‘Growing Pains’, a sequel to ‘Timber Twig’ was released in 2000. This book continues her daughter’s story with her pony but also touches on the subjects of dyslexia and Irish Draught breeding in this country.
From the Galway Independent
Occupation: author, teacher, farmer
Location: Craughwell and Athenry
Massachusetts-born Kate McMahon juggles so much, it’s hard to see how she keeps everything together. A theatre-goer who loves to speak French, with a passion for all things equine, she seems to stretch time itself to fit in all of her passions.
Growing up outside Boston, Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was ten years old but was determined to finish school and university so that she could teach children with dyslexia how to read and spell and help them avoid the “humiliation and frustration” she suffered as a poor student when she was young.
While on holiday in Ireland in 1980, Kate stayed with the late Lady Cusack-Smith from Bermingham House, Tuam. While there she met Dr John O’Dea from Ballyvaughan in Co. Clare. He knew about dyslexia from his training in Canada and suggested that she move to Galway and work with the dyslexic children here. At the time, the Western Health Board psychologists were able to diagnose a child with dyslexia but there was no follow-up language support services in the schools to help them.
Having lived and taught in various parts of Galway, Kate married in 1986, and moved to Craughwell. She has two children, Amy and William. After a failed attempt to produce a phonetic workbook for her dyslexic students, Kate took the advice of a friend and switched her focus from ‘spelling rules’ to the antics of her children. “I took it up as a kind of a dare,” she says now. But the dare paid off. She has now published four children’s novels and four ‘high interest, low vocabulary’ books suitable for younger children or children with dyslexia.
Her first book, ‘Timber Twig’, published in 1997, stars a pony of the same name that was lent to her daughter for the summer by Oonagh Mary Hyland of Tuam. It tells of all the ups and downs of that memorable three months.
A year later, Kate wrote a boy’s adventure story for her son called, ‘A Horse of Another Colour’. Set in a bog in Connemara, the book tells about an accident that could have gone terribly wrong until a Traveller steps in to save the day. The book is dedicated to Martin Ward of Loughrea, who helped her with the details of the story.
In 2002, Kate came out with the Key Reader Series. The four short illustrated books are ‘It Really Hurts’, ‘High Ball’, ‘Grounded’, and ‘Mr Fox at the Dublin Horse Show’.
‘That Touch of Magic’, which is dedicated to the students at the Ballymana National School in Craughwell, as well as all of her books are available from the Tara Book Company in Kilcolgan.