia since it is a very popular Waterford name.

Trivia about the surname Power.

  • The name Power first came to Ireland during the 12th century when the Normans invaded. Robert Poher or Robert le Poer accompanied Strongbow in the Irish invasion and was granted the county of Waterford.
  • The surname Power is derived from the French word ‘povre,’ meaning poor.  Though Powers were far from poor in Ireland. 
  • The Gaelic for Power is ‘de Paor.’
  • The name Power is one of the most common surnames in Ireland, particularly around Waterford city and county.

The Munster Bookshelf, a year of books – 2020

The Munster Bookshelf made its debut last December with a review of this wonderful book by Sally Cronin.  Sam A Shaggy Dog Story, is cleverly narrated, giving a dog’s perception of the world. From the moment he met his new mistress Sally, and her husband, Sam’s adventures are charted. A puppy’s learning experiences, following daily antics right up to becoming a mature, clever, and handsome dog.  This is a lovely book to curl up next to the fire reading and a must for dog lovers.

Releases throughout 2020

The year began with an interesting and boldly honest book, No Cows, No Problems by Brendan Fallon, who took us on an adventure around the island of Ireland. Peter Cronin released a book that gave us the pitfalls and advice of what not to do in All the Mistakes.  The Bookshelf also featured many fabulous children’s books, memoirs, historical, poetry and fictional novels which I’ve listed below.

Children’s Books

GIY’s Know it all Allmanac by Michael Kelly Muireann Ní Chíobháin, illustrated by Fatti BurkeA month-by-month guide to growing, cooking, and eating food, with fun characters and food trivia.

Scúnc Agus Smúirín by Muireann Ní Chíobháin illustrated by Michael Donnelly A delightful story of which was shortlisted for the Irish children’s book of 2019

Will’s Wild Adventures by Richard shoreThere are currently three adventure books available: Mystery of Garrett’s Mine, Dinosaur Discovery, and Trouble at Beaver Dam

Harrahtum Adventures by Richard Shoreincluding the newly released The Tangled Tuna. Richard is kindly donating 50% of the profits from this book to a very worthy cause Plastic Oceans UK a charity with a mission to stop plastic reaching the ocean within a generation.

Queenie by Brian Taylor featured just last month on the Bookshelf is another book the author has kindly donated the profits from to a good cause, Toby’s magical Journey. A lovely adventure story perfect for ages 7 – 12 years.

Albert the Dragon by Gareth Chapman, illustrated by Andrea Rossi This delightful book is colourfully illustrated and a beautiful story of friendship.  I only wish my kids were still young to read it to them.

Last but not least in the children’s books, we have this month’s new releases by Joyce Murphy. The Girl with the Flaming Red Hair and The Bee and the Dandelion.  Two delightful stories with a wonderful sentiment in both.

Novels (fiction, memoir, poetry)

Trillium by M.L Holton A compelling read, about three families, through generations living in the wine-making region known as Niagara in the Golden Horseshoe region, Ontario, Canada.

Running from the Shadows by Stephanie Hickey Stephanie tells, in her own words, how she survived abuse at the hands of a trusted family member and of how running, a simple physical activity helped her achieve mindfulness.

The Dark by Derek Flynn. The third book in the John Ryan series, which can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone gripping thriller.

Distilled by Patrick Helvik. DISTILLED plays out across a harsh west of Ireland landscape and tells a gripping story of those who lived it. Set in Mayo in the year 1879, in a country barely thirty years past the decimation of famine, a people slipping backwards into another starvation.

Watching the Daisies by Brigid P. Gallagher a beautifully written memoir where Brigid share her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist.

Life’s Rich Tapestry by Sally CroninA delightful collection of verse, micro-fiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world.

Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya by Paul Edmondson. In Chief Tenaya’s world, the pillages of war are set against the backdrop of daily rhythms of Indian life in the familiar landscape of Yosemite. I highly recommend this amazing story.

Inner Rumblings, by Joyce MurphyA life journey depicted through poetry, with some very moving verse.

This Soul’d World by William DisdaleA story of space-time scientist, Callison Trebla, who has a destiny calling to him from a parallel universe.

Drowning in the Desert by David Murphy – The author’s life presented in a pilgrimage of poetry.

What Once was True by Jean Grainger A compelling piece of historical fiction.

A Quiet Tide by Marianne Lee. The story of Ellen Hutchins, Ireland s first female botanist.

Between the Lines by S.J Butler. A darkly gripping psychological thriller

Whatever it Takes by Tadhg Coakley. An intense crime novel, set in Cork city, Detective Garda Collins is at war with the leading local criminal, Dominic Molloy.

Irish Bones by Rebecca Conaty Bruce. An American woman discovers her Irish ancestry, a heart-warming fictional tale.

I’m Fine by Enda O’Doherty, co-written with journalist Dermot Keyes. Enda brings us on his incredible life journey from self-destruction through to self-healing and a passion for helping others.

The Haunted Wind by Ross griffin. A supernatural thriller, three characters, worlds apart, work together to stop an evil spirit that has been released into the wind.

Historical Books

Waterford City: A History by Cian Manning.  Discover the history of Waterford, through momentous events and lesser-known stories.

Waterford Harbour: Tides and Tales by Andrew Doherty. Learn about centuries of tradition of the fishery and maritime trade.

Old Ireland in Colour by John Breslin and Sarah-Anne Buckley. John has carefully restored and colourised images that display the beauty of Ireland throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  There are over 170 images, accompanied by fascinating captions written by historian Sarah-Anne Buckley.

The Comeragh’s “Gunfire & Civil war”: The story of the Deise Brigade IRA 1914-1924 written by Sean Murphy and Sile Murphy, Edited by William Whelan

Desperate Haven: The Poor Law, Famine & Aftermath in Dungarvan Union by William Fraher (Author) William Whelan (Author, Editor), Bernadette Sheridan (Author) & Seosaimh O’Loinsigh

A wonderful and varied selection of books, looking forward to more incredible works of art on The Munster Bookshelf in 2021.

Merry Christmas

Waterford’s Famous Connections – Actress Anna Manahan

Over centuries Ireland has been renowned for famous names gracing stages, televisions screens and achieving sporting accomplishments.  Nestled in the south east of the country, Waterford city and county can proudly lay claim to some of these famous names from musicians to actors, academics, authors, and athletes among the many talents.  This month Waterford Connections is honouring the success of actress Anna Manahan.

Photo by

Anna Manahan was born on the 18th October 1924 in Lombard Street, Waterford city. One of five children to Mary (née Barry) and Patrick Manahan, Anna showed interest in acting from an early age.  It was with the support and encouragement from her teachers in the Mercy Convent, that she joined the Waterford Dramatic Society. This led to her first acting role in a production of Hawk Island, where she played the role of Madeline Austin.

Anna went on to enrol in the Gaiety School of Acting, beginning a phenomenal career in theatre, touring with several companies whilst also regularly appearing on stage in Dublin’s theatres. Her immense talent meant building an extensive theatrical portfolio, performing not only throughout Ireland but in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia to name but some countries travelled to. 

In 1955 Anna married stage manager and actor Colm O’Kelly, sadly less than a year later he became ill while they were on tour in Egypt and died.  Anna never remarried.

In 1957, she played Serafina in the first Irish production of Tennessee Williams, The Rose Tattoo. Anna’s career spanned over 60 years, where her talent did not stop with stage performances, as she became quite a star behind the camera too.  Appearing in television series, on radio and on the big screen. Acting in films alongside Laurence Olivier, Peter Cushing, Kenneth More, Christopher Walken, Brenda Fricker, Albert Finney and John Gielgud.  Film roles included Ulysses, The Viking Queen, Clash of the Titans, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Hear My Song, A business Affair, and as the voice of Stella Dallas in the animated movie All Dogs go to Heaven, to name but a very small few of her many roles.

Her impressive and immense list of television appearances included, The Riordan’s in the 1960’s, T.V comedy Me Mammy in the 1970’s. The lead role in the comedy series, Leave It To Mrs O’Brien in the 1980’s along with the part of Mrs Cadogan in The Irish R.M.  Other television roles include, Fine Girl You Are, The Bill, Lovejoy, Small World, Blind Justice, again naming a bare few, as the list of her T.V appearances were as accomplished as her theatrical rolls.  Anna gracing our screens right up until 2004 when she played the part of Ursula in Fair City.

Playwright John B. Keane wrote the play Big Maggie specifically for her, and in her last stage role in 2005, she starred in Sisters, written for her by Declan Hassett

Anna Manahan received many honours and awards in her lifetime. Among them were:

The Tony Award for Best Featured Actress on more than one occasion.

The Éire Society of Boston in 1984.

Honorary doctorate in letters from the University of Limerick in 2003

Freedom of the city of Waterford in 2002 in recognition of her life’s achievements in the arts, making her the 28th Freeman of Waterford since Isaac Butt in 1877


In 2005, Charlie McCarthy and Icebox Films for RTÉ made a documentary about her life and work called All About Anna. 


Anna Manahan died on 8th March 2009, aged 84 in her native city of Waterford and is buried in Ballygunner.

Anna Manahan Actress and Waterford Legend
1924 – 2009

Waterford Connections – Gilbert O’Sullivan

Over centuries Ireland has been renowned for producing famous names throughout history.  Nestled in the south east of the country, Waterford city and County can proudly lay claim to famous names from musicians to actors, academics, authors, sport and many more talents.  Once a month, I will be featuring a famous personality whose roots are from Waterford City or County in a feature called Waterford Connections. 

This month Waterford Connections recognises:

Gilbert O’Sullivan – Singer/Songwriter/Musician

Musical talent seems to be top of the list when it comes to famous personalities born in Waterford.  One of them is Gilbert O’Sullivan, a remarkably successful singer/songwriter and pianist whose had a string of top ten hits, several of which reached number 1 around the world, along with Grammy nominations and Awards.

Born Raymond Edward O’Sullivan on 1st December 1946 in Waterford City, he resided with his family on the Cork Road. His father was a butcher for Clover Meats, and his mother ran a sweetshop.  When Gilbert, or Raymond as he was called then, was seven years old his family moved to Battersea London where they lived until early 1959, before settling in Swindon.

Sadly, his father died of cancer leaving his mother to bring up six children as sole provider and parent.  May O’Sullivan recognised her son’s love and talent for music and bought him a drumkit, she then bought a piano and installed it in a shed in the back garden.  This became the start of Gilbert’s song writing, as he would spend hours in the shed writing and playing tunes each day after school.

Gilbert was also an incredibly talented artist and after he left school at sixteen, he went on to become a student at Swindon Art College, specialising in graphic design.  It was there he met Rick Davis, joining his band called Rick’s Blues.  They went to London to record a demo tape and aged 19, Gilbert knew music was his true passion and the career he wanted.

A few years later in 1972, Gilbert shot to fame topping the USA charts for six weeks with his first hit Alone Again (Naturally), accumulating three Grammy nominations. He went on to get his first number one hit in Great Britain with Clair, which was followed by two further number one’s Get Down and LPBack to Front. 

Gilbert was named Songwriter of the Year at the 18th Ivor Novello Awards before going on to tour the UK and USA, performing to sold out concerts whilst also obtaining another UK top ten hit with Why Oh Why Oh Why. He then went on to win another Novello Award in 1974.  A magnificent achievement in a small space in time, Gilbert accumulated 16 hit singles in the UK and US during the seventies.

Song writing is his passion but sadly he’s had his woes with the music industry having to deal with two court actions.  The first, when he sued his former manager and producer Gordon Mills, in a dispute over publishing rights.  It had been a particularly hard time as the two had been close friends.  Gilbert found himself back in court in the mid-1980s for the second time, when he took a case against US rapper, Biz Markie, who had used a sample of ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’ without his permission.

Again, this had been a distressing time, as Gilbert only ever saw himself as a professional with a love of writing songs. He, himself only ever performing his own original works. Gilbert thankfully had the loving support of his Norwegian wife Aase and daughters’ Helen-Marie and Tara and through their support and his passion for song writing Gilbert’s success has gone on to span over decades with numerous top ten singles and albums with one of his hits “Ooh Wakka Doo” becoming the theme song for The National Lottery adverts in the UK.  This is all down to his mother buying a piano which sparked the start of his song writing.

Gilbert now lives in Jersey but has kept his Irish accent.

Waterford Connections – Val Doonican

Over centuries Ireland has been renowned for producing famous names throughout history.  Nestled in the south east of the country, Waterford city and County can proudly lay claim to famous names from musicians to actors, academics, authors and many more talents.  Once a month, I will be featuring a famous personality whose roots are from Waterford City or County in a feature called Waterford Connections. 

This month Waterford Connections recognises the talent of Val Doonican

Born Michael Valentine Doonican in Waterford, on 3rd February 1927, to parents John and Agnes (née Kavanagh). Val was the youngest of eight children, from a musical family and went on to play in a school band at the age of six.  Sadly, Val’s father died in 1941 when he was a teenager, which meant he had to leave behind his education at De La Salle College, to work in a factory. But with the help and determination of his siblings, Val continued to pursue his musical interests.  He entertained at fetes with a friend, Bruce Clarke, who played the piano and guitar. In 1947, the two had their first professional engagement, playing in Courtown Harbour, Co Wexford. 

This was the beginning of a glimmering career as the pair soon featured on Irish radio, played in theatres and dance halls.  Val began to feel the need to progress his career and became a member of the Four Ramblers which took him to England for a regular spot on the BBC radio series Riders of the Range. He wrote the music and stayed with them for ten years. Also, a regular performer at US air force bases, he evolved with another career change and went on to join a concert tour where he met his future wife Lynnette Rae.

They married in 1962 and had two daughters. It was on that tour that his solo act also emerged. At a cast party everyone had to do a turn, so Val borrowed a Spanish guitar, perched on a stool and sang an Irish song. He was asked if he’d ever considered doing something of the sort on radio or TV. He sang and played through two decades of his own TV show, spanning more than 60 years in show business.

Facts about Val Doonican

  • In June 2011, he was awarded “Freedom of the City of Waterford” by the Mayor, alongside Brendan Bowyer.
  • During the 60s, he had five top 10 hits: Walk Tall (1964), The Special Years (1965), Elusive Butterfly (1966), What Would I Be (1966) and If the Whole World Stopped Loving (1967).
  • His TV show, The Val Doonican Show, which began in 1965, was the launchpad for other rising stars.
  • His records sold in the millions, having recorded more than 50 albums, including Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently (1967), with which he was the first Irish artist to enter the UK albums charts – and he released a video, Songs From My Sketch Book (1990).
  • He made three Royal Variety Show appearances, won awards including BBC television personality of the year in 1966, and wrote two volumes of autobiography, The Special Years (1980) and Walking Tall (1985). In later years he concentrated more on golf, sketching and painting watercolours, although he continued touring until retirement in 2009.
  • He appeared on the Late Late show, broadcast on 10th March 1979, where he told Gay Byrne about meeting his hero Bing Crosby at a celebrity golfing event in the Gleneagles in Scotland. Astonished that Bing recognised him and shook his hand.
  • In 1970 he was chosen for TV’s, This is Your Life. The organisers asked his wife Lynnette how they could be sure to catch him.  “On the golf course,” she assured them. “Organise an attractive game of golf with people he likes to play with, and come hail, rain or snow, he’ll be there.”
  • He and Lynnette were married for 54 years, until he died peacefully in a nursing home in Buckinghamshire with his family by his side.
  • Val Doonican was famous for his knitwear and rocking chair.

Val Doonican – RIP – A famous Waterford Connection to be proud of.

Next month’s Waterford connection is Dr Lawrence Reynolds, Poet Laureate to the Irish Brigade

Waterford Connections – Brendan Bowyer

Over centuries Ireland has been renowned for producing famous names throughout history, resulting in some of the greatest musical talent gracing stages and televisions screens.  Nestled in the south east of the country, Waterford city and County can proudly lay claim to famous names such as musicians, actors, academics, authors and many more talents.  Once a month, I will be featuring a famous personality whose roots are from Waterford City or County in a special feature called Waterford Connections. 

It will come as no surprise that this article will kick off with one of the greatest, and likely the most well-known celebrity to come from Waterford city, Brendan Bowyer. 

Brendan Bowyer

Brendan was Born in Bailey’s New Street, Waterford city on 12th October 1938 and went on to become a legend in his own right. Kicking off his singing career with the Waterford Royal Showband, the first band to top the Irish charts, going on to take Great Britain and America by storm.

Brendan and the Royal Showband had six number one hits, the most famous being ‘The Hucklebuck,’ which went platinum internationally.    Visit Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum to see the hucklebuck shoes on display.

The Royal Showband went on to become the most popular showband to ever come out of Ireland.  Voted No.1 Modern Dance Band in Great Britain and having The Beatles open as support band to their show in the Pavilion Theatre in Lodge Lane, Liverpool during their tour of Great Britain in the 60’s.

The band then went on to make a movie called “The One Nighters” which received an award at the Cork Film Festival in 1963.

Elvis Presley

Brendan and the Royal showband did not stop there, travelling across the Atlantic to America where they have become legendary in Las Vegas. Particularly Brendan himself, his idol “The King,” Elvis Presley, went to see him perform. Not many people can say their idol has done this!! It doesn’t stop there because Elvis had been so impressed by Brendan’s performance of “You Gave Me a Mountain,” that he later recorded the song himself and included it in his own programme.

In the early seventies, Brendan parted ways with the Royal Showband but remained living in Las Vegas with his family.  He went on to form another band called “The Big Eight,” taking Las Vegas by storm, performing in the Stardust throughout the seventies.

Brendan never forgot his native country and regularly returned to perform gigs, sometimes with his daughter Aisling.  He also remained a loyal Deise man, never forgetting Waterford he visited on several occasions over the years.  In 2011, he was awarded Freedom of the City of Waterford.  Sadly, Brendan died earlier this year on 28th May 2020.  He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Stella, their children, and grandchildren.

Brendan Bowyer

A Legend

Brendan’s fame and longevity far surpassed the bands he performed in becoming a legend in the showband era with his gyrating hips and exciting performances bringing a revolution to Irish ballrooms and dancehalls. 

Irish Showbands

Brendan and the Royal showband began what was to become an Irish phenomenon by moving away from traditional music and orchestras, performing upbeat music with the aim to get people dancing.  They wore tailored suits and the line-up of a showband usually consisted of singer, lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and a brass section of saxophone, trumpet, and trombone. From the late 50’s right through to the early 70’s showbands travelled throughout Ireland playing in ballrooms and dancehalls.

Once such local ballroom which hosted big names in showbands in the 50’s and 60’s is the Atlantic Ballroom in Tramore. 

In the 70’s The Atlantic Ballroom hosted the famous band, Thin Lizzie amongst other big names.  Sadly, as trends changed the Atlantic closed its doors as a music venue in 1978 where it then gained a licence to become a gaming arcade which it still is until the present day.

Next Month’s Waterford Connection  –  Val Doonican

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #Thrillers John W. Howell, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #ContemporaryIrish Mary Crowley

Thank you to the wonderful Sally Cronin for including me in this feature. Am honoured to be alongside great talent.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.

In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.

Meet John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His…

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Keeping Fit with Smovey and Staying Safe at Home

Coronavirus (Covid19) is taking over our planet, and we are all affected by the worry of what lies ahead for the future, along with taking every precaution possible to stay safe at home. 

Saying that, we are also trying to fill our days constructively from the safety and Comfort of Our Homes.  One vital part of daily life is to keep active by exercising, this is not only important for fitness levels but for our mental health. Keeping fit during this pandemic however, can have restrictions of space for some, especially those who are cocooning.  There is also the factor of not being able to do rigorous workouts because of health restrictions. So, how do you overcome these hurdles?

At the beginning of the year, I joined vibro-slim and before doing the course, I’d assumed smovey exercise was only for people with Parkinson’s Disease, however I have found this a very diversified form of exercise which can be done from the comfort of your home without needing space.

Because April is Parkinson’s Month, I’d like to discuss what Parkinson’s Disease is and how exercising with Smovey is of benefit, before opening up to how it can benefit all of us in general, and not only through these difficult times.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition which affects predominately dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. The progression of symptoms is often a bit different from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease. People with PD may experience:

  • Tremor, mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands. Other forms of tremor are possible
  • Bradykinesia
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems

The cause of PD remains largely unknown. Although there is no cure, treatment options vary and include medications and surgery. While Parkinson’s itself is not fatal, disease complications can be serious.

It is possible to have a good to great quality of life with PD. Working with your doctor and following recommended therapies, are essential in successfully treating symptoms by using dopaminergic medications.

In addition to movement-related (“motor”) symptoms, Parkinson’s symptoms may be unrelated to movement (“non-motor”). People with PD are often more impacted by their non-motor symptoms than motor symptoms. Examples of non-motor symptoms include: apathy, depression, constipation, sleep disorders, loss of sense of smell, cognitive impairment.

How does regular exercise benefit people with Parkinson’s?

  • Doing regular exercise can slow the progression of symptoms
  • Exercise can help manage physical symptoms
  • Help with sleep problems, fatigue, mood and mental health

Research has shown, exercise can be as important as medication to help control and Manage symptoms.

How does exercising with Smovey meet the requirements of exercise needed for a person with PD?

Smovey is a low pact exercise of vibration therapy which can help:

  • Reduce joint pain
  • Improve circulation
  • Alleviate stress
  • Boost metabolism
  • Reduce back pain

Clients with Parkinson’s as well as Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Autism using smovey-med have given personal testimonials and reported back how regular exercise with smovey has benefited them. Listed below are some of the improvements they have benefited from.

  • Improved Balance
  • Improved co-ordination
  • Improved mobility
  • Improved Strength
  • Increased circulation
  • Increased energy
  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduce inflammation

How exercising with Smovey can benefit YOU!!

For a start you will benefit from any of the above listed that may apply, along with increased fitness levels, energy and flexibility, stress relief (which in these uncertain times is paramount).

About Smovey

Smovey provides a dynamic upper body workout that gets you fit while burning calories and stabilising your back and spine.  Each Smovey ring weighs 1LB and includes four metal balls that run freely inside the hollow plastic tubes.

How Does it Work?

Swinging the Smovey rings moves the balls inside creating a varying resistance that is dynamically adjusted based on your strength and condition and how vigorously you swing them.

The movement of the balls also creates a vibration, which is transmitted through the handles of the Smovey rings to the palms of the hand.

The vibration acts on the meridians in your palms harmonizing the flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body, providing an exceptional healing effect while working out, leaving you relaxed and revitalized.

Based on the size and ease of use, smovey exercise can be done in the comfort of your home, or even out in the garden.  For those who are not cocooning and have the advantage of being able to go for a daily walk, using the smovey while walking boosts upper body workout as well. And once we are through this pandemic, and we will be, it’s worth joining one of the smovey classes where you will not only get a good workout but make wonderful new friends.  So, stay safe and stay fit!!

For further information on Smovey visit

Or contact:  tel:+353858525766   Email:

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #FamilySaga – Under a Dark Cloud by Mary Crowley

Delighted with this fantastic review of Under a Dark Cloud from Sally Cronin.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share my review for Under a Dark Cloud by  Irish author Mary Crowley

About the book

Under a Dark Cloud is a grippingly emotional story of shattered dreams, haunting nightmares and bitter memories. Kelly Henderson wants reprieve to emerge from Under the Dark Cloud that shrouds her life.

Kelly Henderson returns to Bunreen, a small town nestled in the South East of Ireland, weeks after her husband’s tragic death, wanting to re-establish a relationship with her mother and sister. However, as the taxi approaches her old home, she is harshly reminded of the night her mother Lorraine banished her to live with her father in Scotland, when she was only fifteen years of age.

Kelly’s’ heart is heavy and her grief raw, but she must keep strong as she soon discovers there are more secrets within the family. While Lorraine’s indifference to her pain gives renewed determination to…

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