Welcome to COWBOYS & IRISHMEN, the website of Gifford MacShane


I know I’m supposed to do this in third person, but that sounds so stuffy!

I’m Gifford MacShane (call me “Giff”), author of historical novels featuring a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona Territory in the 1800s. My debut novel, WHISPERS IN THE CANYON (Book 1 of The Donovan Family Saga), was acquired by SoulMate Publishing and is now available on Amazon.

I’ve has always loved folk music, whether it be Irish, Appalachian, or the songs of the cowboys. My love of the Old West goes back to childhood, when my father introduced me to the works of Zane Grey. Later, I became interested in the Irish diaspora after realizing my father’s family must have lived through An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852, a completely avoidable disaster that could have been prevented had the English government cared enough to do anything to help. Writing allows me to combine these three interests into a series of family stories, each with romance, traditional song lyrics, and a dash of Celtic mysticism.

I’m a member of the Historical Novel Society, Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers, and an #OwnVoices writer. Having grown up as part of a large & often boisterous Irish-American family, I’m intimately acquainted with the workings of such a clan and have used those experiences to good purpose (though no names will be named!)

A grammar nerd who still loves diagramming sentences, I currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, the Pied Piper of stray cats. An avid gardener, I cultivate pollinator plants and tomatoes (not enough) and zucchini (too much). I also collect art glass and bird figurines. If you happen to meet me anywhere, any time, I’ll probably be humming or singing, though I might not be able to identify the song if you ask.


I write historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. The first book of the Donovan Family Saga is WHISPERS IN THE CANYON, which deals with a young woman who’s been abused by her brother, and who subsequently must depend on the man who shot him to save her family’s ranch. The summary of the plot goes like this:

Shunned by the village for her outlaw brother’s deeds, Jesse Travers is not sorry to hear he’s been killed while robbing a bank. Strangely enough it’s Adam Donovan, the man who shot him, who brings her the news.

Traumatized by years of abuse, Jesse doubts she can trust any man—especially this Irish immigrant with his volatile temper and gunfighter’s reputation. But now she’s alone, and he’s offered to help put her bankrupt ranch back on solid footing. A profound love for her canyon home is stronger than her trepidation, and she accepts his assistance.

As they work together to improve her ranch, Jesse begins to see that Adam’s true nature is far removed from his notoriety. She feels the first stirrings of lovean emotion she’s never known before. Then, as if to tell her she is unworthy of happiness, her past rises up with a vengeance and she is left with a terrible choice: retreat to a life of solitude and shame, or trust her heart and reveal her tragic secret, in the hope that Adam is the man she believes him to be.

Though the subject matter is somewhat dark, there is no graphic violence. The themes are handled with sensitivity and respect for the victim and, most importantly, no sympathy for the offender. The book explores the effects of abuse no only only the abused, but on those who love her and try to help her. As one reviewer said:

This book will make you laugh and cry and even a little angry, but in the end it is all worth the read.

You can read more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads or take a peek at interviews on My Book Place and Actually Alethea’s blog.

At the moment, I’m working on the final edits for Book 2 of the Donovan Family Saga, titled THE WOODSMAN’S ROSE. If you’ve read WHISPERS IN THE CANYON and developed a soft spot for Daniel Donovan, you won’t want to miss it!

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