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Monday, September 9, 2013

Ireland: Mythical, Magical, Mystical

I recently found out that I have Irish blood.  Wonderful!  Now I can celebrate St. Patrick's Day as the real deal.  Naturally, when I got the chance to host Christy Nicholas on her blog tour I was tickled to death.  Why?  Because she's written a wonderful book on Ireland.  I asked her the following question: If you could visit only one place in Ireland, which would you pick and why? This is what she said.

 

That’s like asking what body part you could miss the least! 

 

I think I will have to say Inis Mor.  While there are so many beautiful, impressive, magical places in Ireland, this small island, only 5 miles long and 1 mile thick, encapsulates much that is charming and special about this land.

 

Inis Mor is one of the Aran Islands, three small islands off the west coast of Galway.  It is a place in which time has stood still.  Tourists cannot bring their cars on the island – to get around, you must walk, take a jitney bus, rent a bike, or rent a pony trap.  There are miles of stone walls surrounding small farm plots.  The arable land on the island has been created by generations of farmers layering sand and seaweed to create soil that will grow crops.  The main industries are tourism and fishing, and the locals do it well.

 

Our first trip, we were just there for the day, and we took a ferry from nearby Doolin.  We rented a jitney bus (the pony traps were all gone by the time we got to them) for the island tour.  We drove around the island, through narrow streets between dry stone walls.  We saw a seal colony and a thatched cottage, and then on to a small village with craft shops and a café.  The main attraction nearby was Dun Aengosa – a truly impressive stone fort on the edge of a 300 foot cliff, dropping straight down into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a bit of a climb up to the fort, but well worth it.

 

The second time I went, we stayed two nights.  There was a film made on the island in the 1920s called Man of Aran, about the life of a fisherman. The cottage used in the film is now a B&B, and we rented that.  Our hosts, Maura and Joe, made us feel very welcome, and had a cup of tea and biscuits (cookies) waiting for us when we arrived.  It was close enough to Dun Aengosa that we could walk there the next morning and have the place all to ourselves as furious winds whipped from the Gulf Stream at 60 mph. 

 

The pace of life is slower here.  For fun in the evenings, we went to Joe Watty’s pub for great food and music.  We rented bikes and drove all around the island, seeking out the ruined churches and Neolithic structures here and there.  It’s a truly relaxing place.

 

While Ireland has so many places to visit, so many aspects of the emerald to appeal, this small island has most of them wrapped up in a convenient package to experience.



IRELAND: MYTHICAL, MAGICAL, MYSTICAL

By

Christy Nicholas

 

BLURB:  

 

Do you find yourself drawn to the magic of the Emerald Isle? Would you like to see places beyond the typical tourist traps? Come, join me on a journey through the mists of legend, into the hidden places of mystery. Immerse yourself in the legends and myths, the history that has made this island precious in the hearts and minds of millions. Along with the tales and history, there is practical information on planning your trip, budgeting your costs, and finding the best places to while away the magical hours of your holiday.


 EXCERPT:

The Magical Facet The Fair Folk

Everyone has heard of fairies, of creatures with supernatural powers to curse, to bless, to find gold, or to cause mischief. Literature and art is full of them from Shakespeare to contemporary artists Amy Brown or Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. Western culture, especially in the US, is bred on Disney’s Tinker Bell, children’s books of flower fairies from Victorian artists, and grim tales of the darker side of these Fae folk.

 

In Ireland, fairies, known as the Sídhe (pronounced shee) or the Good Folk, originate from the Tuatha Dé Danann, the people who immigrated to the island before the Sons of Míl. Supposedly full of powers, the Tuatha Dé Danann could not bear to be near iron, and therefore their superior skills were for naught. Rather than leave the land they loved, they agreed to reside below the earth. For this reason, caves are said to be entrances into their underworld homes. Traces of this legend can be seen in the classic film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, where Darby is led under a mountain to the Fairy King’s palace. 

Ireland has countless portals, be they hills, hawthorn trees, caves, wells, or other sacred places.

A more Christianized origin of these creatures claim they are angels which fell to Earth before humans resided there. They live beneath the waves or gardens, and while some are evil, others can be helpful as long as they are treated with respect.

While many modern legends show the fairies to be sweet, kind, magical creatures, this is really a Victorian creation. The traditional views in Ireland and Scotland show the Sídhe to be mischievous to the point of cruelty a force to be reckoned with. They are not sought out by the wise. In fact, most of the herb and spell lore of an almost forgotten era is meant to instruct how to keep you from coming to the Folks’ attention.
 

 
AUTHOR INFORMATION:
 My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were.  I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others.  Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write.  Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.
 
Find Christy here:
www.GreenDragonArtist.com

Find Christy’s book here, and at other eBook stores:
 
http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Nicholas_Christy/ireland-guide.htm

Christy is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky follower so follow her tour and comment often. You can find her schedule at  http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/07/name-before-masses-ireland-mythical.html

7 comments:

Mary Preston said...

I have Irish blood on my Mother's side. My Mother has been busy over the years collecting documents of the family. Fascinating.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Green Dragon said...

I think we all have some Irish in our soul, no matter how small the blood connection :)

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Rita said...

Great excerpt, thank you.

Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

bn100 said...

Interesting interview questions

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Green Dragon said...

Thanks, all!

Natasha said...

Thanks for the chance to win and the excerpt!
Sounds like a great read!!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com