The Tuam Herald Article

THERE are many threads in the life of Tatiana Tierney. Born in the Soviet Union and now living just outside Tuam, she has been a retailer, a real estate agent, a manager of a major spa centre, a recruitment agent, a student of sociology, a cofounder of a charity in England, and finally a novelist.

Tatiana has just launched her first novel entitled A Thread of Secrets and will be signing copies in Tuam this weekend.

Her story is full of twists and turns. “I was born in the Soviet Union in a loving family and had two brothers. My Papa was an electric engineer and my Mama had a degree in teaching. Her three sisters were teachers as well and my Mama thought I would follow their footsteps, but I said I wanted to sell books and work in a bookshop.

“I loved when my Papa was reading to me and wandered in my mind in that story imagining things. I remember making things up and singing something under my breath during our long journeys to my grandparents. I would count every cloud and tree we passed.”

Quite early in life, Tatiana married and divorced and had encountered many difficulties in between. As she recalls them, she makes swimming movements with her arms indicating how she had to ‘elbow’ her way through those obstacles.

“I had my first experience of trading when I was twenty in the early 1990s, selling clothes and other products on the market. Then, after my divorce, I worked as a real estate agent. I had my own business once again, I set up a recruitment agency, but a year later I moved to Moscow where I worked as a HR manager and then a corporative event organiser.”

She had her first experience of computers when she was about 25 and her boss saw her potential. Suddenly she was involved in human resources work where she was recruiting suitable candidates for jobs in big companies.

Tatiana’s personal life took a dive a year later when, in the middle of a meeting, she was told her father had died suddenly.

Not long afterwards and again in the middle of a meeting, she was told her brother had died: “That was too much for my mother and other brother, so I left that job and returned to my mother’s house to help look after them.”

Tatiana does not allow the grass grow under her feet: “A few months later, I opened a recruitment agency and was lucky that a number of clients followed me. I was identifying and recruiting secretaries, storage managers and other people in that bracket; in a short time, I knew I needed something more challenging so I moved to Moscow.”

Five years in Moscow

SHE is a person who continues to develop and improve on her skills. Over five years in Moscow, she had five different jobs. She built in trips to spas in order to relax. One trip to Turkey resulted in a professional metamorphosis when she was offered a management job in the five-star hotel in which she was staying.

Her next move was to England where she met and married an English man and for the first time in her adult life, “I was financially dependent on a man. I decided to trust in it, but it didn’t work out when I wanted to go back to work.”

Tatiana got a divorce. “I’d just started studying sociology in college when my mother had a bad car accident and I had to go back to Russia”

Again she swings her elbows out to show how she had to get through an awkward system. But it worked and Tatiana’s mother managed to walk again in spite of the prognosis to the contrary.

Returning to England, life post-divorce there was much better than in Russia: “the allowances were really good and enabled me to return to college. I began in Tower Hamlets in London, then continued studying sociology in Westminster University.”

Then dear readers in 2010, her darling Niall Tierney entered the picture. A Russian friend invited her to a private networking club she was organising. It was in Home House in Portman Square, London. The building itself is spread across three Georgian townhouses.

“I met Niall in 2010 in London where I was studying Sociology in Westminster University. We got married and lived in London for a while.”

 When their eyes met, for Niall it was love at first sight: “I was preoccupied with my studies at the time, so my love for Niall was like a slow cooker. The last thing on my mind was marriage but some months later, Niall proposed to me on Killiney Hill, Dublin. I was overwhelmed by his gentleness and when we went to his parents’ house in Glenageary, he went down on one knee.”

In a short time they set up a charity together called Kind Hearts which was no mean achievement although Niall is a lawyer so knows his way around company law. They married a year later and moved to Switzerland with Tatiana dropping out of university.

In 2014 they moved back to Ireland and Tatiana fell in love with the country. In 2018 they found a delightful house in Tuam, Co. Galway and this is where Tatiana began her writing career.

What inspired her to do this?

“When I met Niall, he talked to me about his family. It happens that both sides of his lineage are interesting. His grandfather was Michael Tierney, President of UCD and his great-grandfather was Eoin MacNiall [one of the most significant figures of 20th Century Ireland; among other achievements, it was he who founded the Gaelic League in 1893 and the Irish Volunteers in 1913].  “Both sides of his family have provided me with much food for thought,” she added.

Eoin MacNeill

A professor of Greek at UCD, Niall’s grandfather became president of the university in 1947. A member of Cumann na nGaedheal and later Fine Gael, it was Tierney who suggested the name Fine Gael when there was a merger between Cumann na nGaedhael, the National Centre Party and the Army Comrades Association, (popularly known as The Blueshirts) in 1933.

But that part of Tatiana’s in-laws has yet to make it into a Tierney novel. It is Niall’s maternal lineage that informs much of A Thread of Secrets.

“The idea came into my head when I was listening to Niall. His family history is fascinating and has a connection with all three countries mentioned in my novel: Ireland, England and India. A Thread of Secrets is a combination of that, my own experience of living in England and Ireland, and what I’ve garnered in my journey through life. I’m a good listener and love observing people and what makes them tick.”

A Thread of Secrets is a romance fiction set against the struggle of India to break from the yoke of England and the decline of the British Empire. It begins in a grand house called White Cliffs Manor in 1934 and ends in India in 1969.

The heroine is Grace who was twelve years old when her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Bellmore, decides to tell her – “across a vast oak desk” – how her life began.

Her father, George, had been an officer in the British Army and met her Donegal born mother, Nora, in a hospital in France where she was nursing. It was during World War 1. After it they lived in Donegal where Grace was born in 1922 but not before George died from war injuries.

Within a year Nora had died of tuberculosis which left Grace orphaned. However, Nora and her mother-in-law had been communicating by letters so what Grace was now about to hear was directly from her mother.

Grace grows up in White Cliffs House and attends a private school where she meets her best friend, Molly Baker. Their lives become interwoven – they even marry brothers.

One marriage is good, one bad. Grace marries the wrong brother and Tierney does not shy from describing its details: “his eyes were burning with inner anger, but he said nothing as he assaulted her … not only had her nightgown been torn apart that night but her marriage too.”

Along the way there are secrets to unravel in a book that is perfect to take on holidays. It’s good summer reading which brings the reader into an emerging independent India.

The detailed descriptions come from discussions the couple have had about Niall’s ancestral link with India as well as an actual trip which Tierney says “helped me a lot when describing local culture, food, and the beautiful Indian people.”

Josephine the mongoose in the novel is based on an actual mongoose which Niall’s grandfather had in order to keep snakes at bay. The characters Brian and Margaret are based on Niall’s grandparents and that’s as far as characters are based on real life personages.

Tierney has three other novels brewing in her head no doubt we’ll see more of Niall’s interesting family stories.

A Thread of Secrets is self-published and costs €15 in paperback and €21 for the hardback; the E-book is €7.

Shipping in Ireland is free. Each book comes gift wrapped in exquisite paper and ribbon.

Tatiana Tierney will be signing copies in Daybreak Books ‘n’ More, Tuam on Saturday, 22 June at 12-3pm.

You can order them from her website

Photos from left to right: Two-year-old Tatiana. Tatiana with her book. Tatiana and her husband Niall. Josephine the snake-eating mongoose features in the novel.

Article by Mary Ryan of The Tuam Herald