Cover Reveal – A Scarlet Woman: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

I’m delighted to share with you the fabulous e-book and print covers for A Scarlet Woman: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One.

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel eBook Cover

Author: Lorna Peel

Title: A Scarlet Woman

Series: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book One

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Release Date: September 6, 2017

Pre-order: From August 6, 2017 

Cover Designer: Rebecca K. Sterling, Sterling Design Studio

Ebook and Print Formatting: Polgarus Studio

A_Scarlet_Woman_PRINT_2Dublin, Ireland, 1880.

Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practice medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

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A Scarlet Woman will be available to read with Kindle Unlimited once released. Read an excerpt HERE.

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Mrs Langtry (cover): Photo credit: The National Archives UK / No known copyright restrictions
Gun Powder Office (cover): Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions

Meet Brotherly Love’s Caitriona Brady

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Caitriona Brady is twenty-six years old and is the widow of John Brady, the Brady champion who was killed in a faction fight two years ago. Caitriona and John were brought together by a local matchmaker and Caitriona was eighteen when she left her home in Dunmore Parish, married John, and began a life in a cottage on fifteen acres of rented land on a mountain in the remote parish of Doon.

Caitriona and John had no children and, after John’s death, Caitriona nursed John’s elderly mother until Bridget died. Finally her own mistress, Caitriona wants to make the most of her new found freedom. She wants to choose a husband this time and not have the decision made for her.

Michael Warner is new to the parish, is the most handsome man she has ever seen – and he loves her. So why are there so many obscacles in the way of their courtship? The Brady faction see Caitriona’s love for the priest’s brother as a betrayal of her dead husband. Caitriona’s ‘betrayal’ is used to begin a number of faction fights and she is very much afraid that she will be responsible for someone’s death. John Brady has been dead for two years and the Brady faction won’t allow him to rest in peace. Can the Bradys be persuaded to change their name and Caitriona allowed to move on with her life?

Michael’s brother, Father Liam Warner, disapproves of their courtship, too. He views Caitriona as dangerous, even if she doesn’t realise it herself, and wants nothing more than for Caitriona to return home to her family in Dunmore Parish. It seems nothing will change his mind about the ‘damned Brady woman’.

Even Caitriona’s brother-in-law, Thady Brady, has reservations about the courtship. Thady gave Caitriona permission to look for another husband and approves of Michael Warner, but not enough is known about Doon Parish’s ‘mystery man’. Thady persuades Caitriona to allow him to do some digging into Michael’s background at an upcoming cattle fair. What Thady discovers shakes Caitriona’s world to the core.

Can there ever be a solution to seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Is there no hope for Caitriona and Michael? Find out in Brotherly Love.

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Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

Caitriona saw the shock in Thady’s eyes when she opened the door to Mary and him. Even Mary was stunned into an unusual silence, taking in her eyes – red and swollen from crying – her limp and undone hair hanging over her face and neck, and her creased and unkempt dress. Mary glanced at the blanket hanging over the back of the chair by the hearth, evidence that she hadn’t slept in either bed the previous night.

“Have you both come to tell me how I’ve been betraying my dear husband’s memory?” she croaked, walking back into the kitchen. “You’re the first today so maybe I’ll listen to you.”

“Were you not listening to what I told you last week?” Thady demanded. “John’s dead, let him lie.”

“But they won’t,” she replied wearily. “They’ll never let him lie.”

“Wait, wait.” Mary held up her hands, clearly lost as to the jist of the conversation. “What did you tell her, Thady?” she demanded.

Thady sighed. “I told Caitriona that as it has been two years since John died, she was free to look for another husband.”

Mary’s eyes narrowed. “Well, it didn’t take you long, did it? The priest’s brother, no less. You went off into the woods with him, I was told. You went off with him into the woods in front of everyone.”

“You were told?” Caitriona retorted. “You weren’t even there, Mary. Don’t think you know what happened because you don’t.”

“All right.” Thady laid a comforting hand on her arm. “I know we weren’t there but we did talk to Father Warner and to Michael. Father Warner wasn’t very happy-looking.”

“What about Michael?”

“He didn’t say much but he looked shocked. There was an almighty fight going on.”

“Well, it shows that no-one listened to a word I said at the wake.” She shrugged helplessly. “I just don’t know what to do, Thady.”

“I have no objections to Michael Warner courting you, though, I’d say his brother does. The next pilgrimage is next month to Tobar Dhoun. I’m John’s brother, I don’t fight anymore, so how about I go and talk to Father Warner then, maybe, he can say something at Mass. Everyone will have to listen, then.”

“Do you think they will?” she asked in a small voice. “I don’t know.”

“We can only try.” Thady smiled at her, ignoring his wife who was rolling her eyes heavenwards. “I only want you to be happy and if Michael Warner’s the man…”

“He is,” she replied quietly. “If he hasn’t been frightened away.”

“Not at all, though, maybe you should be a little bit more careful in future. Michael Warner hasn’t lived in the parish very long, people don’t know him, and he’s refused to be dragged into the fighting. People don’t know what to make of him yet. Just be careful.”

“You’ll want something done before Tobar Dhoun,” Mary said shortly. “That fight yesterday was a disgrace. You’ll kill someone yet, you stupid girl.”

brotherly_love_ebook-1600x2400

Buy Brotherly Love for

Kindle

Or read it FREE with 

download

 Buy the Brotherly Love paperback at:

Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  Blackwell’s  BookDepository  Wordery  McNallyRobinson  Fishpond  Booktopia  BooksAMillion

If you buy the paperback edition from Amazon, you can buy the Kindle edition for just 99p or 99cents. It’s perfect for presents – a paperback gift for them – a kindle treat for you! 

Amazon ASIN: B01NCR1FNN

Paperback ISBN: 9781541002692

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Meet Brotherly Love’s Michael Warner

michael-warner

Michael Warner is twenty-eight years old. One of four siblings, he and his elder brother, Liam, are the only two who lived to adulthood. He was born and brought up on a large farm and, like Liam, Michael was well educated. He can read and write in both Irish and English.

Michael and Liam have lived in a cottage outside the village of Doon for just over a year where they rent and farm fifteen acres of good land. Although Liam helps him at the busiest times of the year – saving the hay and the turf (peat) – Michael does the bulk of the farm work himself. But why did Michael choose to be a farmer in the first place? With his education, Michael could have had the choice of many careers.

Any newcomer to an area invites comment whether they like it or not, and it isn’t long before the people of Doon begin to ask questions about the parish’s ‘mystery man’. Why did Michael come with his brother to live and farm in a remote, rural, and mountainous parish? Why don’t the brothers take lodgings or employ a housekeeper? Why has Michael stayed out out of the faction fights which have divided the parish? Why is Liam so against Michael courting Caitriona Brady, the young widow of John Brady, the Brady champion killed in a faction fight two years ago. And how long will it be before these questions are answered and become public knowledge?

caitriona-and-michael

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

“Oh, stop.” Michael grabbed Caitriona’s hand and pulled her away from the dancers. “I’m fit to drop.”

The two of them sank down on the flat rock, fighting for breath, and Michael couldn’t help but stare at her. Caitriona’s blue eyes were shining, her face was flushed, and curls were blowing about her face and neck. She was so beautiful and he wasn’t going to wait a moment longer.

Taking her hand again, he led her away from the crowds, the music, and the dancers. They walked until they entered some trees and were out of sight then stopped.

Her expression was so solemn that his heart began to pound even more. He had tugged at his collar in the dance and it and his cravat were slightly askew. His long coat hung open and his hat was pushed to the back of his head. He knew he looked a mess but when would he get her alone again?

“I love you,” he told her, letting go of her hand, and waiting for a reply.

She seemed stunned at this sudden revelation and began to pull awkwardly at the skirt of her black dress. She then raised her eyes to his.

“I’m glad,” she whispered. “Because I love you, too.”

He was so shocked his mouth fell open and he gaped stupidly at her before roaring with delighted laughter. “Oh, thank God.” He laughed again. “Thank God.”

“I don’t know if He has much to do with it.” She laughed, too. “But thank Him if you must.”

“Thank you, then,” he whispered and kissed her.

He had never kissed any woman in the way he did now and surprised himself. Her hands were in his hair, pulling his face towards hers. His hands were on her back, pulling her body against his. His tongue left her mouth and began to blaze a trail down her neck to her cleavage. He was licking the hollow between her breasts, her hands still in his hair, when he felt her tense. When she froze, he quickly raised his head, feeling his cheeks burn. He had gone too far.

“I’m sorry—” he began but she covered his mouth with her fingers.

“Listen,” she whispered and he straightened up. Shouts and cries were drifting up to them on the breeze. “Oh, no. A fight’s about to begin and they’re not even drunk yet, there hasn’t been time.”

“Liam’s still down there,” Michael told her as she righted her dress. “I hope he’s had the sense to walk away and not try to break it up.”

He clasped her hand and picked up his hat, which had fallen to the ground, and led her out of the trees.

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 Buy Brotherly Love for

Kindle

Or read it FREE with 

download

Buy the Brotherly Love paperback at:

Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  Blackwell’s  BookDepository  Wordery  McNallyRobinson  Fishpond  Booktopia  BooksAMillion

If you buy the paperback edition from Amazon, you can buy the Kindle edition for just 99p or 99cents. It’s perfect for presents – a paperback gift for them – a kindle treat for you! 

Amazon ASIN: B01NCR1FNN

Paperback ISBN: 9781541002692

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Meet Brotherly Love’s Liam Warner

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Father Liam Warner is forty years old and is the eldest surviving child of four siblings. Liam studied for the priesthood at Maynooth College, County Kildare, which is just outside Dublin. He was the first in his family to become a priest and his mother worked herself into an early grave, taking in washing and sewing, and selling her butter, eggs, and bread at the local market in an effort to be able to afford to send him there.

Liam and his brother, Michael, have lived just outside the village of Doon for the past year where they rent and farm fifteen acres of good land. In 1831, Ireland had a population of 7,767,401 and with Roman Catholicism being the largest religion by far, the fees paid to parish priests by their parishioners for christenings, marriages, and burials etc., made them wealthy men – on a par with the Church of Ireland clergyman – and, in some cases, even wealthier. It was a hard life, however, priests spent long hours in all weathers travelling the length and breath of their parish.

With Liam’s income, he and Michael can afford to live in lodgings, so why do they need to farm the land at all? Why do they not employ a housekeeper? And why did Liam agree to be appointed priest of a remote, rural, and mountainous parish in the first place? So many questions. Discover the answers in Brotherly Love.

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Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is a week since my last confession.”

Liam rolled his eyes. Malachy Donnellan. How the man had the nerve… He listened to the usual impure thoughts rubbish Malachy spouted each week and began to absolve him, wanting eagerly to get rid of him, wondering how many Hail Marys to give him, when Malachy continued unexpectedly.

“Father, there’s something else that’s been on my mind lately, something you should know about.”

“Oh? Well, go on.”

“It’s about your brother, Father.”

“Michael?” Liam’s heart thumped. “What about him?”

“Well.” Liam heard Malachy scratch his head. “I’m not quite sure, Father, but I think he’s done something. Something he regrets. Something he wants to keep quiet..?”

Malachy ended on a high, questioning note and Liam leaned forward and glared at him through the grille.

“Like what?” he demanded.

“Oh, well…” For once Malachy was flustered, as if he hadn’t expected the news to affect the priest so badly. “I’m not quite sure, but it’s been on my mind for a while now and I thought you ought to know, being his brother and all…”

“Yes, well, thank you.” Liam sat back, closing his eyes in relief. At least Malachy didn’t know. “Is there anything else?”

“Well…” He heard Malachy scratch his head again. “It is wrong to break a promise, isn’t it, Father?”

“Yes,” he replied hesitantly. “Why?”

“Oh, it’s just that your brother and I were having a little chat the other day and now he seems to be under the impression that it isn’t wrong. Now you can tell him that it is. Can’t you, Father?”

Liam didn’t reply but leaned forward again and stared at Malachy in consternation as he grinned back at him through the grille.

“Is that all?” He found his voice.

“It is, Father, thank you.”

Liam quickly absolved Malachy and gave him five Hail Marys before sinking back in his seat as he heard the other man leave the confessional box. He touched his forehead and jumped, he was sweating profusely.

“Bastard,” he whispered and quickly crossed himself.

He opened the door and peered out into the chapel. Thankfully it was empty and he went out and began to pace up and down the aisle. What had Michael been up to, talking to that man? What had he said to give him those ideas? Without waiting for anymore confessees, he threw open the chapel door and strode along the road to the cottage without disrobing. He stood silently in the doorway for a few minutes watching Michael, who was sitting on his bed staring into space. He went into the bedroom and closed the door to the kitchen.

Michael started up and gaped wide-eyed at him. “You’re back early?”

“I had one confessee. One who was more than enough.”

“Oh?”

“It was Malachy Donnellan. He told me a lot about you, Michael. What the hell have you been up to?”

brotherly_love_ebook-1600x2400

 Buy Brotherly Love for

Kindle

Or read it FREE with 

download

Buy the Brotherly Love paperback at:

Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  Blackwell’s  BookDepository  Wordery  McNallyRobinson  Fishpond  Booktopia  BooksAMillion

If you buy the paperback edition from Amazon, you can buy the Kindle edition for just 99p or 99cents. It’s perfect for presents – a paperback gift for them – a kindle treat for you! 

Amazon ASIN: B01NCR1FNN

Print ISBN: 9781541002692

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions
Photo credit: The British Library via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

 

Fairs and Markets in Ireland

old-irish-market1

The fair is one of the oldest known gatherings of people which we know of. Fairs are known to have been held by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, who utilised the religious games they played for trading purposes.

In Ireland, the aenach or fair, was an assembly of every social group without distinction. It was the most common kind of large public meeting and its objectives were the celebration of games, athletic exercises, sports and other pastimes. One of the most important fairs in ancient Ireland was that at Tailltenn, now Teltown on the river Blackwater between Navan and Kells in Co. Meath. It was attended by people from all over Ireland and also from Scotland. It was held yearly on or around August 1 and marriages formed a special feature of it. Another important fair was held at Nenagh, Co. Tipperary and has given its name to the town. Nenagh in Irish means ‘the fair’.

At many of the fairs, the chief men would sit in council in places specially allotted to them and discussions would take place. Each day but the last would be given over to the games of each social group or tribe. Among the entertainments was the recitation of poems and romantic tales. Music also formed an important part and there were many harpers, pipers and fiddlers. There is no mention of dancing and it is probable that the ancient Irish did not dance as we know it. Other performers included showmen, jugglers and clowns similar to what we see in circuses today. Prizes were awarded to the best performers and were publicly presented by the most important person present, whether it was a king, queen or a chief.

Buying and selling was a very important feature of the fair. There were often three markets. A market of food and clothes, a market of livestock and horses and a market for the use of foreign merchants who sold articles made of gold and silver. Space was also assigned for cooking. The cooking would have taken place on a very large-scale to feed the large numbers of people present.

When the evening of the last day had come, all the men of the council would stand up, at a signal from the chief and make a great clash with their spears. Each man would strike the handle of the next man’s spear with the handle of his own. This was the signal for the crowds to disperse.

After these, the most ancient of the Irish fairs, others developed over the next one thousand years. When St. Patrick introduced Christianity into Ireland in the fifth century, the Pagan customs were discontinued and Christian ceremonies were introduced. The fairs were organised by the local chieftain in his area. The Gaelicised Normans later continued this tradition. Many patents were issued by King James I in the early seventeenth century, granting authority to towns to establish fairs. It would be much later, however, before many of these fairs would become a reality.

The Cromwellian policy of land confiscation, ‘To hell or to Connaught’, and later the Penal Laws, suppressed the customs previously practiced by the Irish people and denied them ownership of anything over £5. However, as the eighteenth century wore on the laws were relaxed and Catholic Emancipation was finally granted in 1829. Despite this, the Irish people largely did not own any property, renting the land from landlords. From this time onward many fairs and markets were set up. These fairs were used mainly by the landed gentry and the landlords for the buying and selling of the herds of cattle and sheep from their estates. The tenant farmer’s land could only support one cow and as time went on, the growing population and the division of the farm amongst all the farmer’s sons made it nearly impossible to do more than grow potatoes for eating and enough grain to pay the rent.

In those pre-Famine times the weekly markets provided an outlet for cottage industries, butter, linen and potatoes. It was only after the Famine, at the time of the Land War of 1879-1881, that the majority of Irish people made the transition from the market to the fair. The Land Acts which gave the tenant farmers fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure and the opportunity to buy out their farm from the landlord, gave them the personal and economic independence to do so.

The building and extension of the railways in Ireland in the mid-to-late nineteenth century meant that cattle could be easily transported around the country to various fairs. It also brought about improvements in the breeding of livestock. Better animals were now for sale at the fairs due to the importation of different breeds of bulls and rams from abroad.

In the rural towns and villages the markets gave way to fairs held on the fair green. Gradually the fair moved onto the streets, no doubt encouraged by the business people but not by the residents as the streets would be left in a mess. The first cattle would appear in the town at about seven o’clock in the morning, some having been walked as far as ten miles to it during the night. They would be met by cattle jobbers who would buy and sell the cattle later on to bigger dealers at a profit. The buying and selling of the cattle followed a set pattern. The price would be enquired of the farmer, the farmer would then ask the dealer how much he would give. The animal’s mouth would then be examined to determine its age and a bid made. If the bidding became prolonged a third man, a friend of either the farmer or the dealer, would appear. He would enquire how much money was dividing the two and try and settle the deal by catching the hands of the farmer and dealer, slap them together and spit on them to seal the deal. A ‘luck penny’ was then given to the dealer by the farmer as a gesture of goodwill.

In the larger towns the market would be held on the streets and would be especially busy from October to Easter. This was regarded as the Christmas period when the country people would do their buying. Goods were displayed on stands lining the streets, with each range of items having its own special location. Frieze, flannel and clothing material in one location, wooden dishes in another, followed by shoes and brogues of all sizes and quality; hats, pottery, butter, flax seed, pork and beef, sally rods for scallops (used in thatching roofs) and rushes for lights. Hosiers, tailors and pedlars did not use stands, preferring to carry their wares- stockings, ready-made waistcoats, pins, needles, brass buttons and other items through the streets.

Most shoppers went straight home after the fairs and markets but some headed for the whiskey-houses (sheebeens) and the pubs, both of which had been open since six o’clock that morning. In the sheebeens, the drinking often went on all night. Unsold cattle would be stored in yards which the publicans made available to their customers.

Throughout the 1960’s the fairs and markets came under threat from the cattle marts. In the beginning the farmers would drive their cattle past the mart to the fair on the streets. As time went on, however, the farmers made less use of the fairs and markets, the majority dying out thirty to thirty-five years ago. At many marts today, it can be seen that a lot of business is still done outside on the streets in the fair tradition.

Some fairs and markets are still in existence today. The horse fair at Ballinasloe, Co. Galway and the Old Fair Day, held every year in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo are two such examples. They prove that the fair and market, in existence for well over a thousand years still have a place in the modern world.

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Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

Caitriona stood in the middle of the kitchen floor and looked around her. The cottage was hers. The rents from sub-letting ten out of the fifteen acres of land would be coming straight to her now, too. She spent the next half hour gathering all of Bridget’s belongings together and piling them up at the door. The next time she saw Thady or Mary she’d ask if they wanted them, otherwise she’d burn them.

Walking around the side of the cottage and shooing the six chickens out of her way, she gazed at her land bathed in late Spring sunshine and beyond it to her long and narrow turf bog plot. The first field fed Áine, the small black Kerry cow, and her calf. The second and third fields – full of potatoes and oats – fed her, and the oaten straw kept Áine going through winter. Any surplus eggs, butter, and milk was sold at the weekly market five miles away in Kilbarry.

On acquiring Tommy Gilleen as a tenant, following John’s death, they had come to an agreement that Tommy would help her with both the oats and the turf in return for her help on his bog and a slight reduction in the rent. She had an income, she had food, and she had fuel. She nodded to herself, she’d be all right.

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Buy Brotherly Love for

Kindle

Or read it FREE with 

download

Buy the Brotherly Love paperback at:

Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  Blackwell’s  BookDepository  Wordery  McNallyRobinson  Fishpond  Booktopia  BooksAMillion

If you buy the paperback edition from Amazon, you can buy the Kindle edition for just 99p or 99cents. It’s perfect for presents – a paperback gift for them – a kindle treat for you!  

Amazon ASIN: B01NCR1FNN

Print ISBN: 9781541002692

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Irish Holy Wells

holywell

Holy wells are places of religious devotion where people come to pray and leave simple offerings. The surviving names of many wells are a direct translation into English of the equivalent in Irish and the term for holy well in Irish is either Tobar Beannaithe, literally meaning ‘holy well’, or Tobar Naofa, meaning ‘saintly well’.

The healing power of water is recorded in the earliest sagas and holy wells were pagan sacred sites which became christianised and the legends associated with the wells were incorporated into the lives of Irish saints. These wells then became the focal point for the celebration of the ‘patron’ or saint associated with a parish or townland. Many legends relating to a particular well tell that the saint linked with the well used the water of the well to baptise converts from paganism to christianity which bestowed a blessing on that well. Days of special devotion were associated with many wells, usually on the feast day of the particular saint, a day which became known as Pattern (Patron) Day.

Many holy wells specialised in the curing of specific diseases and these are often reflected in the names given to the wells: Tobar na nGealt (Well of the Insane); Tobar na Súl (Eye Well) and Tobar na Plaighe (Well of the Plague). At some wells it was traditional to bathe a diseased part of the body with a piece of cloth. The piece of cloth was then attached to a nearby ‘rag tree’ – usually an ash, hawthorn, holly, or oak – in the belief that as the rag rots away, the illness does, too. In many cases, the piece of cloth was red as it was believed that the red colour would defy the power of evil spirits.

A ‘round’ or ‘station’ was also performed in order to receive a requested favour or cure of a particular ailment. This involves particular prayers being said while walking around the well an odd number of times in the direction of the sun, and drinking or bathing in the waters at specific intervals.

Under the Penal Laws, Catholics were forbidden to gather for mass in churches, so altars were erected beside holy wells and mass was said there in secret. In the early 19th century, Catholic Emancipation saw greater religious freedoms given to Catholics in Ireland and resulted in attendances declining at many holy wells in favour of churches. Drunkenness and faction fighting had also become common at holy wells on Pattern Days and both the Catholic clergy and the civil authorities discouraged attendance at wells. The result was a further decline in the popularity of wells. Holy wells are still popular today, people all over Ireland visit ‘shrines’ or holy wells looking for favours, offering thanksgiving, or paying penance.

old-man-at-holy-well

The old man at the Holy Well

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_sqaure-400x400

Excerpt:

The people of Doon Parish flocked to St Mary’s Well on May Day, where Mass was celebrated. Afterwards, there would be music and dancing, and it was one of the many social events of the summer.    

Caitriona was determined to get there early and set off in plenty of time. Leaving the village, she was delighted to see Father Liam and Michael Warner walking ahead of her. She quickened her pace and they turned, hearing someone approach. On seeing it was a woman, both men touched their hats.      

“Oh, Mrs Brady, I’m delighted you’re coming this year.” Father Warner nodded at her.

“The past is buried now, Father,” she replied clearly. “It’s time to look to the future.”      

“I’m glad to hear that, Mrs Brady, I really am.”      

Crossing the stretch of bog and then climbing up a steep slope to reach the holy well field, Caitriona stumbled unintentionally and felt Michael Warner’s hand on her arm, guiding her along. She glanced up at him and smiled gratefully. He returned a weak smile and looked away but didn’t let her go.  

Arriving at the well, they saw people doing ‘the rounds’ – walking around it while reciting prayers – while at the other end of the large field, stalls had been set up selling whiskey, ale, and bread.      

“They’re supposed to be coming to this well to pray,” Father Warner muttered and exhaled an angry sigh. “I told them all that.” Leaving Caitriona and Michael together, he began preparing for the Mass.      

Michael pointed to a flat rock. “Would you like to sit there until the Mass starts?”                                                      

“Yes, thank you,” she replied. “I’m a bit out of breath after the climb.”      

“Were we walking too fast?”      

“No, not at all.” She went to the rock and sat down, making room for him to sit beside her. “I’m just a bit out of practice. Except for the market in Kilbarry every week, I didn’t get out very much these last few months.” She patted her chest. “I’ll have to dance later, and try and get fit again. That’s if your brother doesn’t object.” She laughed.      

Michael smiled. “No. I’d even go as far as to say that you’ll be seeing him have the odd glass of whiskey later on, no matter what he says now. He’s not one for the dancing, though.”      

“Are you?” she asked and he flushed, turning away as a large group of men passed them, doffing their hats to her but she barely noticed them as she waited for his answer.      

“I used to be.” He looked back at her. “I’m a bit out of practice, too. Would you dance with me later, Mrs Brady?”                        

Her heart leapt and she gazed into his eyes – beautiful and brown. She allowed him to see her blush and nodded.      

“I would be very honoured to dance with you later, Mr Warner,” she replied softly.      

“Thank you,” he replied, before they turned their attention to his brother who was asking everyone to gather around him for the Mass. He took her arm again and they moved forward, kneeling down to pray together.

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Pattern Day in Ireland

nov162

An Irish ‘Patern’ at Balla County Mayo – The ‘Long station’, engraved by Eugène Froment, in The Graphic 11 (23 January 1875).

The word pattern is derived from the Irish Patrun or English Patron and most Irish parishes had a patron saint. On the saint’s feast day, parishioners celebrated what was known as a Pattern Day at a holy well or another holy site.

Devotions at holy wells began with making what was called ‘the rounds.’ The people would walk around the well a certain number of times while saying special prayers. Part of the ritual included drinking the water and bathing with it. It was thought that water from a holy well had healing powers and some wells became famous for curing specific ailments.

Patterns were a common part of Irish rural tradition until the reforms of Cardinal Paul Cullen in the 1850s. The clergy had opposed the excesses of these celebrations – the (faction) fighting, the drunkenness, and the immorality. They also criticised the popular belief in the magical powers of holy wells and other holy sites.

This opposition had gained impetus in the late eighteenth century and bishops began to issue edicts forbidding the people to participate in such festivals. Pilgrimages did decline but this was due to the Famine and social change. It also coincided with the opening of schools and a decline in the Irish language. As the Irish language and culture waned, the traditional lore and rituals faded as well.

battle-of-the-factions

Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.

Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?

brotherly_love_print_jpg

Excerpt:

As Father Liam Warner celebrated the Mass, he stole glances behind him and noted two things. His brother and Mrs Brady were kneeling very close together and almost all the men in the congregation had blackthorn sticks at their side. His heart sank twice over.

Once the Mass ended, he watched as Michael and Mrs Brady returned to the rock on which they had been sitting before. He then turned as the rest of the congregation parted into two distinct groups – the Bradys, in honour of Mrs Brady’s late husband – and the Donnellans – in honour of Malachy Donnellan – their leader and champion. Once the alcohol started to flow there would be trouble, he knew it, despite all he had warned them.

He wearily turned back to Michael and Mrs Brady. It was clear they were attracted to each other and he grimaced. He didn’t want his brother to become involved with a woman whose name was synonymous with violence and death in the locality. Soon after his arrival in the parish, he’d had to bury three men who had been battered to death by the Bradys. Then, he learned what had happened to John Brady himself two years ago. Oh, Michael, he thought angrily, don’t be a fool and get involved with her, no matter what she says about her hating the fighting. She’s dangerous, even if she doesn’t realise it herself.

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 Buy Brotherly Love for

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Or read it FREE with 

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Buy the Brotherly Love paperback at:

Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  Blackwell’s  BookDepository  Wordery  McNallyRobinson  Fishpond  Booktopia  BooksAMillion

If you buy the paperback edition from Amazon, you can buy the Kindle edition for just 99p or 99cents. It’s perfect for presents – a paperback gift for them – a kindle treat for you!  

Amazon ASIN: B01NCR1FNN

Print ISBN: 9781541002692

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Photo credit: The British Library via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions