Musical Inspiration on Dublin’s Streets

This is a first for me as a crazy writer. My characters actually told me a particular song should go on the Book One playlist. How did this happen?

While I was in Dublin, we went to an area called Temple Bar, hoping to get to hear some authentic Irish music. Ironically, most of the pubs we passed were playing American music, and not particularly good songs, either. We eventually stumbled upon a street jam of Celtic music. This is exactly the kind of stuff I listen to when I write. No words, just pure energy.

The band is called Mutefish. When this particular song (“De La Ferme”) started, two of my characters, Guinevere and Aggrivane, started yelling in my head, “This is what we danced to in the Beltane scene!” (Which will make so much more sense when you can read my book.)

I’ve uploaded two additional videos I shot during the street jam on my YouTube channel, in case you’re interested. I think I have the song titles right, but I’ve only listened to the CD a few times since I got back, so if anyone can confirm or correct me, I’d appreciate it. (Eventually, I’ll update my book trailer and upload it to my channel as well.)

So what do you think? Did you like the music? What music inspires you?

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Trinity College Old Library Long Room – Heaven on Earth

Trinity College Long Room, Old Library. No photography is allowed, so this is a scan of the postcard I bought in the gift shop.

Pardon me while I indulge my dorkdom.

But if I could personally design heaven, it would look exactly like the Trinity College Old Library Long Room. For me, this is heaven on earth and I’m sure my fellow bibliophiles would agree.

Built between 1712 and 1732, it houses over 200,000 rare books. Rotating exhibits line the center isle. The ones while we were there were illuminated manuscripts from various time periods, as well as artifacts from the library’s history, including the oath the library guards have to take. Word to the wise: the guards get tetchy if you lean over the ropes to get a better look at the books, even if your hands are behind your back. Really, all I wanted was to see if I could read the titles on the spines…

The library also houses the Book of Kells, Book of Armagh, the Book of Durrow and the oldest surviving harp in Ireland (you know, the one you see on Irish coins and everywhere else). But for me, the real treasure was the library itself. I actually cried while we were in the Long Room. That’s how happy I was. Somehow seeing all those books confirmed my desire to be a full-time author and also get my doctorate in history. I’m a bookworm to my core.

The spiral staircase that greets you as you walk into the library. Also a scan of a postcard.

I could kiss the person who created this: a 360 degree tour of the Long Room Library. (Put it on full-screen mode to feel like you’re there.) I think it will get me through until I can go back again, which it now appears may be sooner than I anticipated.

In all seriousness, it’s on my Bucket List to get to use one of the books housed here in my research, preferably getting to read it in the second floor reading room. Now I just have to figure out what they have that I would need and how to go about accessing it. I’ve also added visiting all the world’s most beautiful libraries to my list. Anyone want to come with me?

I could sit and look at the stacks of books, breathing in that old book smell forever. Yeah, if I was in the world of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, I’d totally be Erudite.  And that’s fine by me.

What do you think of the library? Have you been there? Do places like this interest you? What places in the world take your breath away?

Photos from Ireland

Grab your Snuggies and settle in. It’s time for a couch cruise to Ireland, courtesy of your friendly historical fiction writer. No passport required. For the next three weeks I’m going to share with you a little of what I saw and heard.

I was in the Emerald Isle for business, but I did get a chance to talk to some of the locals about the Irish take on the story of Tristan and Isolde, so I have no doubt that will influence the way I position book 4, when I get to it. Let’s just say I was advised to focus on the story’s mythical origins.

Most of my time was spent in and around Dublin, so I’m sorry to say I don’t have any rolling green hills to show you, but I can share a little of my trip. And yes, I took all of these photos.

We stayed in the Georgian area of Dublin, near the Georgian Mile. You can see the distinctive style of architecture in these buildings. (Do the chimneys make anyone else think of the movie Velvet Goldmine, or am I just mad?)

      Grafton Street at dusk.

The main altar of St. Teresa’s Church on Clarendon Street. I highly recommend seeing this beautiful Carmelite church off Grafton Street if you get the chance.

 

Isn’t St. Stephen’s Green beautiful in spring? I think it’s got Central Park beat.

According to the plaque, this fountain depicts the three fates, but I see the Celtic triple goddess here. She’s alive and well in Ireland!

 In case you haven’t had enough beauty, here’s Merrion Park.

 Reclining comfortably (and somewhat lecherously) in Merrion Park is literary icon Oscar Wilde.

Trinity College. We went there for the Book of Kells, which is disappointing – you only get to see a replica and it’s not very exciting – but found a wonder beyond our wildest imaginations. More to come on Trinity’s breathtaking library next week.

For the armchair tourists, here are St. Patrick’s Cathedral (I didn’t get to go inside) and Kilmainham Jail (I toured that one; very important in the Irish quest for independence).

C'est moi!

Dublin port

View from Howth, which is outside of Dublin. Palm trees are all over Dublin, but they’re not native to the area. I never did find out how they got there.

A peat fire, just because we were fascinated by it. For those who don’t know, the peat forms in low-lying bog areas when trees decay. On the upper levels where it’s looser, it’s peat moss, but from the lower, compact levels it’s harvested as turf. According to our host, it burns warmer and longer than wood. And it also has a better smell, slightly sweet, yet acidic at the same time. You’ll notice this end up in book 4.

Sunset over the Irish Sea. I’m almost positive I’m going to locate Isolde’s home south of Dublin (possibly far south), but this gives you and me both an idea of the beauty she’d look out over while home and long for while she’s in Britain.

As promised, next week you’ll get a short post on The Long Room of Trinity College. Or as I call it, heaven!

Questions? Comments? Do any of you have Ireland pictures to share?