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My thanks to Sally Cronin for featuring Strongbow’s Wife on her blog, along with an excellent review.

For anyone that’s interested, there are two ways in which the Strongbow story connects with Archbishop Becket. Both he and Henry II were close friends with the Bristol merchant Aoife’s father first turned to for help in regaining his kingdom. And, once Beckett had been murdered in Canterbury Henry felt the need to atone. His mission to Ireland, suggested by the Pope some years earlier probably seemed like a good way of doing so.

 

via Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Frank Parker, Gigi Sedlmayer, Sally Cronin and Andrew Joyce.

Another Connection Between Ireland and the Marcher Lords

Another entry in the Historical Ragbag’s Advent Calendar of Medieval Ruins involving Strongbow and his cohorts. I remember spending a few delightful days in Dunbrody, at a country house hotel run by one of Ireland’s ‘celebrity’ chefs. There’s a small brewery there, too, and I occasionally drink a glass of the excellent pale ale produced there.

Not that any of that has anything to do with medieval history or Strongbow! Enjoy the article. The more I read about Irish history the more I understand the fraught relationship between the neighbouring islands. I do think it’s important, for English people especially, to gain a better understanding of that relationship and how it has evolved.

via Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions: December 14th: Dunbrody Abbey

More Strongbow Connections

The Historical Ragbag blog’s Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions today features another place with great significance in the history of Ireland and Strongbow’s presence there.

His wife’s uncle, (St.) Laurence O’Toole, was Abbot at Glendalough, installed there by her father, before becoming Archbishop of Dublin.

I first visited Glendalough when working on a month long assignment in Dublin in the spring of 1970. I’ve been there several times since coming to live in Ireland and it is without doubt one of the most beautiful and magical places you could ever visit.

via Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions: December 13th: Glendalough

The Legacy of Strongbow’s Son-in-Law

Today’s entry in the Historical Ragbag’s Advent calendar is another from County Wexford. The storm referred to in the article also led to the construction of a light house on Hook Head. Legend has it that a monk maintained bonfires there to warn mariners of the hazardous rocks below. Marshal funded the construction of a lighthouse, a round tower with 2 metre thick walls that contain a spiral staircase leading to the light source at the top. If you are ever in Ireland it is well worth a visit.

via Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions: December 11th: Tintern Parva

The Birth Place of Strongbow’s Wife

This series of Advent posts about medieval buildings is proving very interesting with lots of places worth visiting, some of which I have visited myself at various times. Today’s features the Abbey founded by Strongbow’s father-in-law.

The tab ‘Hereford and Ireland History’ on the menu above will take you to lots of background material to the story, and under ‘Publications’ you will find a link to my book ‘Strongbow’s Wife’ which tells what happened in the years following his arrival.

via Advent Calendar of medieval Religious institutions: December 10th: St Mary’s Abbey Ferns.

Five Reasons I Love Historical Fiction | The Wolfe’s (Writing) Den

I’m not sure my own effort at historical fiction (Strongbow’s Wife) satisfies all the criteria listed here. On the other hand, writers like Elizabeth Chadwick certainly do achieve the magical aim of showing us what life was like in the past.

writerchristophfischer

Source: Five Reasons I Love Historical Fiction | The Wolfe’s (Writing) Den

If you read my recent post about the progress on my 2016 reading goals, you may have noticed I’ve been reading a lot of period fiction this year, and it’s really been inspiring my fascination with history! I love reading stories set in the past for much the same reason I enjoy science fiction and fantasy: they show me a world I could never see or experience for myself. And what more could you want from a fiction genre?

So continuing through my “five reasons” series, here’s a list of five reasons I love historical fiction. Enjoy!

1) It offers a deeper insight into human history.

History is fascinating, but there’s only so much we can…

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Home – what does it mean to you?

This post was suggested by The Writing Reader’s prompt #1753, the first line of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Urishay Castle. © Copyright John Thorn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Last night I dreamed I was back in Urishay, a small community of farms and cottages in the hills above the Golden Valley, close to the Black Mountains that mark the border between England and Wales. I was a babe in arms when I first arrived there with my mother and grandmother. It was to be my home for the next 14 years.

Our cottage had thick walls of local stone. A stream ran in a deep ravine with two waterfalls behind it. Cattle grazed the surrounding fields for a large part of the year. In summer sweet smelling hay was harvested to provide winter feed for these animals. It is a place full of memories of warm summer days spent roaming the lanes and hedgerows. There was an orchard with ancient apple and pear trees. I remember well the delicious, golf-ball-sized, pears that grew in abundance on two or three of these gnarled trees, fruit that were as attractive to wasps as to us children.

Home is a strange concept. I have lived in many other places since, but that cottage in Urishay will always be ‘home’ to me. So, too, will the boarding school at which I resided for 40 weeks of every one of the six years between the ages of 11 and 17. I have been back a number of times recently and it fills me with memories of my youth, as do the many exchanges between myself and other former pupils on a Google forum created for the purpose.

Hereford Cathedral

Hereford Cathedral

The city of Hereford, Coventry, Cleethorpes and a small village in East Yorkshire have all been home to my wife and I at various times during the 50+ years of our marriage. Over the past few years we have created a home with a beautiful garden in a lovely part of the Irish Midlands. One of the new friends I have made here in Ireland recently published a book entitled Home. His experience of home is very different to mine. He remained in the same small town throughout his life, apart from a brief period in university. Now retired from a teaching career in the town in which he was born, he has spent the past few years researching the history of the town. He created a website filled with photographs of the town’s buildings, each one accompanied by details obtained from census returns of the various inhabitants and their trades.

Home contains much of this same fascinating information that documents the life of an Irish market town from its inception as a defensive fort at the time of the Tudor plantation of Ireland to the meteoric expansion of the ‘tiger’ years and their accompanying construction boom.

An image from Portlaoise Pictures. Copyright John Dunne

But in his book my friend has preceded the historical facts and anecdotes with eleven delightful short stories about fictional characters and their lives in the town in the 1960s and ’70s.

It is this fascination with the way life was lived in one’s youth that, perhaps, most accurately defines the real sense of ‘home’. For me it is the rural backwater in the Welsh Marches and the boarding school among the heathland of Surrey. For my friend it is the market town with its music, its shops, its prison and its small cinema. My friend’s home town is not merely the backdrop to his short stories but a solid character whose history shapes its inhabitants, creating that unique quality that makes them different from the citizens of any other place.

Castle Dunamaise ruins #2 webThe castles and hills of the Welsh Marches mirror those to be found around my new home in Ireland. The same people built both sets of castles. A few years ago my own research centred on these people and their involvement in the history of both places. This led to the creation of the Hereford and Ireland History section of this website and Strongbow’s Wife, my novel about the young woman who became the wife of the man who answered her father’s call for assistance in his ambition to become High King.

Urishay features as the setting for my own second novel, Summer Day, in which a boy believes himself to be responsible for his father’s death. Many of the characters who feature in various ways in the tragic events of the day that follows are loosely based on the real people who inhabited the district when I was growing up there. And I’m guessing the characters in my friend’s short stories are based on real people and events he experienced in his formative years.

Home is available from http://www.portlaoisepictures.com/purtockpress.htm

Strongbow’s Wife can be purchased from Amazon. A soft cover version is also available via this link: https://www.feedaread.com/books/Strongbows-Wife-9781786109910.aspx

Summer Day can be purchased from Amazon via this link: https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Day-Frank-Parker-ebook/dp/B007ZBK4UI?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc