Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greetings!


I wanted to take a moment and wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope you have success with what ever endeavors you accomplish in 2011.


Be safe traveling this holiday season!

Best wishes,

Sarah Hoss

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!




WISHING EVERYONE THE PEACE AND JOY OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR

Please click on link below for your Christmas "gift":



Sunday, December 19, 2010

CHRISTMAS IN KILLARNEY - PART THREE

At home in Pennsylvania, I know pretty well what the Christmas holidays will bring.  It will probably be cold, although statistically I believe our chances of a White Christmas are usually only 3-5%.  But the ground is rock-hard, the landscape sere, and when I go up the road to Wade's Christmas Tree Farm, tree saw in hand, frozen fingers and toes will expedite my cutting of just the right tree to put in my Victorian cottage.  It can't be more than five feet high because my ceilings aren't high at all.  In fact, my hand-dug basement is only about six feet deep and people have been known to burn their heads on light bulbs hanging from the ceiling down there!  My horses will be spending a lot of their time in their stalls, trying to get away from the cutting northwest wind.  Even the dogs won't want to stay outside for long.  Instead, they'll snarf their way through my kitchen, looking for Christmas chocolates they can drag down and eat so I'll have the pleasure of doing my own version of stomach-pumping:  one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, to be repeated in twenty minutes if there are no...results.

It is at moments like that when I begin to hear "Christmas in Killarney" running through my head and to get a longing for a mere Force 10 gale.  Just the kind of day that makes you long for a cup of Bewley's tea in the hotel lobby at the Killarney Towers.  When the rain lets up, with water pooling in the streets but people already starting to emerge from stores and pubs where they've taken shelter, I envision a slow trickle and then a brisk rush of shoppers darting into Dunne's and other department stores decked out for the holiday.  I would suppose the stores aren't on Irish time now, but remain open later during the Irish twelve days of Christmas.

I would also think Killarney on Ice has been booked and will be appearing nightly, since ice skating and winter walks are always popular but never more so than at Christmas.  It's still not too cold for open air markets offering every possible inducement from woolen sweaters to precious green Connemara marble to lovely Inis perfume from Fragrances of Ireland and maybe even the heather and moss soap of which I'm so fond.  And food, ah, yes.  Not just the hearty Irish fare which I seem absolutely, perhaps genetically predisposed to like--chowing down happily on the classic Irish breakfast:  Irish bacon which puts our to shame, fat sausages, eggs, fried tomatoes, black and white pudding and potatoes, toast and tea.  But there are also lovely little fish and chips shops featuring the sweet white plaice I never had till I went to Ireland.  And shops with some of the hottest chicken curry this side of India.  And pub grub--washed down with Guinness Stout.  Lots of it, since I only seem to get mellow when I drink in Ireland.

As much as I ate there, though, I never gained any weight and it was actually difficult to find extra large sweaters to take back to some of my friends in the States.  Since I'm no Skinny Minny myself, it was pure, unadulterated bliss to be able to put down three real meals a day without counting every calorie.  People walk in Ireland...a lot.  I wouldn't mind walking past Santa's Lodge where children are perched on Santa's knee, asking for gifts, just as they are in the States and so many other places.  I could take in the concerts and shows at night.  During the day, once the skies clear, I suspect I'd rather put on one of my Aran sweaters against the damp chill and hike on down to Killarney National Park or to Muckross House and Abbey to see the buildings artfully decorated for the holiday.


And then back for tea--or maybe something stronger at The Laurels Pub.

Someday...someday, I swear...this is going to happen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

CHRISTMAS IN KILLARNEY - PART TWO

The first indication of humans in the area which now comprises Killarney dates from about 2,000 B.C., when Bronze Age "Beaker Folk" mined tin as so many others would do.  They were supplanted by Picts from the north a little later; legend has it they were descended from Queen Mebh's son Cair and that the name of the Ring of Kerry is derived from his name. In 400 B.C. the Picts were supplanted by the Fir Bolg, the "Bag Men" who shipped bags of Irish earth to Greece to keep away snakes!  Of course Ireland doesn't have snakes because it's an island, so I think this constituted the first known case of blarney.  Tales of the ancient heroes and figures such as Deirdre of the Sorrows, who figures in one of my books, come from this time.

But the beautiful area with its abundant lakes and natural resources would always attract settlers, and next  around 100 B.C. came the Gaels, or Milesians.  It took them 500 years to subdue the fierce Fir Bolg, but then in 400 A.D. St. Alban established a cell at Aghadoe and people were rather easily converted to Christianity.  Their festivals were incorporated into the Church calendar and a bloodless coup of sorts resulted.

The native O'Donoghue/MacCarthy family defeated the Gaels and in turn was attacked from 1,200 A.D. onwards by Anglo-Normans who coveted their lands.  In 1261, the O'Donoghue/MacCarthys defeated them, one of the few people to do so.  But then in 1583 came powerful English troops and Ireland was subdued for the first time in its history.  The territory in and around Killarney was given to Sir Vincent Browne, appointed Earl of Kenmare.  His influence was so far-reaching that even when English Protestant settlers arrived and began hanging Catholics, the Brownes remained Catholic and never totally lost power.

It was Viscount Browne, descendant of Sir Vincent, who first recognized Killarney's potential as a tourist attraction.  Eventually he transferred lands to the Herbert family, who became copper barons.  Both families built grand estate houses at Muckross and Knockreer.  Even today, Muckross House is arguably the main tourist attraction in Killarney--a lovely mansion now open to the public.



Both families were also among the few proactive landlords who supported their workers through the Famine of 1845, thus gaining the respect of the Irish who still speak well of them as representatives of what the English upper class should have been and so often was not.  Elsewhere in Ireland, when the potato crop failed, vitally needed foodstuffs were exported while the Irish died of starvation along roads and in poorhouses.  It was this event which spurred the first great influx of Irish immigrants to America. 

By 1861 things were settled enough for a group of prominent English ladies to visit with Queen Victoria.  They made famous the site of Ladies' View, named for them, where they took in one of the more panoramic vistas in Ireland.


In 1899 the lands of the Herbert family, concentrated around Muckross, were sold to a member of the Guinness family.  He, in turn, sold them in 1910 to William Bourn, an American who gave them to his daughter who married an Irishman but died tragically in 1929.  Her husband, not wishing to maintain his ties with her property, donated them to the government, thus creating the first Irish National Park--Killarney National Park--comprising 26,000 acres.  I have been there many times, riding its grounds on Thoroughbred/Draft Horse crosses, exploring Norman ruins and and feeding the swans.

Join me again later this week for a taste of Christmas in Killarney.

Friday, December 10, 2010

CHRISTMAS IN KILLARNEY - PART ONE

First, let me state clearly that I have never spent Christmas in Killarney.  Wished to?  Yes.  Planned to?  Ditto.  Done it?  No.  The call of the holidays always pulled me home to the States even during the three years when I spent as much time as possible in Ireland.  There's just something about family.  But I longed to see Killarney as Christmas approached, with Dunne's Department Store decked out in lights, horses hitched to jaunting carts, covered with blankets of red and green, and well-insulated swans still sailing peacefully on the increasingly frigid waters of Muckross Lake.

 
At least, that's how I pictured it.  Never saw it, though.  The closest I came was spending Halloween there.  That was a still-warmish time of muted fall colors when tinker children begged money from me and earned a good scolding for "bothering the Americans."  Funny, at the airport in Newark several travelers to Ireland  thought I was Irish (it's the face, you know), but as soon as I got to Ireland I was pegged as indisputably American.  Maybe it's because Irish women of a certain age don't wear jeans, but American women apparently don them until shortly before they shuffle off their mortal coil.  I rather expect to be buried in mine unless I can talk someone into tossing my ashes from the Cliffs of Moher, thus retracing my grandmother's journey to America.

Next week:  a history of Killarney.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DEIRDRE AND THE SONS OF USNA - PART TWO

My retelling of this classic tale, sometimes known as "Deirdre of the Sorrows" will appear in an anthology by Victory Tales Press in early 2011.  In the meantime, I hoped you might enjoy this excerpt from my story, "Deirdre."  Part One can be located under Older Posts.



And Fergus descended into deep bitterness and grief for the loss of his lands, saying that he must have sight of them again before he died.
                In time, Conor heard of his distress.  Ness had died, some said of a broken heart, and Fergus asked that he might return to Ulster to mourn her.  Conor’s own heart had been softened by time and the loss of his mother, and Fergus once had been kind to him, before he took the throne.  And so Fergus was welcomed once again to the court at Ulster and given high honors, but it soon became apparent that certain of the older chiefs would have been glad enough to see him back on the throne.  Privately, Conor began to seethe with anger towards Fergus and to regret that he had ever permitted him back.  And Conor bore a cold black anger that caused people to turn away from him. 
                While Fergus sought refuge at Queen Medb’s court, the old Ulster custom had sprung up once again whereby each chief presented a great banquet for the king and his retinue.  At length it became the turn of Felim, Conor’s chief story-teller, to hold this feast.
                No effort or expense was spared; indeed preparations took the fullness of a year.  A great hall of oak was built next to Felim’s castle, with shining inlays of precious stone, and every care was taken for the comfort of the guests the better to host and impress them.  For Felim was determined that never would his vast entertainment be forgotten.
                 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MYTHOLOGY of Scotland & Ireland


Myths are often considered an aspect of folklore. Even so, mythology might include the belief in the supernatural, where as folklore and folk tales derived when people had the need to explain mysterious events. Pre-Christianity might have had a hand in old world myths and folklore. A people’s yearning to believe in the hereafter, or in some type of entity, lived on through stories passed generation to generation. Once Christianity became widespread, faeries, brownies, and even the belief in the Loch Ness monster faded away.

With a rich Celtic History going back over 2,000 years, it is not surprising that Scotland has an extensive heritage of myths and folklore. Many objects have accumulated their share of myths and legends; circles of stones, cairns, and even castles.

Some believe that religion was an adaption from stories and memoires or evolutionary biology. In other words, religion evolved as byproduct of psychological mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. These mechanisms might have told early people how to watch for things that could cause them harm (omens). This morphed into an ability to come up with causal narratives for natural events (folk tales) while other people had minds of their own with their own beliefs, desires and intentions (mythology and the precursors of organized religion).


Some scholars concluded that unexplained observations like thunder or lightning were the basis of stories. These word-of-mouth explanations changed with the frequency of their telling which is why one myth could have many different descriptions or endings. Even the distinctive features of Scotland’s varied scenery fuels these beliefs. Deep mountain lochs, creeks, mountain peaks, and the moor, reflect in their folk tales and myths.

Scotland and Ireland share some basic land similarities. In Scotland, mythical Selkies are shy marine creatures in the shape of a seal, usually found near the islands of Orkney and Shetland. A female can shed her skin and come ashore as a beautiful woman. If found, a man could force her to be his wife. Of course, as the legend goes, if she recovered the skin, off she’d go. Male Selkies are said to be responsible for storms. What better explanation for the sinking of a ship?
Selkies of Irish lore are said to come from Co. Donegal in Ireland, which happens to be where many people made their living from the sea. Living by the sea might cause people to craft stories as a way to explain its mysteries. The Irish considered the Selkies to have the same characteristics as those of Scotland, even though they considered other sea creatures more malevolent. Most scholars believe the seals and sea lions from which these myths evolved had sweet, non-threatening dispositions. This might have allowed them to easily be transformed by myth into non-threatening Selkies. At least, the females!

Religion changed everything. Popular Christian beliefs were the norm. Myths and folklore slipped to the back burner, but never disappeared. Many tales are quite popular today. Think of the legend surrounding the Blarney Stone in Ireland or the Loch Ness Monster. Even Girl Scout troops around the world call their youngest recruits ‘Brownies’ after helpful creatures that do good deeds.


Myths and folk tales live on because people need to believe in them. There are hundreds of wonderful stories out there about kelpies, fairies, banshees, and the like. I recommend the following websites if you would like a taste. You might even recognize one or two stories!

www.compassrose.org/folklore/scottish/Scottish-Folktales.html

http://www.sacred-texts.com/

Interested in reading my take on dead witches, a heroine with the secret gift of premonitions and a hero cursed to turn into a dragon at inopportune times?
Check out my book DRAGON'S CURSE by Whispers Publishing & Amazon for Kindle. Learn more by visiting my website: www.nancyleebadger.com and my blog: www.RescuingRomance.nancyleebadger.com

Sunday, November 28, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KEENA KINCAID

I first "met" Keena Kincaid through reading her novel "Anam Cara," a haunting tale of two souls caught on the karmic wheel.  I knew at once I had found an author I wanted to follow, so you can imagine how pleased I was when Keena agreed to be interviewed for The Celtic Rose.  Especially considering that she had just made a major, cross-country move with all that entails, I'm very grateful for her interest in the blog.  So without further ado, here is her interview:


Where are you from?  Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from a small Ohio town just to the left of nowhere. I grew up on a farm that had all the accoutrements needed for a fun childhood, dogs, ponies, brothers and a small wooded area that served as Sherwood Forest for a few years.

What inspires you to write?
I’m a natural born storyteller (although my mother called it something else for a few years).  After college, I worked as a newspaper reporter and had a gift for personality profiles and features stories. To me, noveling is a natural extension of that. I’m still telling people’s stories, just a fictional person’s. The germ of a story can come from anywhere these days. A great, a shell on the beach, sometimes even from that single shoe hanging from street wires.

Do you find that your muse takes over when you write?
My characters take over. How much I get accomplished that day is solely determined by how talkative they are and how willing they are to spill secrets. It gets really interesting when my characters start to lie to me because they don’t want to face the truth about themselves anymore than the rest of us do.

Do you have any works in progress that you want to share?
I’m working on a medieval ghost story right now. The ghost is not the hero, by the way, but the catalyst that moves my hero and heroine to act. He betrayed his friends, and now he’s trying to set things to right. Initially, his motivation is to get out of purgatory quicker, but eventually he comes to desire his friend’s safety and his sister’s happiness before his own destiny.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?
Write the book you want to read. I know it’s quite the cliché and the market doesn’t always love what we do, but writing is a long and sometimes lonely process. We spent months, sometimes years with these characters and often come to know them better than we know our spouses or children. If we don’t love and enjoy our characters, who else will?

What are your favorite books at the moment?
I just found a reprinted edition of a 19th century South Carolina cookbook. I love old cookbooks because they assume you already know how to cook, so the recipes all about proportions and ideas for customizing the recipe. They turn my kitchen into a playground.

What is your favorite word?  Least favorite?
One of my favorite words is gobsmacked, as in “he fell out of the plane and lived. I was gobsmacked when I heard about it.” I write historicals, so it’s not one I can use very often. My least favorite fat-fingered, as in “the article has a lot of typos because I fat-fingered the keyboard.” The word just makes me cringe.

It's been a pleasure to get to know you a little better, Keena!   Let me just share some of your book covers here.  Both are stories of the Sidhe and sure to appeal to readers of The Celtic Rose:


 For more information and buy links for these or any of Keena's books, just go to her website:  www.keenakincaid.com.

Thanks, Keena.

P.S.--Did you find your coffee pot yet?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Enya the Bride

(An Old Tale Retold by Pat McDermott)

As everyone knows, the beauty of mortal women attracts the fairies. Finvarra, the King of the Connacht Fairies, enlisted his minions to find and abduct the prettiest ladies in Ireland. The fairies bewitched the loveliest women and brought them to Finvarra’s crystal palace beneath Knock Ma in Galway. The women heard only fairy music, which lulled them into a trance. They remained enchanted, forgetting about mortal life and living as if in a dream.

Long ago, in that part of the country, a great lord had a comely wife called Enya. He held feasts in her honor and filled his castle from dawn till dusk with music. Lords and ladies danced with great pleasure in Enya’s honor.

At the merriest part of the feast one evening, Enya entered the dance. She wore silver gossamer bound with jewels that outshone the stars in heaven. Suddenly, she released the hand of her partner and fell to the floor in a swoon.

The servants carried her to her chamber, where she lay insensible all night. At dawn, she awoke and told them she’d spent the night in a beautiful palace. "Oh, how I long to go back to sleep and return there in my dreams!"

The servants watched her all day, and she fared well enough, but when evening fell, they heard music at her window. She fell again into a trance from which no one could rouse her.

The young lord set Enya’s old nurse to sit with her, but the silence enticed the woman to sleep until dawn. When she looked at the bed, she saw to her horror that Enya had vanished.

The household searched the castle and gardens but found no trace of Enya. The young lord sent riders into the wind, but no one had seen her. He saddled his chestnut steed and galloped away to Knock Ma to speak to Finvarra, the King of the Fairies, for he and Finvarra were friends. Many a keg of good wine did the young lord leave outside his castle to quench the thirst of the fairies. Finvarra would surely have tidings of Enya.
But little did the young lord know that Finvarra himself was the traitor.

When the young lord stopped by the fairy rath, he heard voices in the air: "Finvarra is happy now, for in his palace he has the bride who will never more see her husband’s face."

"Aye," spoke another. "Finvarra is more powerful than any mortal man, though if the husband dug down through the hill, he would find his bride."

The young lord swore that devil nor fairy nor even Finvarra himself would stand between him and his bride. He sent word to every able-bodied man in the county to come with their spades and pickaxes, and they dug to find the fairy palace.

They made a deep trench, and at sunset they quit for the night. But the very next morning they found that the clay was back in the trench, as if the hill had never been dug.

The brave young lord asked the men to continue their digging, and they dug the trench again. For three days they dug with the same result: the clay was put back each night, and they were no nearer to Finvarra’s palace.

The young lord prepared to die of grief, then he heard a whisper in the air: "Sprinkle the soil you have dug with salt, and the salt will preserve your work."

He scoured the countryside for salt. That night, his men salted the soil they had dug that day. At dawn, they awakened to find the trench safe and the earth untouched around it.
The young lord knew he had beaten Finvarra. He bade the men dig, and by the next day, they’d cut a glen right through the hill. When they put their ears to the ground, they heard fairy music, and voices floated on the air.

"Now," said one, "Finvarra is sad, for if those men strike a blow on his palace, it will crumble and fade away."

"Then let him surrender the bride," said another, "and we shall all be safe."

Then Finvarra himself spoke clear as a silver bugle: "Stop!" he said. "Lay down your spades, mortal men, and at sunset the bride shall return to her husband. I, Finvarra, have spoken."

The young lord commanded his men to stop digging. At sunset he mounted his chestnut steed and rode to the top of the glen, and just as the sun turned the sky blood-red, Enya appeared on the path. He lifted her to the saddle, and they rode to the castle like storm wind.

But Enya spoke not a word. Days passed, then months, and she lay on her bed in a trance.

Sorrow fell over the castle. The young lord and his people feared the enchantment could not be broken. But late one night, when he rode in the dark, he heard voices in the air.

"It is now a year and a day since the young lord reclaimed his bride, but she is no use to him. Though her form is beside him, her spirit is still with the fairies."

Another said, "She will be so until he breaks the spell. He must loosen the pin from the girdle she wears at her waist, and then he must burn the girdle. He must throw the ashes before the door and bury the pin in the earth. Only then will she speak and know true life."

The young lord spurred his horse and hastened to Enya’s chamber, where she lay like a lovely wax figure. He loosened her girdle and found the pin in its folds. He burned the girdle and scattered the ashes before the door, and he buried the pin in the earth, beneath a fairy thorn, that no hand would disturb it.

When he returned to his young wife, she looked up at him smiling and held out her hand.

Joyfully he raised her to him and kissed her, and she stood as if no time had passed between them, as if the year she had spent with the fairies was only a dream.

The cut in the hill remains to this day and is called "The Fairy’s Glen."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


I wanted to wish all of my Celtic Rose friends a very Happy Thanksgiving! May you have a feast at your table and loved ones to share it with. I hope for safe travels for you and your family. Take care!
Love,
Sarah

Monday, November 22, 2010

SCOTTISH BANNOCKS

My paternal grandmother was Lillian MacBlain Wells.  A tiny, blonde, blue-eyed enchantress at the turn of the century (I have seen her pictures!), she was the spark who lit some fire in my taciturn Cornish grandfather, Herman Wells.  Grand-Dad said little of his family but Nana, like me, was a babbler.  That's how I learned her people came from Ireland but had first been transplanted from Scotland and were said to be descended from Druids.  Imagine my surprise years later when I learned MacBlain meant "son of the gentle folk."  The gentle folk, of course, being Druids.  It was my Nana who first said--when I was just a small child--that I had the Second Sight and would be fey.  She was the one to give me my first insight into the fact that I was 100% Celt on my father's side and that this was a good thing to be.  And it was Nana who said when my heart had been broken I would find it again in Ireland.  She was right on all counts.

She has been gone a long while now, leaving behind her stories and recipes--and the memories of a lot of very good parties!  No one knew how to party like my Nana.  In the quieter times, we had scones and teabreads washed down by so much tea I'm permanently immune to caffeine.  One of her favorite recipes and mine is this one for Scottish Bannocks.  You can also find this recipe and some other fabulous eats at Pat McDermott's www.kitchenexcursions.blogspot.com

Bannocks

3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. milk

Sift flour, salt and baking powder.  Add butter, rub fine.  Mix in oatmeal and sugar.  Make a well.  Pour in milk, stir until it forms a soft, sticky surface.  Turn onto floured surface, knead lightly.  Roll out and shape into one or two 1/2" thick rounds.  Heat griddle, flour rounds lightly.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Turn once and cook other side.  Cool on a rack.  Slice thinly and serve with butter and jam.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

INTRODUCING BILL HAWORTH

Today it's my distinct pleasure to introduce British author/actor/playwright Bill Haworth.

Bill's varied life experiences reflect very well in his general fiction short stories and books.  Retired from the Army, Bill has also been employed in offshore activity in the U.K. (North Sea), Canada, the Arctic and the Middle East.

Most recently, DCL Publications has released his short story collection, "Stonehenge and Other Short Stories."  My personal favorite is "The Ice Palace," a story based on a little-known event in Czarist Russia.




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DEIRDRE AND THE SONS OF USNA: PART ONE

This retelling of the ancient tale out of Ireland will appear in an anthology to be released by Victory Tales Press in early 2011.  In the meantime, I hoped you might enjoy Part I of "Deirdre."


It was by the trickery of his mother that Conor MacNessa became King of Ulster.  Connor’s widowed mother Ness had no hope of a throne for him by right of his birth, but beauty she did have in abundance and she set out to seduce Fergus MacRi, king at that time.  Rich and powerful though he was, Fergus could not obtain her consent to marriage despite his constant courtship.  At last, when she had worn Fergus to the bone, Ness agreed on one condition—that he leave his kingship for a year, placing Conor on the throne during that time so that his issue could claim descent from the line of a king.
Now Fergus called it only a sop to her pride and was reluctant to concede this point and rightfully so.  For when he finally agreed and he and Ness were wed, she lost no time in suborning the people to Conor.  Rich bribes and abundant favors won them so that when Fergus went to retake his throne none would have him, saying if he had left it for a woman it could not have meant much to him.
Leaving Ness behind, Fergus and a band of followers departed for Connaught, where they were harbored at the court of Queen Maeve and her beloved, Aillil.   During that time, Fergus fought alongside the men of Connaught against his own Ulstermen in the Tain Bo Cuaigne where Ulster’s champion Cuchullain met with Maeve’s army.  It being impossible to prevail against the great hero, the men of Connaught were turned back and Fergus with them.   And Fergus descended into deep bitterness and grief for the loss of his lands, saying that he must have sight of them again before he died.

Monday, November 15, 2010

SCOTLAND HAS...DRAGONS?


I scratched my head the first time someone told me Scotland was famous for its dragons. "You're kidding," I replied, then listened intently. I liked dragons, didn't I? I wanted a plot for a book that incorporated ancient Scottish life with the paranormal. Why not use dragons?

This kind of thinking led me to research. Dragons, legendary creatures, are typically pictured as having serpent-like or reptilian traits. Dragons are featured in the myths of cultures spanning the globe, not just medieval England. Since Scotland is where I base my newest novella, DRAGON’S CURSE, I'll talk about these mysterious creatures that settled there

Rumor has it that dragons are a mix of the serpent, the feline, and the predatory bird, the great predators of prehistoric times. Once man started to walk upright, he combined them into one terrifying beast, and the dragon was born. Sounds feasible, doesn't it?

From Cirein Croin, a sea serpent believed to be the largest creature ever, to the long, thick tailed wingless Beithar who haunted the quarries and mountains around Glen Coe, to the infamous Loch Ness Monster, dragons have been a part of Scottish folklore.

The Loch Ness Monster, also known as ‘Nessie’, is classified as a dragon even though many assume it is a leftover dinosaur. Some think its a lake fish that has grown to gigantic proportions. Tales of Nessie date from the sixth century and one story goes like this: When Saint Columba traveled through the country of the Picts, he had to cross the River Ness. He came across Picts burying a man said to have been bitten by the water-monster. Not a stupid man, Columba ordered one of his men to swim across and return with a boat. The chosen man, Lugneus Mocumin swam off, but the monster saw him and charged. All on shore stood in horror except Columba, who raised his holy hand and inscribed the Cross in the air. He called upon the name of God and commanded the beast, saying, “Go no further! Do not touch the man! Go back at once!” The monster drew back, retreating to the depths of the Loch. Unharmed, Lugneus brought the boat back. Everyone was astonished. The heathen savages who witnessed the miracle were overcome and came to know the magnificence of the God of the Christians. A good story, passed down through the ages.


Nessie and Loch Ness are the most famous tourist attraction in Scotland and the locals will tell you about the mythical sea creature that some have actually seen in modern times and is probably a stranded dragon. The dragon can be seen as a symbol of the Celts, Picts and other early heathens of the area.

Dragons have found their way into many modern books and movies. Shape shifters are a modern day paranormal storyline and several authors have used dragon lore to create stories to entertain us all. My story is slightly different. My hero has been cursed by a dead witch for a crime he did not commit. Cursed to transform into a dragon at inopportune times, Draco Macdonald decides to live out his years on the uninhabited island of Staffa. These plans go awry when Brianna Macleod arrives with a hunting party. Staffa is a real uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland and its huge caves would make a wonderful home for any dragon!


For more information concerning dragons and dragon lore, check your local library, book store, or these websites:



DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing.
Visit my website:http://www.nancyleebadger.com and
blog http://www.RescuingRomance.nancyleebadger.com for info, buy links, and excerpts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Book of Kells


(Portrait of Madonna and Child)





The Book of Kells is Ireland's most precious medieval artifact. The stunning manuscript contains the Four Gospels. It is considered to be the finest illustrated manuscript to have been produced in medieval Europe.


It is believed that the Book of Kells was written at a monastery on the Isle of Iona, Scotland in the 8th century. This was done in honor of Saint Columba. The book was then moved to Kells, Ireland in the 9th century after a Viking raid.


The book is well preserved considering what it has been through. Sometime in the 11th century, the book had been stolen; it's cover torn off and thrown in a ditch. The book has suffered little water damage and the cover has never been found. It most likely held gold and gems.


In 1541, when the English Reformation was taking place, the Roman Catholic Church took the book and held it for safe keeping. During the 17th century, it was returned to Ireland. Archbishop James Ussher then donated it to Trinity College in Dublin, where is still resides.


(Portrait of John)
The book of Kells was written on vellum or calf skin. It was time-consuming to prepare the vellum properly, but this made for a smooth writing surface. 680 pages have survived. Only two of those do not contain some sort of artistic illustration. In addition to the character illuminations, there are entire pages that are primarily ornamentation which include portrait pages, "carpet" pages, and partially decorated pages with little writing on them.
It is said there are 10 different colors that were used in the illustrations. Some of them are rare and expensive dyes that were imported from the continent. You need to use a magnifying glass to see some of the workmanship because the details are so fine.
The Fine Art Facsimile Publisher of Switzerland and Trinity College of Dublin began a project in the 1980's to produce a facsimile of the Book of Kells. Faksimile-Verlag Luzern produced more than 1,400 copies of a reproduction of the manuscript.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The History And Meaning of Celtic Crosses


In the Gaelic language, the distinctive, ringed Celtic cross of Ireland is known as the Cheilteach...along with ancient High Crosses, these stone carvings were made to honor the dead and mark hallowed ground. The beauty and symbolism of these strong and rugged stoneworks also celebrates spiritual rebirth through Christ. However, according to some historians, Celtic crosses have a touch of Pagan ancestry...the ringed center of each monument is believed to symbolize the sun (which the Pagans worshipped in their nature rituals). For historians who reject the Pagan explanation, the ring is believed to represent a halo...

Over time, any connection there might have been between the Celtic Cross and the Pagans faded into the mists of time...Ireland converted to Christ (through the efforts of Saint Patrick and others) and the ringed cross became a Holy symbol that will always be linked with Ireland and Christianity.

Since the sixth century A.D., these crosses have appeared in Irish churchyards. Their artistic design, which often includes animal symbols and/or woven patterns (known as Celtic interlace) , is reflective of the Insular Art period. In early medieval times, monks (and metalsmiths employed by wealthy citizens) were often the creators of masterpieces decorated with symbols and knot work – famous examples include the High Cross of Muiredeach at Monasterboice, jewelry such as the Tara Brooch, and ancient manuscripts such as The Book of Kells.

Today, many tourists enjoy seeing these historic crosses up close. Some enjoy the crosses for their beauty alone...however, for others (and there are many), who share faith and heritage with the Irish, seeing these poignant reminders of the past can be a transcendent experience. Celtic crosses have a resonant beauty...their strong, clean silhouettes can be exquisite at sunset or nightfall.

During the 15th century, these Celtic and High crosses were no longer commonly used to mark graves. However, during the 1800’s, Irish people began to seek out the crosses again, as a proper way to pay homage to lost friends and loved ones...

Today, the Celtic cross is still a powerful symbol that is revered for its meaning and design. You will find these crosses in churchyards (as is tradition), but you will also find delicate gold and silver Celtic Cross pendants that capture the essence of Insular Art. Even tattoos of Celtic and High crosses are prevalent nowadays. This timeless symbol of Irish pride, faith, and tradition will always be a part of Ireland and its people...

This article has been been written exclusively for The Celtic Rose by Leigh Maher, from the Celtic jewelry store: Irish Celtic Jewels, which specilizes in the sale of Celtic engagement rings and wedding bands

Monday, November 1, 2010

CONFESSIONS OF THE CLEANING LADY

In the spirit of the holiday, here's a little romp featuring faeries, four-footed creatures and two people looking for love in all the wrong places.  Set in the foxhunting country of Pennsylvania and Ireland, Confessions is a contemporary fantasy romance available as an ebook at www.thedarkcastlelords.com/confessions-of-the-cleaning-lady.htm.


Stowed away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney, a band of feisty Irish faeries is released in the outlying suburbs of Philadelphia, where Malachi McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping.  In need of a housekeeper, he is introduced to Shawna Egan, unaware that "his" faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree.  Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down the tree in which they made a home.  She gives them another and faeries always repay their debts.  But Shawna has secrets, and although she knows Mal is what she is seeking, will he want her after he has heard the confessions of the cleaning lady?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Ancient Celts: A Samhain/Beltaine myth

Thank you, Miriam, for allowing me to post at The Celtic Rose.
I write Celtic historical romances with fantasy elements. My stories reflect my passion for history, storytelling and the supernatural. Inspired by the ancient Celts, my tales are filled with fierce warriors, bold women, magic, conflict and romance. My current home is in Arizona with my husband and two dogs.

The Celtic festivals of Samhain and Beltaine play an important part in my Dark Goddess trilogy. I also included a myth involving two goddesses that are linked to these important festivals. Samhain, which means ‘Summer’s End’ was celebrated by the ancient Celts on November 1st. This marked the end of the warm seasons with the reaping of the wheat fields and culling of the herds to prepare for the harsh winter. Beltaine means ‘Good fire’ and was celebrated May 1st to welcome back the sun and warmer months of plentiful food and milk.
 'The Cailleach' is believed to be a pre-Celtic earth goddess. She is one of the oldest and most powerful goddesses who personifies the cutting winds and harshness of the northern winter. She was worshipped by the ancient Celts as a winter goddess and a goddess of sovereignty. Her name means ‘veiled one’ and she ruled the winter months. In some stories Cailleach is the Crone. I chose her because she is a Celtic goddess known in Ireland and Scotland, which corresponded with the settings of my story. She is usually an old hag, but there are Irish myths that show her as a beautiful young maiden. In legends, she appears to the hero as a hideous old woman in her aspect of Sovereignty to test his heart for kingship. The one who kisses or mates with the old hag is rewarded—she changes into a beautiful maiden and bestows sovereignty on him. Only a true king is not fooled by appearances and can see beyond into one’s heart.

There are many stories about Cailleach, but the one I focused on is the legend of Cailleach and Brigit. Brigit is a Celtic sun goddess and a member of the Tuatha de Danaan. Her associations with metalworking (fire) and light are appropriate for rituals welcoming back the sun, healing and inspiration. To the ancient Celts, she was a triple-aspect goddess of poetry, smith-craft and medicine. In pre-Celtic beliefs, she represents the Maiden—new beginnings. In her earliest incarnation, she was called Breo-Saighit (Fiery Arrow). She is known in Ireland, Scotland and Britain with variations of her name: Brigid, Bride, Brigantia. There are many stories about her as she is an enduring goddess and is still worshipped today as St. Brigit (Brigid). Her festival is held on Imbolc (Feb. 1st).
Brigit

In the myth I used for my trilogy, the two goddesses are imprisoned by the changing seasons and forced to ‘sleep’ during the months their reign ends. Cailleach ruled in winter months, awakening at Samhain. Her reign ended on Beltaine when Brigit awoke to rule the summer months. Cailleach’s awakening signaled the arrival of the dark half of the year, the long cold nights of winter, while Brigit’s awakening heralded the arrival of the lighter half of the year filled with warm summer days and endless sunshine. The part that interested me about this legend is that they may have been two different faces of the same goddess. I drew on this myth and put my own spin on it.
****
Blurb from Cat’s Curse, Book One: Dark Goddess Trilogy (Celtic historical romance/fantasy):
Enter Dark Age Scotland—a mysterious, dangerous & exciting place…
Blurb: Cardea is cursed to live an eternity as a blood drinker. Aedan mac Gabrain, prince of Dal Riata, trusts no one after suffering a curse that keeps him from touching any females. Can two tortured souls find love while battling a dark goddess determined to destroy them?
Kelley Heckart
'Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic'
My book page at Awe-Struck
My author page on amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Kelley-Heckart/e/B002BMOQ3C/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Cat's Curse

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Hi, Pat McDermott here, getting ready for lots of chocolate and cute little pixies ringing the doorbell. The origins of Halloween are rife on the blogs these days, so I’ll keep this brief. I suspect that millions of children preparing for Halloween are unaware of its Celtic/Irish origins in the Samhain (Sow-win) festival. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Samhain, the Celtic New Year, marked the end of summer and the start of winter. The boundary between the world of the living and the dead was at its thinnest at Samhain, and the Celts believed the spirits of their ancestors passed through that boundary.

In every Irish settlement, families honored their forebears by inviting them into their homes even as they warded off harm by dressing in costumes and masks to thwart evil spirits. While housewives prepared food for both the living and the dead, their farmer husbands inventoried food supplies and slaughtered livestock to augment their winter diets. The people allowed their household fires to go out, and they tossed the animals’ bones and other various sacrifices onto communal bonfires from which each hearth was ceremoniously relit.

The arrival of Christianity incorporated the Samhain celebration into the Christian calendar by renaming October
31st All Saints’ Day and November 1st All Souls’ Day. Several customs survived these name changes, including the wearing of costumes and masks. The Irish who emigrated during the 19th century famine carried their Halloween customs to America, where they melded with the harvest traditions of other cultures.

Best wishes for a fun and safe Halloween!

Pat's Web Site and Blog

Monday, October 25, 2010

America's Scottish Highland Games


Bagpipes, the Loch Ness Monster, castles, and whisky instantly bring Scotland to mind. Many American and Canadian citizens can trace their roots back to Scotland and is why many celebrate this knowledge by organizing, volunteering at, and attending Highland games.

My husband and I have attended the New Hampshire Highland Games from the time they started back in 1975, even before we married. In the early 1980s, my husband began his long stint as volunteer. I stayed home with the boys until the youngest showed an interest in his Scottish lineage. We then also volunteered. Marching bands, wonderful food, and colorfully dressed kilts amid the spectacular fall foliage of the New Hampshire’s White Mountains makes for a memorable day.

The NH games has turned into an annual three day event, now visited by over 50,000 people. We volunteer as a family and, even though my husband and I moved to the south, we still travel to the NH games annually where we offer our service in the information tent. Our sons join us there to help us sell official programs, hand out maps and schedules of events, and sell raffle tickets, the proceeds of which fund scholarships.

This annual celebration has turned into a major undertaking and the Board of Directors and office staff work tirelessly to coordinate the many entertainment venues, clan representatives, venders of food and goods, and hundreds of volunteers, in order to bring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Scotland to New England.

Volunteering every hour of the three days is too much to ask of anyone, since there is so much to do and see, so my husband and I gather several hardy individuals to share the load. This affords everyone with time to either go watch the sheep dog trials, taste the shortbread, scones, bridies, meat pies, shop the venders, or listen to rock bands. No one wants to miss the athletes as they toss the caber, a tree length wooden pole or throw a heavy hammer long distances.


Many states, communities, and organizations host their own Highland games and Scottish festivals. They welcome everyone…a Scottish lineage or kilts are not required! If you enjoy harps, bagpipes, Highland dance, wonderful food and a sea of brightly colored wool (and is there anything more sexy than a man in a kilt?) please visit a Highland games or Scottish festival soon.



A native New Yorker, Nancy Lee Badger graduated college in northern New Hampshire where she raised a family. She now writes fulltime and lives with her husband in North Carolina. She loves everything Scottish. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Celtic Heart Romance Writers. She also writes contemporary and romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea.



DRAGON’S CURSE is Nancy’s historical paranormal, set in old Scotland. It is available from Whispers Publishing.
The Buy Link:http://bit.ly/93hRiM
Her Website: www.nancyleebadger.com
Her Blog: www.RescuingRomance.nancyleebadger.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CELTIC WOMEN





Celtic Women & Women in Celtic Literature



Women have had many roles in various cultures. The Celtic women were a major exception to what was going on in Ancient times. Although there were other cultures out there, those who worshipped and valued women, the Celtic women stood out as women who fought in battle, owned land, and were teachers. Many of the models we draw upon for women in this modern-day age came from basic rights that Celtic women had in the past. It would be interesting to see what life would be like for women if we did not have history to call back as a witness to the past with cultures such as the Celts.

Celtic culture has stood out for many reasons in ancient history. The Celts and the women within their culture were an interesting and inspiring model for what modern day women would come to represent. Many of the rights and opportunities that women now have may actually have stemmed from this ancient culture so long ago. The ancient world was a different place for women in some cultures, but it seemed that in the Celtic culture women had succeeded. The Celts were made up of many tribes stretching from the British Isles to Gallatia. The Celts had many dealings with other cultures that bordered the lands occupied by these peoples, and even though there is no written record of the Celts stemming from their own documents, we can piece together a fair picture of them from archeological evidence as well as historical accounts from other cultures. http://www.ibiblio.org/gaelic/celts.html

According to many written accounts and accounts in Celtic literature, we find many of the everyday roles for women in Celtic society. Many of the accounts that are heard of are of brave women who fought in battle such as the famous account of Bodecia or women who served as priestesses in society to help their communities. Boadicea was quite the exception; a woman born of a royalty, she was married to a client king from a tribe of the Iceni. Most believe the client king was put there because he had helped Romans conquer Britain during 43 A.D. Boadicea conjures images of an emancipated female who had taken her revenge and showed her people what a woman could do (Ellis). This account is interesting because it is one of the many accounts of women who fought back and fought in battle. Many women in other cultures were not allowed such a privilege. It also diverts from the role that women are remembered for such as tending to the children and the home. Women in Celtic society were more than just the caretakers of the home and the children. They had many rights, some of which included becoming a priestess, owning land, and the right to divorce. Although many cultures or Celtic tribes did not have the same rights, many consider the Celts of the Gaelic area to be more privileged than that of those the British Isles (Ellis).

Being a female and a woman meant a lot in ancient times. Most ancient cultures celebrated the woman as being the bringer of life. Druids were the elite priest caste of the Celts. In ancient Celtic society the Druids and Druidesses composed an intellectual elite, whose knowledge and training placed them as priests of the Celtic religion. Their training normally lasted over twenty years and consisted of the memorization of literature, poetry, history, and Celtic law as well as astronomy. The Druids mediated for their people, performed sacrifices, interpreted omens, and presided over religious ceremonies. They believed that the soul did not die with the body, but passed on to another (Minor). Druids had many responsibilities, but their main duty became to advise Kings and Queens. Dreams and prophecies were questioned by royalty for their significance and interpreted events in various kingdoms. As a result, the power of the Druids and Druidesses was very great for not only were they the sole priests of Celtic religion, but they also held great sway in political matters (Minor).

One can only imagine the kind of power and influence a female druid had upon her clan or community in which she served. ’There are many stories told about female druids and their influence on the people around them. Druidesses are most often mentioned through fictional references such as the myth of Finn. He was raised by a druidess or "wise woman" (term that refers to a "female seer”) along with another woman by the request of his mother and their "bondwoman,” Muirna. "The druidess and the wise woman taught Finn war craft, hunting, and fishing (the survival arts), and also acted as guards and advisors, warning him of danger" (Green). Being a female and a druid had its advantages. Women were the ones that taught men the survival skills such as hunting, fishing, and fighting. Women were that important to the Celtic culture. We still see this today in certain cultures around the world, although minimal traits of what used to be still exist.
There are also many accounts of extraordinary women who stood out for being women in Celtic culture; such is the story of St. Brigid. While Boadicea was known for her courage, strength, and willful nature to fight against the Romans, Brigid had a softer side and showed the power of women in another way. Bridget was born at Faughart, near Newry, Co. Down to a Druid named Dubhtach and his bondwoman, who was soon sent away after her birth. Bridget’s father raised her in Druid symbolism and "according to the Rennes Dinnsenchus, she was a ban-druÍ, a female Druid, before she converted to Christianity" (Ellis).
Now Brigid’s story remains because she was the first female druid to then convert to Christianity. Although it meant the downfall of druidism, Brigid became a female priest and then the first female bishop. Brigid was the hope of what women could accomplish in Celtic society when history would change the outlook of their culture. Brigid was also responsible in changing and merging old Celtic traditions with the new Christian traditions. Bridget went on to found orders with Celtic traditions. Her first overlooked the Liffey and was placed within the shade of an oak tree. She called her church, "the church of the Oaks," which was also near the pagan fortress of Dún Ailinne. According to the Life of Bridget written by a monk in her following in 650 AD, both men and women were abundant in the community. Peter B. Ellis, a Celtic scholar, suggests that Bishop Conlaed and she were lovers at some point. According to customs of the time, his suggestion is not that preposterous (Minor). As a result, by the High Middle Ages women could neither rule a kingdom or serve in a position of authority in the Church. Women's high status had been effectively wiped out by the two 'invasions' and women became like ancient Roman women, possessions of their men (Minor). Now we see how interesting, intriguing, and how influential women were to Celtic society. What these Celtic women in their society had been privileged to would change with the birth of Christianity and the world would be covered in darkness until the seeds of the past came to grow in the future.

References:
Ellis, Peter Berresford. Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society and Literature. London: St. Edmundsbury, 1995.

Green, Miranda J. The World of Druids. Slovenia: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

Minor, R. Margaret, (wd). The Power of Women in Celtic Society: Female Druids. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/femdruids

The Celts Retrieved November 19, 2007, from http://www.ibiblio/org/gaelic/celts.html


Denise
twitter: denisealicea & thepenmuse

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cynthia's Irish Travelblog

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 last summer, 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 cottage we stayed in could have belonged to Siobhán Desmond, heroine of my novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow,  with its stone walls, thatched roof, and the lovely warm hearth. When we arrived, the fire was burning merrily, and the wonderful, sweet scent of peat filled the room and warmed our hearts.


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. The best part of the castle, for me, was the folk park, 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 In Sunshine or in Shadow who plays a major part in the love story in my upcoming release, Coming Home.

But the highlight of my trip had to be the day I visited another castle, 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!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

4th Annual Waterford Film Festival - Waterford, Ireland

The 4th Annual Waterford Film Festival is being held November 5-7, 2010 at Greyfriars Art Gallery, Waterford, Ireland.  This year between films and screenplays they received their highest number of submissions ever from filmmakers and writers from across Ireland, U.K., Germany, France, Serbia, Spain, the U.S. and Canada! 

Just an item of note for those interested in this venue.  We will keep you posted as to results received.

DOONAGORE CASTLE, COUNTY CLARE, IRELAND

Here was a pretty view which will appear in conjunction with promotion for my forthcoming release, The Comet.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Recipe for Guinness Beef Stew

Hi, Pat McDermott here, enjoying a gorgeous autumn day in New England. One of the best things about this time of year is the way the change in the seasons makes us crave heartier food. The warm weather quinoa, bulghur, and veggie salads that kept us cool in July simply won't do in October. A few years ago, on a chilly autumn day, I found myself in a pub in the North Dublin Village of Howth, one of my favorite places to visit. (Pictured is Howth's East Pier with Ireland's Eye and Lambay Island in the distance.)

Sitting before a roaring peat fire with a glass of wine and a bowl of Guinness Beef Stew nearly topped every heavenly experience I've ever known. But the cook wouldn't share the recipe! Undaunted, I strove to recreate the succulent dish after I returned to New Hampshire. Through trial and much error, I came up with a delectable stew on a par with the one I enjoyed in Howth. I'm happy to share the recipe with you here. Sorry I can't offer a roaring peat fire!

PAT'S GUINNESS BEEF STEW

4-5 lbs. beef stew meat, well trimmed
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 Tbs. flour
One large onion, chopped
2 lbs. sliced mushrooms
A few cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of beef broth
3 cans of Guinness Stout
2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsps. dried thyme
A few bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a stew pot. Brown the meat, sprinkling with flour as it cooks. Remove meat and set aside. Add chopped onions and cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their moisture and start to brown, adding minced garlic and sprinkling on any remaining flour. Return meat to the mixture, add the beef broth, Guinness, and remaining ingredients. Stir well and simmer uncovered for about two hours, or until meat is tender and sauce thickens. Serve with mashed potatoes. Serves six to eight hungry people, and leftovers are great.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet Author Cynthia Owens

Hello everyone! I’m so pleased to be here at the Celtic Rose. My name is Cynthia Owens, and I’m a lifelong lover of all things both Celtic and historical.

I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17th Century “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and as a child I penned many a sequel to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a (not-very-good) musical set in Paris during WWII called Serenade in Blue.

A former journalist, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. My first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, set in post-Famine Ireland, is available from Highland Press. Its sequel, Coming Home, will be released by Highland Press soon.

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I live there still with my own Celtic hero and our two school-aged children.

For more about me and my books, check out my website

And now, let me introduce to some of the people of Ballycashel, the tiny, wind-swept, west-of-Ireland village featured in In Sunshine or in Shadow:

“Take your filthy English hands off me! I’ll not be your whore, Your Honor, not if you promised me a banquet in Heaven itself.”
~Siobhan Desmond, on fighting off an attack from her landlord.


“Damn and blast this bloody Irish rain!”
~Rory O’Brien, on returning to the village of his birth.


“We’ve got to run. Glenleigh’s found out. I’ll come back for you, my love, I promise.”
~Michael Desmond to his wife, Siobhan, just before his capture by Lord Percival Glenleigh.


“A lad doesn’t forget the harm his da does to the woman that bore him.”
~Grannie Meg to Rory.


“For an American, you’ve an Irish soul.”
~Tom Flynn to Rory.


“Something for poor Biddy;
Her clothes are torn,
Her shoes are worn.
Something for poor Biddy.”
~Rhyme chanted by the Bridie Boys on the Eve of the Feast of  St. Brigid.


“They are free to go wherever they please. And if anyone comes to me wanting to emigrate, I will gladly purchase passage for them – but on a decent ship, not a floating coffin.”
~Rory to Siobhan, on his tenants.


“I’m all for an Ireland free of Britain’s yoke, but I believe that can be achieved through peaceful means. Our freedom will come, if not for me, then for my children, or their children. I’m a patient man. I can wait. So long as I can grow old here on Erin’s green shores, I’ll be the happy man.”
~Tom Flynn.


“I adore you, Siobhan O’Brien. You have made me whole in ways I never knew possible. Because of you, I have been able to forgive myself. You’ve allowed me to put my past to rest and have taught me how to love. You’ve taught me that loving someone doesn’t mean I’ll lose them.”
~Rory to Siobhan on their wedding night.


“A baby. A son, perhaps, who’ll love horses and poetry the way you do. Or a daughter you can dote on.”
~Siobhan to Rory.


Buy In Sunshine or in Shadow: