Please welcome my author friend Terri Brisbin to Down To Earth Romance. I invited Terri to tell us about her recent trip to Ireland because she researched her exciting new series in a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve been told by others who have been to the Emerald Isle that, in addition to living in a beautiful country, the Irish are the friendliest people in the world. I hope you enjoy Terri’s travelogue and will leave a comment for her.
‘Twill Do Ye No Good! Or My Trip to Ireland with Writers
by Terri Brisbin
The title of this blog post refers to the scene in THE QUIET MAN when someone asks for directions and the resulting confusion and humor.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to travel to Ireland this past May and even luckier to go with some wonderful writers. Eileen had been there before and she was our leader and main driver. I served as backup driver and navigator. Laurie was the keymaster because they use actual keys for hotel rooms and cars there and she kept them safe for us! And Loralee was our scribe, taking notes and adding commentary through the trip.
And it was grand! Brilliant! Lovely! (those three words are the Irish triumvirate!) We began calling it the 50-shades-of-green tour because we did see more shades of the color green than I’d ever thought possible. Around every turn a new vista spread before us and we drove through hills and mountains, along the sea and lakes and through farmland. We met up in Dublin and spent some time there before renting a car and going off on the real adventure.
I had two purposes for the trip—the main one was researching. The last book in my Novels of the Stone Circles series takes place in Ireland and I needed to visit some possible locations to see if it would all work the way I wanted it to. So, I headed over early and sought out the Neolithic sites on the northwest coast – Knocknarea and the Megalithic cemetery and stones of Carrowmore. These are ancient and magical places, built centuries ago for some purposes that remain lost in time. Knocknarea is the site of Maeve’s cairn where the powerful queen in the Irish mythology is believed to be buried…or honored. Though I could not make the climb to the cairn, I spent time scouring the landscape of Carrowmore. It’s amazing how all the tombs and cairns and stones align at certain times of the year.
The other magical place for me was the Drombeg stone circle on the southeast coast. It is where the final battle between good and evil will happen in my story and I was physically affected when I approached it. I could not breathe. I could not go near it. Until I walked around the circle several times, I felt a barrier keeping me out. Then, when I could at last enter, I could not stop from crying. Strange? Oh yes, but there was something there, something more, something different and ancient there. It is a place of great power.
Dublin was great—I visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. Since I’d visited Iona where the book is believed to have been created before, it was great to see where it ended its journey. Dublinia – the Viking center of Dublin – was an interesting place and we did get into trouble there…not the first nor the last time during the trip!
We got lost every single time we got into the car (well, with a very few exceptions to that!). No part of our journey around Ireland did not include backtracking and missing signs and turns. And that was in spite of a GPS, a half-dozen ordinance-style maps and iPhones with maps! I now believe that maps and guidebooks are just part of the infamous Irish storytelling! Seriously, maps included roads that either a) do not exist, or b) are no longer there! And though US roads that are odd numbered generally go north-south and even numbered ones go east-west, Irish roads circle around several times and end whenever they want and disappear when they decide to!
Of course, the best part of getting lost is asking for directions and that’s the part of the trip that really showed the Irish people’s gift of storytelling. I have never laughed so much in my life as the times during the trip that involved asking directions – my favorite happened while I was there alone and in Ennis. I stopped there to pick up some basic supplies for my solo part of the trip and got completely lost. So, I asked an older couple how to get to the road to the Cliffs of Moher. Honestly, I struggled not to laugh when the husband got to the part –“this road ends in a T-intersection, do you know what that is? Grand! So you go to the T, but make sure to take the left turn before you reach the T…” No, really, those were the directions! Then his wife stepped in and said he’d gotten it all wrong and told me another completely different way to go. Lost, I tell you. Lost!
Our trip ended on the Dingle peninsula where we rented a ‘cottage’ just yards away from the westernmost spot in Ireland and Europe for a week—and that was the second purpose of the trip—writing. We’d planned a week of writing there but with so much history around us we didn’t stay put. The highlight of the week was the chance to meet with Isabel Bennett, a leading archeologist of the Dingle area! It happened through serendipity – a chat in a bar with someone and a suggestion that if I was interested in standing stones, she was the woman to talk to. The others, writers through and through, came along and we all had questions for Ms. Bennett and she answered them – and gave us directions to the Arda Mór standing stones! You can guess how that all went? LOL – lost, but in the highest places around Dingle with lots of cows and with spectacular views.
So, Ireland was magical and mystical and green! The people were wonderful and friendly and the places beautiful and breathtaking. I found lots of inspiration for my current and future projects and made 2 new friends. And I laughed more than I think I ever have. Grand! Brilliant! If you get the chance to go, do it! For whatever reason, go! You will not regret it ever….and make sure you have lots of batteries for your cameras…you’ll need them!
Terri Brisbin is the author of more than 35 historical, paranormal and fantasy romances and her next release- RAGING SEA – will hit the shelves on October 6, 2015.
Visit her website – www.terribrisbin.com – for lots of info about her, her books, events and more.