The words filled Paddy with a melancholy longing for his home. He thought of his mother and their very last conversation. ‘Remember, Paddy,’ she had said, ‘the greatest person in all the world is the priest…May the Lord kindle the flame in your heart and fill you with his goodness, darling boy.’
When Paddy Delaney leaves home, it is to travel to Dublin to enter St Columcille’s seminary , where he will eventually become a priest. But events there spiral beyond Paddy’s control and soon he finds himself stowing away on a ship bound for Australia.
Landing in Australia proves to be a challenge – when the ship is shipwrecked – but Paddy soon finds himself travelling the country with a circus, before trying to rough out a life for himself in Melbourne. Before he finds peace, he needs to identify his true gift.
Becoming Billy Dare is an absorbing historical novel, the second in the Children of the Wind quartet. Rich in historical detail this is a self-contained offering, but readers of the first in the series Bridie’s Fire will be happy with the overlap between the two, which sees an adult Bridie play a role.
Becoming Billy Dare, by Kirsty Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2004
I’ll tell you about it. It’s a marvellous place. There’s kangaroos and horses to ride, and fruit simply falling from the trees. There are families that want boys like you, families with farms where they have their own milk and cream with breakfast every day. No one’s ever hungry in Australia. It’s a land of plenty and the sun shines every single day of the year. SO now, who’d like to go to Australia?
When Colm is offered the chance to leave England and move to Australia with other orphan boys, he doesn’t want to go. His mother has left him at the orphanage and one day, he believes, she will come back for him. But the choice isn’t Colm’s. Soon he is on a ship bound for Australia, and a new life.
In Western Australia Colm finds himself in Christian Brothers boys’ homes – first at Clontarf and then Bindoon. When he runs away from Bindoon he heads for Fremantle, hoping to find a way home. What he finds instead is a new life, in the company of Billy Dare and his dog Rusty. Together they travel first to the Goldfields and then across Australia’s stark centre, working along the Dog Fence. But it is when Billy falls ill that Colm goes to Melbourne and meets Blue Delaney, Bill’s daughter.
A Prayer for Blue Delaney is the third book in the Children of the Wind quartet. It stands alone from its predecessors, but overlaps with the central character from the previous book, Billy Dare, reappearing here as mentor to the young Colm. This much acclaimed series is an outstanding example of historical fiction – exploring an era with accuracy yet with a story which young people will relate to their own lives. Colm’s quest for a sense of self and family is a universal one.
A Prayer for Blue Delaney, by Kirsty Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2005