Travels and Inspiration: Upon Return from Ireland, by Riana Everly

Travels and Inspiration: Upon Return from Ireland, by Riana Everly

Last month, while I was traveling through Ireland, I mused a bit on Jane Austen’s use of travel as plot point in so much of her writing. I also promised to bore you all with photos of my own trip, which was wonderful. Ireland is a beautiful country, and I truly cannot wait for our next visit. There was so much to see and do, we scarcely scratched the surface. If you have not been and have the opportunity, I heartily recommend visiting.

I did not meet any leprechauns under the low branches of an ancient tree, nor did any fairies come out to greet me, although there were places where I would not have been surprised to find them. But we did find ancient tombs and modern monuments, and everything in between. From idyllic rural scenes (yes, with sheep wandering across the roads) to picturesque, ruined castles, the entire visit was filled with beauty. I won’t drag out my entire album, but I’ll share just a few images and perhaps tell a story or two about them. By the way, all photos are mine, unless otherwise indicated.

Trim Castle
Next winter’s sweater

We started in Dublin, which is a fascinating city. One of the many things we explored was Dublin Castle. The fortress dates from 1204, at the command of King John, and was built on the site of an older Viking settlement. You can still see some of the ancient fortifications, as well as the very elegant Georgian State Apartments which were built after a devastating fire in 1684.

Grand Imperial Staircase at Dublin Castle
St Patricks Hall, the ballroom at Dublin Castle (photo Harry Reid. Office of Public Works)

I could just imagine Mr. Darcy inviting Elizabeth to dance in the huge ballroom (St Patrick’s Hall) or leading her up the very elegant Grand Staircase.

Brownshill Dolmen, c.3000-4000BCE
Megalithic engravings at Newgrange Portal Tomb, c.3200BCE
Grianan Ailigh ring fort, c.6th c
From the Hill of Slane friary, post 1170

We then hired a car and spent a week driving through much of the country. We had a fabulous time exploring some very old sites, including 6000-year-old neolithic dolmens and tombs, 1500-year-old ring forts, and Medieval castles and ruined monasteries. I can’t say which awed me the most, but the Rock of Cashel literally stopped us in our tracks as we were driving towards the town. It sits up on a craggy hill like it is born of the rocks, standing guard over the town below.

Rock of Cashel, 1235 Can you just imagine a misty midnight here?

The site was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster, and Brian Boru was crowned High King here in 978, and made it his capital. It was offered to the church in 1101 by his grandson, and the oldest parts of the existing complex date from around that time. The main cathedral building, now a roofless ruin (but oh so Romantic!) was built between 1235 and 1270. Can you imagine creeping up here upon a misty night to meet someone? A lover, perhaps, or an enemy with a secret to share? With all the passages in the walls and the nooks and crannies, it could make for quite a dramatic scene!

Of all the places and things we saw, one of the most beautiful was Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara region near Galway. Nestled on the shores of a lovely lake, protected by the mountain behind, it is the sort of place dreams are made of, and its history is both romantic and very sad.

Now a Benedictine abbey, Kylemore Castle was built as a gift for Mrs Margaret Henry by her husband.

Mitchell and Margaret Henry fell in love with the spot while on their honeymoon in the 1850s, and in a romantic gesture, Mitchell purchased the land for his wife and built her a castle there to raise their family. The castle was completed in 1868, but the Henrys had only a few years to enjoy their spot of paradise. In 1874, the family took a trip to Egypt, but Margaret fell ill and died there. She was only 45. Grief-stricken Mitchell returned home and built a miniature Gothic church on the property as a memorial to his beloved wife.

The dining room in the castle.
The Little Gothic Church

I can imagine Will Darcy making such a grand romantic gesture for Elizabeth, building her a castle in the most beautiful spot he could manage. But their story would have a far happier ending than that of the poor Henrys.

Is this inspiration for a story? Perhaps. The plot bunny is poking his nose out of his warren, but hasn’t quite emerged yet. I can, perhaps, imagine the Darcys finding a similar house with a similar story, and meeting the sad spirit of the former owner, searching for her dear husband. Or, could it be Catherine and Henry Tilney, whose adventures at Northanger Abbey hold nothing to what they might find in such a storied palace. We shall see!

What I do have in mind is another Mary and Alexander mystery, to be set in Ireland. I have no specific plot as yet, but the atmosphere of the place requires a novel!

Stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed these few pictures.

Have you travelled to somewhere that cries for a story? Where was it? What struck you so much about that place? I love hearing about people’s adventures.

 

 

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15 COMMENTS
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DarcyBennett
DarcyBennett
June 16, 2022 6:38 PM

Thanks for sharing, I hope to visit one day.

Teresa Broderick
Teresa Broderick
June 5, 2022 2:56 PM

So glad you liked our country Riana. It truly can be beautiful. But we get an awful lot of rain. Summer is very hit and miss here. At times we might only get two weeks really brilliant weather all year!
It’s Summer here now and this whole Bank Holiday weekend has been a washout.
We do have some fantastic history. Down south where I live is lovely too. Maybe next time you’ll get down this way.

Marilyn
Marilyn
June 5, 2022 2:27 PM

Thank you for sharing the photos. Ireland is a beautiful country. I would love to visit the land of my paternal ancestors.
Marilyn

Jean Stillman
Jean Stillman
June 5, 2022 8:20 AM

Thank you for sharing! This is one of three countries I really want to visit, but for now must content myself with your pictures and your writing. Beautiful!

Terri
Terri
June 5, 2022 8:14 AM

Lovely photos was not bored at all cannot imagine my husband building me a castle but not to worry we celebrate our 40th WA next month so he must do something right.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
June 3, 2022 7:27 PM

Beautiful photos! Love the one of the sheep! The one looks like he heard that the way his ears are standing up!lol

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
June 3, 2022 2:22 PM

Your pictures always inspire me. Wow! I can’t travel but do so vicariously through your photos and commentary. Yay! Those were amazing. Thanks for sharing them with us. Oh, and yes, that is the place for Mary and Alexander. You should give your plot bunny a carrot. LOL!

Kirstin Odegaard
AuAu
June 3, 2022 1:56 PM

You are quite a photographer! Beautiful pictures. Glad you had a wonderful time and can’t wait to see what Mary and Alexander get up to in Ireland.

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