Meet the Author

Robert T. McMasterI suppose every family has its secrets and mine is no exception. My great-great-grandparents, Bernard and Hannah McGurk, were living in County Tyrone, Ireland, when the potato blight decimated that country's major food staple. Hannah and her four children, Barney, Cornelius, Margaret, and Mary Jane, emigrated to escape the famine, arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, in October, 1849.

What about Bernard? When I was just a boy I was told that he died in a fire. Many years later I learned a darker story about Bernard McGurk. It seems he was arrested for theft, tried in a Belfast court, and sentenced to seven years in prison - in Tasmania. One family member claimed that Bernard's crime was stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. How much truth there is in that I may never know.

Hannah McGurkHannah and her children settled in Watertown, Massachusetts, near Boston where Hannah was employed as a domestic worker until her health deteriorated. Then her children were taken from her and placed in a state school in Monson, Massachusetts. Hannah died in a state hospital, but her children survived and thrived. Barney and Cornelius served in the Union Army during the American Civil War, then settled down, married, and raised families. Margaret and Mary Jane also married. Mary Jane had seven children, one of whom was Clara May Rowena Amadon.

That's where my connection comes in, for Clara Amadon McMaster was my grandmother. I have vague memories of her living with our family in Southbridge, Massachusetts, during the last few years of her life. My father was one of five children born to Clara and Robert T. McMaster (my namesake). Once their children were grown, Clara held a position as a reporter for the Worcester (MA) Telegram.

I've always dreamed of one day connecting with my McGurk relations in Ireland, and in a way the County Wicklow Mysteries have been a fulfillment in fiction of that dream. Ciaran McGurk, the central character of the books, lives in modern day Ireland. His father was a newspaper editor and Cary aspires to pursue a similar career. Writing and journalism seem to run in the family.

I was a teacher for some twenty-five years, in public schools at first, then for the last twenty years as a professor of biology at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts. In 2011 I began working on an historical novel set in Holyoke during the World War I era. Ten years later there are four books in that series. In 2017 I shifted gears and began work on a biography of the 19th-century geologist and paleontologist, Edward Hitchcock, published in 2021.

But my family ties to Ireland and my lifelong interest in the Emerald Isle could not be denied, and so the stories of Rose of Glenkerry and Fugitive from Injustice began to take shape in my imagination. I am hopeful that these books will be enjoyed by hibernophiles in the US as well as by readers in Ireland and elsewhere. 
                          T. McMaster

Rose of Glenkerry
  Fugitive from Injustice


Book 1 of the Trolley Days Series

“…a joyful, engaging read from beginning to end...a masterful first novel."
Mark Ashton, Southbridge (MA) Evening News


The Dyeing Room
Book 2 of the Trolley Days Series

“…a compelling and carefully-researched story.”
Eileen Crosby, Archivist, Holyoke (MA) Public Library


Noah's RavenNOAH'S RAVEN (2017)
Book 3 of the Trolley Days Series

"This book combines a mystery (espionage) with romance among young residents of Holyoke, Massachusetts, during World War I…McMaster has integrated a great deal of local color and historical background information into his narrative."
Gerald McFarland, author of A Scattered People and The Buenaventura Series


Darkest Before Dawn
Book 4 of the Trolley Days Series

“[McMaster] appears to have found an enticing way to blend history
with the excitement and suspense of a good mystery.”
Mike Lydick, Greater Springfield (MA) Reminder


“McMaster’s biography brings Edward Hitchcock alive in all his facets…The book is eminently readable…I am confident in the scholarship of this work and recommend it to scholars as well as to anyone interested in history."
Joanne Bourgeois, Professor Emerita, University of Washington,
review in Earth Sciences History 41(1) 2022

“A superb book that brings to light the person and his times."

Stephen George, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Amherst College


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