Sound of Freedom author goes to inner city for new book

The Kidds of Summerhill by Ann Murtagh to launch at weekend

Last year Ann Murtagh, a former primary teacher, ventured into the world of children’s books, and for her debut novel, The Sound of Freedom, she was drawn to Westmeath on account of her parents coming from the Collinstown area.

For her second book – also published by The O’Brien Press – Ann has left rural life for north inner city Dublin, and The Kidds of Summerhill is set in the closing months of the Second World War.

Orphaned Nancy Kidd is now head of her family. She and her brothers and sister are in danger of being sent to industrial schools. The ‘Cruelty Men’ have the power to do this to the family, and their next door neighbour is one of their spies. Will Nancy be able to keep her family together?

As her life begins to unravel, she meets Karla, a Jewish refugee. Karla had left Prague for London in 1939. She was part of a ‘Kindertransport’ organised by Englishman Nicholas Winton to save Jewish children following the German invasion of Czechoslovakia.

When London is being evacuated, she comes to Dublin and becomes friends with Nancy in the clothing factory where they both work. Karla might know a way to provide the help Nancy so desperately needs.

The inspiration for writing this novel came from a visit by the author to 14 Henrietta Street. This museum tells the riches to rags story of the grand Georgian buildings in Dublin transforming into squalid tenements of the poor over time.

Despite all the hardship suffered by the people of Summerhill, there was a strong community spirit – a determination to get through the tough times and be there for each other. Families were still able to laugh, enjoy themselves, have fun and play pranks. The author tapped into the essence of that spirit for her story.

According to children’s book advocate and author Sarah Webb, Ann’s books are perfect for fans of Marita Conlon McKenna.

The Kidds of Summerhill is now available to order online from bookshops.

Everyone is welcome to the virtual book launch on Saturday March 27 at 4pm.

Register at