Cynthia Neale is an American with Irish ancestry who has long possessed a deep interest in the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish during the Potato Famine or “The Great Hunger.” She grew up in Watkins Glen, in the Finger Lakes Region of northern New York State. As a child, she wrote poems and stories and would walk about her neighborhood reading them and performing skits for anyone who would listen. She graduated from Vermont College in Montpelier, VT, with a B.A. degree in literature and creative writing. She has worked as a freelance writer and owned a Victorian tea catering business.
Always interested in drama, Cynthia wrote and directed plays for local churches—and on a more serious level—wrote and directed a play entitled, “Indeed the Hunger,” for Rochester’s Irish Festival. She continues to write a romance series for Set Dancing News, a publication in Ireland, since 1999.
Ms. Neale enjoys Irish set dancing, traveling—especially to Ireland—baking fanciful desserts, and, as she blithely opines, “laughing until it hurts.” She is currently researching and writing another, adult, historical novel about Queen Catherine, a Native American whose village was destroyed by General John Sullivan in 1779. And she is working on a collection of recipes and memories to be titled, Pavlova in a Hatbox.
Once she was a child of Hunger, but now Norah McCabe is a woman with courage, passion, and reckless dreams. Her story is one of survival, intrigue, and love. This Irish immigrant woman cannot be narrowly defined! She dons Paris fashion and opens a used-clothing store, is attacked by a vicious police commissioner, joins a movement to free Ireland, and attends a National Women's Rights Convention. And love comes to her slowly one night on a dark street, ensnared by the great Mr. Murray, essayist and gang leader extraordinaire. Norah is the story of a woman who confronts prejudice, violence, and greed in a city that mystifies and helps to mold her into becoming an Irish-American woman.
This sequel continues the saga of Nora McCabe and her family now dwelling in New York City where they encounter poverty and racism as Irish Catholics and immigrants. Injustice and violence are a matter of course in this mysterious and alluring city filled with strange languages. Desperately homesick, Nora vows to save money and return to her homeland of Ireland. Meanwhile, she becomes a newsboy, meets Walt Whitman, visits Barnum's Museum, meets new friends, and experiences an adventure. After purchasing a ticket to return to Ireland, the Astor Opera House Riot of 1849 occurs and her father disappears. Will Nora return to Ireland? Or can she stay and maintain her spirit while finding the true meaning of home?
During the Irish Famine from 1845 to 1850 over a million people perished due to hunger and fever. Thousands of ships brought more than two million Irish people to North America in search of food. The Irish Dresser is the saga of the McCabe family who struggle to survive during this difficult time. When thirteen-year-old Nora McCabe crawls into the old dresser that sits next to the hearth holding a few pieces of her mother s china, she dreams of luscious cakes and fairies as hunger pains grip her. It is in the dresser that Nora finds hope when her father declares they must leave their beloved Ireland for America. Hidden in the dresser aboard the ship traveling to a new land, Nora lives an adventure that transforms her life and turns hope into a reality.