Ireland: A Landscape Built in Dreams

The Lagan, near Belfast after a rain

All my early books about Ireland were written looking from my window at the rain-parched landscape of central Texas. If ever I needed an inner eye, an active imagination, it was when Caylith and her immigrants first walked on the soil of Éire–when they embarked from their little skin-clad currachs from the bay where today stands the city of Belfast at the juncture of the Irish Sea and the lovely Lagan River.      

From there, I needed to envision the lush rolling hills, the green bogland, the cattle-dotted land between the coast and the huge Lough Neagh, Ireland’s largest lake. And the home of Father Patrick, the famous hill of Emain Macha, had to be not just distinctive but awe-inspiring–the place where the faith of a whole nation was born through the dedication of a man and his ever-widening ministry.

A panoramic view of the Hill of Macha, showing a modern roundhouse on the top
The Foyle not far from Derry

On the hill of Macha I set a large clay-and-wattle roundhouse and a perpetual bonfire, a reminder by Patrick to the people of Christ’s immortality. Even though that fire was my own creation, still it seems a logical fixture in the place where the later saint started his ministry.

Once Caylith and the pilgrims made their inland trek north to Derry, the settlement they built along the River Foyle, she naturally sought out the swift river and the large rocks imbedded along the bank and in the water itself. There she could fish for salmon and trout as she lay on a large rock, daydreaming as the cold, flashing currents swirled and leapt their way to the lake beyond, and from there to the northern sea.

The mighty Foyle, swiftest river in Éire

Many of my visions were mental ones. Writing that first romance, Storm Maker, I did not know how to navigate the web, how to instantly call forth the photos I show today. I’m surprised now, in retrospect, how close my imagination came to reality. And in some locales, I’m shamed at the disparity between the site and my inner perspective of the place.

One view of Trawbreaga Bay, Inishowen

Never mind.  The sites are vivid to me each time I re-read the passages where, for instance, in The Wakening Fire Caylith and Liam stopped on their way to Limavady and conceived their first-born under a red-berried holly. Or the winding bay, the lovely Trawbreaga Bay in Inishowen, where the two of them washed off the stench of their captured enemy in Storm Maker; and where later, in Fire & Silk, a future king established his first domain.

As the books continued and my ability on the computer improved, I was able to see actual photos of the treacherous Tory Island that figured so prominently in Captive Heart, the pyramidal Mt. Errigal with its rose-quartz color at sunset, the fingers of lightning that plague the north coast of modern Donegal, and much more, in Fire & Silk.

A rocky strand on Trawbreaga Bay

And yet, even with photos in front of me, I still needed to walk the land and sift the soil between my fingers. I needed to see the broken-knife shapes of the rocks on Tory and imagine them as resurrected warriors. I needed to see through the eyes of a future king the hill fort overlooking the Swilly River, and much more.

And so, even though these photos capture part of the spirit of my books, I can honestly say that my imaginary landscape is lovely and compelling too.

Mt. Errigal seems to reflect its color back to the clouds.

I’ll leave this flight of fancy with my imaginary waterfall on Mt. Errigal, as Mariana saw it:

She stood under a tall, rough escarpment, one that lay at an angle that would shield this low ground from the force of the prevailing wind. And then her ear was caught by a growl so continual and insistent that it took her several seconds to understand that a waterfall flowed from the bluff, hidden by a line of nearby tall pines. Enthralled, she walked toward the sound.

Emerging from the trees, she stood openmouthed. She had never seen a waterfall before. This one arched from the highest part of the bluff, catching the sunlight in its crystal sprays, tumbling and singing down the side of Errigal like a jeweled ornament. She soon understood the roar as a series of sounds—the rush of the water itself, the pounding of waves on rock, the echo it made as it tumbled and fell from Errigal’s thighs. Yes, she agreed with Flann. Errigal was a woman. She was a wanton, a beguiler, a siren, and a summoner of men. For the first time, she began to form an idea of Flann’s attraction to this place. 

As far as Flann goes,

He was walking into [a] recurrent dream. He wanted Mariana to see his mountain, his waterfall, through his eyes. Would the myriad diamonds of the cascades reflect back in her eyes? Or would the flashing brilliance of her eyes jump and swirl in his waterfall? He ached to find out.

Please come with me to ancient Éire and experience the landscape for yourself–both the real one and the one conjured in my dreams.

“Baylor’s Teeth” on Tory Island

The Dawn of Ireland Trilogy http://amzn.to/2pxBRGY
Storm Maker
The Wakening Fire
Captive Heart
Fire & Silk… To be re-released

The Iron Warrior trilogy
Warrior, Ride Hard
Warrior, Stsnd Tall…
Warrior, Come Again

Stag Heart (sequel to Warrior, Come Again), set on the sacred Hill of Tara, site of mischief and mayhem:

  https://is.gd/bQK5lo  (all links, reviews, #explicit #excerpt)


Kindle US https://is.gd/G6elnN  

Kindle UK https://is.gd/ocon0O  

SeaToSky https://is.gd/MrfeiG  (pdf or epub)

Smashwords https://is.gd/vU7yxi  (epub)




The fire today!

The Wakening Fire is available right now at the publisher’s site,

http://www.bookstrand.com/the-wakening-fire  (buy link)

Installment Two:  Caylith and Liam begin to experiment not just with the new language they share, but also the new state of marriage. Liam drinks too  much barley beer, opening a  new vista for Caylith who begins to understand  that her husband is deeply desirous of even more than she has been giving him.

Today, as always, Liam felt himself to be the hunter, and I the hunted. I was the deer to his swift arrow. Seeming to ignore his passion, I saw it clearly—the arrow flying to its mark. At that split second my weak defense became a steel barrier, and the arrow shot straight up, for my own weapon guided his skyward. Then my bata was resting lightly on the crown of his head. Captured! Who is the hunter, O Liam, and who the hunted?

At that instant, Liam and I reached out to each other, our eyes riveted on each other. Our mouths began to bite and lick and kiss with an untamable intensity. He gathered me up in his arms, strode to our house, and roughly pushed the door open. He turned and closed it with one foot, his mouth traveling all over my face and shoulders, and then he swiftly moved to the bed. He did not lay me down but stood me up on the floor beside the bed.

He pulled down his bríste, stepping out of them as though shedding an old skin. He stood before me with an erection so swollen that my knees turned to water. Still he said nothing, reaching out to my shoulders and pulling the deerskin down almost to my nipples.

“Say it, Cat.” His voice was thick with passion.

I stood before him with my entire body humming and alive, craving his mouth, craving his groin. “I am hungry for you,” I said. I could hardly talk.

He pulled the tunic down to my waist in one sudden movement, and he seized one breast. He took almost the entire breast into his mouth and then noisily, slowly came off it, lingering on the nipple. Then he seized the other breast and did the same, all the while I was crying out and moaning loudly.

“Eat you,” he said with a gruffness that almost frightened me. He picked me up and stood me on the elevated bed. His hands at my waist, he pulled the deerskin down to my ankles and leaned into me, both hands on my butt.


A fiery beginning

The second of Erin O’Quinn’s Dawn of Ireland trilogy is about to burst into flame . . .

  Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Called The Wakening Fire, this novel takes us from the marriage bed of Caylith and Liam to the deathbed of a woman with a momentous secret . . . then beyond, to the famous Paschal Fires lit by Father Patrick within sight of the high king’s own Beltane ritual fires.

Installment One:

The romance between impetuous Caylith and her wild clansman husband has just gotten more tantalizing, as both of them begin to explore the heady world of marital sex. Liam begins to teach her what he likes in bed; and Caylith, quick to learn, casts aside some of her natural modesty to enjoy her new husband.

He raised up a bit and tugged at his breeches, and I helped him, moving them down slowly over his butt. He impatiently kicked them off and knelt over me again. Then, rising and squatting, he moved so that his groin and sac dangled over me, almost at my head. “Suck me,” he said roughly. I was both shocked and aroused, for he had never spoken so directly before. I raised my head and caught his groin in my mouth, stroking his velvet-skinned testicles. He thrust himself again and again. “Suck me,” he moaned, and I knew the beer was speaking.

I thought we would end our lovemaking that way, but he suddenly stopped and gathered me into his arms and stood up. He set me not on the bed, but on the bench, and then he straddled me, pushing himself into me, moving up and down with his strong legs. “Yes,” I breathed, for the rhythm was just right, and he was hot inside me.

“Say it,” Liam said, moving up and down.

“Love me.”

“No.” He leaned until his mouth was in my ear, and he stopped moving. “Say it.” I was angry at him again for stopping, and I tried to thrust myself against him, but he was sitting on me and I could not move. His tongue in my ear, he breathed, “Say it, Cat.”

I whispered the crude, forbidden words in his ear, and he seemed to explode, moaning and moving, and I knew then that he was as aroused by my own words as I was by his.

 Buy link:


Here’s a treat for everyone: The Celtic Rose is a luscious, well written site devoted to all things Celtic. I invite you to visit the blog and to leave a comment:


Slán, Erin