I’m delighted to welcome my first guest on the Five Photos feature – author Paula Martin. Paula lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Over to you, Paula.
Choosing just 5 photos from the thousands I have taken over the years isn’t an easy task! However, I’ve decided on 5 from my first visit to the west of Ireland ten years ago. I fell in love with the scenery, the coast, the small towns and villages, the history, and, of course, the people. At that time, I hadn’t started writing novels again, but eventually, after about a dozen more visits to Ireland, I knew I had to set a story there – and the first one was followed by three more, plus the one I am currently writing.
This is the western part of County Galway, an area of breath-taking mountain scenery, hundreds of small lakes (loughs) and a stunning rugged coastline with beautiful bays and beaches. On my very first visit, Connemara captured my heart, and always draws me back every time I visit Ireland.
The ‘capital’ of Connemara, Clifden is a small but lively town nestled at the head of a narrow bay, between the ‘Twelve Bens’ (one of the mountain ranges) and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a centre for many different kinds of outdoor sports, has a wide variety of shops, and, of course, a good number of genuine Irish pubs, many offering traditional music in the evenings. What better way to end a busy day than to sit with a pint in your hand, tapping your foot to jigs and reels played on fiddles, wooden flutes and bodhran drums?
The ‘Quiet Man’ Cottage.
The 1952 movie, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was filmed in Connemara and in the neighbouring County Mayo. This cottage, in the village of Cong, wasn’t the one that was used in the film, but has been furnished in a similar way, and also has many photos and newspaper articles from the time when the village was practically ‘taken over’ by the film crew. On one visit to the cottage, I was glancing through the ‘Visitors’ Book’ (as you do!) and saw that Maureen O’Hara herself had visited the previous day! When we asked about this, we were told that she often came up to Cong whenever she was staying at her house in the south of Ireland – presumably re-living past memories? I stored this in my mind, and used a similar ‘signature in a guest book’ in one of my Irish novels.
The Cliffs of Moher
These spectacular and majestic cliffs are Ireland’s most visited outdoor attraction, rising vertically over 500 feet for about 5 miles. I could stand for hours watching and listening to the Atlantic waves crashing against the base of the cliffs, and the hundreds of seabirds wheeling and diving around the cliffs.
Sunset on Galway Bay
The beautiful Irish song about Galway Bay has the lines:
If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
then maybe at the closing of your day,
you can sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh,
and see the sun go down on Galway Bay.
On my very first visit to Galway, that’s exactly what I did see. From a small beach not far from the city of Galway, we watched the sun going down on the bay – one of the most stunning and beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
Thank you for sharing your photos, Paula. I’ve really enjoyed looking at them, and learning more about these beautiful Irish locations.
Paula’s ‘Mist Na Mara’ series of 4 books was first published by Rebecca J.Vickery Publishing, and is being re-published on November 13, 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing.
Find out more about Paula on her website.