NEARLY THERE – a story of friendship and discovery
Johanna Connor & Gabrielle Byrne
|Outside cover of NEARLY THERE
Horse and Pony Info talks to Johanna Connor, co-author of NEARLY THERE
What is NEARLY
NEARLY THERE is our first book. We have completed others and will be publishing them as the opportunities arise. The
book is a tale of two horses, Budley and Bishop,
who go on an exciting journey, meeting mysterious strangers, overcoming obstacles and undergoing
zany trials. Along the way, they encounter other animals all unhappy with their lot. Once freed
from human captivity these friends embark upon a quest for fulfillment. Seemingly defenseless, they thrive in the face of
On their meanderings, music
and song guides them towards their goal. On the roadside a naked chicken appears and says: ‘Can you help me find
my feathers?’ Bishop, a thoroughbred
bay mare, asserted to her: ‘Of course, come with us!’ And so the journey begins… on the road to NEARLY THERE!
With its exquisite drawings, catchy tunes, exciting and innovative narration, NEARLY
THERE takes you on an unforgettable journey. This is a story for the child in all of us.
What is your background with horses?
I first sat on a horse
when I was three, Puk a coloured cob, who lived on Long Island (West Cork). I rode a little as a child and had a pony for
a while. Life took me elsewhere but every now and then I was lucky enough to come in contact with a beautiful horse…somewhere,
A change of direction
On December 12th 2000, I nearly died. I woke, two weeks later thinking I was headed
somewhere else - perhaps a land full of horses. But no, I was in ICU. Four months later, as part of my recovery, I demanded
to go riding! That was the day I meet Budley, a heavy, cob gelding. The following day I met Gabby and, a number of weeks later,
Bishop, a feisty thoroughbred mare. It was an instant friendship and eleven years later we are still together. Friends, having
Four years ago I went to Clonshire Equestrian
centre in Limerick where I passed my BHS 1 & 2. Instantly I got a job caring for & schooling horses. Budley and Bishop
are now retired. We are really lucky though as we have the next generation, Dippy and Beckett, to bring on and ride.
|Thoroughbred Bishop meets an elephant in West Cork
|What is your background in art and writing?
I have no background
in writing. I do however have a background in art.
I studied animation and graphic design, fine art painting and eventually theatre
design in London. I worked successfully for a number of years as a theatre designer in Dublin until the irreversible happened
in December 2000. I am in my element when I have a pencil in my hand.
Quite naturally illustration became my new form of expression. I still paint and occasionally model-make. Creativity is as
necessary to me as breathing.
will enjoy NEARLY THERE?
NEARLY THERE is a book for the child in all of us. We encountered the enthralling landscape of West Cork where we
meet all sorts of creatures, great and small. Our experiences condensed into a process of fun, friendships & new beginnings.
We needed to share our
story of Budley and Bishop plus the odd-balls they meet on the road to NEARLY THERE.
Bishop admiring the view in West Cork Budley
gets a visit from the farrier
Budley and Bishop – the real horses!
Two more different equines you couldn't meet - yet Budley and Bishop would be lost
without one another. Budley is a heavy cob gelding who loves to rest and eat. Bishop is a feisty thoroughbred mare who is
always on the alert. Together since 2001, these two have been happily retired here in West Cork. They will be spending their
summer holidays in Loughbeg Farm, where you can visit them and all the other creatures living there.
CREATURES OF SERENDIPITY
In 2002 Johanna Connor
and Gabrielle Byrne formed a creative partnership called Creatures of Serendipity. Johanna says: ‘In the beginning we
spent all our time at our drawing boards creating zany characters that found their places onto T-shirts, baby grows &
thongs or in breath-taking adventures with Budley and Bishop.’
Enveloped in a world
of equine, canine and feline friends, we, Creatures of Serendipity, Johanna & Gabrielle armed with pencils, pens, brushes
and ink immersed ourselves in folds of paper and drew incessantly, entwining drawing styles until two became one.
It began with Molly,
Gabby’s rotund, excitable pug who became a series of Pug n Poofs then catapulted into worlds of Pigs n
Wigs, Dogs n Bogs….
Book with CD available on 11th July 2012
at the launch in Grove House, Schull, West Cork, Ireland. After this, you will be able to purchase it from Whyte's Book
Shop, Schull, West Cork; Loughbeg Farm, Lowertown, Schull or Grove House, Schull, West Cork, Ireland.
Johanna and Gabrielle
NEARLY THERE App available on iTunes
This app features the unique illustrations and
storytelling by Johanna and Gabrielle with interactive animation and narration to provide you with a special experience that
means you will be constantly finding new and different features that enhance and reinforce the story’s central message
of friendship and discovery.
Narration – the story can be read out loud for children to fully enjoy
Discover the voices of the various animals on their journey
Fully interactive storytelling
· Colouring feature – enjoy 5 different images that can be coloured in using the interactive colour
palette and brush – save and share your pictures with your friends
· Songs – original music played during the story to sing-along with
Photographic media section where you can see the real life Budley and Bishop
and other animals cared for by Johanna and Gabrielle.
To buy the app, go to iTunes and
key NEARLY THERE into search box