National Press Club

Author O'Brien enthralls children with tales of talking horses at family book event

February 24, 2014 | By Donna Leinwand Leger |

With her Irish lilt, tales of the magical, real-life town of Howth and talking horses, author Lara O’Brien enthralled children with a reading from her book, “Chesca and the Spirit of Grace,” Feb. 22 at the National Press Club.

O’Brien, who came with maps of Ireland and Howth and pictures of the town’s beautiful seaside cliffs, spoke about her childhood in Ireland, her fascination with Ireland’s national hero, a pirate queen named Grace O’Malley, and her love of horses.

“Howth is a magical, beautiful peninsula close to Dublin city, where Chesca’s story unfolds,” O’Brien told about a dozen children, accompanied by parents and grandparents, at the Book and Author event.

In the story, the main character, Chesca, meets the pirate queen and, inspired by her story, helps protect her family’s farm.

The children asked questions about O’Brien’s life in Ireland, horseback riding and pirates. Several of the children talked about their favorite books.

O’Brien told the children she enjoyed reading “Charlotte’s Web” and “Pippi Longstocking” as a child.

O’Brien grew up in Howth, where she rode horses as a member of the Howth Riding Stables, a barn for 25 horses. In the 1990s, the barn and land were sold to become a stud farm, but instead was resold to developers. The government has so far refused the developer’s request to build 52 houses, O’Brien said.

O’Brien now lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband and four children.