St. Patrick and Easter

A Light in the Darkness

One of my favorite stories about St. Patrick revolves around Easter. In ancient Ireland feast days were launched the night before with a massive fire. In a world without electricity, an outdoor fire must have been visible for miles, a call to the gathering.

The story says that on the eve of the festival of Beltane, the king ordered all fires to be extinguished so that only his ceremonial fire burned on the Hill of Slane.

On the Hill of Slane
From My Visit photo©Cindy Thomson

However, it was also Easter and Patrick and his followers lit their Easter fire. As dark as the night was, that fire could easily be spotted, so the king sent his men to punish these lawbreakers. But God was on Patrick’s side, and he and his followers turned into a herd of deer (shapeshifting was a talent for powerful druids, thus the tale gave a nod to the influence Patrick had.) Thus concealed, Patrick and his followers passed by the army without harm.

This story is beautifully told by John Doan. Watch it below and enjoy his music.

 

Cooking for St. Patrick’s Day

Photo by Maryade

What To Do

For people like me who aren’t interested in going to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day (despite the fact that we’ll surely miss some great music) cooking something traditionally Irish is what we do to celebrate.

I will probably make Irish stew. Since we’re gluten-free and mostly dairy-free here at our house, my options are limited. But I found a great recipe on IrishAmericanMom.com, which is the place you should look if you’re interested in authentic Irish dishes.

Here’s My Stew Recipe

https://www.irishamericanmom.com/2018/01/04/farmhouse-beef-stew/

This is what I’ll be making, thanks to Mairéad, a woman I met briefly when she stopped by my table at the Dublin Irish Festival one year. Her site is definitely worth following.

Irish Soda Bread

https://www.irishamericanmom.com/2012/03/08/irish-raisin-soda-bread/

I’ve made this in the past. Easy, and worth trying, although not as good as what you’ll get in Ireland. I’m told our flour in America is not the same, and who am I to argue? I’ve been to Ireland. Their bread is better.

Here’s What I Want to Make

http://www.grouprecipes.com/112491/irish-northern-irish-potato-bread.html

I’ve had this potato bread in Northern Ireland. I’ve truly never gotten it out of my mind since. I will have to try to a gluten-free version. Wish me luck!

And Speaking of Potatoes

photo by Diane Duane

In Ireland we saw bags of potatoes stacked outside businesses. They had unique names. I had no idea what that meant…that is, until I read Mairéad’s post about the different varieties of potatoes in Ireland that we don’t have here in the U.S. Next time I visit I will definitely try some. Here is a link to her post.

Are you cooking for St. Patrick’s Day? Let me know in the comments and we’d all love links too!

 

 

 

Happy St. Brigid’s Day! (and a giveaway!)

The drawing is over. Robyn was the winner. Thanks for your entries!St. Brigid Stained Glass in IrelandWhy St. Brigid?

I got interested in her long ago. That’s why I wrote my first published novel about her. Wow, it’s been 12 years this March! Today is St. Brigid’s Day!

How I’m Celebrating

I decided to post on Facebook seven of my favorite things about St. Brigid, one of three patron saints of Ireland. I hope you’ll follow. You can find the posts on my Facebook author page here: www.facebook.com/cindyswriting I’ll be posting links to blog articles I’ve written in past years on things like her special cross, her incredible generosity, her connection to spring, and more!

Her Legends Live On

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

Ebook, Book One, Daughters of Ireland

The fact is, there are a lot of people like me who are fascinated by the stories of St. Brigid. Brigid of Ireland is still finding an audience even 12 years later. That fact blesses me beyond belief. I hope you’ll want to learn more. She’s had an influence on all my books in one way or another. Have you noticed? If so, please comment and tell me how. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a wee St. Brigid’s charm! (If you live beyond the U.S., you can still win but will have to pay for postage.) Drawing will be held Feb. 8 and winner must contact me in 24 hours.

Blessings to you!

A Sad But Romantic Story From My Genealogy Research

A True Story

This weekend I uncovered such a touching story and I mentioned I’d found something on Facebook. Many of you are wondering what it was. So now, I’ll tell you. It’s a story from the Thomson family about one of my husband’s distant cousins.

First, How We Found It

It’s true, I got Tom hooked on family research. His long-ago cousins helped, though. One, Clement Rutter Thomson, recorded some family history and put it in a book. Over 200 hand written pages recorded in 1888. And he found it in the State of Ohio Library right here in Ohio. I mean, who has that kind of luck! (I  might be a little jealous.)

However, most of it is not about his direct line. It’s still a fascinating history, though. He’s been trying to connect some dots. When his grandpa was living he wrote down some family history that he’d been told. It goes back to the 16th century in Scotland, but we haven’t so far been able to verify it. In Grandpa’s notes, he said his uncle had found this Scottish information in the library and gave his research to his eldest nephew. So, we thought we’d try to trace this nephew who by now had to be deceased, but maybe he had kids and grandkids and they had it. We discovered he only had one son, who was named after him, both them being Burdette Thomson. Fortunately not a common first name. And then we discovered that Burdette Jr. had also passed away leaving no children. He is buried in Ohio, but had died in Florida in 2003. His wife, Christa, died in 1963.

Christa Made the Newspaper

Someone on Ancestry typed out the newspaper story that appeared in April 1960. I discovered that several papers across the country carried it. It explained why there were no children. Here it is:

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Christa Thomson holds her breath each time she strokes a canvas with her brush. She paints with her teeth.

Paralyzed from the shoulders down, the pretty 34-year-old German refugee has solved the problem of enforced idleness.

Four years ago she and her fiance, Burdette Thomson Jr., went swimming at nearby Indian Lake. Christa dived into shallow water and broke her neck.

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3 of My Favorite Research Tools Plus a Giveaway!

How I Research

People often ask me how I do my research. I’m currently finishing my third novel set in ancient Ireland, so I’ll talk a little about that. There are many resources and books that people have written over the years. I have several bookshelves full of them. But today, I thought I’d share just three and also give one of them away!

In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English

Both the book and the accompanying DVD are excellent. It spans 9000BC to the twelfth century when the Norman Invasions occurred. For my novels I was most interested in the middle part, but it’s so engaging and well written that I enjoyed it all. Here is why (copied from Amazon)

In Search of Ancient Ireland is not simply the story of events from long ago. Across Ireland today are festivals, places, and folk customs that provide a tangible link to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places and festivals, talking to a wide variety of historians, scholars, poets, and storytellers in the very settings where history happened.

A Social History of Ancient Ireland by P.W. Joyce

You can read this free online. Click here. But I enjoy having the two volumes of these in print. I also have A Smaller Social History, which is an abbreviated edition. That book is the first printing in 1908. Patrick Weston Joyce was a nineteenth-century Irish historian. According to Wikipedia In 1856 he was one of fifteen teachers selected to re-organize the national school system in Ireland. He published several books, but these are my favorites because they tell me most of what I needed to know about how the people dressed, what their laws and education were like, what rights women had, what their religions were like and much more!

Public domain from Wikipedia

The Ancient Books of Ireland by Michael Slavin

If you’ve read my Daughters of Ireland Series, particularly Pages of Ireland, you know how important the ancient books were. This book, with photos of pages of the actual historical books, was helpful in helping me understand which books held what information and what the history of each one (throughout the ages) was. It’s not widely available now, but copies can be found.

Only the Tip of the Iceberg

Of course there were many other sources I studied, but these three were by far my favorites and the most helpful. If you want to know more about this time period, check them out. If you want a short synopsis of the early Christian time period of Ireland, see my book The Roots of Irish Wisdom. Only 8.99 in print and 2.99 on Kindle.

The Roots of Irish Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Now the Giveaway!

I thought you’d enjoy the DVD mentioned above, so I’m running this contest for a copy. US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sneak Peek at My Work-in-Progress

Flickr by Seth Sawyers

I get it. Many of you are curious about what I’m writing. You want to get a feel for what the next novel will be like. You’ve probably already heard the title, Enya’s Son. You might even know it’s based on legends and mentions in ancient Irish manuscripts about St. Columba (Columcille) and his mother.

So I thought I might give you a sneak peek. Here it is, beginning with a partial sentence. (Sorry, it’s a screenshot, and besides, I don’t want to reveal too much.) 🙂

 

Today’s Research: Sunrises

Pausing to Research

Quite often as I’m writing, I realize that to describe something I need to better understand it, or even see it. I know some writers do not pause. They just make a note to come back to it later. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I must pause. And so I did today.

YouTube Research

Of course, I’d rather be in Ireland, but since I can’t be today, many times YouTube is the next best thing. I thought you might like to experience it with me, so below is the video that I hope will inspire a good description. I’m on Chapter 23!