My Glamorous, Dangerous, Romantic Adventure in Ireland
A few weeks ago I went to Ireland, and fell in love…with friendly people, rich history, and a gentle rolling countryside; sometimes barren and rocky, but often vibrantly green. Maybe it’s because I’m Clara Grace Walker, and I view the world in shades of Glamour, Danger and Romance, or maybe Ireland is a country steeped in all three; whatever the reason, I returned with anecdotes perfectly illustrating the tagline of my books. I submit for your enjoyment:
The Glamorous Part:
What could be more glamorous than sharing tea and biscuits with the Lord Mayor of Dublin on my birthday?
Sometimes planning and the calendar work out in happy coincidences. As it turns out, despite being planned months in advance by people who had no idea who I was, the day of my birth, or even that I would be on the trip, the itinerary for my birthday was quite the celebration. It started at Trinity College, where I was able to see the Book of Kells. I’m a writer, and I like books. A lot. And as books go, this one is not only old and rare, but quite glamorous in its lush illustrations and text.
My day of glamour continued with a tour of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a tour of Christ Church Cathedral, where I listened to a beautiful concert. And for that touch of Hollywood-style glamour, costumes from the TV show The Tudors were on display in the basement of Christ Church Cathedral.
After our visit to Christ Church Cathedral, it was on to the Mansion House, where the group I was traveling with had been invited to sing for the Lord Mayor of Dublin. (And before you ask, no I didn’t sing. Ugh! Have you heard me sing? It’s not pretty). At dinner that night, the choir serenaded me with a lovely rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Oh yes, and my ice cream came with a sparkler. Now we’re talking!! Heroines in my books, eat your hearts out!
- The Dangerous Part
As a writer, was there any doubt I would want…no need…to kiss the Blarney Stone? I can see you all nodding your heads right now. But did you ever guess doing so would serve as an anecdote for my “dangerous” section?
The Blarney Stone sits atop Blarney Castle, a very old, not at all renovated castle. Positioned on the upper, outer rim of a window, the stone requires some daring to kiss…and even more daring to reach.
My harrowing, heart-pounding thrill of kissing the Blarney Stone begins as I encounter what I’m told is a passage to the top of the castle. (It’s not. Be careful taking directions from teen-agers). A narrow, dank place cut steeply into stone walls, this passage quickly turns into something of a spelunking adventure. Being the prudent sort, I back out in favor of finding the genuine route to the top.
The genuine route begins up a very, (let me stress…VERY), narrow, winding set of stone stairs. The climb begins okay. I notice a thick rope fastened into the rock wall and use it to steady myself going up the stairs, but otherwise don’t think too much of it. I climb up, and up, and up. Along the way, there are landings leading to the ruins of old rooms…the Earl’s bedroom…the young ladies’ bedroom…the Priest’s room.
The stairs grow steeper and less well-defined. Have I mentioned the stairs are wet? It’s been raining almost since we arrived, and everything is green…and everything is wet.
Still, the stairway keeps winding up…and up…and up. I think about taking a photo, just to show everyone what it’s like climbing these stairs, but my body is angled backward and I am gripping this rope for dear life now. No way am I letting go!!
My companion bows out at the landing to the kitchen. I continue climbing. There are people climbing up behind me, and trust me, there is no way of scooting past them to get back down.
Eventually, I reach the top. I celebrate. After a short while, my companion makes it also. As do a rocking group of choir moms who’ve climbed up with me. Did I mention one mom made the climb in heels? Yes, you read that correctly.
- The Romance Part
You may have heard about the Irish tradition where a woman may ask a man for his hand in marriage on Leap Day. You may have even seen an aptly titled movie on this same subject. But, did you know there is a town in Ireland with a festival devoted specifically to Matchmaking?
I see the signs as I’m driving through town, face pressed against the window of my tour group’s motor coach. Wait…what? Do my writer’s eyes deceive me? No, they do not. There is a sign advertising a Matchmaking Festival. Every September, it seems, the rural spa town of Lisdoonvarna devotes several weekends to helping single folks find love. OMG! My romance writer’s heart is melting!
I cannot resist learning more, and fortunately our tour guide, Ailbe, is happy to inform. Apparently, this has been going on for some 160 years or so, complete with music, dance, and (I’m guessing), a bit of booze. Matchmakers set up shop, and thousands of singles pour in. I see a book forthcoming. Maybe even a movie. The possibilities are endless. I did not come to Ireland looking for love, but I certainly did find some romance.
Don’t be too surprised if Ireland shows up as a setting in one of my future books. It would appear Ireland and Glamorous Dangerous Romance are a match made in Storybook Heaven.