March is the month that many of us think of Ireland, due to St. Patrick’s Day, but there is so much more to the Emerald Isle. It is an island steeped in magic, lore and… castles.
Ireland is one of the richest countries on the planet in terms of castles. There are so many of them dotted around the countryside, one is literally surprised at every curve on the winding roads with a glimpse of a castle, or a ruin of what once was a castle. Like people, some castles have endured better than others over the years, but each of them has a fascinating history worthy of a novel.
We tend to think of castles as romantic places, but too often their romantic histories are also drenched in blood, power struggles and tyranny. Rebellions were born and died within their walls, and kings were chosen and murdered. Ah, but to hear the echoes of ancient conversations!
Some of the famous legendary castles in Ireland are Blarney Castle, Bunratty Castle, Ashford Castle and Slane Castle. Have you ever heard of Rockfleet Castle?
Once upon a time, there lived a famous female pirate, Grace O’Malley. She had a great love for accumulating castles and cattle. Her family controlled much of the west coast of Ireland in the 1500s. They built castles along the coastline to protect their lands as well as their waters.
Other fishermen paid them a tax in order to fish there. Strategy and accumulation of wealth were of the utmost importance to Grace.
It’s said that she chose her second husband, Richard “Iron Richard” Bourke, because he was a man of wealth, and she was intent on expanding hers. She coveted his home, Rockfleet Castle. At that time, Ireland was governed by Brehonic Law. They married for “one year certain” under the law, and it is said that when the year was up, Grace shut herself into the castle with her entourage and locked Richard out. She leaned out a window and shouted down at him, “I dismiss you, Richard Burke,” thereby ending their marriage. Since she was in the castle and he wasn’t, Rockfleet became hers. This supports the theory that possession was nine-tenths of the law in those days.
Switching gears, my novella, To Kiss A Leprechaun, involves an imaginary fairy palace. This is a sweet romance – imagine the Beast from Beauty and the Beast falling in love with Sleeping Beauty.
Lorcan, Prince of the Fairies, lives in a fairy palace in Bally Sidhe (sidhe is the Irish word for the fairy folk). It is filled with treasures of gold, jewels and rich tapestries, but he sees none of his riches.
Cursed by a witch long ago, Lorcan endures each day as a hideous beast-man, hoping to find the only woman who can break the curse with her kiss. He soon loses himself in Aine’s jewel-like aquamarine eyes, and becomes determined to win her heart.
Aine Byrne has no intentions of kissing Lorcan. Although she’s not cruel, she’s never seen an uglier man. Repulsed by his looks, she soon hears the beauty in his voice and sees his compassionate nature. Then she discovers the magic in his eyes. If only she could gaze into his eyes without seeing the rest of him… a fragile trust is born.
When danger threatens, Lorcan is presented with an opportunity to become her knight in shining armor.
Will they kiss before time runs out? Will Aine become his princess, and live with him in the fairy palace at Bally Sidhe happily ever after?
Have you ever wished you could visit an Irish castle someday? Which one? If you already have, please tell us about it!
GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. You can buy Gemma’s books on Amazon.
Connect with Gemma
Buy Gemma’s Books on…