Norma MacMaster

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 21st February 2018

Norma sent her first story to RTE when she was 8. They sent it back saying there was a flaw in the plot.

Her parents wanted her to become a pharmacist, and work in the family business, but science wasn’t for her.

“After College I went to Canada, lived on a tobacco farm, and taught 14 children in a small school. After a year, I returned, and went to Queens University to do teacher training. I taught in Drogheda Grammar School for two years, then skipped from school to school.”

Eventually, Norma realised that she hated teaching, so it was off to Canada again, where, after gaining a Masters, she became a counsellor in Magill University.

“I returned home when I became homesick, and worked in guidance counselling in the Glenties, County Donegal. Then I married Vernon, a physics and maths teacher.”

Always interested in religion, Norma has been ordained as a Church of Ireland Minister.

A long-time member of a writer’s group based at Ardgillan Castle, Norma has had regular pieces broadcast on Sunday Miscellany.

Who is Norma MacMaster

Date of birth: 1936 in County Cavan.

Education:  The Royal School in Cavan. (A boarding school.) “We went to bed hungry.” Magee College in Derry; Philosophy, Latin and English. Finished it in Trinity College Dublin. Queens; Belfast, Dip Ed. Magill University; Masters in Counselling.

Home: Skerries, County Dublin.

Family: Widowed. Vernon died 18 months ago.  One daughter, Gwyneth – a technician in the school of Biology and Environmental Science at University College, Dublin.

The Day Job: Fulltime writer.

In Another Life: “I’ve had everything I’ve dreamed of. But this book was the biggest dream.”

Favourite Writers: Virginia Woolf; Jean Rhys; George Eliot; Thomas Mann; Rilke; Mary Oliver.

Second Novel: “I’m writing a memoir.”

Top Tip: “Unless you have a real passionate spring in your heart, you can’t write.”

The Debut: Silence Under a Stone: Doubleday Ireland: €14.74 Kindle: €9.07.

Harriet Campbell is looking back over her troubled life. A staunch Presbyterian, she had to choose between her religion and love for her son. Is it too late to mend the mistakes of the past?

The Verdict: A lyrical, sometimes horrifying novel that helps explain the history of religious intolerance in the North and the border counties.


Published in The Irish Examiner on 17th February, 2018

© Sue Leonard. 2018

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