Growing up in Ireland each and every night Emma-Jane’s Mammy and Daddy told her “a story about Johnny Magory”.
These ‘made-up’ tales were usually derived from whatever sort of harm and devilment EJ had got up to that day and she couldn’t wait for bedtime for her mother to read a book and her father to tell her a story about what Johnny had done too!
Based on the old Irish rhyme “I’ll tell you a story about Johnny McGory. WIll I begin it? That’s all that’s in it!”, her father’s storytelling ensured EJ and her siblings went to sleep excited about their next “adventure” in the morning.
EJ spent her childhood outside, where she was happiest. EJ was an expert tree-climber, ditch-jumper and field-runner.
Some may have called her a tomboy; she called herself a wild ninja-warrior he-man, dinosaur-loving girl who was a “world champion” tree climber and animal whisperer!
Not a lot has changed in three decades (well maybe the humility!)
Amongst animals and trees is still where she is happiest.
The birth of her first daughter Lily-Marie inspired her to jot down a few of her daddy’s stories on one of the many sleepless nights! 12 years after that, her mother encouraged her to ‘do something with the stories’ as it was approaching her 30th birthday. With no aspirations for becoming an author, Emma-Jane self-published her first story ‘Johnny Magory in the Magical Wild’ purely for family and friends, whilst working full time in Bord na Móna. The team in her office told her they also knew the ‘story about Johnny McGory’ from their childhood… Much to EJ’s shock as her father had her and her siblings convinced that he himself had invented the rhyme!
The buzz of creating her first book had EJ hooked and she continued to self-publish more adventures whilst working full time in some of Ireland’s biggest corporates as the popularity and word about the books organically grew and spread.
She eventually left her HR career in the corporate world to pursue her passion full time in April 2019. Johnny Magory Business was established as an independent publishing house and has gone from strength to strength.
Purpose: To inspire parents and children to connect with nature.
Vision: To educate children globally on Irish heritage, wildlife and culture.
Johnny Magory (and Emma-Jane) have taken part in programmes such as Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s Acorns 5 and DCU Ryan Academy Female High Fliers.
Johnny Magory Business is evolving from simply an internationally recognised publishing house to becoming a brand for all things children, outdoors, exploring and Irish heritage, wildlife and culture.
From the moment EJ scribbled down her first story about Johnny Magory way back in 2004, she envisioned a TV animation series and making Johnny the Irish Dora the Explorer. In March 2021, Screen Ireland awarded the business development funding to begin making that dream a reality. EJ and the team are working with Elk Studios in Dundalk, Co. Louth on bringing Johnny Magory to TV screens across the globe.
Oscar Wilde once said “I am not young enough to know everything.” So collectively, in Johnny Magory Business, they think the team’s young enough to cover most of the bases!
The team work from the converted shipping container (complete with roof top terrace for the odd sunny day) in Ballynafagh, Co. Kildare.
Amanda Delaney – Administrator & Book-Keeper
Amanda’s favourite thing to do as a child was playing in the cornfields making houses.
Her favourite thing now with her own children is hiking and walks especially in Bray, Ticknock and Glendalough. They also love sea kayaking and surfing.
Amanda’s favourite wild animal is a deer.
Emma-Jane Leeson – CEO.
Emma-Jane’s favourite thing to do as a child was climb trees, pretend she was a ninja-warrior and “talk” to animals, especially her ponies, dogs and cats.
Her favourite things to do these days with her family is still climbing trees, walks outdoors in their wellies; and preparing and devouring tasty picnic feasts.
Emma-Jane’s favourite wild animal is a hare.
Melanie Cross – Social Media Executive.
Mel’s favourite thing to do as a child was to build tree houses with her big brother and play with her many cats.
Her favourite things to do these days is still playing with the cats, especially Boots, and long walks in nature.
Mel’s favourite wild animal is a fox.
Each story educates children on different areas of Irish heritage, wildlife and culture.
Johnny Magory in the Magical Wild was the first book published in the series about the little boy who’s a few years old; usually good but sometimes bold! This book was inspired by Ballynafagh Lake which is beside where EJ lives… Truth be told, she thinks she owns the lake and spends time there every day. EJ wanted to capture the day-to-day imagination a child has to use when they spend the day playing outside. Be it in their garden, park or local playground, she believes the games and stories a child invents are incredible and should be encouraged. Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
Johnny Magory and the Game of Rounders followed next. Johnny Magory and his dog Ruairi sneak off to have a brilliant game of rounders with all his animal friends; when he’s supposed to helping his Mammy and Daddy foot the turf! This was inspired by the Bog of Allen where EJ spent a large portion of her youth around her Nanna’s house with her cousins. They would jump bog holes for the day then would all line up in their Nanna’s garden as she hosed the bog mould off them! GAA Rounders was another huge part of EJ’s childhood and she wanted to encourage children to play the game. Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
The third adventure is Johnny Magory and the Wild Water Race. Inspired by the Grand Canal in Ireland. Johnny’s little sister Lily-May is introduced in this book and see’s Johnny having a boat race with his animal friends. The grand canal played a big role in EJ’s childhood; she learned to swim in it! Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
Johnny Magory and the Forest Fleadh Cheoil is the fourth story in the series and is illustrated by EJ’s childhood hero, Don Conroy. The story was inspired by Donadea Forest in Ireland which is a large deciduous, native forest. EJ wanted to capture and promote two important elements in this books; the Irish love of music and her own love of climbing trees! Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
Johnny Magory Joins the Irish Legends was written during the first lockdown of 2020. Emma-Jane virtually wrote the book with the help of her funniest, lifelong friend Sean Óg Moore from Prosperous, Co. Kildare. Sean was 11 at the time and having their weekly meeting kept them both motivated during a very uncertain time. The book is all about Ireland’s amazing legends and sees Johnny and the family heading off on a ‘staycation’ around Ireland to complete a mission: “To make sure Irish Legends have their stories heard”. Meet Fionn MacCumhaill, Queen Medh, Oisín and Niamh, Brian Boru and Finegas whilst visiting some of Ireland’s best-known heritage sites. Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
Johnny Magory and the Farmyard Féasta sees Johnny and Lily-May help Granny and Grandad Magory with the annual harvest. Meet lots of native Irish farm animals such as Dexter cows, Connemara ponies and Galway sheep and have fun with the children as they prepare a farmyard féasta. Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
Johnny Magory Oíche Nollag Adventure is literally the little Irish book of Christmas! Johnny and Lily-May have to help the big man himself when one of his reindeer gets sick. They meander through the Phoenix Park in search of their hero to save the day meeting lots of native Irish wildlife along the way. Suitable for up to 7 years old. AR Enabled on our App.
Johnny Magory Spraoi By The Sea. The ultimate Irish beach book sees the whole Magory family make their way to the beach to cool off. When it’s time for lunch, obligatory sand-sandwiches are consumed with Ruairi on guard for the pesky seagulls. Johnny then rushes off to the sea only to be told he must wait an hour after eating or he’ll get a stitch. In his most daring move to date, he tiptoes into the sea anyways. Suitable for up to 7 years old.
Johnny Magory Songs of Ireland. The Magory’s love singing old Irish songs. Lily-May asks her brother the meaning behind some of their favourite songs and he explains. Songs such as City of Chicago, Spancil Hill, Fields of Athenry and more. This books dives into Irish history through song. Suitable for up to 7 years old.
Lily-May Foul Faeries. Printed in Dyslexia Friendly Font. Join Johnny and Lily-May on an adventure they’ll never forget in the first chapter book of the popular series. The pair go through the rabbit hole into the magical wild to celebrate the solstice. Their wildlife friends and their dog Ruairi, who is king in this world, warn them to stay alert to danger. But when foul faeries kidnap Lily-May will they ever make it back home? Suitable for 7 – 11-year olds.
Lily-May Hare Today Gone Tomorrow. Young Lily-May has always been fascinated by hares, they’re her favourite native Irish animal. But it’s not just their behaviour and looks she likes; she loves the stories her grandad tells her about the hares being shapeshifters. Tales of how the Celtic warrior Oísin injured a hare whilst hunting and followed it only to find a beautiful woman and many more like it. A determined Lily-May forms a plan, going through their secret tunnel into the magical wild alone, without Johnny or Ruairi. She is going to find out the truth about the hares once and for all. But has her curiosity put her in grave danger? Suitable for 8 – 12 year olds.
Ode to a Tomboy is a full colour picture book also written by Emma-Jane. This snappy rhyming and beautifully simple illustrated story explores what it predominately meant for a little girl to be called a Tomboy. It challenges the stereotype in a fun way and reassures children you don’t and shouldn’t have to tick certain boxes to fall into a label. This book will give reassurance to young girls who might be labelled a Tomboy already that it’s ok to enjoy and explore all aspects of their lives. Suitable for 0 – 8 year olds.
Johnny Magory is a few years old, usually good… But sometimes bold!
Introducing children to Ireland’s beautiful and unique mammals, birds, amphibians and fish through our fun-loving characters.
Weaving our heritage into stories that they will remember.
Ultimately, making them want to go outside and explore… The way Emma-Jane’s Daddy told her the stories as a child!
Johnny Magory Books are official partners to CMRF Crumlin with a percentage from the sale of every book going directly to the charity.
Emma-Jane is available for interactive workshops with children. These events involve reading the stories and encouraging children to engage with nature through various props and activities. Her writing workshops are also very popular with children and adults alike. In our new world, all of the workshops are now online.
Click here for more information on the virtual workshops.
Please email to arrange bespoke events.
Please get in touch if you have any recommendations on another adventure for Johnny based on your own experience.
Click here to find out more on the books.