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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Legend of St Patrick on White Island






The climactic scene in Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, takes place along the Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. There are actually two lakes, the Upper Lough and the larger Lower Lough and in between is the beautiful and picturesque town of Enniskillen. The lakes are actually widened sections of the River Erne, which runs northward and empties into the Atlantic, some 26 miles’ stretch. (Picture above courtesy of Falcon.)





There are 154 islands in the Lower Lough Erne, including White Island, which was the site of several monasteries dating to approximately 500 A.D. In 837 A.D., Vikings attacked and destroyed the monasteries, leaving in ruins a number of incredible carved figures made of quartzite. A popular theory is the figures depict St. Patrick healing a local Irish chieftain. It is possible the king may have been Prince Conall Gulban, whom St Patrick touched with his crosier, forming the sign of the cross just prior to baptizing him. He bestowed a blessing upon him as well; that if he followed that cross, he would always remain victorious in battle. A Constantinian shield bearing Saint Patrick’s outstretched hand holding the cross became the O’Donnell coat of arms and the clan was to indeed rise to tremendous power. I am currently writing about the O’Donnell clan along with the O’Doherty clan on a nonfiction book that takes place in 1608 and will be released later this year.





Around the year 1200, a stone Romanesque church was built on the same site and for whatever reason the figures were used as building stones. It wasn’t until a few centuries had passed before the figures were uncovered. They are on display today in the ruins of the church. (Picture at right credit of Jason098.)



Interestingly, because of the number of islands, this region largely escaped the potato famine of 1845-1849. The blight that affected so many potatoes could not reach those planted on the islands.



Here is an excerpt from Cloak and Mirrors:





Jack’s instinct was on high alert, the adrenaline building to a crescendo that was surging with increasing intensity. His eyes moved between Dylan and Alexei as they stood near the water’s edge. The three Russians standing in front of him were not the only ones; he was certain of that. He heard the motorboat’s engine, heard it coming in their direction, and heard the distant sound of men’s voices from the mainland.

He had the advantage of knowing the area well. Behind him was Lower Lough Erne, one of the largest lakes in all of Ireland. It was formed by the River Erne which flows north instead of south before curving toward the Atlantic Ocean. The currents often ran swift and sure like those of the ocean, making it ideal for the avid or extreme sportsman but deadly for those not ready for her powerful waves.

There were more than a hundred islands within the lough, 154 to be precise; some he had explored and some not, some privately owned and others maintained by the Irish government. During the high summer months when tourism was at its peak, this shore would have been littered with visitors who took the ferries to some of the largest islands. Behind him was Abbey Davy’s Island, the site of a medieval monastery that was now little more than stone ruins. And to the north of it was the larger White Island, best known perhaps for the stone figures and church ruins that dated back to 800 A.D. Though that was impressive enough, he supposed, the church and figures were actually built upon a far older monastic settlement.

The island was mystical; some said magical, with monolithic pagan creatures interspersed with Christian figures. The mists tended to swirl and sway over White Island as though they were spirits still alive, and many who graced those grounds came away with stories of hauntings and sightings. Some might have been too fantastic to be believed but so many had now experienced them that it was undeniable something lurked there that remained largely invisible to the naked eye but never undetectable by the attentive soul.

Now the tourists were gone and the lough nearly deserted; deserted enough, he thought, for the five of them to disappear without a trace.



You can purchase Cloak and Mirrors at amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback formats. It is also available in all fine book stores worldwide. Check out the book trailer below and this link for more details: http://pmterrell.com/wp/cloak-and-mirrors/



p.m.terrell is the author of more than 20 books in several genres, including the award-winning River Passage, Vicki's Key, The Pendulum Files and The Tempest Murders. Cloak and Mirrors has been nominated for the 2017 International Book Awards. For more information, visit www.pmterrell.com.




Friday, February 10, 2017

Where is That Irish Village?





Ballytullmac is a fictional Irish village where Dylan Maguire was raised by his grandmother in the Black Swamp Mysteries series. It is set near the Bog of Allen and is located near Croghan Hill, a real place that is the site of an extinct volcano. From the top of Croghan Hill, you can see for miles around, as the surrounding terrain is very flat in the bogs. It is located in County Offaly west of Dublin.



Before England colonized Ireland (the same way they did America) in the 16th and 17th centuries, the island was divided into miniature “nations” just as the United States was divided into more than 500 Native American nations. Each was ruled by a clan, which was a close-knit group of family members and others loyal to that family.



The region of Croghan Hill was ruled by the O’Connor Clan; O’Connor was one of the last High Kings of Ireland before the Norman invasion (which serves as the backdrop in my book, The White Devil of Dublin).



In 2003, a remarkably well-preserved body was found in the bogs that is believed to be more than 2,000 years old. The man is measured at 6 feet, 6 inches, remarkably tall even for this day. He was murdered in his 20’s. The theory is that he was once a king in that region. It was believed during the Iron Age and the time of the druids that when bad fortune fell upon the community—such as famine, bad weather or natural disasters—it was the king’s fault. He would then have been taken to a special site, such as the ancient hill where kings were anointed, and killed to appease the gods. His body was found buried at the foot of the hill; he had wounds on his arm and chest; he had been decapitated and his body cut in half.



In later years, Croghan Hill was known as a fairy-mound filled with mystical powers.



In my newest release, Cloak and Mirrors, Dylan’s village of Ballytullmac is the backdrop for his marriage to Vicki Boyd. It is a tiny village with one main street (with lots of pubs!) and a Catholic church set on a hill overlooking the village. The priest at the church is Dylan’s best friend, Father Thomas Rowan, and it is Father Thomas who marries Vicki and Dylan in a traditional Irish ceremony.



They leave the next day for Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way on the northwest corner of Ireland, which serves as the backdrop for the rest of the story. Sam, their CIA section chief, sends them into Donegal to pick up a microchip containing plans for Russia’s latest stealth technology. When the Russian decides to defect, however, it sends them across the island in an attempt to rendezvous with an aircraft that will remove the defector from Europe. And when they learn that the Kremlin has identified Vicki and Dylan, they find themselves fighting to escape. Watch the trailer below!





The official launch date for Cloak and Mirrors is March 17 (Saint Patrick’s Day) but it is already available at amazon in both paperback and eBook. It will be in all fine stores by March 17 in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.



Be very careful if you see any of my books advertised as free! They are never free and I have been notified that groups in Eastern Europe and Russia are offering free eBooks that are filled with malicious viruses.



 
p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in several genres. Her first book was published in 1984 and she became a full-time writer in 2002. She has mentored authors for more than 15 years and is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of the Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. For more information, visit www.pmterrell.com.




Thursday, February 2, 2017

Walking a Rope Bridge at Gunpoint




Would you walk a rope bridge at gunpoint?



Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, features a rope bridge in the climactic scene. I was inspired by the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, situated along the coast of Northern Ireland in County Antrim and not far from my ancestral home in Ballygawley.




The bridge was originally erected around the 1700’s when salmon fishing was big. The fishermen erected the bridge to a tiny island just off Northern Ireland’s coast called Carrickarede, which means the “rock of the casting”, where they would cast their nets. At one time, more than 300 salmon were caught each day. But by the turn of this century, less than 300 were caught in an entire season.



Today, the rope bridge is built for tourists—and therefore, for safety. It has handrails on either side and the slats are properly maintained. It is still a frightening trek, however, as the bridge can sway with both the strong Irish winds as well as the footsteps of every person in front and behind you. It is not for the faint of heart, and boats regularly transport visitors back to the mainland when they are so frightened that they can’t make the return journey across the bridge.




During the days in which the fishermen used it, however, it was not as sturdy or as well maintained, which further inspired the description in Cloak and Mirrors. In my book, I have located a similar rope bridge at an interior lough (or lake) that is exclusively used by the fishermen, so it more closely resembles the original rope bridges. They were strung in early summer and removed by late summer—usually lasting only from June to September. These bridges rarely had a handrail and the slats might be horizontally placed (with the length sideways) or vertically placed (one or two boards placed lengthwise as in the picture above), depending on the available wood. Sometimes the fishermen’s netting was used to keep the slats in place.



In Cloak and Mirrors, Vicki, Dylan and Brenda are fleeing from Russian operatives attempting to capture them. Not only must they navigate the bridge to reach an island in the lough, but they must do so under gunfire - one hundred and fifty feet above the water with no handrail.



The official launch date for Cloak and Mirrors is March 17, but you can pre-order the book now from amazon. The paperback sells for $16.95 (follow this link) and the Kindle sells for $6.99 (at this link).



Read an excerpt, watch the book trailer and find out more at http://pmterrell.com/cloak-and-mirrors/.