Author Patricia Byrne on researching and writing her latest book


Author Patricia Byrne delves into on of the darker chapters of Irish history for her latest book, ‘The Preacher and the Prelate: The Achill Mission Colony and the Battle for Souls in Famine Ireland’.

It recounts the story of an evangelising colony established by Edward Nangle on the slopes of Slievemore, Achill in the nineteenth century. The colony became infamous during the Great Famine with charges of enticing people to change their faith with promises of food and material benefits known as ‘souperism’.

“I have a special affinity with Achill Island and its stories. Over the years, in visiting Achill, I came to realise that within its shores were packed some extraordinary stories, none more so than that of the Achill Mission Colony.

“The colony is a microcosm of nineteenth-century Ireland, famine, emigration, landlordism. I became engrossed in the story and could not let go of it. It was as if, by researching and writing it, I was walking through my own history,” said Patricia.

Born in County Mayo, Limerick became Patricia’s home in the 1980’s when she relocated to work in Shannon Development, where she worked on regional and economic development in the mid west.

Patricia has a BA from Maynooth University, an MBS from University of Limerick and in 2006 she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, and since her retirement has been writing full time for about ten years.

Patricia has already published a poetry collection, ‘Unstable Time’ in 2009 and her book ‘The Veiled Woman of Achill: Island Outrage and A Playboy Drama’ which was published in 2012 tells another Achill story, about a notorious island crime of 1894 committed at the Valley House in north Achill.

Patricia Byrne

She most enjoys writing narrative nonfiction, “I research my stories but write them using fictional techniques to read like a novel. I also like to write memoir essays where aspects of my own life are intertwined with other material as in my essay ‘Milk Bottles in Limerick’”.

Patricia was included in last year’s list of ‘Notables’ for Best American Essays for her piece ‘Milk Bottles in Limerick’ which linked her life in Mayo and Limerick, “through the prism of Heinrich Boll’s essay on Limerick in his Irish Journal”.

“I find that when I am immersed in research and writing a story it becomes an obsession. Even when not directly involved in the work, it never seems to leave me.

“I find I feel compelled to visit the places where the story takes place. So there have been many trips to Achill Island, to Dugort and Slievemore, to the Deserted Village and other wonderful places in Achill”.

Preferring to write daily and in the mornings, Patricia’s favourite spot is at a desk on the first floor of her house that catches the morning sunshine, from where she can admire a horse chestnut tree in her garden and a neighbouring cat that crawls along the top of the wall to keep her company.

For more information see www.patriciabyrneauthor.com

JFH Jewels continuing a family tradition that began with John Harrison the inventor of the chronometer in 1735


http://www.jfhjewels.com

JFH Jewels is a new Irish business owned by my brother John Harrison that is built on and continues the Harrison family tradition in the watch and jewellery industries in both the UK and Ireland. John Harrison senior, a gemmologist and diamond specialist who studied his craft, trained and worked in Hatton Garden and elsewhere in London, had many jewellery shops in Ireland, the most recent were J W Harrisons, Jon Louise and JWH in Limerick City.

This tradition began with our direct ancestor John Harrison who was the subject of Dava Sobel’s  1995 best-selling book, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time,  The book was made into a television series entitled Longitude broadcast on Channel 4 in 2000 starring Michael Gambon as John Harrison and Jeremy Irons as horologist Rupert Gould.

This P L Tassaert’s half-tone print of Thomas King’s original 1767 portrait of John Harrison, which is located at the Science and Society Picture Library in London. In the picture you can see behind John Harrison his 1726 pendulum clock and to his right on the table lies his H4 watch

Born in Yorkshire in 1693, John a carpenter and clockmaker, invented the first marine chronometer which enabled navigators to determine longitude at sea, a task which some of the most respected scientists of the time, including Isaac Newton, thought an impossible task. This was an important development in navigation and was a device that helped to establish the longitude of a ship at sea which made long distance sea travel safer.

John Harrison’s Chronometer at the National maritime Museum, London

Dava Sobel explains that in order to know longitude at sea, you need to know what time it is aboard a ship and also the time at the home port or another place of known longitude at that very same moment. The two clock times enable the navigator to convert the hour difference into geographical separation. Every day at sea, when the navigator resets his ship’s clock to local noon when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, and then consults the home port clock, every hour’s discrepancy between them translates into another fifteen degrees of longitude. One degree of longitude equals four minutes of time. Precise knowledge of the hour in two different places at once was unattainable up to the era of pendulum clocks. On the deck of a rolling ship such clocks would slow down, or speed up, or stop running altogether. Changes of temperature while travelling at sea thinned or thickened a clocks lubricating oil and made its metal parts expand or contract. A rise or fall in barometer pressure, variations in the Earth’s gravity from one latitude to another, could also cause a clock to gain or lose time.

John Harrison spent four decades perfecting a watch that earned him compensation from Parliament thanks to the recognition and influence of King George III of England and became a wealthy man for the last few years of his life.

John Harrison’s H4 compact chronometer

In 1772 Captain James Cook used the K1 chronometer on his second and third voyages to the South Pacific Ocean and praised it’s accuracy. K1 made by Larcum Kendall was an accurate copy of John Harrison’s successful H4 chronometer, but cost a fraction of the price.

http://www.jfhjewels.com

This P L Tassaert’s half-tone print of Thomas King’s original 1767 portrait of John Harrison, which is located at the Science and Society Picture Library in London. In the picture you can see behind John Harrison his 1726 pendulum clock and to his right on the table lies his H4 watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afternoon Tea at Dromoland Castle


Afternoon tea in Dromoland Castle is like stepping back in time for a few hours, where you can enjoy luxurious historic surroundings in a relaxed atmosphere, while treating your palate to a variety of mouth watering delicious sweet and savoury treats.

The original castle was built in 1014 by Donough O’Brien and was similar in structure to Bunratty Castle. Donough was a son of Brian Boru who ruled as High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014 from his throne in Killaloe. The main building as we see it now was built between 1800 and 1836.

Though a castle, Dromoland is very cosy, and has an atmosphere thick with history, as you walk through the high-ceilinged plushly decorated hallways and imagine past occupants walking the same hallways, going about their daily business.

Afternoon Tea is served in The Earl of Thomond Restaurant, a bright room, with sparkling chandeliers and a breath-taking view of the lake.

We ordered Mrs Whites Afternoon tea, named after a kitchen maid who worked within the castle for many decades, and though there was a large group of us it was no problem for the professional friendly staff.

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Gluten free, Coeliac Afternoon Tea

Three tiered silver stands, holding china plates packed with colourful, beautifully arranged scones, finger sandwiches with an array of fillings, and an assortment of French pastries were placed in front of us. My gluten free food looked just as delicious as everyone else’s. Taste buds tingled as we sampled each little mysterious surprise, and drank our specialised tea or coffee served from silver pots.

Full, happy and relaxed we lounged on the outdoor terrace,  and enjoyed the mild, bright October weather as we chatted.

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Reception Dromoland October 30th celebrating Halloween

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Dromoland Castle

 

 

Author Gemma Mawdsley


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Gemma Mawdsley, now working on her sixteenth novel called Bonded by Blood, is an internationally renowned writer of Gothic horror novels. Since moving to West Clare last February, this Limerick Lady is enjoying getting inspiration for her writing from her quiet, fruitful surroundings.

“I love my adopted county. From the window of my upstairs office, I can see the fields stretching out for miles, and it’s a joy to watch the ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours. The people here are really friendly, and the men seem to have retained some of that old world charm. At times, it feels I have stepped back decades,” said Gemma.

Gemma’s fascination with the gothic began at a young age, when, gathered around an open fire at her Grandmothers, where there was an old graveyard at the back of the house, her imagination was fuelled by ghost stories, some about her Granny’s resident ghost.

At ten years of age, Gemma had her first taste of success when her poem was published in the Limerick Leader. However, it wasn’t until years later, when her mother died, needing a distraction from her grief, she enrolled for a creative writing course at the University of Limerick run by David Rice.

Her journey through writing styles eventually led her to combining her love of history and the paranormal to create a unique genre, which has seen her career as a writer go from strength to strength.

“My first novel, The Paupers’ Graveyard, dealt with the famine. I did countless hours of research as the topic is such an important one and sadly, many of these famine graveyards are neglected and unmarked, when they should be as important to our culture and history as Egypt’s Tombs of the Kings.”

Gemma’s second book, Whispers, is told by two spirit children who inhabit an industrial school, a story which was inspired by the reports of abuse in industrial schools which have dominated headlines in Ireland over the last number of years.

Currently working on three books, (Erebus, the story of a haunted house over three generations; The Wraith, about a mother trying desperately to find her kidnapped child; Bonded by Blood, three sisters who are determined to destroy one another), this prolific author has still found time to enjoy exploring her new surroundings, especially the coastal areas, visiting small cottage businesses and writing about them on her author pages.

“I’m hoping to write from September to June, so I can take the summer months to enjoy my new surrounding and all the beauty Clare has to offer.”

When Gemma isn’t writing she enjoys sewing period costumes for her antique doll collection, but is especially looking forward to long walks in the Clare countryside with her new dog, Toby.

“I’m aware that many people hate the dark, winter nights, but I’m in my element. I like nothing more than the crisp, frosty mornings and as the evenings draw in, the strange scurrying in the hedgerows, as the nocturnal foragers come to life.

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given recently is, that if I’m walking late at night and hear, what seems to be the cough of an old man coming from behind the bushes, not to panic. It is the cough of a cow. I don’t know how true that is, but it made me smile.”

Growing up, her favourite book was Anne of Green Gables. Now she tends to read detective novels, so as not to be influenced by other horror writers, her favourite author is Val Mc Dermid and her favourite film is An Enchanted April.

After all these years Gemma still loves telling stories through the medium of writing, and has enjoyed hearing many ghost stories since she moved to Clare.

“But I have frightened myself. Most of the stories I would write come from mythology. When I was writing Death Cry, it’s about the banshee. I’m afraid of loud noises and at one stage I actually came out and sat on the stairs, just to get away from it.”

Though Gemma doesn’t claim to be psychic she is very sensitive, and has had a lot of experiences that she can’t explain, such as her encounter with the ghost of an old housekeeper at an historic manor in Bedfordshire.

“I think as well, when I’m writing the characters are alive for me, I sometimes think I see something from the corner or my eye, but that’s probably that you are caught up in the tension of it all.

“That’s why I think people like the ghost stories, because people get the thrill, and that, it couldn’t really happen, but at the same time you have the thrill of thinking could it?” said Gemma.

Though Gemma has visited many fortune tellers, she wouldn’t go to mediums, or advise anyone to have anything to do with Ouija boards, however she does believe in Quantum theory, which is where the two worlds run parallel, the real world and the spirit world, and sometimes cross over when you can see spirits.

“People would often say, if I go, do you want me to come back? And I say, no, keep going, you’re fine where you are, don’t tell me, let me be surprised,” added Gemma.

The Paupers’ Graveyard, Death Cry and Whispers are available to buy on Amazon.  For more information on her books see

www.gemmamawdsley.com

gemmamawdsley@gmail.com