A look back at the year for Johnny Magory…

I always look forward to doing my end of year blog. It acts as a fantastic catalyst to both reflect and help refine the goals for the coming year. And if there’s one thing I’ve kept with me from my days in corporate HR, it’s the importance of celebrating successes. It’s no lie that 2021 has been one of the most tumultuous years for nearly every individual across the world. Not one person, family, business or organisation hasn’t been affected as we all live on the echoes of government and health officials trying to navigate this unprecedented journey.

But we’ve made it through at least and that is the greatest thing I’m grateful for as the year wields to a close at last. My family and friends are safe and healthy (and growing with the introduction of 3 new horses and 1 new dog!) The team are safe and healthy too with Amanda and Mel after putting in the most incredible years work and adapting to the near constant ebb and flow of the business.

So if your up for a read, I suggest grabbing a cuppa and finding a nice place to relax. I hope you’ll enjoy our 2021 highlights as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

EJ x

Emma-Jane Leeson on her connemara pony MollieNew puppy Peter


The list below still seems unimaginable. We’ve achieved so much in our tiny business and have punched above our weight on a few ‘pinch-me’ occasions!

The highs have not been without the lows though and there have been lifelong lessons learned from some of the ventures that simply didn’t go to plan. However I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason so I’ve tried my best to acknowledge it in the moment, learn from it then let it go. I think I’m a better business woman on the back of it if nothing else!

So without further ado, here are some of the highlights in no particular order.


If you had of told me last December that when I’m writing this post now, I’d have four new books under my belt… I’d have told you you were mad! But here we are! This year saw the birth of Johnny Magory Farmyard Féasta in March, Ode to a Tomboy in May, Foul Faeries in September and the Oíche Nollag Adventure in October! I had the privilege of working with the wonderful Kim Shaw again bringing our Johnny picture book range to life but also the pleasure of working with two new Irish illustrators. Sally-Ann Kelly on my first ever chapter book Foul Faeries, and Emma Healy on my first picture book outside the Johnny range. I just love how the universe worked to bring all of these amazing women into my world. I’m looking forward to working with everyone again in 2022 and am planning a further 4 books… EEEK!

Farmyard FéastaOde to a TomboyJohnny Magory Foul FaeriesJohnny Magory Oíche Nollag Adventure


Still a BIG ‘pinch-me’ one as I type this. Our app Johnny Magory World is now live and available to download from wherever you get your apps. It sees my books brought to life through augmented reality (as in Johnny and the characters pop up off the page assisted by the voice of young Jack who so brilliantly recorded the voiceovers). Our Wildlife Directory is also being brought to life, allowing children to interact virtually with Irish wildlife.

Lots more features will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months as we bridge the traditional way of learning (our books) with a more modern approach (our app!) Huge thanks to Dave Furney in PCG Media Group for the work on this. You can download the app on Apple Devices here or on Android Devices here.

Johnny Magory World App


We became the first non-food company to be accepted onto the absolutely amazing Grow with ALDI programme in March 2021. This was HUGE! We’d never had experience with an order of this magnitude and landing our books in 140 Aldi stores across the country was simple unbelievable. They arrived on shelves on the June bank holiday weekend along with numerous other small Irish businesses. I had the privilege of being interviewed and filmed by Henry McKean of Newstalk for the launch. You can watch back here.

Emma-Jane Leeson Johnny Magory Aldi Ireland Clane Grow with Aldi


And then… We made it into ALDI for the second time this year in November as part of the festive Grow with Aldi programme on November 7th launching our two brand new books, the Farmyard Féasta and the Oíche Nollag Adventure. Pinch-Me-Please!!

Johnny Magory Aldi Emma-Jane Leeson Childrens Book author Irish



We created a campaign for Black Friday whereby we wanted to turn it Green. Thanks to your support we now we will be planting 200 TREES at the Woodland Retreat in Ballynafagh. Our new venture for the business which will be launching April 2022. The Woodland Retreat will be a place for creatives young and older to nurture their ideas nestled amongst nature. I’m so excited about this new element next year and hope I get the opportunity to meet lots of incredible people in person.

Woodland Retreat at Ballynafagh


Melanie joined the team in July as our Digital Marketing Executive and I joyfully handed over the reins! Mel is a fellow Ballynafagh’er and knows Johnny inside out so it was a pleasure to have her in charge of our social media, website and emails.

Melanie Cross



We were beyond thrilled for Santy to be giving out Johnny Magory Books at this years Winterval Festival in Waterford city. Santy decided he wanted a plastic free, Irish made alternative for his sack and Johnny was ready and waiting to serve! Huge thanks to Sherpa Events for thinking of us for the event.

Winterval VIP Santa Sherpa Events Johnny Magory


We’re really proud to have supported some amazing charities during 2021. The Children’s Health Foundation, Crumlin received money from the sales of the Johnny Magory Books. You came out in your droves to support Dublin Zoo and Reforest Nation with our monster raffles also. We’re thrilled to have donated over 1000 books to various well deserving charities such as The Children’s Health Foundation hospitals, Focus Ireland and Women’s Aid Centres in the last few months also. And of course, getting the opportunity to plant 200 trees on your behalf is the icing on the cake. I can’t thank you enough for enabling us to give back like you do. Thank you.


Well it was a case getting my socks blown off once… Then getting them blown off twice this year! Being announced as the Kildare winner of the Network Ireland Creative Professional of the year was such a shock to the system… Then being awarded the national title down at the ceremony in Waterford was quite simply mind blowing! I still can’t believe it! Thank you to all of the Network Ireland team for this accolade. You can read more on it here.

Network Ireland Business Woman of the Year 2021 Emma-Jane Leeson Johnny MagoryNetwork Kildare Awards


There are certain days that one will remember for the rest of their days, as the fella says! Well the day Nationwide came to Ballynafagh is certainly one for me. And not just the actual day itself, the weeks before it were just unimaginable to see my family and friends pull together to get the place ready. It was incredible. The show aired in September and the response was just amazing. I’m beyond grateful for Valerie and Martin making the trip to us and giving the business such an amazing boost. You can read more about it here.

RTÉ Nationwide Johnny Magory


There may have been a palpitation or three when I got the call to ask me to speak with the crew on Ireland AM about my Tomboy book! Yes it was my second time to go live on the show but it was my first time to be in the studio. Other than spilling some make-up on my white blouse before the cameras went live; everything (thankfully) went well! Big thanks to Karen Coster and Tommy Bowe for the chats that day.

Tommy Bowe Karen Coster Emma-Jane Leeson Virgin Media Ireland AM Tomboy



When we found out we had received financial backing from Screen Ireland in March to develop the Johnny Magory TV Show… Well I nearly jumped out the window!! Working with Elk Studios and their amazing design team and professional screen writers Sally O’Sullivan and Shane Perez has been more than a dream come true. It’s surreal. And watching how the concept has grown and transformed over the last few months has been such a privilege. Exciting things to come in 2022. You can read more on it here.

Emma-Jane Leeson Johnny Magory Animation


So I could go on but we haven’t got all day now have we!

I just want to say the biggest thanks to all of the amazing people in my life. And all of the amazing children who read my stories. I also want to say that it has felt great being back out meeting and greeting people.

2022 is going to be super, I just know it.

And I really hope you’ll be on the journey with us. We’ll continue to bring Irish wildlife and heritage to the world.

I hope you’ve an amazing Christmas and that 2022 is also filled with fun, love, craic, laughter and (dare I say it…) travel!!

We live in hope!!

EJ x