An Irish Story

Every March, I look forward to St. Patrick’s Day because it triggers the memory of when I lived on the west coast of Ireland. As an American with 48% Irish DNA, I felt right at home in Inverin, which is a small village in Connemara, 2.7. miles up the road from the village of Spiddal, the next significant town being Clifden, fifty miles or so up the same road.

I lived in Ireland for more than a year and loved every minute of it.. Connemara is a land separated into geometric prisms by grey-stone walls leading down to the rock encrusted shores of the Atlantic on one side of the coast road and bog-land that stretches out forever on the other. Alongside the novelty of discovering Ireland was a curious sense of familiarity that gave way to a sense of belonging. Between the time I arrived in Ireland and the time I left, I managed to ingratiate myself into the rhythm of a land that has more soul and character than any place I’d ever imagined.

In an Inverin field.

Inverin really isn’t much more than a stretch of the coast road at the gateway to the Gaeltacht, which is an area on the west coast of Ireland where Irish is spoken as a first language. Inverin is moody, pastoral, a bit desolate, and those that reside there have deep generational ties. Inverin is 13 miles up the coast road from Galway City. Here are some photographs to give you an idea of Inverin’s atmosphere:

Image result for inverin ireland
Image result for inverin ireland
Image result for inverin ireland
Image result for inverin ireland

I lived within a short walk of this graveyard. It’s down a gravel road not far from The Centra, which, for all intent and purposes, is the lone gas station/grocery store in Inverin. I have a thing about graveyards that’s hard to explain. They speak to me of the significance of human existence–of love and life and history, with indelible, reverential resonance indicative of a region’s culture. Ireland takes its cemeteries seriously, and walking through an Irish graveyard has always given me an anchored sense of place. They are lonely, haunting, and beautiful, and what I love about the graveyard pictured above is that the headstones all face the sea.

Inverin was my home base, and during the week, I took the bus from Inverin into Galway, where I worked on New Road at the Galway Music Centre. Galway is a college town, which makes it feel youthful and vibrant. Here are some photographs that illustrate my point:

Image result for galway ireland
Image result for galway ireland
Shop Street.
Taaffes is a 150-year-old pub in a 400-year-old building on Galway’s Shop Street.
Image result for galway ireland
St. Nicholas Cathedral, Galway.

The Claddagh, Galway, a port for anglers on Galway Bay.

As a writer by nature, I walk through life with a running commentary in my head, and keep a journal. I took the experience of living in Ireland and used it as a basis to write a novel about a single American female who leaves the record business in Los Angeles and relocates to rural Ireland, where she meets an Irish traditional musician who won’t come closer nor completely go away. The novel is titled “Dancing to an Irish Reel.” I went out of my way not to patronize anything about Ireland, particularly its people. I wanted to refrain from bringing an American frame of reference to the book because I felt it had been done before and somehow cheated what I wanted to be the point of the story, which concerns the ambiguity of a budding love relationship, with its attendant excitement, hope and doubt. On the one hand, this story could have happened anywhere (I know of very few people who haven’t been thrown into confusion as they navigate the minefield of new found attraction) but because this story takes place in Ireland, I had the opportunity to highlight a setting in possession of unfathomable beauty, with a history of cultural nuances worth the singing of deep praise. In writing “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” I did what all novelists do: tell about how they find the world through the vehicle of one painstakingly crafted case in point story.

In anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, there is a Goodreads Giveaway running until March 20 of Dancing to an Irish Reel.

The Goodreads Give Away Link for Dancing to an Irish Reel is here: https://bit.ly/38aOEDm

There’s another link to the giveaway as well as my social media platforms, and I’d love to align with you there!

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

And this will be fun, as well as unprecedented! On Sunday, March 14, I’ll have the immense pleasure of being a part of a Facebook, multiple book page St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I’ll be in conversation with Irish author, Billy O’Callaghan, at noon, Eastern Standard Time on the Facebook page, The Write Review. We plan to talk about Irish culture, the influence of Ireland on our writing, and whatever else comes to mind. I hope to see you there! You can find all the book pages involved in this celebration on the graphic below, so if you’re on Facebook, simply go to the book pages to join in the fun!

20 thoughts on “An Irish Story

  1. As one of the many readers who loved Dancing to an Irish Reel, I devoured this post about the land where the novel is set. The descriptions are beautiful and the photos are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That virtual school visit must have been wonderful! I, too, love everything about Ireland and its culture. It wasn’t an adjustment moving there, but it sure was moving back to the U.S ! I am thrilled you’ll read Dancing to an Irish Reel! I wrote it because I wanted my fellow Americans to hear what I had to say about that gorgeous island and her people! Thank you SO much for commenting, Darlene!

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  3. Lovely post, Claire. We live in Wales but used to holiday twice a year in Connemara and know Clifden well. I’d look at the abandoned foundations of the tiny dwellings in that rocky terrain and wonder how on earth they managed to eke out a living there. I’ve entered your giveaway!

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  4. I’m so glad to hear this! Thank you. I set a scene in Dancing to an Irish Reel in Mannion’s Pub in Clifden. I am confident you know it. And yes, the rocky terrain of Connemara is a wonder, but there are parts of the area with meandering streams and beautiful trees as you go from Inverin to Ma’am’s Cross. I find it all breathtaking!

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