Walter Macken, a native of Galway, was born in 1915 and died in his home city at the age of 51. A writer, an actor and a playwright, he is perhaps best known for his novel "Flight of the Doves" - which was adapted for the cinema - and his "Irish Trilogy". "Flight of the Doves" is one of the two children's books he wrote, and was first published, posthumously, in 1968.
The Doves of the book's title are two orphaned children, Finn and Derval Dove. They live in England with their "Uncle" Toby, who is actually their step-father. Toby, once the family's lodger, married the children's mother after their father died in an accident. Unfortunately, as the book opens, the children's mother has been dead for two years - and Toby has not been treating the children at all well. When Toby comes home from work, he expects the house to be clean and tidy and his dinner to be on the table. Once eaten, he'll head out to the pub and won't return until the children are in bed. He appears to have a particular dislike for Finn - a twelve year old boy with red hair who regularly gets beaten by his step-father. Derval, the younger of the pair, is a seven year old girl with blonde hair. When Finn becomes afraid that Toby is going to start beating his sister, he decides it's time to run away. Although he does have a destination in mind - his Granny O'Flaherty's home in the west of Ireland - he isn't too sure exactly where she lives. The journey across the sea isn't made an easier by a notable lack of funds - but the children take off as soon as Toby goes out to the Red Dragon.
When Toby discovers the pair missing the following morning - and realises he'll have to make his own breakfast - he falls into the depths of despair. Nevertheless, he believes the children will soon return of their own accord and doesn't notify the police. However, things change when he arrives at work and discovers the children are due to inherit a tidy sum from relatives in America. He realises Finn and Derval may have gone to Ireland, and soon the runaways are being hunted onboth sides of the Irish Sea. Although the children aren't long in making friends, their journey to Granny O'Flaherty's isn't going to be easy - not with the newspaper coverage and a bounty of their heads...
A very easily read and enjoyable children's book.