Kevin Doyle Blog

Writing and activism

About “The Worms That Saved The World”

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Introducing a children’s book with a difference!

“Their lives are turned upside down when a luxury golf course invades their headland. The worms try to negotiate but their efforts are met with insecticide. Our long, wriggly friends have had enough! They decide to take action … A story for children and (ssssssh) adults too.”


The Worms That Saved The World is an illustrated children’s book about a rebellious group of earthworms who fight to save their home from a luxury golf course that takes over their headland. The story was inspired by a famous campaign that took place at the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork, Ireland at the turn of the millennium.

The Old Head has been described as one of the ‘one of the most spectacular beauty spots on [Ireland’s] Wild Atlantic Way’. However in 1989 the promontory was purchased by a property developer whose dream was to build a luxury golf course on the headland. Part of his plan involved restricting public access to the walks along and around the Old Head. A public campaign got underway to opposed the annexation and this took the form of ‘picnics’ that were often followed by ‘mass trespasses’ on the headland. The developer appealed to the Irish courts to uphold his right to control movement on the headland and eventually he won. Today access to the Old Head is very limited – unless you have lots of money and you like to play golf.

Author Kevin Doyle explains how the The Worms That Saved The World took shape:

I took part in many of the protests. We were right to protest about what was happening. Here was a beautiful part of our country, part of our heritage, and it was being robbed from under our noses by a developer who just wanted to turn it into a playground for very rich golfers. It was all wrong. The campaign that opposed the development was one of most spirited that I ever took part in. There was lots of solidarity but in the end force prevailed. For many of us the fight is not over. The Old Head will be ours again one day.

The idea for the story sprung from the injustice of seeing the beautiful headland being privatised. But in the early part of the millennium I also had young children to mind. My partner and I read a lot to our two girls. There are great books around for children – no shortage in one respect – but there are few enough books that talk about issues to do with standing up for your rights. Also it’s often not safe to stand up against injustice on your own. You have to win others to your side and act collectively. The Worms That Saved The World talks about these issues as part of the fun story that it is. There are no princes and princesses in this story!

seals small (2)I remember seeing a book in Solidarity Books in Cork called Into The Serpent’s Jaws. I asked about it.  The author and illustrator was Spark Deeley. I met Spark a while later and asked her if she would be interested in working on The Worms story. The book took off from there. Spark is a great artist but she also really liked the story and its politics. It took a lot of work and much to-ing and fro-ing to get the book into its final shape. The illustrations in their own right are beautiful with a lot of detail in each one.

Neither Spark nor I are celebrities so we haven’t been able to get a mainline publisher to back us. Okay that a bit of an exaggeration but these days it does seems as if content does play second fiddle to ‘star’ branding. In any case we decided that this story was too important to be allowed languish so we’ve gone ahead and published it ourselves. 

We think this is a story worth telling. It is a story for our time, we feel. Social solidarity is under attack in many countries and, lets face it, decisive action to stop global warning just hasn’t happened. Maybe it really is up to us?

Where can I get a copy of The Worms That Saved The World?

The Worms That Saved The World will be launched in Cork on May 5th, 2017. To order a copy please go here or you contact us directly on Facebook or Twitter. In Cork, the book is available from Vibes and Scribes, 21 Lavitt’s Quay, Cork.

More details to follow.

 About the author

Kevin Doyle is an award-winning short-story writer. His work has been widely published. He won the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award 2016 and a CAP Indie Award for his collection Do You Like Oranges? At the turn of the millennium he was active in the campaign to defend the public’s right of access to the traditional walkways on the Old Head of Kinsale. That campaign and his daughter Saoirse’s interest in garden worms inspired this story. He is also the author of many articles on anarchism and the anarchist tradition, and teaches creative writing in Cork.

About the illustrator

Spark Deeley is an artist, illustrator and writer. Born in Birmingham, she now lives in Cork, where she divides her time between professional art practice and community art projects. Her first book, Into the Serpent’s Jaws, an illustrated fable, was published in 2007. This was followed by Do You Remember Me?, an illustrated CD created with musician Catherine Cunningham. She has also facilitated the production of two volumes of art and writing by community groups in Cork: Knitting for Squids and The Light of the Lantern. The Worms that Saved the World explores a theme that she believes to be central to a healthy society: our universal right to a safe home.

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Written by Kevin Doyle

April 5, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. […] Head Golf Links who had applied for exclusive rights to control who could walk on the headland. In The Worms That Saved The World a group of earthworms living on an imaginary headland begin to suffer when a golf course takes up […]

  2. Great idea. This sounds wonderful. I love the social activist theme and people (ahem, worm) power!

    Good luck with the book!


    April 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm

  3. […] More details at: […]

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