Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ireland and A Certain Pirate Woman

I first visited Ireland after a very hard year at a job I hated. A friend of mine was touring his native country, bringing his brand of Irish folk music to the West of Ireland. I joined him, his fellow musicians, and a group of friends on a tour of Ireland that took us to such places as Galway, the Aran Islands, and Sligo. I reveled in the land and its people. This was the land of my ancestors, and I loved being in a place that was still bathed in ancient lore and timeless beauty. The people were warm and kind, wrapping me in the embrace I sorely needed after a terrible year. I danced in pubs, drank Guinness, and sang Irish folk songs.

The land itself also enclosed me in its protective womb. The windswept countryside held a siren song I couldn't resist. I climbed Dun Aengus, stood against the bracing winds of Croagh Patrick, and stared in awe at Kylemore Abbey. I'd never seen a country so green. Sheep climbed mountains and stared at us, unafraid as they munched on grass. I stood in awe as people swam in what to me were freezing beaches. Standing by Yeats' grave in Sligo was an almost mystical experience.

I've returned to the West and to Dublin since my first visit, and I've always wanted to write a novel about that amazing place, but I didn't know how to express the spirit and appeal of so gorgeous a place. It took me years to stumble upon Grainne (Grace) O'Malley. I was researching something else when I learned of a woman who embodied everything Ireland was in all its fierceness and beauty. As I studied secondary sources, my admiration for Grainne (Grace), the woman pirate, grew. Grainne was a woman who fought for her family and her clan. She compromised when she had to do so but often bested her opponents and survived. Grainne lived through the British incursion on her land, imprisonment, the birth of one son at sea, the brutal murder of another, and the deaths of two husbands. This woman commanded her own ships into her seventies. From the life of this extraordinary woman, my novel PIRATE WOMAN, was born.

Go to the Red Rose Publishing website at Read the excerpt and answer the following questions on the "Questions" section of my website at The first three people to respond will win a free download of PIRATE WOMAN.

1. What mountain towers over Grainne as she runs to the water? (Hint: It contains a saint's name.)

2. What flower does Bruce Donnel refer to Grainne as?

3. Who is the friar Grainne fears meeting?