What inspired you to create this tour guide to Ireland?
Ireland is such a beautiful, magical land. I’ve always felt perfectly at home there, and I wanted to share that magic with many people.What is one of your favorite stops, that is off the beaten path?
I had always written trip reports from each vacation, and I had written an article on planning a trip there. I had also self-published a couple photojournals of my trips, so this seemed like the logical next step towards professional travel writing.
I adored Achill Island, off the west coast of Ireland. It was an easy day trip from Westport, and a stunningly beautiful drive around the coast of this little gem. Keem Bay, especially, was incredible – crashing waves on a sandy, white beach, and a towering cliff overhead. I could have stayed there all day, just soaking in all the energy and beauty.What is one of your favorite Irish legends or folktales?
I’m rather partial to the legend of Queen Maeve, a very headstrong and proud woman, who pitched her people into a horrible war – all over the pride and need to have the best bull in the land.What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the Irish lifestyle and people?
I suppose the worst one that Americans have is that the Irish are all drunks – that is far from the truth. Sure, they enjoy a pint at the end of the day, but I see it more as a social activity. The pub is the neighborhood living room, so to speak, and is a place the community can gather and socialize at the day’s end. It results in neighbors who know each other and support each other, rather than simply nod to each other on the way to work, as we do in the US.What is it about Ireland that is so attractive to us?
As a side note, there is no reason to drink alcohol at the pub – you can participate in the culture with a soda or lemonade, quite easily. I prefer the cider, myself!
Well, certainly a large part of it is that so many of us have some Irish ancestry. It’s believed that over 10% of Americans have some claim to it. It’s also a foreign culture that Americans can tour without learning another language. Because of its compact nature, one can see many sites in a day tour, without driving a long way. I believe there is also a good dose of nostalgia about life in the past, and many of the smaller villages in Ireland reflect this sense of nostalgia.What makes your book stand out from others about Ireland?
There are certainly many excellent travel guides out there of this land, but most of them concentrate on the major sites – the Cliffs of Moher, Glendalough Abbey, Trinity College. That is wonderful, and these are places people should visit. But there is so much more to Ireland beyond these tourism behemoths, and my book does its best to share these hidden gems. In addition, I go into some of the myth and history of the land, so those people who wish to see these sites in a greater context have that chance.Where are some other places you enjoy visiting?
I have enjoyed time in the UK, as well as Nova Scotia and the northeast US. There are many places that I would love to travel. If I were to win the lottery, the first thing I’d do (after paying off all my bills!) would be to arrange an around-the-world trip!Is there anything else you would like to add?
Even if you cannot afford a trip to Ireland (and I urge you to read my practical tips section, as you may be surprised at how affordable it can be!), then, at least, I can hope that you can travel vicariously to this very special place, my soul’s home, mo anam bhaile.Thank you so much for your time!
And thank you for yours!
IRELAND: MYTHICAL, MAGICAL, MYSTICAL
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.
Read an 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.
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Also available from Tirgearr Publishing
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.
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