Great Pynck Read Series closes with uniquely Irish ‘I Knew This Place’

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THE Great Pynck Read Series has been a surprising journey through the times, places and unique voices of Ireland that has transcended borders and boundaries much more so than ever expected, and the final instalment, ‘I Knew This Place’ by John MacKenna perhaps most among all.

John MacKenna, author of ‘I Knew This Place’


Drawn from the ongoing Sunday Miscellany series on Irish RTE Radio 1, the collection of 85 essays is a seamless anthology of the seasons far surpassing the four we know: “These essays serve to remind us of the pure decencies, or disappointments, or occasional victories that can define our existence,” said Irish poet and writer Mary O’Donnell. “John MacKenna’s watchful eye and nuanced ear has caught the essence of beautiful summers and harsh winters as well as memorably comical moments and enriched experiences.”

Many of the stories in the collection are set in and around John MacKenna’s hometown in Kildare Ireland, recalled from Sunday Miscellany broadcasts over 15 years to underpin everything from robbing orchards to ghostly passengers, scraped knees and broken hearts, and memories from Greece to London and Holyhead to the USA.

“They are light and dark, just like life,” said John MacKenna. “These stories (are) drawn from the landscape of Kildare, from events in my own life and from the characters among whom I grew up.”

In publishing the collection, John looked no further than his own Harvest Press house, the same that launched the Pynck Read series’ ‘The Winter Dress’ by co-founder Angela Keogh. The fledgling publishing house was born in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and has just opened at and @harvestpressireland for submissions covering fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

“We are open for submissions in January and February for two months and then we are hoping to do three or four books a year,” John MacKenna explained. “That is the plan for starters anyway and we will see how it goes from there.”

Meanwhile ‘I Knew This Place’ is available at Harvest Press. It is a memorable read, capturing the seasons of life as much as dark winter nights, glorious spring days and long hot summers, and the beauty of an Irish autumn.

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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