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In the tradition of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes and Alice Taylor's To School Through the Fields, Tom Phelan's We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It is a heartfelt and masterfully written memoir of growing up in Ireland in the 1940s.

Tom Phelan, who was born and raised in County Laois in the Irish midlands, spent his formative years working with his wise and demanding father as he sought to wrest a livelihood from a farm that was often wet, muddy, and back-breaking.

It was a time before rural electrification, the telephone, and indoor plumbing; a time when the main modes of travel were bicycle and animal cart; a time when small farmers struggled to survive and turkey eggs were hatched in the kitchen cupboard; a time when the Church exerted enormous control over Ireland.

We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It recounts Tom's upbringing in an isolated, rural community from the day he was delivered by the local midwife. With tears and laughter, it speaks to the strength of the human spirit in the face of life's adversities.

About the Author

Tom Phelan

Tom Phelan, who was born and raised in Ireland, had just turned fifty when his first novel, IN THE SEASON OF THE DAISIES, was accepted for publication by the Lilliput Press in Dublin. BOOKS IRELAND's reviewer later wrote, "The most obvious question posed by a novelistic debut with as much resounding vigour as this is, Where has Mr. Phelan BEEN? "

IN THE SEASON OF THE DAISIES, which centers on the 1921 IRA murder of a young boy and the effects on his surviving twin and the men involved, was chosen for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers series. It was also a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award.

Since then, Tom Phelan has penned five other novels: NAILER, THE CANAL BRIDGE, ISCARIOT, DERRYCLONEY, and LIES THE MUSHROOM PICKERS TOLD, and he has seen his works published in four countries and three languages. He has also written for NEWSDAY, IRISH ECHO, and RECORDER, the journal of the American Irish Historical Society.

HE CANAL BRIDGE, set in Ireland and France in the First World War, tells the story of two Irish soldiers - and the women and families they leave behind - as they struggle to survive the slaughterhouse that was Europe from 1914 to 1918. The IRISH INDEPENDENT called it, "Another First World War masterpiece." BOOKLIST gave it a starred review, indicating a work that's outstanding in its genre.

Phelan's novel, NAILER, which BOOKS IRELAND called "a hard-hitting thriller," is about a man determined to get revenge-or is it justice? It is set against the backdrop of Ireland's abusive industrial schools and the collusion between state and church that allowed them to flourish.

ISCARIOT tells the story of an expatriate ex-priest who returns to Ireland to face the past and stumbles across the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a young woman.

In the humorous DERRYCLONEY, Phelan looks at life in the Irish countryside in the 1940s. He calls the book his "fanfare for the common man and woman" of his childhood.

In Phelan's novel LIES THE MUSHROOM PICKERS TOLD, an Irish man who has worked as a reporter in the U.K. for decades returns home to the Irish village of Gohen, where he attempts to uncover the truth about two murders that occurred during his childhood.

Tom Phelan was named a 2008-2009 Fellow of the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He was also selected as the Fall 2012 Ireland Fund of Monaco writer-in-residence at the Princess Grace Irish Library. He has given readings and talks at literary festivals and other venues in Ireland, the U.S., England, Monaco, and France.

For more information, please see www.tomphelan.net and www.facebook.com/tomphelannovels.

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