TARPON SPRINGS, FL – John Heagney, author of the internationally acclaimed historical novel, Traveler, is scheduled to appear Saturday on BBC Radio’s Your Place and Mine program to discuss the book and his journey to writing it.
Based in part on the experiences of his father as a teenaged indentured servant in Canada, Traveler is the tale of young Neddy McKenna who is swept alone from his family’s small farm in northern Ireland to a life of indenture an ocean away in Ontario of the 1920s.
Neddy takes with him just a battered suitcase and his dreams. But in those dreams, he encounters again and again a mysterious stranger calling himself Traveler who guides, warns and challenges everything the farm boy knows or thinks he knew. But who is Traveler? An apparition? A guardian angel or something Neddy couldn’t possibly imagine?
Neddy, like Heagney’s father, is just one of more than 100,000 poor Irish and British children ensnared in what became known as the infamous British Home Children program. For nearly 80 years, the British government, Catholic Church and more than 50 other religious and secular organizations scattered children of poverty as free itinerant labor to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with the false promise of a better life and unlimited opportunities.
In reality, those children were considered sub-human by many in their host countries and were starved, beaten, raped and forced to live in deplorable conditions. Many ran away, committed suicide, were murdered or simply forgotten to death.
Both the British and Australian governments have issued formal apologies to those children and families affected by the Home Children scheme, as it was called.
Nearly 40 years after Bernard Heagney died in Florida, John Heagney uncovered his father’s never-revealed secret of indenture while researching family history online, starting with the ship that brought his father to Canada.
Traveler has received almost universal praise from readers across the globe and has been called “fascinating” by Highland Radio in Northern Ireland. It is an Irish In America Book of the Month Club selection, and has been praised by Irishphiladelpia.com as having “a cinematic feel to it: It’s action-packed and full of vividly drawn characters.”
Traveler is available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. The URL in the U.S. is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BW2QM63S/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0..