Have you ever pondered what exactly you love about Ireland? Why does this little island on the edge of Europe capture our imaginations?
Visitors to Ireland speak fondly of their memories and cherished moments on the highways and byways of this often rainy little corner of the world. Many who have not yet traveled to Ireland report it's the country right on top of their bucket list of places to visit.
In today's blog post, Irish American author, Martha Geaney, answers this question about her love of Ireland and shares why Ireland is the setting for her mystery novel series.
Plus a little good news. Today's post is a giveaway. Martha has graciously provided some signed copies of her books for a lucky reader to win.
But before we delve into the details of the competition, let me first hand you over to Martha so we can learn how Ireland inspires her writing....
What is it about Ireland that you love?
Is it the landscape, the history, the culture, or the people?
I have to admit that I love it all.
It may seem odd then that I choose to write a cozy mystery series (which features at least one death in each book) in one of the places I love so much: County Mayo, Ireland. Let me try to explain.
Céad Míle Fáilte
Ireland: Land of a Hundred Thousand Welcomes. This Gaelic phrase is something I’ve seen and heard countless times since I was four years old. That’s when I made my first visit to Counties Mayo and Cork with my parents. Over the years I’ve traveled to Ireland many times and have always experienced the warmth and welcoming spirit of the Emerald Isle.
For me the land of a hundred thousand welcomes has an even deeper meaning. My mother left Ireland when she was sixteen years old. Fortunately, she has returned to her homestead many times. She and my father even lived in County Mayo for a few years after they purchased a family cottage in French Hill, Castlebar when I was in my thirties.
But my mom was the only one of her siblings who left Ireland. So, for me and my two brothers growing up in New York and New Jersey, it was a special treat to go to Ireland. What a welcome! The excitement of meeting aunts, uncles, and cousins. It didn’t matter how many times I went to Ireland; the welcome was always there, always fresh.
People here in the US would often ask: “Aren’t you afraid to travel alone?” Me: “no”. Not when my trip took me to French Hill, Castlebar, County Mayo. There was family to see. Tea to be brewed. (Oh, as much as they love me, they wouldn’t want me to brew the tea…too weak), brown bread and butter to eat. It doesn’t matter where you go in Ireland…someone will always welcome you. There will always be a cup of tea (cupán tae) if you need it.
In my opinion, it takes trust, respect, love, and the idea of liability for each other to create and live in community with each other. Yes, we are all individuals but I believe our sense of being also comes from our relationships with others. These relationships often shape who we are, our spirit, and our mind.
My Heart Belongs to County Mayo
All the welcomes, the cups of tea, the love, the support, and understanding for someone who pops into the country once in a while have become the foundation of who I am as an Irish American. I often say that my heart belongs to County Mayo. I’ve visited so many of its thin places: those stunningly spiritual places in Ireland where I feel like there is heaven on earth collapsed into one. They are places like Croagh Patrick, Clare Island, Achill Island, Cong Forest, and Blacksod Bay. I could go on and on.
And so, when I began writing my mystery series, I had no choice. I had to set my stories in County Mayo. And, they had to be set in real places. The stunningly beautiful places. The thin places.
Star O’Brien, the main character in the mystery series, encounters this sense of the beauty and culture of Ireland when she, an American, arrives in County Mayo. Star, who is searching for her Irish mother, also experiences Ireland’s welcoming spirit as she unravels a local murder mystery and continues her relentless search for her mother.
Meet Star O’Brien
“That morning, the sky rose beyond the sea in a luminous ultramarine palette reminding me of Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Treading the grassy path from the Clare Island Lighthouse bed and breakfast down to the harbor, I pictured my mother when she received a letter, many years ago from Clare Island.” (excerpt from “Death on Clare Island: A Star O’Brien County Mayo Mystery”)
The Journey Continues
Over the course of the book series, Star’s life journey will continue to reveal itself as she solves a standalone mystery in each book.
For me, the journey also continues. I continue to write about the places I love. The thin places that call me back to my Irish roots. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, some threads cannot be broken.
About Martha Geaney
Her passion for Ireland grew out of her love for her parents and their families. Her father moved to the US from County Cork; and her mother is from Mayo. She has kissed the Blarney Stone twice!
At sixteen, she moved to Castlebar to attend school for two years. Her connections and love of her ancestral homeland deepened during this time spent with her cousins, aunts and uncles. Ireland intrigued her, with it's contrasting lush and rugged landscapes, its welcoming people, and ancient heritage.
Her heroine, Star O’Brien came to life in her imagination, inspired by the people and places of County Mayo.
Before becoming a writer, Martha was a teacher, management consultant, university professor, and dean of a business college. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She is currently working on her third Star O’Brien mystery.
Death on Clare Island
The first book in the Star O'Brien series is set on Clare Island, off the coast of County Mayo and is available from Amazon.
Star O'Brien, a successful American information broker who can’t solve the mysteries of her own life, comes to Clare Island in County Mayo, Ireland to settle her dead lover’s estate and look for her Irish mother, who’s been missing since Star was six years old.
As if everything wasn’t complicated enough already, a body is discovered while Star is there. It seems like a closed case involving a drug addict who wandered too close to the edge of Clare’s famously treacherous cliffs. But Star isn’t so sure. She didn’t believe it when the police dismissed her mother’s disappearance. Star must separate fact from fiction in the testimonies of those who were closest to the victim.
As she meticulously uncovers the truth, the fiercely independent Star O’Brien must also own up to her own past while deciding on her future with a charming new confidante.
Death at Ashford Castle
The second Irish cozy mystery, set in County Mayo, brings Star O'Brien back to Ireland. As an independent, inquisitive, amateur sleuth Star O’Brien finds herself chasing down a mysterious woman named Evelyn Cosgrove who may or may not have information about Star’s mother, who’s been missing since Star was six years old.
As if Star’s life isn’t complicated enough, she discovers a female corpse while walking through Cong woods. Star finds herself travelling back and forth from Castlebar to Cong to figure out the motivation behind the victim’s murder.
There are ghost sightings, mysterious break-ins, and a creepy encounter as Star tries to put all the pieces together. You'll find links for purchasing Martha's books on her website.
One lucky reader will win a signed copy of the first two books in the Star O'Brien series.
To enter simply leave a comment on this blog post by noon Eastern Time on Saturday, June 12th, 2021.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration why not tell us if you like mystery novels, or books set in Ireland.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Saturday, June 12th, 2021, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries here.
A bit thank you to all who support this giveaway and share it with family and friends.
Any many thanks to Martha for so generously sponsoring this prize.
Update - Winner Chosen
Our winner has been randomly chosen using the Pick Giveaway Winner Plug-in for WordPress.
And the lucky reader is ….
I’ll send an email to arrange mailing of her prize. A big thank you to everyone for supporting this giveaway by leaving comments. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every comment.
Thank you all for supporting our Irish American community.
Stay tuned for more stories and giveaways over the coming weeks and months.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
SLÁN AGUS BEANNACHT,
(GOODBYE AND BLESSINGS)
IRISH AMERICAN MOM
Disclosure: I do not have any financial connection with Martha Geaney. The link for purchasing this book is an Amazon affiliate link, which means that if you should purchase this book through this link, I will earn a small commission. The price you pay is not affected.
Images republished with permission from Martha Geaney.
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