Guess what day today is on Swirl and Thread??
Why it’s #IrishWritersWed of course 🙂
After the wonderful reaction last week to Evie Gaughan’s beautiful post (See HERE ), this week I am joined by Irish writer Jenny O Brien.
Jenny takes us on a tour of a few of the locations that influenced her when writing her novels, with some beautiful photographs of a country I’m very proud to say, is where I am from.
I’ll hand you over to Jenny now…
When I said I’d write something for Mairead and her blog I didn’t quite reckon on having to stare at an empty page for quite so long.
I’m Irish for heaven’s sake and if there’s one thing the Irish can do its talk. Telling tall stories is in our culture just as kissing The Blarney Stone is a sure fire way of imbuing the kisser with the gift of the gab along with more bacteria than is healthy.
But I’m estranged if not a stranger to my homeland now and a lump of limestone set in the grounds of Blarney Castle, whilst surely magical isn’t going to help me, or is it?
I’ve been to Cork many times – Cork City, Bandon and Kinsale on the coast. Cork, just a couple of hours from Dublin is a special place to me, and to Mairead I’m sure, being as its where Swirl and Thread is to be found.
But during all my many visits I’ve neglected shamefully that lump of limestone and a good job too. Have you ever been? Did you know you have to climb up the top of the castle and literally turn upside down on the edge of the parapet with only a flimsy railing to prevent you toppling over backwards to your death? Blow that for a game of soldiers. I choose silence over death and disfigurement any day, a difficult ask for a writer, believe me!
This is Kinsale and, it is as colourful as it looks. It made such an impression that when I was scrabbling around for a setting for Grainne to run and hide in my book Girl Descending, I had her running to Kinsale, or at least a little part aptly named Worlds End.
I like writing about places I know I suppose because it’s the easy option. I’ve lived in Ireland, Wales, France and Guernsey so I’ve plenty of places to play with but Dublin will always remain my favourite.
I think it must be my view through that sacred thing, the eyes of a child. The Christmas’s wandering down Grafton Street looking at the magical displays in Brown Thomas and Switzers. The street stalls along Henry Street, years before the Germans cornered the market.
Even the memory of nearly losing a filling if not the whole tooth by biting down on the brass ring concealed in a slice of Bewley’s festive barmbrack. I love it, I love it all and, now that I’m so far away I love recreating the memories on paper and sharing them with a wider audience. Most of my stories have a fraction of truth in them, and those memories come from my years growing up in Ireland.
Mitch in Ideal Girl lives in one of the Georgian houses along Palmerstone Road.
I too used to live there, but for some reason I always see him as inhabiting one of the houses opposite ̶ It’s funny how the mind works isn’t it?
Libby, his girlfriend, has a flat in Ranelagh and, you guessed it – I too used to have a flat in Ranelagh!!
The last in the series, Unhappy Ever After Girl, and, to my mind my best, started a few miles or so from both Palmerstone Road and Ranelagh ̶ it started with a church or, to be exact a church window.
As a child I used to sit in a pew every Sunday staring out of one of the stained glass windows making up stories and, the window I used to stare out of was a particularly lovely one dedicated by a husband to his wife.
It was many years later that I got that ‘what if?’ moment writers across the globe can quote chapter and verse.
What if a bride sat in the exact same pew staring out of the exact same window with a heart full of hopes and dreams?
What if those hopes and dreams soon came crashing down on her head only hours later?
What would she do?
Would she stay or run away and if she ran where would she run to being as her father was the vicar and her new husband his verger?
My next book, after a little play with stories, set both in Paris and New York, returns to Dublin, but to a very different Dublin to the middle-class one of my Irish Medical Romance Trilogy.
This takes the reader to Ballymun, a working class area and is as different in location as it is in storyline.
But I’m only 10,000 words in so there’s lots of work still to do…
Thank you so much Jenny for taking us all on a beautiful journey to some of your favourite places in Ireland and those that have influenced your writing so much.
Also I would like to thank you for dropping by today. As ever your company was delightful 🙂
But…might I just add one wee thing…I did kiss The Blarney Stone and yes I could talk for Ireland 😉
Hope to see you all here next week folks when I have Sam Blake, writer of Irish Crime Fiction, joining me for #IrishWritersWed…
About Jenny O’ Brien:
Jenny O’Brien was born in Dublin a very long time ago.
From an early age she’d always hoped to write something; to write anything other than her name on the bottom of a cheque and then, with the introduction of automated banking she even lost that pleasure. Therefore she was forced to pick up a pen and pad and start scribbling and since then she’s never stopped.
Apart from writing there’s little room left. she’s an avid reader of most genre’s and can always be found with a book or six knocking around. She has never watched Dowinton Abbey or read any book with 50 in the title for that matter so she’s probably quite boring. She does tend to spend a lot of time talking to her imaginary friends who are always there knocking about in her head keeping her out of mischief.
She also loves hearing from anyone who’s interested in talking books; either hers, theirs or others. She’s on Twitter (too much) as Scribblerjb and has a Facebook page here, which is usually woefully out of date.