Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The Irish are notorious for spinning a wee tale or two when it comes to legend and lore. And being Irish, I’ve been known to weave a little extra yarn into a story for a dash of color. Humor is the spice of life. Regaling over age old legends in front of a roaring fire with a cup o’ tea or Irish coffee keeps tradition alive from generation to generation. Some of the things associated with St. Patrick’s Day are the wearing of the green, shamrocks and pots of gold—and who could forget the mischievous leprechaun?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th. And if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s the spinning of favorite myths while regaling the day. Here are a few fables we can count on:

THE WEARING OF THE GREEN
Green shamrocks, green t-shirts, green party hats, green beer, green everything!
The color green in any form on March 17th will bring good luck.

But as much fun as we have with the color green on St. Paddy’s Day, the deepest origin represents the coming of spring when the earth is reborn with new grass, budding trees and flowers after a long, harsh winter.

THE SHAMROCK
Wear a shamrock on your left lapel and you will be blessed all year with the wink of St. Patrick himself
This is fun and we all partake in it, but the true meaning of the shamrock, the three-leaf flower of Ireland, was used by St. Patrick to demonstrate the Trinity.

THE SHILLELAGH
Shake this stick and ward off bad luck and evil spirits
All fun and games aside, this club was used by the ancient Druids and thought to have the ability to shake it at the dead and bring them back to life.

CROCK OF GOLD
Associated with the wee folk stealing the pot of gold and hiding it—and finding it over the rainbow.
But the pot of gold is associated with the goddess Cerridwen, worshiped by the Druids. And when Cerridwen’s gold was stolen and transported from Irish soil to Britain soil, it was gone but never forgotten.

LEPRECHAUN
Spot a wee cobbler on St. Patrick’s Day and good fortune will befall. Rub the belly of a leprechaun on St. Paddy’s Day and you will come into great wealth and fortune. Trick a leprechaun and steal his lucky charms and riches will bestow.
But in reality, the leprechauns were wee gods, mean little creatures with shaggy red beards, tart mouths, born with the ability to steal a pot of gold in the blink of an eye and never get caught. It is believed the leprechauns stole Cerridwen’s gold.

ST. PATRICK BANISHING SNAKES OUT OF IRELAND
We’ve all heard the one about St. Patrick standing atop the Croagh Patrick and shaking a stick at the snakes, sending them all into the sea.
In reality, there were never any snakes in Ireland. Snakes are associated with evil Druids and black magic. The fable of St. Patrick chasing all the snakes out of Ireland refers to his chasing the Druids out and spreading Christianity throughout the land.

And that’s what St. Patrick’s Day represents, bringing Christianity to a land ruled by ancient gods and druids. And the man responsible for doing this is St. Patrick, born Magonus Sccatus, later christened Patricus Thought to be born in either Scotland or Great Britain, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and sold to a sheep herder in Ireland where he was held in captivity for six years. But one night he escaped by boat, returning to his homeland. But deeply haunted by some of the things he’d witnessed in Ireland, human sacrifices made to ancient gods, many of which were children, Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary where he lived until his death. And because of the tireless efforts of one man spreading the word of God despite the risk of persecution, Patrick won the war when he drove the druids out of Ireland.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanting land, rich in culture and tradition. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to green rolling hills and long stretches of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on the hillsides of the misty mountains, it’s like stepping back in time.

A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filmed here. 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 areas of the island. But the best part of the trip was learning the significance of The Claddag, which has an ancient 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 original Claddagh Ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the first ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original ring was brought back to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith.

But whatever the case, the tradition of The Claddah has lived on for the past several centuries. And in today’s materialistic world where love and friendship are taken far too lightly, the significance of The Claddagh Ring has strengthened.

The Claddagh is said to bring eternal love and lasting friendship to its wearer. The design consists of two hands holding a heart and a crown on top of the heart. The heart represents love, the hands friendship—and the crown designates loyalty. But in order for the ring to cast its mystical spell, it needs to be worn in a certain way.
If worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, this means the heart is open to love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, it means the wearer is taken. But when the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found true love for all eternity and will be forever blessed.

Being part Irish, I was born with a superstitious nature. Totally awed by this legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring, a White Rose rosette of 34 pages. Because I had the pleasure of touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare.

The Atlantic 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 dominate these rugged 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 at my back and the sun on my face, I truly enjoyed writing 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?


Excerpt

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 Irish 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!
www.thewildrosepress.com

To see the book trailer, visit my website:
www.sharonadonovan.comm

CLADDAGH RING CONTEST

February 25-March 17
Visit my website for contest rules
Winner to be announced St. Patrick’s Day!
And will receive…

A CLADDAGH RING!

10 comments:

Skhye said...

Wonderful post! Everyone make certain to stop by http://blog.skhyemoncrief.com tomorrow to win 8 Celtic WRP favorites! There will be 8 winners!

And luck o' the Irish to ye! ~Skhye

Sharon Donovan said...

Hey Skhye! Thanks for stopping by. I love anything to do with legend and lore. And they're great ads for storylines.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Mary Ricksen said...

Great post. I learned more in you post than I ever knew before. My Irish mother gave me a ring many years ago and I still have it.
She is a firm believe in the things you spoke about. My grandfather was a member of the IRA and had to leave Ireland because he was a wanted man there. He told her stories that she has told us over and over again. And it's funny how each one has just a tad bit of a different spin.
I loved this post!

Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Sharon, Thank you for this wonderful post! I am going to a St Patrick's Day potluck tomorrow and am about to get busy making vegetarian Shepherd's Pie. Your post got me in the perfect mood.

I read The Claddagh Ring when it was first released and loved it. A great St. Patty's Day read.

Blessings, Teri

Teri Wilson ~ Romancing the pet lover's soul

www.teriwilson.net

Rose said...

Sharon,

Great post! I learned quite a few new things about St. Patrick.

I liked the blurb too.

Best of luck,
Rose

Sharon Donovan said...

Hey Mary! You always make me laugh with your mom's Irish stories. And it sounds like you have the real-life makings of some good stories for the St. Patrick's Day line. Love to hear them. And isn't that the truth about adding a wee spin every time an Irish legend is regaled. I guess that's what keeps them alive generation after generation. What fun would life be if it were the same old...same old. What do ya think?

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Teri! Thanks for stopping by and for reading The Claddagh Ring. Glad you liked it. Hmm. Vegetarian Shepher'd Pie? I'd love to have the recipe. Sounds good. I actually had it in Ireland one night because they served Irish stew which is made out of lamb--opposed to beef. No way could I eat lamb with all those sweet little sheep grazing on the misty mountains of Ireland. Sniff sniff. Enjoy the day and congratulations on getting the first white rose contract! Cheers!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Rose, thanks for dropping in to say hi. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. I love tradition of any holiday, but have a real soft spot for St. Patty's Day. Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Mary Ricksen said...

Boy do I have to check my posts for missing letters before I hit that button. Tis' probably the wee people tryin' tae make me a fool.

Now that you mention it, I'm gonna put my own spin on a few of those tales. I can remember my uncle Francis, he would tell us the Banshee would come for us if we didn't behave. I almost missed getting into that coach dozens of times!

Sharon Donovan said...

Gotta watch out for the wee ones. They're always lookin' to pull a fast one! I think your stories would be a real tribute to "Ireland forever!" My aunt used to have an herb garden in the shape of a Celtic cross. And she swore her garden wouldn't grow without the blessing of St. Patrick and the wink of the wee leprechaun to ward off those pesky insects. So both kept vigil and it must have worked. Her garden thrived until she was in her 80s.