Saturday, February 20, 2021

# 18 Church of Mary, Star of the Sea

 


Church of Mary, Star of the Sea

          We were in Kilcorhane, County Cork Easter week.  We peeked into a church as parishioners were decorating for Easter Sunday, the next day.

          It began to rain so we stopped in Church of Mary, Star of the Sera to stay dry.

          Just before it rained we took a lovely walk along the rim of the forest and a few feet in. As we walked, I imagined Errol Flynn, as Robin Hood, in his stance on a tree branch and say, "Welcome to Sherwood Forest"... it was that dense and the trees that tall. On our way back from the forest we passed over a small footbridge above a wide, clear running stream. The bottom of the stream was lined by large stones. We stopped to enjoy the trickling sound of the water.

          As we waited in the church, marveling at the quaint altar and nave, we came up with a scene for the book, including the forest, stream, and church.


          We noticed the that the rain on the west coast always came with fierce winds, dark, heavy clouds and a fresh fragrance in the air.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

#17 Ring of Kerry

Before we left for Ireland, EVERYONE told us to be sure to see the Ring of Kerry. Since we were visiting Will’s cousin in the southwest of Ireland, we decided to see what this was all about. We left the village of Milltown and took the 111-mile circular tour through the Ring in the Iveragh Peninsula. It's a winding road along the coast and through mountains, and around lakes. There were a lot of mysterious ancient rings, churches, and forts on the grassy hillsides.

 


          The best way we can describe this day-long trip is Magical!  And we have to say, it was the Ring of Kerry that pulled together the idea of a mystery, STONE PUB on the Emerald Isle. 



Saturday, February 6, 2021

# 16 St. Finian's Bay, Glen Church and cemetery



 


St. Finian's Bay, Glen Church, and Cemetery

On our drive through The Ring of Kerry, in southwestern Ireland. we stopped at an interesting ruin of a church and cemetery with rolling mountains on one side and a beautiful bay on the other. Sheep were feeding on the pasture surrounding the medieval site.  It is called the Glen Church Ruin.

    The sky was gray. The wind and drizzling rain were freezing cold and could blow you over the cliff if you weren't sure-footed. Looking seaward from the cemetery, we could see a charming, small bay, St Finian's Bay. It was a shame we couldn't find out anything more about the history of this ruin site. We did learn that it was built during the medieval time...by hand! Those who toiled in this horrendous weather would have been very hearty, indeed, especially carrying the supplies up and down the rock-strewn hills.


We were told the howling winds and dampness apparently were pretty normal for this area. We talked about the eeriness of the church and cemetery during dinner that night. If only the rock walls could talk!

We came up with a fantastic way of using a church ruin site for a scene with our characters in Stone Pub.


Saturday, January 30, 2021

#15 Dark Hedges


 

Dark Hedges

          We spent three days in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. This held special interest for us because this is where Janet’s father's family is from. It was an amazing place! We drove through Dark Hedges, an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between Arnoy and Stanocum in County Antrim. The trees form a tunnel that has been featured in the television series Game of Thrones-The Kings Road.  Even on a sunny day, the dark tunnel formed by the trees sends chills through us. The pasture surrounding the path was vast, green, and hilly.



We found out that in 1775, one hundred and fifty years ago,  the Beech trees were planted for an entrance to an estate.



          Six years after our trip we referred back to this eerie road as the setting for a car chase in our book.

          

       

Saturday, January 23, 2021

#14 Castle Ross

 


Castle Ross

        In County Kerry, Ireland we stopped to investigate the massive Castle Ross. It was built sometime before 1652 on the shore of Lough Leane in Killarney. It is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of the O'Donoghue Clan, later owned by the Brownes of Killarney. It is considered to be a classic example of an Irish Chieftain’s stronghold during the Middle Ages. The formidable walls fronting the lough must’ve seemed impenetrable.  We could imagine arrows raining down on hapless invaders from the highest ramparts.

        A few days before we arrived, a large storm hit the area, so things were still pretty well "soaked" The castle was open but the lines of visitors were extremely long. So, we decided to stretch our legs and took a walk along the lough (lake)!  It was beautiful. The water was still, surrounded by tall trees and the sky was a light gray with no sun (typical of southwest Ireland.) As we walked we came across some century-old trees that were blown down by the fierce winds from the storms.

Immediately we got the idea to "secret" some information.

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

#13 Carrickfergus Castle

 

Carrickfergus Castle 

County Antrim

While in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, we took in a tour of Carrickfergus Castle. It was founded in 1177 by John de Courcy, an Anglo-Norman knight who led military expeditions into Ulster, in northern Ireland. It is reported to be one of the most complete examples of Norman architecture in Northern Ireland. Besieged in turn by the Scottish, native Irish, English, and French, the castle played an important military role.

            During  WW1 the castle was an army garrison.  Great Britain took over the castle in 1928 and began restoring it. With the outbreak of WW II, it functioned as an air-raid shelter.

          It was amazing to tour the castle as it was completely restored. The inner rooms, the Keep, and Chapel along with towers and battery was amazing. They had life-size mannequins dressed in period clothes depicting the work they performed in each area/room. We were amazed by the Great Hall, where, historically, the Baron and Baroness received guests.

     

This tour gave us a real sense of what daily life was like for the owners of the castle.

As an added note:

 Over the weekend of January 13 and 14, 2018, the castle was transformed into Hogwarts and was the Mecca for those two days for all those who followed Harry Potter.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

#12 The Sheep of Ireland

 

 The Sheep

Throughout Ireland, herds of sheep can be found dotting the landscape, in some places making the fields, appears covered in snowballs.

          As we traveled west into the less populated areas of the countryside, the herds became larger and more frequent. It’s not uncommon for flocks of sheep, and their shepherds to hold up traffic as they saunter along and across the narrow roads. The sheep may occasionally look up at the cars or break away from the herd to scan your car or even come up to the car window and greet you. They were friendly animals, always looking at travelers, bleating, and enjoying tourists.

          The Ring of Kerry we came across a very narrow road carved out of the side of a hill. We rounded a curve and suddenly, only a few feet from the road, the side of the cliff was straight down. We weren’t sure if we were going to end up over the side until we saw a sign telling us the road we were on was called "Goat’s Pass.” That explained it all! Though it was difficult to think of sheep or goats, with their shepherds, straddling the hillside on that narrow road not falling off the cliff!