Here's what she had to say...
It’s St. Patrick’s Day and like the best of the seanachaois (storytellers), let me tell you a few tales of my travels in Ireland.
The day I arrived in Ireland was the day I found my heart’s home.
I’ve been in love with all things Irish since I was in my early teens, so naturally I was thrilled to finally spend 10 days there in the summer of 2009, part of a three-week visit to England, Wales and Ireland. It was hard to contain my excitement as we left the ferry, the Jonathan Swift, in Dublin and drove to our first destination, the lovely village of Feakle in County Clare. The weather was cold and rainy, the mist dancing over the soft green fields, and I’m not sure, but I may have seen some of the Good People hurrying back to their faery raths.
The cottage we stayed in could have belonged to Ashleen and Cavan Callaghan, hero and heroine of my latest Irish-set novel, Coming Home. Its stone walls, thatched roof, and the lovely warm hearth sizzling with sods of turf made me feel as if I’d gone back in time. When we arrived, the fire was burning merrily, and the wonderful, scent of peat filled the room with vegetal sweetness.
I’d made a list of places to see before I left, and one of the first was Bunratty Castle, a spectacularly beautiful castle dating back to medieval times, complete with winding staircases and amazing views from the battlements. But for me, the best part of the visit was the folk park. It’s designed to look like a Nineteenth Century Irish village. And it was there I found Tom Flynn’s cottage. Loop Head House was the cottage of a fisherman/farmer, just like Tom Flynn, a minor character in my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, who plays a major part in the love story in my upcoming release, Coming Home.
There were other delightful discoveries, too. Fiddle and tin whistle music in the local pub, a wrong turn from Galway City that found us studying a map on the Coast Road beside a lovely view of the sea, visiting Coole Park and Yeats’s Tower, Thoor Ballylee. We even ran into a traffic jam one rainy morning. We were puzzled, until we saw a woman get out of her car and begin shooing a family of ducks across the road!
But the highlight of my trip had to be the day I visited Dunguaire Castle, in Kinvara, Galway.
The cover of In Sunshine or in Shadow features a lovely castle on a brooding autumn day. The minute I saw that picture, I loved it, but all I knew was that it had been taken “somewhere in Galway.” But shortly after reading the book, an Irish friend of mine identified it as Dunguaire, so naturally that had to be one of my must-sees.
How can I describe my reaction to finally seeing the castle I’d begun to think of as “mine?” A thrill, of course, but more than that. It was joy and sadness and excitement and something very close to tenderness. I “knew” this castle. It was a part of me, as no other place had ever been, or ever could be. It was me, somehow, and in some strange way, it was the people of Ballycashel.
And as we toured the castle, all the way up to the towering battlements, I found myself imagining the battles that had been fought for this beautiful land, and the lives and loves of the people of this place. And I wished I could stay forever!
Ireland is like a lover, and once met, it’s impossible to forget her. She takes your hand in a gentle clasp, urging you forward into a world of magic and mist. She touches your heart, fires your spirit, and fills your soul with a yearning to remain always.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona dhuit! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!
A Note from the Book Boost: Your post today, Cynthia has made me home sick for The Green Isle! I spent my honeymoon there and it was truly a romance novel living and breathing. I totally know where you are coming from. I must check out these books. Thanks for joining us today. Please tell us about your upcoming release.
“A woman’s love is strong, more powerful than all the ghosts in Ireland. . .”
Daughter of an Irish village girl, step-daughter of the landlord, Ashleen O’Brien has lived between two very different worlds. But after a year in America, she yearns to return to the green land that is her heart’s home.
War and betrayal have taken everything from Cavan Callaghan – his home, his family, and the woman he loved. A hero of the Irish Brigade at Antietem, he’s searching for the family he never knew.
Love and deception await Cavan and Ashleen along those emerald shores, as the ghosts of a past that can never quite be forgotten rise to threaten their newfound happiness.
Prologue The Atlantic Ocean, 1867
He was going home.
Home. Such a simple word. And for so long now, such an unattainable dream.
Yet as he stood on the deck of the Mary O’Connor, he thought maybe he’d finally find a real home once again.
When Johnny comes marching home again . . .
He looked seaward. The salt wind tugged at his hair. Spray stung his eyes. Gulls wheeled and shrieked overhead. Open water lay beyond the horizon, and beyond that still, his new life. In a few weeks, the Mary O’Connor would dock in Galway Bay, and from there he’d head for the small village his parents had spoken of with such love. He felt a stirring of emotion, the first spark of excitement since—
Deliberately he cut off the thought. He was no longer a soldier. There would be no more Rebel yells, no more guns, no more battles. He was no longer Captain Callaghan, so-called hero of the Irish Brigade.
He was just plain Cavan Callaghan, an Irishman searching for peace.
What would Ireland be like? For as long as he could remember, he’d heard his parents speak wistfully of the country they’d left behind. The green fields and sea-swept coast. The heather-strewn countryside filled with wild strawberries and prickly gorse. They’d spoken of the people, too, but especially of his father’s brother.
The last of the Flynns now, except for himself.
His mother had said the village of Ballycashel lay some nine miles from Galway City. What would he find there? He knew about the Hunger, of course. Had any of his family survived? Or would he find the same devastation he’d confronted on his return from the war?
A ripple of sound floating on the briny breeze told him he wasn’t alone. Recognizing the delicate notes of a penny whistle, he glanced around. One of his fellow passengers, obviously an Irishman, lowered the instrument from his lips and smiled, his foot tapping in jig time. The piper began playing anew, and a raw slash of anguish ripped through Cavan’s gut. He knew the words well, and the tune the man played so effortlessly and with such emotion.
He’d prayed never to hear them again.
The minstrel boy to the war has gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him . . .
He squeezed his eyes shut, the ‘ranks of death’ marching through his memory. So many friends, his comrades-in-arms, who would never return . . .
With a hard shake of his head, he strode away from the haunting melody.
He was going home. And there he would find peace.
There would be no more war.
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