DSC_0275 1DSC_0401 1








Hi there

Thank you for stopping by my blog and website.

I’m Mary Rose and I live in Oranmore in Co. Galway on the beautiful West coast of Ireland with my husband and two little boys, Thomas age 5 and Jonathan age 1. Here is the story behind UP UP AND A PLAY. When Thomas was about two and a half, despite a room full of toys, I observed him get most fun and delight from playing outside with stones, mud, shells, water, chalk etc. This brought me back to my own childhood. I grew up in Glenties in Co Donegal. Nestled at the foot of the Bluestack Mountains, we spent most of or time playing outside. We played the classic schoolyard games, chalk and skipping games. We spent hours skipping to songs and chants. We played house or shop from cans, jars, berries and stones. We created houses, huts and tents from sticks and straw. When the weather was fine we rarely played with toys with the exception of our bikes. We had creativity and innovation in abundance. There was a great sense of freedom and we were given the opportunity to explore and create and just be a child. This made me feel and little nostalgic and made me reflect on children today and how they are growing up. Many’s an hour was spent reflecting with friends over the odd glass of wine, sharing many stories of the things we did as children. There were tears of laughter and sore sides from the stories and of course looking at old pictures and seeing how tragic we looked in what we considered to be most fashionable at the time was a great source of entertainment. I felt a little sad that these games and activities are not played generally by kids today. This motivated me to look back to the late seventies early eighties childhood and compile a collection of very simple nostalgic activities for kids that both parents and kids will enjoy.

I think a lot about how children are growing up today and how different it is to our experience of childhood. Our children are spending much more time in structured environments like childcare facilities and we as parents constantly monitor their play and activities. In addition to this children often go from school to planned activities and there is less opportunity for unstructured free playtime. We had great freedom as children and I feel a little sad that our children have less of this. Today children and adults have become very dependent on screens and technology. It has become a way of life for all of us. This book is about encouraging everyone to leave down the screens and look and enjoy the world around us. As a parent UP UP AND A PLAY will make us all a little nostalgic and help you to connect with your child keeping old fashioned play alive and well.

I started writing the book three years ago and I wrote most of it while I was on maternity leave with my second child. I wrote, made the crafts and did the illustrations during this period. I did all the non character illustrations in the book.

My background is sociology and social work with a particular interest in parenting programmes and play therapy. I currently work in early intervention services in Galway City. Alongside this I have always had a secondary career in design. I studied interior design and couture millinery. I love creating beautiful pieces in the form of paintings, illustrations, millinery and interior designs. Most of this creativity is now channelled into creating and making stuff with my kids.

UP UP AND A PLAY is a beautiful gift book available in both paperback and hardback. It is vintage and nostalgic in style. My publishing team are all Galway based with the exception of the designer. The book has seven chapters:

Kids crafts from the past

Games for Rainy days

Games in the Great Outdoor

Chalk and skipping games

The Perfect Vintage Picnic

Good Old Fashioned birthday party- food and games

Seasonal chapter with fun ideas and recipes for Easter, Halloween and Christmas.


Remember childhood before technology It’s still there, and it’s still fun!


Amazon Reviews of UP UP AND A PLAY 

By Jane Gormley on 19 April 2015

The perfect gift that will allow anyone to fondly reminisce on …

This book vividly brought me back to the simpler days of my childhood within seconds. It perfectly captures the whirlwind of imagination and creativity that came so naturally to us as children. In a world now ruled by Nintendos and iPods, this book reignites that innovative spark that we all evidently had from an early age. The perfect gift that will allow anyone to fondly reminisce on the simple little things we truly cherished as children!


By Catherine O’Shea on 14 May 2015

Beautifully produced book that will provide you lots of ideas to entertain your kids on those frequent rainy days, and when the weather is better there is plenty of outdoor games and crafts to try aswell. I have both young girls and boys so there is plenty that appeals to both. This book would also make a beautiful gift for a baby shower, new Mum or birthday.


By fiona conneely on 14 April 2015

A wonderfully simple book that helps you to enjoy your children …

A wonderfully simple book that helps you to enjoy your children and share with them the fun that was to be had with chalk, coloured paper and a skipping rope! This will bring out the child in us all and help us to remember that children really just need our time and their imaginations to have the

Review by popular kids website

In a new kids activities book “Up, Up and A Play: Over 80 Engaging Crafts and Activities from the Past to Ignite Your Child’s Imagination”, children’s activity blogger and mum, Mary Rose Keane, invites you into her Irish childhood, trading today’s chaos for yesterday’s simplicity. Find out what our parent reviewer thought of it.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the book to review by the author. I was not paid for the review and the opinions in this review are entirely mine.

What is it?

“Up, Up and A Play” is new book with old pastimes reimagined for present day. It aims to “invigorate the imagination with old activities made new again.”

Who is it for?

It’s for parents, to give them ideas (and maybe memories from their own childhood) for simple things to do with their child.

Among the many pastimes, you will find:

  • Vintage crafts
  • Games for rainy days
  • Activities for the great indoors & great outdoors
  • Recipes for nostalgic foods and drinks
  • How-to guides for old-fashioned birthday celebrations, traditional party games, and vintage picnics (including snacks and decorations!)
  • Seasonal traditions and holiday ideas for special occasions (Easter, Halloween, and Christmas)

Mary Rose wrote and self-published this book and I have to say she did an excellent job. The book is high quality with lovely pictures of each activity, nicely written text and simple instructions that are easy to follow.

I liked the style of the book in that it feels retro but it is written for a modern audience. It’s got a nice mixture of activities between recipes, crafts, games and songs.

For example, we had fun making fortune tellers – remember them? All you need is a piece of paper, scissors and some markers. We spent a pleasant half hour creating our fortune tellers then had much hilarity telling each other’s fortunes!

It would make a lovely gift book, but also nice to own a copy for yourself to dip in and out of when needed, for example for parties or seasonal activities.

Marks out of 5

I would give this a 5 out of 5. The quality of the content and the writing are top notch and I think any reader would enjoy this book again and again.

Where can I get it?

Buy a signed copy now

Or it is also available from


the following online retailers


Book/gift shops in Ireland

Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, Galway

Books n More, Oranmore, Galway

The Gift Shop, Glenties, Co. Donegal







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s