Tuesday Writing Conversation: Polly

August 29, 2016

Click below to hear Florence Corey and Catharine McKenty discuss ‘Polly of Bridgewater Farm’.

Tuesday Writing Conversation: John Main part 3

August 16, 2016

Our series on John Main continues with this conversation between Michael Lane and John Main’s nephew, Eric Johnson.





Tuesday Writing Conversation: John Main part 2

August 8, 2016

Click below to see part 2 of Catharine McKenty discussing the background to writing ‘In The Stillness Dancing’

To be continued next Tuesday

Catharine writes:
a new edition of Neil’s biography of John Main will be published in the next couple of months by Light Messages in Durham, North Carolina. This American company is also producing a new edition of Neil’s memoir ‘The Inside Story‘. To my delight, they also did a brand new editions of our prize-winning book ‘Skiing Legends and The Laurentian Lodge Club‘as well as my book ‘Polly of Bridgewater Farm – an unknown Irish story‘.
Their brand new edition of ‘McKenty Live’, edited by Alan Hustak, will be featured at the Neil McKenty memorial lecture in Toronto on October 28th at the Mental Health Conferences Canada event.
These books are available on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com (see McKenty books). For schools, libraries or other groups they are offering a 40% discount for 25 copies or more of these editions.
I am truly grateful for this kind of sustained and enthusiastic support. My own aim is to share hope in difficult times as Neil did in his life and work.

‘In The Stillness Dancing’ can be ordered here.

Tuesday writing conversation: Where writing takes you…

August 2, 2016

In the video clip  below, Catharine McKenty discusses ‘In The Stillness Dancing: the Journey of John Main’



July 29, 2016

5 years ago, Neil posted this about Trump.


As he arrived to campaign in New Hampshire this morning, Donald Trump learned, to his delight, that President Obama has revealed his original birth certificate.

Imm ediately the Donald took credit for resolving the ‘birther’ issue when nobody else could:  “Today, I’m  very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished soething that nobody else  has been able to accomplish.  I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a keyrole in hopefull getting rid of this issue.”

Then Trump jumped into his black stretch limousine and headed off into the wilds of  New Hampshire to test the waters for a run to the presidency.

But Trump has a couple of other thingss to tie to the president.

Trump believes On bama’s first best-selling book was written by a ghost writer.

Trump also says that early in his career, Obama was a poor student with failing grades.

So what kind of  strings did…

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July 24, 2016

More of Neil’s thoughts on American politics


Today a frustrated President Obama summoned congressional leaders to the White House for a drop-dead meeting on the debt ceiling.   Twice now Speaker Boehner has double-crossed  the President by breaking off the talks without any warning.  It is clear now the GOP is more interested in presidential politics than they are in the fiscal health of the nation.

In some ways this whole debt-ceiling debate is as phony as a three-doller bill.  Get this.  The money they are talking about has already been spent.  Let me explain.  Congressional spending authority is like running up credit car debt.  The money has already been spent, even before you get the bill.  Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is equivalent to deciding that y ou’d rather not pay the bill.

So for Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling is the exact opposite of fiscal [rudence; it is an act of dishonesty and…

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July 23, 2016

Neil was thinking about American politics in this posting from five years ago.


Yesterday there was a block-buster special election in one of the most conservative  House seats in New York State.  The seat has been rock-solid Republican.  Only three Democrats have been elected there in the last 150 years.  Astonishingly, yesterday the Democratic candidate, Kathy Hochul, defeated the GOP candidate, Jane Corwin.  The key issue was Paul Ryan;s GOP medicare plan in which Medicare as currently constituted would be replaced by a money-voucher system.  If the money ran out – tough!!   Hochul ran on the slogan: “The GOP will take away Granny’s medicare and put her on the street with a tin cup.”Today, Republicans are devestated.  Democrats are licking their chops.  The same kind of campaign, run all over the country, would be a winner in 2012.

It would also help propel Obama back into the White House.   Today the President is being lauded by the Queen in London and he is…

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Tuesday writing conversation: Ulster Folk Park

July 5, 2016

In May, we visited the Ulster Folk Park, just outside Omagh. This is a short clip of our visit to a rustic homestead.

From the other week we had this response from a reader:

I was reading your June 20th comment about the Irish immigration, Grosse-île and how it relates to what we see everyday on our little home screens and newspaper on “neilmckenty.com“. It seems that all genarations must get through such stories. I’m sending you a link on a musical I produces with the help of the three autors (all Quebec City production) last March. We presented the French and English version. There is a complete English version. We are proud of the result.

Guy Morisset

Catharine writes:

A thousand thanks for this amazing video about Grosse-Ile – I was close to tears watching it!


Tuesday Writing Conversation: some background on Polly book

June 27, 2016

Catharine McKenty wrote ‘Polly of Bridgewater Farm’ after she investigated her family history in Dromore, Northern Ireland. A key breakthrough was meeting a local historian, Florence Corey. Click below to hear Florence describe how she met Catharine.

Tuesday Writing Conversation: Grosse Île, Londonderry/Derry and Cabbagetown.

June 20, 2016

Catharine writes:

Today I sat in the window of a local restaurant, sipping apple juice as our local heat-wave increased in intensity. A father with his three children sat at a small table on the sidewalk just outside.

I could watch the adorable expressions on the faces of the two little boys facing me as they played their way through the quiet meal.

Then I found myself thinking of the suffering of children all over the world – why, oh why, I asked myself – why does this suffering continue?

It’s as though we are caught up in an ongoing cosmic battle with evil that can flare up at any time. And, in these circumstances, why is it that the words “Father, forgive them – they know not what they do,” seems the farthest thing from our minds? I found the tears welling up as I sat there, as though some old pain were healing itself without my being aware.

Those words would be a good mantra for me to cling to. Even when coping with the everyday frustrations that occur living within a close-knit community.

I think of my great-grandmother Jane Fleming who lost two small children and her baby girl on a terrible 31-day voyage from Ireland to Canada. Their twelve-year old daughter died at the Grosse-Ile quarantine on the Saint Lawrence river an hour downstream from Quebec city. My great-grandparents had fled in 1847 in the midst of that terrible famine that killed over a million starving Irish.

When I was in Ireland a month ago, a woman at the Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Londonderry/Derry told me ‘people still find it hard to talk about that period.’

And at the Centre were copies of ‘Polly of Bridgewater Farm’ laid out and now being used as part of the healing process after the community tensions of the last century in Northern Ireland.

In a way that is still mysterious to me that our family story is being used to bring hope in adversity. As I was writing, I had the sense that the story was coming through me, and onto the paper without my conscious control.

I was writing at a level I had never come close to earlier in my life.

And then the people who turned up at every stage of the writing to help me in whatever way was most needed.

Without Carol Moore-Ede’s help as my editor the book would never been completed in its present form, if ever. She brought all of her 40-year experience at the CBC, and as founder of the Cabbagetown-Regent Park Museum to bear, during a summer none of us will ever forget, along with her colleague Sally Gibson, the writer of books about the early days of Toronto.

Catharine Fleming McKenty



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