Monday, March 1, 2010
Welcome to Sharon Donovan's guest blog
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanted land, full of legend and lore. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to rolling green hills and miles of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on misty hillsides, it’s like stepping back in time to another era when life was much simpler.
A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wild. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filled on the island. The Irish take great pride in pointing out the farmhouse on the Dingle Peninsula where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Inch Strand Beach, shaped like a sandy half moon, is one of the most remote parts of Ireland. But the best part of the trip was learning the legend of The Claddagh Ring, which has a rich history dating back three hundred years.
According to legend, the first Claddagh Ring originated in a small fishing port off the coast of Galway. Truly a land of legend and lore, the Irish are known to spin a wee bit of the blarney from time to time. Some say the ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original Claddagh was brought to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith. But whatever the case, the legend of the Claddagh has lived for the past several centuries. And in today’s material world where love and marriage are taken far too lightly, the legend strengthens relationships. The wearer of the Claddagh is said to be blessed with love, friendship and loyalty forevermore.
But in order for the Claddagh to cast its mystical spell, the Claddagh must be worn a certain way. The design consists of two hands holding a heart with a crown on top of the heart. The hands represent friendship, the heart is for love, and the crown is for loyalty. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, the wearer is looking for love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, the wearer has found love. But when worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found its soulmate for life and will be forever blessed.
Being Irish and awed by the legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring. And while touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare. The Breakers pound the west coast of the county, sculpting the grey limestone into a myriad of shapes, the most notorious, the Cliffs of Moher A rich plethora of birdlife as puffins and shags crest on the cliffs, adding to the savage grandeur. Beneath the rocks, the waves have spread a thin dusting of golden sand, said to be sprinkled by angel wings. Standing on these cliffs with the wind on my back and the sun on my face, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring. Here is a blurb and excerpt:
“To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.” Thomas Campbell
Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort
in wearing her Claddagh Ring, said to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan
meets Rork, she finds love, loyalty and friendship. But before everything comes full
circle, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.
Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul—and
has a deep secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley tending bar at her club, he falls
hopelessly in love with her and wants to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors pull them together—or break them apart?
As Meghan mixed drinks from behind the bar of The Wild Irish Rose, the fiddle and
violin captured the true essence of Ireland. The tantalizing aroma of Irish stew,
corn beef and cabbage and soda bread wafted through the room.
Suddenly, all activity came to a halt as the eerie wail of bagpipes keened through
the bar. The lead singer took center stage with his rendition of Danny Boy, the haunting lyrics crawling into Meghan’s skin. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she stopped what she was doing and met his penetrating gaze. With the exception of her mother, she’d never heard anyone pluck the strings of the harp with such finesse. The Claddagh Ring on her right hand felt hot, the heart pressing into her skin. By the time the song ended, Meghan’s green eyes were misty with tears.
“Well now, darlin’,” he touched her cheek. “If I knew Danny Boy would make you cry,
I’d a sung When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” Meghan Shannon O’Malley lost herself in pools of midnight blue. “I’m Rork,” the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He took her right hand and kissed the heart on her ring. “Single and looking, are ya?” “Huh?” “The Claddagh Ring, darlin’,” he kissed it again. “On your right hand with the heart facing outward, means you’re single and looking for romance.”
“Ah…I have no idea what you’re talking about; it’s just a ring, a gift from my mother.” “Ah, come on now, darlin’ girl,” he got a little closer, staring into her eyes. “Ya can’t fool an Irishman. My mother bought one for each of my sisters. I’ll have ya know they’re all married.” Meghan felt lightheaded. “My mother gave me this ring the night before she died. It’s a family heirloom, said to be blessed by St. Patrick himself. Mama promised me by wearing the Claddagh, everything in my life would come full circle. So before you go thinking I’m wearing it to find a husband, think again.” “Do you believe in love at first sight?” his blue eyes seared into hers like lasers. “What do ya say, Meghan, darlin’ girl of my heart.”
The Claddagh Ring Available Now!
To see the book trailer, visit my website
CONTEST: To win a pdf copy of "THE CLADDAGH RING" answer the following question: Do you have a favorite legend?