This Irish-American Tale Has Westchester Roots

Westchester native James Rooney has crafted an inviting work that blends memoir, autobiography, and fiction in his debut novel.

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The lives of new author James Rooney and protagonist Patrick Connelly have a lot in common. Both lost sight in one eye at the age of three, both became hockey stars by the time they were in college, both lost the use of their lower bodies due to an accident soon after, and both endured tremendous setbacks and amazing triumphs through high-powered careers in financial advising.

A Yorktown Heights resident from 1956 to 1963, a young Rooney moved to Harrison with his family, where he spent the next 18 years (he now calls Florida home). Over that period, Rooney played hockey for the White Plains Plainsmen and Iona Blades before hitting the ice for Providence College. There, an ice-hockey injury left Rooney without the use of his legs at the age of 19. Undaunted, Rooney ended up with a successful 30-year career at a Wall Street firm, married, raised two kids, and wrote a noteworthy novel that combines much of his life with fanciful Irish history, folklore, and page-turning office intrigue.

James Rooney
Courtesy of James Rooney

“I have been getting really good feedback from people that say they are impressed with the writing, that they are entertained, and that they learned a lot about Irish history.”
—James Rooney

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“[The book title alludes to] ‘sitting’ in the wheelchair and ‘rainbow’ being the connection between America and Ireland,” says Rooney. “It’s a 21st century Irish-American morality tale. [The protagonist] Patrick Connelly lost his wife and family, and he might lose his career too… since there are people attempting to steal his business.”

What ensues is an involving journey through Ireland and its fantastic folklore in order for Connelly to rescue his livelihood and maintain his way of life. “Themes include financial markets, disability, Irish history, folklore, governmental incompetence, music, the universal desire to be young again… as well as the beauty and power of nature,” says Rooney.

Sitting on a rainbow
Courtesy of James Rooney

Currently, Rooney is working on two new books. “The first is a memoir that uses excerpts from Sitting on a Rainbow and expands upon them, but [with a focus on] the personal-growth and self-help industry.” Rooney adds that the other book is a novel based upon a wine group he was in, where his “experiences with this wine group are mixed with current-day politics,” he says. “The country is getting more and more divided. So, the fictional story is about a wine group that is a microcosm of this larger, very dangerous issue that’s happening in the country.”

Courtesy of James Rooney

Meanwhile, the reception to Rooney’s first novel has been enthusiastic. “I have been getting really good feedback from people that say they are impressed with the writing, that they are entertained, and that they learned a lot about Irish history,” says Rooney. “They also say that I was vulnerable, I was truthful, and I gave them a lot of insight, because I was always this stoic figure that never talked about the wheelchair and some of the trials and hardships, and now I am here telling everything.”

Sitting on a Rainbow
By James Patrick Rooney
MindStir Media (2022)
538 pages (pbk, hc, kindle)

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