Wednesday, 14 October 2015


THE BALLROOM CAFE ROCKS ON!


It has been a whirlwind of fun and activity with The Ballroom Cafe these past months and weeks.
 Today marks six months in the Amazon UK  kindle top 100 with over 1,000 reviews.
And  The Ballroom Cafe was also lucky enough to be named in the top 20 bestselling ebooks on Amazon UK for the first six months of this year. That caused quite a frenzy in Ireland as the novel was the only Irish book in the top 20. 
A huge thank you to all the lovely readers who made it possible.

Here is an article I wrote for Writing.ie on the fun since publication day. Do hope you enjoy it. 

What a wonderful feeling writing The End. After months, maybe years of germinating the idea; writing and rewriting; finally I had turned the corner; The Ballroom Café was finished.
Yes, we had found a publisher; yes all the editing was done and the cover by Black and White Publishing, Scotland was amazing. So it was time for me to sit back and let the book sell itself. Time then to concentrate on the second book, while The Ballroom Café stepped out in to the jungle of books on its own.
Time to recharge before the reviews came in; time to sit and sip tea from a china cup rather than just writing about it.
The path to publication is often a lonely one and there are a lot of twists and turns, but after the novel was sent off to the printers, I turned another corner. What lay ahead was not, as expected a week of R&R before months of writing and research on my second novel, but a whirlwind of ideas and new ways to help promote the book; another huge mountain in unknown territory to climb.
The Ballroom Café has pulled me along on what has been a roller coaster of excitement, since it first came out on kindle in May and hit the book shelves in June. In fact it all started way before that.
Months before anybody else had heard of The Ballroom Café, my publishers, Black and White Publishing, Scotland were planning those key times around publication day
Once they launched the cover on Twitter and Facebook in December 2014 with a drum roll and all things fitting on Twitter, the social media whirl began and frankly, has not stopped since. To take part in this frenzy, I had to do what I had avoided for so long, set up Twitter and Facebook accounts, decide on a profile; set background pictures and set up a blog, http://annoloughlin.blogspot.ie/
Then came the Blog Tour. When the publishers told me I would do a ten day Blog Tour around the time of paperback publication, I nodded sagely and agreed heartily. When nobody was looking I googled Blog Tour and found out instead of tramping around bookshops in the UK hoping to link with readers, I was to guest on key influential blogs in the UK and give The Ballroom Café a platform. Sometimes I had to write a piece; sometimes I was interviewed and often I had to wait to see what sort of review was put up. Honest and full reviews were posted; it was thrilling to find that all the hard work on The Ballroom Café had paid off and people were really enjoying it.
Sitting at 5am writing in the kitchen with only the dog at my feet, I could only dream that there may be people who would want to read and enjoy the story I had to tell. Reading the first reviews is a heart stopping moment, but the bloggers loved what The Ballroom Café had to offer and not only did they say it on their own blogs, but they helped spread the word on Twitter so that the cake, the tea in china cups, the gossip and the vintage brooches as well as the more serious theme of forced illegal adoption were all aired on Twitter. I joined in this conversation linking with new readers, answering questions and getting valuable feedback.




   The blog tour started a conversation about The Ballroom Café, which has continued past the publication of the paperback and on my own blog and with the lovely input of readers, who have contacted me on all social platforms to tell me how much they enjoyed and got involved with the book.
When Black and White Rights manager Janne Moller told me in January 2015 “this is where the fun begins,” I thought she was mad. But now, nine months in I have to say, it has been a crazy whirlwind, which at times has left me exhausted; a life dominated by notifications on social media, but yes it has been hugely exciting and enjoyable and above all heartening. I would never have connected with so many readers or book clubs and never got The Ballroom Cafe before so many people, if it were not for the bloggers, who took the novel to their hearts and helped spread the word.
Black and White are always looking at new ways to promote their writers work. And so The Ballroom Café video was born. Talented filmmaker Clara O’Keeffe used all her skills to make me feel completely at ease in a fireside chair, a china cup of tea at hand and chatting about The Ballroom Café. The video has been seen by thousands all over the world and again brought me close to readers who responded by making contact through my blog.
The Ballroom Café went on pre-order in April. Based on the cover and summary people began to order the novel so that by April 16, The Ballroom Café had entered the TOP 100 on Amazon UK. By the time it was released on kindle in May, the book ranking was #13 and by the time the paperback hit the shelves in June The Ballroom Café had been in the Top 20 for two months and was ranking #3 on the day of publication June 18. Since then the book has hovered in the top 20 and has garnered over 1000 reviews.
Recently, ten weeks after the paperback came out, I was caught up in an even bigger publicity and media storm, when The Ballroom Café was named as one of the Top 20 bestselling eBooks on Amazon UK in 2015. National newspapers wanted to interview me; I had to explain to the listeners of Morning Ireland what a blog tour meant. Even Hot Press and the Nigerian Herald ran a piece on the novel, as well as publications in the US. One of the sweetest moments; when I appeared on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One for a chat on The Ballroom Café, the presenter called me a novelist. For the first time, it actually felt like that.
There was even a TV appearance on RTE Ten. The excitement lasted almost five days, but my favourite moment was seeing a story about The Ballroom Café in Hot Press. Once could say The Ballroom Café was rocking!
What have I learned from all this? Easy; enjoy every minute, because you never know how long it will last and don’t forget when you are on radio and TV to keep mentioning the name of the book. Embrace all that the book offers, all the opportunities to connect with readers, because it is this, rather than the media attention that brings the most satisfaction for a writer. Isn’t that why we are writing in the first place, to get our story out to readers?
What greater moment than when a reader tells you why they love your book. Social media and blog tours has brought me in contact with readers, like I never imagined and that has been uplifting and encouraging. Now, I am moving on to do live events and connecting with readers in person and so another exciting chapter begins.
(c) Ann O’Loughlin

About The Ballroom Café


Sisters Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan live in separate wings of their crumbling Irish mansion. They haven’t spoken for decades, torn apart by a dark family secret from their past, and only communicate through the terse and bitter notes they leave for each other in the hallway.
Debbie, an American woman, is searching for her birth mother. She has little time left but as she sets out to discover who she really is and what happened to her mother, she is met by silence and lies at the local convent.
With the bank threatening, Ella tries to save the family home by opening a café in the ballroom much to Roberta’s disgust. And when Debbie offers to help out in the café, the war between the sisters intensifies. But as Debbie finally begins to unravel the truth, she uncovers an adoption scandal that will rock both the community and the warring sisters.
Powerful and poignant, The Ballroom Café is a moving story of love lost and found.


 
 


Tuesday, 13 October 2015


There are over 1000 Amazon reviews of The Ballroom Café but this five star review is one of my favourites.



The Ballroom Cafe is an exceptionally well-written novel that made me do things I have not done in a long while.
I found myself waking up earlier than normal in the morning to take up the story of the goings-on at a delapidated Irish country mansion named Roscarbury Hall where a good deal of this absorbing tale unfolds.
I shed tears more than once reading it. As a grown man, I was surprised to feel them roll down my cheeks. But they were not tears of outright sorrow but tears of compassion and even relief.
The novel is populated by many memorable characters but the fundamental relationship is that of two sisters whose lives are bound together by tragedy, bitterness and betrayal. But, deep below the permafrost of their relationship, and despite decades of giving each other the silent treatment, it is hoped by the reader there must surely be something remaining of a once warm sisterly love.
They live in the rambling mansion amid overgrown gardens and misty parklands. They only communicate through notes left on the hall table. The story reverts back to happier, earlier times when the sisters, Ella and Roberta, were young, inseparable, with hearts too vulnerable to the crafty charms of a certain young man.
But, in the cold reality of the present day, Ella takes unilateral action to earn some desperately needed money by opening a cafe at the mansion despite a succession of strongly worded insulting notes from Roberta, who has been hitting the sherry for years.
An American woman Debbie arrives at the cafe one day looking for answers about her own past. She has experienced loss and endured horror in her own life. A number of connections are uncovered in her search amid this book's richly woven tapestry of intrigue, heartache
and, indeed, downright hilarity at times.
There were so many things I enjoyed as the tale unfolded. Some of the characters made me laugh out loud.
It also brings to life historical anger-inducing events in which babies were exported from Ireland to wealthly couples overseas while their single mothers were treated dispicably by religious orders that were aided and abetted by the women's own families.
There are villians in the story but each one has some redeeming traits.
The author displays a fine ear for dialogue, verbal jousting, and well chosen barbs. But also there are many beautiful evocations of love, loss, and longing. And her depictions of some of the most delicate moments of the story are a delight.
There are many mouth-watering references to the baking of cakes and buns. Dieting readers would best not read the book within jogging distance of a bakery.
She also includes some fascinating descriptions of brooches which have been inherited by Ella. Somewhere in each section of the book, another brooch is unwrapped and described in exquisite detail, evoking the pleasures of exploring an old relative's jewellery box.
Ultimately, it proved to be a story that left me deeply satisfied. I strongly recommend this novel and I hope author Ann O'Loughlin has another book on the way soon.

 


Tuesday, 18 August 2015



A gentle read with a warm touch....review of The Ballroom Café at BleachHouseLibrary blog as part of Irish Fiction Fortnight.





READ BELOW AND HERE
http://bleachhouselibrary.blogspot.ie/2015/08/irishfictionfortnight-day-10-ballroom.html



Two estranged, elderly sisters,  a well-worn period home that is in need of major renovation and a lifetime of secrets.  A recipe for historical fiction.  But, along with these storylines, there is the added tale of forced and hidden adoption in Ireland going back decades.  It may sound like fiction, but unfortunately, it's based on true life.

Author Ann O'Loughlin has written about a formerly-taboo subject; that of the Catholic church supporting the adoption of babies to wealthy American families, without the full consent, or even knowledge in some cases, of the birth mothers.  The novel addresses the issue via the story of Debbie, an American who has come to Ireland in the hope of tracing her birth mother.  While there, she encounters Ella O'Callaghan and agrees to help her with preparations to open The Ballroom Cafe, in the older woman's home.  Ella's sister, Roberta, rattles around the old house with a bottle of sherry in her pocket and a years-old-feud with her sibling.  They have not spoken in decades and only communicate via notes left on their hall table.  Roberta does not welcome the American visitor, nor support Ella's idea to run a cafe from their old ballroom.  The rivalry simmers at boiling point and the locals, who frequent the cafe, are more than delighted to watch the tensions within the household.  
Debbie goes on national radio to aide her search for her birth mother, and the whole village listen with anticipation of scandal.  Ella is a tower of strength to Debbie, who needs all the support she can get, yet has her own secret hidden inside.  Can the women of The Ballroom Cafe really know how much pain each one is in?

This debut novel is extremely sweet, in more ways than one.  The characters are drawn with love and compassion, the Ballroom Cafe, and its surroundings, sound idyllic and dream-worthy (the descriptions of baking almost waft off the pages) and the story is one of courage, strength and changing worlds.  The writing is gentle and smooth and Ella is such a wonderfully drawn protagonist.  There is a little too much emphasis on her collection of brooches, and I'm not sure that younger readers will identify with them, but the way she deals with her difficult sister and nosy neighbours is great.  She is a woman that would be a pleasure to know in real life.  The spiraling debt of a large country house is very apt in today's financial climate and makes the reader want to rally around to protect these structures from decay.

 The treatment of young women in Ireland's past is well documented these days and never pleasant reading, yet should not be ignored.  I congratulate Ann on addressing the issue in her fiction debut and hope that it is an issue that will be delved into and dealt with accordingly, giving some peace to the the relatives and descendants of all involved. 
A gentle read, with a warm touch, considering the topic. 


 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR BOOK CLUBS


 


      1.       What did you think of the ending of The Ballroom Café? The Irish Times said this: ‘Secrets emerge, there’s a whopper of a twist and this unabashed tear-jerker ends with a well-earthed, well-calculated emotional finale.’ Many have asked for a sequel. Was the ending appropriate in your opinion?
       2.      Did it work having the café as the main focus point for the novel?

3.       The Ballroom Café is often called a romantic novel, why do you think that is the case?

4.       The weather plays an important role in the novel, do you think it adds to the overall atmosphere.

5.       Do you think the issue of forced illegal adoption is examined fairly and from all sides?

6.       Ella finds solace in vintage Weiss brooches. How well do you think this works in the novel?

7.       Ella bakes scrumptious cakes for the patrons of The Ballroom Café, could you smell the baking wafting through the house?

8.       Which character changes the most during the novel?

9'.   Did the flashbacks to Debbie’s childhood in Ohio work?

10.   What was the most surprising aspect of The Ballroom Café?

11.   How do you think Irish society was portrayed? The Sunday Times said there was a skilful expose of a broken society?

12.   Did the notes show accurately the tension between the sisters Roberta and Ella?

13.   Do you think the mixture of gossip, cake, tea hand in hand with tragedy and a deep emotional issue worked?

          14.What was your favourite scene in the novel? Mine has to be when Ella O’Callaghan is facing down the snotty bank manager, who has threatened to repossess her treasured home Roscarbury Hall.
“In all my prayerful life, I have never felt so crucified. I will die before I move out of Roscarbury Hall.”

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Thrilled with this wonderful review of  The Ballroom Café in the Irish Times


"lots of human warmth and very intimate characterisation ....."



 "Secrets emerge, there's a whopper of a twist and this unabashed tear jerker ends with a well-earthed well-calculated emotional finale"...... 

Take a minute out to read the review here.


http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-ballroom-caf%C3%A9-by-ann-o-loughlin-1.2303528

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Delighted The Ballroom Café is reviewed in The Sunday Times.


A skilful expose of a broken society.....

 

Deftly written, moving and courageous novel....




Friday, 17 July 2015


A DEBUT TO DIVE INTO, so says the leading Sunday newspaper the Sunday Independent. 


  Well-rounded characters infused with warmth and intelligence.

 

  O'Loughlin's feel for nature and weather add to this book's all-embracing atmosphere.

 

 You can read the article here

 

Friday 17 July 2015

Three debuts you will want to dive into

* The Ballroom Cafe, Ann O'Loughlin, Black & White Publishing, €10.99 Approx
* Eggshells, Caitriona Lally, Liberties Press, €12.99
* In a Dark Dark Wood, Ruth Ware, Simon & Schuster, €17.99

Published 13/07/2015 | 02:30
It is summertime, and the reading from three debut authors is highly engaging, and yet exceedingly different.
Ann O'Loughlin is a High Court reporter with the Irish Examiner, and has drawn on her experience of reporting on the illegal adoption of children from Irish orphanages by families in America for her first novel, The Ballroom Cafe.
Ann has also written about her delight in being able to take her time in choosing her words- compared to the fast-paced atmosphere of a newsroom -and this is evident in her creation of well-rounded characters infused with warmth and intelligence.
This is the first work of fiction to be based on the illegal giving away of Irish babies, and at heart this story is less of an accusation and more of an understanding.
Sisters Ella and Roberta O'Callaghan are estranged, and they communicate by passing notes in the crumbling mansion they live in. When the bank threatens to take possession of the house, Ella opens a cafe in the ballroom to raise money.
When an American called Debbie Kading arrives in town searching for her birth mother, she gets a job at the cafe. Secrets begin to spill, and lives to unravel.
Originally from the west of Ireland, O'Loughlin's feel for nature and weather add to this book's all-embracing atmosphere.
Caitriona Lally studied English literature at Trinity and was one of the finalists in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2014. At a time she was unemployed, she traipsed the streets of Dublin to pass the time, and now her main character does exactly the same in Lally's highly original debut novel, Eggshells.
Vivian Lawlor was told she was a changeling as a child, and goes for walks to try and find her way back to the land of fairies, where she thinks she belongs. Vivian sees things differently, for example, she does not like action verbs, as words involving action tend to expect too much of a person. She experiences things from a different angle, and wishes a shopkeeper "Happy Christmas" in April, as she does not know if she'll get back into the shop before December.
Vivian doesn't have any friends, and places an advertisement on a tree seeking a friend called Penelope. Vivian's sister wishes she showered more. She wishes Vivian wouldn't mutter such nonsense. Meanwhile, Vivian lives in a house she inherited and in close proximity to Dublin city centre.
Yes, you've probably seen Vivian out and about. I know I certainly have.
Lally has a unique voice as a writer, and had me on line six of her novel when she described a character as "someone who kept chairs the way some people keep cats."
She is impressively self-assured, skilled and special in how she brings Vivian in from the fringes and into our company.
Ruth Ware was born in Sussex and has taught English in Paris and worked in publishing. In A Dark Dark Wood is her debut thriller.
Nora hasn't seen her former best friend Clare for 10 years, and since leaving school. Should she be surprised when she is invited to Clare's hen weekend?
Should she be startled when she realises that there is an ulterior motive for inviting her to a house deep in a forest?
Suspence doesn't usually rock my boat. But Ware's writing is immediate and conversational, and she throws a net out and captures her reader. For starters, what's more scary than a bunch of bitchy women?
A murder mystery worthy of the beach.
Sunday Indo Living

 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Drop in to chat about The Ballroom Cafe and another debut novel Fields of Blue Flax.

   If you happen to be in Edinburgh on July 14, do drop by the National Library of Scotland to  meet Ann and hear her talk about writing The Ballroom Café.

   Ann will be sharing the stage with bestselling food writer Sue Lawrence who has also written her first work of fiction, Fields of Blue Flax.

Leading literary agent Jenny Brown will chair this free event. at the National Library of Scotland. 

National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge, EH1 1EW Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Bestselling food writer Sue Lawrence and leading Irish journalist Ann O'Loughlin — in conversation with literary agent Jenny Brown. Both writers explore secrets, betrayal and family sagas, and discuss how they approached writing their first works of fiction. An event not to be missed! The event is open to all and free to attend, but please book your space to avoid disappointment. You can do this by calling the NLS on 0131 623 37340131 623 3734, or by booking online https://auth.nls.uk/events

Thursday, 2 July 2015



ANN ON BBC WORLD SERVICE.


Talking about the forgotten Irish women who lost their children to forced illegal adtoptions to the US - the inspiration behind The Ballroom Cafe.

 Here I am being interviewed by Dan Damon on BBC World Update about the forced illegal adotpiton of young children to the USA - a practice that continued in to the 70s. The stories of these women and children were the main inspiration for The Ballroom Cafe.

Highlight then click on open link. After the heads, you will find the interview about half way in.


http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download/proto/http/vpid/p02w3qk7.mp3

Sunday, 28 June 2015

 
 
THE  BALLROOM CAFE LAUNCHED TO THE WORLD.

 IT WAS A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.

 

The launch was in Dubray Books, Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland and we had a full house. Campbell Brown and Alison McBride of Black & White Publishing  were kind enough to fly in for the launch.

 They presented me with scented peony roses - so Ballroom Café!



We had wonderful mini cupcakes that Ella O'Callaghan would be proud of  beautifully displayed on three tier cake stands.

See Reviews Below  

 
 
 
 
 
"A lovely first novel," Bestselling  author Cathy Kelly.'
 
A warm and engaging story in a unique and original setting. I loved journeying through the lives of these fascinating characters. A beautifully drawn, skilfully written, well-researched novel.' --KATE KERRIGAN, New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island Trilogy

'A lovely story of two women with the courage to confront the injustices of the past, bringing light to a dark corner of Ireland s recent history.' --KATHLEEN MACMAHON, bestselling author of This Is How It Ends
 
 
 

HERE IS A STORY WHICH APPEARED IN THE IRISH EXAMINER ON THE LAUNCH

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/the-ballroom-cafeacute-features-heady-brew-of-hate-and-scandal-337802.html#.VYO2GC2u1P4.facebook


The Ballroom Café’ features heady brew of hate and scandal

Irish Examiner journalist Ann O’Loughlin last night launched her debut novel based on the forced adoption of Irish children in institutions to the US.

'Irish Examiner' journalist Ann O'Loughlin launches 'The Ballroom Cafe' in Dubray's Bookshop, Grafton St, last night. Ms O'Loughlin's noveluncovers an adoption scandal dating back to the 1960s involving religious institutions. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Set at the height of the recession in Ireland in a crumbling mansion, The Ballroom Café focuses on two elderly sisters, Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan, who live alone with their secrets, memories, and mutual hatred. When they are threatened with bankruptcy, Ella converts the mansion’s old ballroom into a café.
But Ella finds herself reliving painful memories when Debbie, an American woman searching for her birth mother, begins working at the café. As the local convent comes under scrutiny, the O’Callaghan sisters find themselves caught up in an adoption scandal that dates back to the 1960s and spreads all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.


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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

THE BALLROOM CAFE FEATURED IN THE IRISH TIMES BOOKS ONLINE

Read the stories of the women who inspired The Ballroom Café and the shameful secret in Ireland's past of forced illegal adoption of children to the US

Click on the link here or read the story below.


http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/ireland-s-shameful-secret-of-forced-adoptions-was-a-story-i-had-to-write-1.2251597


Ireland’s shameful secret of forced adoptions was a story I had to write

Ann O’Loughlin’s The Ballroom Cafe was inspired by the ‘small voices’ of unmarried mothers she interviewed who were forced by the church to surrender their children

Ann O’Loughlin: One woman in her 80s wanted to see the son she had lost before she died; the pain of this mother, whose child had been taken from her, as raw as the day she lost him. “I just want a chance to tell him I am sorry, but I had no say in it. It was all wrong, but mine was and is a small voice,” she said Ann O’Loughlin: One woman in her 80s wanted to see the son she had lost before she died; the pain of this mother, whose child had been taken from her, as raw as the day she lost him. “I just want a chance to tell him I am sorry, but I had no say in it. It was all wrong, but mine was and is a small voice,” she said
They are the forgotten women; the women who were pregnant and unmarried, turned out by their families and who lost their children to forced illegal adoptions to the US.
Treated harshly and despicably, they hid under a burden of shame for decades. Now in their senior years, they dared to highlight their cases, to speak of a shameful time in Irish history, when young unmarried mothers were treated so badly; in many cases their children taken from them and sent to wealthy couples in the US. Some of those children were taken without consent. Some went to already dysfunctional homes.

Ann O'Loughlin on writing The Ballroom Cafe

I first came across the mothers left behind many years ago as a working journalist; their dignity and the raw pain and shame they carried almost unbearable to witness. One woman in her 80s wanted to see the son she had lost before she died; the pain of this mother, whose child had been taken from her, as raw as the day she lost him.
“I just want a chance to tell him I am sorry, but I had no say in it. It was all wrong, but mine was and is a small voice,” she said.
She was right; her voice was a small one, but unforgettable.
There were many other “small voices” over the years brave enough to tell their stories publicly; they cast aside the shame heaped upon them by a Catholic country for bearing an illegitimate child and shone a spotlight on the harsh practices of the past, which saw them treated as outcasts and their children taken, often without their consent, and sent to the US for adoption.
It was these “small voices” that I drew upon to write The Ballroom Cafe.
All fiction reflects life and The Ballroom Cafe is a novel concentrating on the “forced adoption story” from both sides, moving between 1960s America and Ireland in 2008. It is a solid fact that ordinary life trundles on no matter what tragedy is heaped on our shoulders, so the challenge for me as a writer was to examine this issue, reflect the pain and suffering caused to so many women, while at the same time making sure the story rather than the issue drove the book.
It seemed fitting then to set The Ballroom Cafe in a crumbling old mansion, Roscarbury Hall, Rathsorney, Co Wicklow in Ireland, where two sisters, Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan, lived among the misty parkland and the overgrown gardens running down to the sea. A deep silence lasting decades dominated their lives; they only communicated through notes, short sharp notes slapped down on the hall table.
When Ella, to keep the bank from repossessing the house, opens a cafe in the old ballroom upstairs, her sister is furious. An American, Debbie Kading, here in Ireland tracing her roots, befriends Ella and starts to work in the cafe. Debbie is looking for answers, but meets a wall of silence at the local convention. An adoption scandal is uncovered that reaches far beyond the convent and the tiny village of Rathsorney.
The Ballroom Cafe may be a story filtered through life in Rathsorney village and the cafe, where people gossip and sip tea from china cups, but it reflects the tragedies of those ordinary lives lived under the shadow of a shameful secret.
There are strong women in The Ballroom Cafe, women who have been dreadfully wronged and suffered pain at the hands of society. But these women also love to take tea, chat, eat glorious cakes and indulge in a bit of romance and a lot of gossip. The humour in the novel provides the lighter moments.
The research for The Ballroom Cafe involved listening to the stories of women who were forced to give birth without painkillers; who looked after their children for two or three years until the nuns deemed them ready for adoption. Some saw their children dressed up for a nice photograph which was then sent to prospective parents. Many of the children were simply taken from their beds; a lot of mothers did not get to say goodbye. Even those who wanted their children put up for adoption did not know that a home as far away as America had been found.
The religious organisations who arranged these adoptions to the US were given a generous donation for each child. There was no follow-up on these children and only in recent years, as mothers here have cried in public looking for their children, have men and women in the US come forward with stories of far from idyllic childhoods with their adoptive US parents.
The practice was not confined to Ireland, but Australia has been the first to apologise. A national apology was issued to thousands of unmarried mothers who were forced by government policies to give up their children for adoption over several decades.
In The Ballroom Cafe Ella O’Callaghan finds solace in the beautiful Weiss brooches she keeps in silver boxes on her dressing table. In truth my research among the bright colours of these American-made vintage brooches was also a break for me to delight in some of the good things from times past.
The Ballroom Cafe was the book I had to write; the story I had to tell. It is essentially a tale of family and second chances. We can only hope that the mothers left behind and the children taken away can get a second chance to meet and look in each other’s eyes once again or feel a sense of justice that a State apology could bring.

Monday, 15 June 2015

JUST DAYS TO GO BEFORE THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE BALLROOM CAFE AND IT IS TIME FOR A BLOG TOUR.

Do drop in and join me. Lots of blog posts, reviews and interviews; all about The Ballroom Café.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

THE BALLROOM CAFE, JUNE BORD GAIS ENERGY BOOK OF THE MONTH  ON TV3.




The Ballroom Café  is a Bord Gais Energy Book of the month for June on TV3's IrelandAm
I joined Mark and Sinead on the early morning couch to chat about the novel. Why not click on the link and listen to the conversation about Roscarbury Hall, the O'Callaghan sisters and the many twists and turns in The Ballroom Café.

Here are a few of my favourite stills. I hope you enjoy the interview. It was certainly a new experience for me to be in front of the cameras, but the crew at IrelandAm made it a very enjoyable occasion. You can listen for yourself here.

http://www.tv3.ie/ireland_am_video.php?locID=1.65.74&video=94704

 Do feel free to enter a review of The Ballroom Cafe  - just 50 words by Friday 26th June to irelandam@tv3.ie
You might win some goodies!


Monday, 1 June 2015

ON CAMERA CHATTING ABOUT THE BALLROOM CAFE


     There have been many exciting twists and turns since I first was told my novel was about to be published and this has got to be one of the big ones.
     With only days to go before The Ballroom Café is in bookshops, I give you this - Ann O'Loughlin on camera talking about the characters, the fun and the story that makes up The Ballroom Café.
      It was great fun making this small film with the help of young filmmaker Clara O'Keeffe and her assistant Roshan Naylor. A big thank you too to my publishers Black&White Publishing, Scotland. 
  I do hope you enjoy watching it and reading The Ballroom Café published on June 18 and available on Amazon kindle now. .http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Ballroom-Caf%C3%A9-Ann-OLoughlin-ebook/dp/B00TU0I41I/ref=zg_bs_digital-text_14

Saturday, 23 May 2015

THE BALLROOM CAFE VIDEO



Please take a minute to look at this beautiful video from Black&White Publishing which highlights such lovely reviews for The Ballroom Café. I am so grateful to all the lovely readers who are keeping The Ballroom Café at the top of the Amazon kindle rankings, where it is currently  hovering between #10 and #13. Thank you all.







Wednesday, 20 May 2015

THE BALLROOM CAFE - ONE FOR THE SHELF.





All these words are heavy in my hands. The cover is embossed with flowers; the spine thick and strong. The Ballroom Café arrived in the post today. To finally hold the novel in the palm of my hands is both overwhelming and tremendously exciting.
 With my finger I trace the words, The Ballroom Café; the title I thought up a long time ago as I wrote in my kitchen early in the morning, only the dawn chorus as company.
The Ballroom Cafe, I sound it out; it trips off my tongue happily the tag line 'Secrets Can't Last Forever' hinting at something deeper, maybe darker.
How could all my words come together in to something so beautiful? In our house when we love a book, we can't bear to let it go, we say it is one for the shelf.
The Ballroom Cafe will take pride of place on the shelf. I hope you will want to make a space for it on yours.

And ...

Saturday, 16 May 2015



Pull up a chair and enjoy The Ballroom Cafe, now open to the world.




Allow me to invite you to  The Ballroom Café. Pull up a chair and enjoy the story. If you have time please read the acknowledgments, where I pay tribute to my late mother and father who fostered a love of learning, books and storytelling in all of us children. It was not unusual to come home from school and see my mother stirring a big pot of stew; a Dickens novel  propped against the bread bin, so she could stir and read. A good book, she said was a friend for life, which could be revisited many times without a formal invitation; a friend capable of raising you up , even in the toughest times. The best books, she used to say had characters you secretly hoped to meet on the street on any ordinary day.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

It is E-Book publication day! 

Welcome to the world of Roscarbury Hall, Rathsorney village and The Ballroom Café where tea is served in china cups Ella O'Callaghan's mother had once displayed proudly in her china cabinet. 

This is one of my favourite. 




Thank you to all those readers who have already helped push The Ballroom Café in to the Amazon Top 100, where it currently sits at  #11.


Sunday, 3 May 2015



        Flowers, vintage Weiss and childhood memories


Just eleven days until The Ballroom Café meets the world as an e-book. The sun is shining and the daisies are pushing their way between the dandelions and buttercups. 
    When I was young I loved to wander the green meadows around our family home. We jumped streams, played hide and seek in the woods, but our favourite on a sunny summer day was to lie on the flat of our backs in a grassy meadow full of wild flowers. There among the cowslips, buttercups, blue cornflowers, clover, daisies and grasses we looked to the clouds, giving them names and attaching stories to each.
Cumulus clouds full of memories remain now of lazy sunny days when we had time to watch the pillows of white  change shape, as the flowers bowed and touched our faces.

  We stayed like that until my mother called us for dinner, her voice lifting like a song  across the fields. We always ignored the first call, staying hidden among the flowers and grass, but she never had to call a third time. When we came to the table she always sighed and said "I don't know what you do out in those fields all day."
  These Weiss brooches, loved by Ella O'Callaghan in The Ballroom Café bring back such lovely memories.

Monday, 27 April 2015

VINTAGE WEISS BROOCHES IN THE BALLROOM CAFE.

 

   When I was growing up, a grand aunt in America would twice a year send a big parcel full of delights to our home in the west of Ireland.  When we had pulled off the plain brown wrapping paper, we found a box of exotic treasure had been posted to us. There were fancy silk and satin clothes we never were going to wear and the most wonderful vintage jewellery.

Kate had an amazing life in the States and spent her time dressing up for smart occasions, or so we thought anyway. She regularly wore blue and pink satin dresses, sleeveless dresses with matching coats; taffeta and silk along with  fake fur coats and the cutest little handbags with big clasps. 

Photographs were sent back to Ireland. In her younger days, she looked like a film star.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

THRILLED TO BE SHARING THE BALLROOM CAFE WITH YOU ALL.


Here are a few chapters of The Ballroom Cafe.  Just highlight the link. Right click. Hit Open link and happy reading!

https://www.scribd.com/doc/262684276/The-Ballroom-Cafe

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Time To Celebrate.

Silly to get caught up on Amazon rankings, I know but it is my birthday and The Ballroom Café has slipped in to the Top 100 in the Kindle store and is a  bestseller in  Contemporary Fiction.  
I know …. but….. it is my birthday and this is the first time this has happened and there are still weeks to go before The Ballroom Café meets the world!