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In Memory of Sheila Connolly

Sheila Connolly first signed her BookEnds contract in 2006. It was the start of an incredible writing career and a wonderful friendship. Earlier this week I learned the news of Sheila’s passing and although I knew it was coming, the knowing doesn’t lessen the sense of loss.

When not talking plots, career, or next books, Sheila would share stories of wandering graveyards to discover more about her family history and the boxes of things she had saved from grandparents and great-grandparents, and even greater grandparents. Her love of genealogy and history is what made her such a great mystery writer. She had a special fascination and skill for unearthing the secrets of the dead.

The County Cork series, the one she loved the most, grew out of her passions. Originally pitched years before as a genealogy series, we later repositioned the book and put the focus onto the place she loved most—Ireland. The day we sold the first book in that series was the day Sheila started talking about buying her Irish cottage. It was the place she was happiest. I loved hearing stories of the people she met in the village and the tales they told. I knew all of it was going to find its way into her books.  

Sheila was plotting new stories and series right up to the end of her life. I’m going to miss those conversations. I’m going to miss hearing about the neighbor’s cow and her little cottage. I’m going to miss her friendship.

I know Sheila would be humbled by the outpouring of affection and support her readers and the writing community have shown. I can imagine her smile and chuckle of amazement at the attention.

To Sheila, I raise a glass of good Irish whiskey and say, 

May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you.

May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Sheila Connolly was the author of numerous novels, all of which BookEnds had the privilege and honor to represent. The series of her heart was most certainly The County Cork Mysteries (8 novels and a novella). She is also the author of The Orchard Mysteries (12 novels), The Victorian Village Mysteries (2), The Relatively Dead Series (6), and The Museum Mysteries (7), as well as two standalone novels and numerous short stories. Her latest book, Fatal Roots, was published by Crooked Lane Books in January.

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32 comments

  1. Sheila was that and a whole lot more. I’ll remember her most for her spontaneous hugs when I accidentally bumped into her at RWA-NY a few years back… A wonderful Lady who we will all cherish..

    I’m going to make that toast with my bottle of Author’s Tears… a good Irish Whisky .

  2. Sheila was a wonderful writer, an excellent colleague and friend, smart, witty and funny as anyone you could ever meet. I feel lucky to have known her. Mary Jane Maffini/aka Victoria Abbott

  3. Her Cork mystery series grabbed me A Connolly myself, we had things in common. I can’t help but think of the books she took with her She made my trips to Ireland real all over again. I so enjoyed meeting her at RWA national conference

  4. I was so sorry to learn of her passing. I loved her County Cork Mysteries series and her Victorian Village series. I didn’t know her personally, but I could tell how much she loved Ireland from reading the County Cork series. We will all miss her telling us more about Moira and Mick (we never got to see them take the big step), the small village of Leap, and Sullivan’s Pub. Ireland has lost a one-woman publicist.

  5. This is sad news. I am so sorry for your loss Jessica and to all the people who knew and loved her. She absolutely sounds lovely. I will be buying one of her books! Slainte to you in the green hills of heaven Sheila! Beannacht leat! (Blessings to you)

  6. Wish I had known her. I’m so sad for all those who did since it sounds as though she was quite special. I’ll enjoy a little feeling of connection as I check out her books.

  7. I’d never read Sheila Connolly until recently, when I was made aware of her County Cork series by Jessica Faust. She was a lovely writer and I am enjoying reading her evocative prose about Ireland.

  8. I have always wanted to travel to Ireland and reading the County Cork cozy mystery series fulfills a travel dream in the loveliest way with my reader’s passport. I love all of her novels but the County Cork series is my favorite and was also my introduction to her writing. Her loss is heartfelt as a beloved author. I can only imagine the joy of knowing her in person, discussing books and the publication of her writing, having her move to Ireland and especially enjoying life as friends. My deepest condolences to you and all of her literary family. Love across the miles to her family and literary family.

  9. I’ve just discovered her books on my last visit to my library before Covid lockdown. I will read every book she’s written. Good thoughts sent to her family and friends.

  10. I had emailed Sheila in the past to tell her my grandmother was from Glandore and how much I loved her County Cork books. She replied with a very nice email. So, recently I emailed her again to ask if she was writing another County Cork book and I didn’t get a reply. In doing a search, I discovered to my dismay that she had passed away in April. I am terribly sad to hear this. I will treasure all of Sheila’s books that I have. May she rest in peace. Condolences to all her family and friends.

  11. I will miss Sheila Connolly very much. I have read the entire Orchard Series and the County Cork series was my favorite also. So glad she got to have her home in Ireland. God Bless her and Thank You, Sheila!

  12. Very saddened to hear of this. I have read all of her books, with the Orchard series being my favorite. I did not know her, but greatly appreciated her wonderful stories. Prayers for her family.

  13. I have only just found out that Sheila died in April. I first met Sheila when she was researching ‘Scandal in Skibbereen’ and ‘A turn for the bad’. I was the police sergeant in charge of Skibbereen Garda (police) station at the time but I am now retired. I met her several times for coffee and food over the next few years. Sheila wanted to ensure that the police officers and legal procedure s in her novel were as authentic as possible so we had many discussions about police procedure and the legal system in Ireland. I had one meeting with her in the interview room in the station but my normal role was reversed as Sheila was the interrogator. She was a lovely person and a great conversationalist. She had a passion for genealogy and for the area her ancestors came from in Drinagh near Skibbereen. She bought a little cottage there and loved it. Rest in peace Sheila.

  14. I was just researching when the next installment of the County Cork Mystery series would be released when I came across the phrase “she was…” in the search. So very, very sad to hear about this. I so loved this series and looked forward to every release. I lived vicariously through with Maura Donovan and the gang at Sullivan’s Pub every January and had aspired to share a pint with Billy at the Pub and be there for the opening of Rose’s kitchen. Thank Sheila for these characters.

  15. I am so sorry to hear about Sheila’s passing. She’s one of my favorite authors. I adored her characters and loved her cozy mysteries. She will definitely be missed.

  16. I am very saddened to hear of Sheila’s passing! I’ve been anxiously awaiting the next book in the County Cork series. I figured I had just missed it somehow until I looked her up tonight and saw that she passed away 10 months ago. I pray for the loss her family & friends must feel every day. She will be missed greatly, also, by those of us who only knew her through her books.

  17. I just found out that Sheila has passed away. I love her Country Cork mysteries. So sorry for her family, friends and fans.

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