Charity book ‘Lights on the Horizon’, created by writers, photographers and publishing professionals
across Ireland and Northern Ireland

How did an Irish charity book come to be endorsed by none other than actor Jeremy Irons during a pandemic?

Niamh Cooper, Publisher at eThentique in west Cork goes behind the scenes of what happened.

When the world stopped turning

In March 2020, most of us found ourselves at home, trying to get used to the new ways of the world, which had stopped turning in so many ways. And all the while our frontline heroes still showed up, day after day, helping, caring, healing. And we felt helpless, useless, hopeless. And: idle.

No one likes being idle, least of all creative people who are always doodling, writing, reading, playing with art, and words, in their minds, on paper, on their laptops and their desktops and their tablets.

Clapping to the cows… in west Cork. Image by Duane Retzlaff from Pixabay

Clapping to Cows

One dreary evening after many weeks of lockdown I found myself standing in my front garden, clapping, slightly maniacally, to unsuspecting cows. The intention perhaps was noble, to step outside our door at 8pm and clap for our frontline heroes, but the echo was loud and I’m sure that apart from the farm animals, no one heard me.

As I stepped back inside I thought that our frontline workers deserved something more. I just wasn’t quite sure what I could do. Fast forward a few days and I was doom scrolling, like so many of us, trying to keep on top of the news and advice and sheer horror that was unfolding. I decided to redirect my attention to more useful things and clicked into one of my online writing groups.

And it was then that I spotted a call for submissions by Northern Ireland-based author and playwright Andrew William Tinney.

The call for submissions was just what us writers needed!

And so, I wrote a story. And I wasn’t the only one. The work of 13 other writers north and south of the Irish border was accepted for this new collection that Andrew was creating, and we all had one thing in common: We were writers, we wanted to do something, and when we saw that all proceeds went to frontline workers, we jumped at the chance.

A literary time capsule

There were dramatic monologues. There were short stories. Poems. Fictional diary entries. All were one thing in particular: they were uplifting, and the themes were those of heroes and hope. The pieces were written during lockdown, to create a literary time capsule; a memento of our time. And, we called it ‘Lights on the Horizon’.

The 1st edition of ‘Lights on the Horizon’ was a softcover book. It was published in May 2020.

The great Jeremy Irons

A few weeks after the first edition was published – we initially published a softcover edition – we received a huge boost, when none other than Jeremy Irons came on board to support our cause. We had taken it upon ourselves to write to anyone we could think of, to raise the profile of the book. We felt it was such a unique initiative, and so we started sending out copies of our first edition, and writing good, old-fashioned cards. And one day, Jeremy Irons replied.

“One of the positive realisations to come out of this plague is how we all need each other. I hope these stories help us never to forget as we live our future lives.”

Jeremy Irons, July 2020

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons, Gage Skidmore

Spurred on by this endorsement, we decided to publish a full colour hard copy edition, with beautiful photography across the island of Ireland, to create a stunning visual time piece, and raise even more money for our healthcare workers.

The new cover – reverse side

We did a limited print run, and in the first three months since the book has been published (it first hit bookshops on 27th November), we have sold 250 copies.

We hope to reach our target of selling 500 copies of ‘Lights on the Horizon’ in 2021.

Niamh Cooper, Publisher of charity book ‘Lights on the Horizon’, eThentique

Generosity of Spirit

Pandemics are rough, but they also bring out the best in people. We have seen generosity that we never would have expected, and we are so grateful. It really is a beautiful publication, listed in the National Library of Ireland, and it makes a gorgeous gift, too.

We have received many many gestures of support for our charity book:

  • From the independent bookshops in Ireland, who agreed to stock our book at a substantial discount.
  • From the writers, photographers and publishing professionals who gave their time, thousands upon thousands of euros worth of hours, absolutely free of charge.
  • From the actors who agreed to pose for an impromptu photoshoot, to get just the right photos for some of the trickier pieces.
  • From the paramedics who gave their time, and their ambulance, to help us set up a shot.
  • From the UK-based publisher, Bozpublications, who partnered with eThentique, as we didn’t have an online shop to sell our book.
  • From packaging firm J.J. O’Toole from Limerick, who donated some packaging.
  • From companies such as DesignBird, the graphic designer who created a promotional poster and compliment slips.
  • From all the newspapers, magazines, online publications and radio stations who have supported us and spread the word about our book.
  • From partners such as CraftersOfIreland, who asked us to join their team of crafters, and has helped us spread the word about the book.
  • And: From all the countless friends, family and anyone who believed in this book and supported it, by purchasing a copy.
The actors, paramedics, and photographer Anna Dodog @WildDreamPhotography who attended the impromptu photoshoot

Worldwide Sales

Copies have made their way to the USA, the UK, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, Germany, and of course, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
We even received an order from Hong Kong – a teacher wants to use the book to teach English through authentic language! We were very honoured to oblige.

So why not head over to our partner, and purchase a copy of ‘Lights on the Horizon’. It retails at €24.95 (roughly $30.00, or £22.00 GBP) + P&P.

Crafters of Ireland – the One-Stop-Shop for Irish crafts, jewellery, books and more:

If you:

  • love Ireland
  • like reading poetry and short stories written on our green shores
  • are in need of uplifting stories
  • want to find a way to thank that hero in your life – while doing something for an excellent cause –
  • Then why not buy a copy?

You can see a preview here: