Category Archives: Ireland

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

On the Hill of Slane ©Cindy Thomson

On the Hill of Slane ©Cindy Thomson

Remembering the Patron Saint

Yes, there are three patron saints of Ireland. You’ve probably heard me say that before: St. Patrick, St. Brigid, and St. Columba. But most people associate St. Patrick with Ireland, and legends extoll his bravery and evangelical spirit. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, and while he was not the first Christian there—pockets of Christianity may have existed on the island for decades prior to Patrick’s arrival—he probably did the most to give the religion a firm stronghold. If you’d like a short history on Patrick and all the ancient Irish saints, please pick up a copy of my book, The Roots of Irish Wisdom.

One Important Lesson

Why St. Patrick's own words should be read today. Click To TweetIf you don’t learn anything else about the saint, this one lesson is enough. From his own words in his Confession:

…daily I expect to be murdered or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises.

Why? Because after Patrick was enslaved in Ireland, escaped back to Britain, and educated in the religious order as a bishop, he returned to Ireland, the place of his captivity. Why? Because in a dream an angel came to him and delivered a letter. The letter said, “The Voice of the Irish.” And he heard the Irish people calling to him, “Come, holy boy, and walk among us again.” He felt he had to go. Those people needed the God he knew.

“But I fear nothing because of the promise of Heaven; for I have cast myself into the hand of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere…

Oh, to have such faith and trust!

Following Patrick’s Footsteps

From The Roots of Irish Wisdom: “It was in Saul that Patrick is said to have first preached in Ireland. At the summit of nearby Slieve Patrick stands a statue of the saint erected in the 1930’s. Visitors can make a pilgrimage there…A reconstructed church with round tower stands in Saul on the site where it is believed Patrick founded a church in a barn. (See picture below.)

When I went to Ireland I visited many of the sites associated with St. Patrick. Saul is my favorite, a thin place where you can sense the worship of so many souls who were there before you.

Church at Saul

But you do not have to go to Ireland to follow Patrick’s way, although I hope you do. Reading his words, hearing his story, and thinking about your own legacy and how it can be shared is all that is necessary. To read his Confession: go here. To read the other writing we know is from his hand, go here.

A Blessing to Take With You

As he brought new faith to Ireland so may he bring to you a touch of Irish happiness in everything you do; and like the good St. Patrick, may your home and life be blessed, with all God’s special favors which make you happiest.

Irish shamrock photo by Genese Blomquist Sweeney

Irish shamrock photo by Genese Blomquist Sweeney

The Pursuit

The Journey of a Book

4222f-img_0583Writing is a definitely a creative pursuit, but it’s not all about creating an entertaining read, although it is that. It’s about a journey, a process, a growing and ever-changing trek through the publishing wilderness. And believe me, it is wild out there. I have talked before about my seven years in the writing desert. During that time I thought I was wandering hopelessly about, but in fact there was a plan and Brigid of Ireland would not be my only novel. It’s that uncertainty that makes a writer’s life a journey.

 

 

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

When my advanced copies of Grace’s Pictures arrived, I thought my wandering in the writing desert was over.

The Detours

The thing about journeys is they are usually unpredictable. As soon as you decide you know how things will be, they change. This can be upsetting. People don’t like change, not much anyway. This perspective is sometimes altered by taking a trip. Take for instance these photographs below from my 2013 trip to Ireland. We were visiting St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Clonfert. We went looking for that because I’ve been intrigued by St. Brendan’s journey for some time. I’d seen photographs of this lovely building, and it was a wonder to see up close.

IMG_1132 IMG_1133

But then, just a few steps away, I spotted this.

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We went inside after those ladies there were finished and followed the path. It wove around in the woods and past a few spots where children had left toys. A sort of secret garden? And then…IMG_1152

It led to this view. Something we would have missed had we not stopped off on this detour.

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This is only one example. The BEST experiences in Ireland (and probably in many other places) is taking wrong turns and even getting lost because there is so much beauty around every corner.

The best experiences in the life of a #writer are the detours. Click To Tweet

We Are Never Truly Lost

Not if we keep looking up! A wise writer friend with tons more publishing experience than I have once told me how excited she was to find out what God had for her next. And she was sincere. I thought I’d never get to that place, but today (and it is one day at a time) I’m moving in that direction. It’s very much like life. We can plan, but we don’t have control over everything. And often, the best things are experiences and circumstances and meeting new people that we would never have imagined.

What’s your journey been like thus far? What are you looking forward to?

Book Cover Reveal!

The Roots of Irish Wisdom: Learning From Ancient Voices

The updated, revised edition of Celtic Wisdom: Treasures From Ireland is ready!

The Roots of Irish Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

What’s New

This is a paperback edition. What’s new is a bit more added information and my own black & white photographs from my trips to Ireland. Much of the book is the same as Celtic Wisdom, just updated.

How to Buy the Book

The ebook edition is on Kindle. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get it for free. The regular price is 4.99. Very soon the print edition will be available for 8.99. If you’d like a signed copy, contact me and we’ll make arrangements.

What’s So Special About This Book?

I’m biased, of course, but I think readers interested in Irish history and Celtic Christianity will enjoy this wee introduction to the men and women who brought the faith to Ireland, along with some thoughts on Celtic learning, prayer, and art.

What Are Others Saying

On Celtic Wisdom:

“Among the shelves of books available on the subject, Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson is a wonderful distillation of the important truths and legacy of Celtic Christianity.”~John Doan, Emmy-nominated composer and premier harp guitarist, storyteller, and historian.

It’s a perfect sampler for anyone interested in learning more about the Christian faith of the Celts and how it has influenced generations.~Christina on Amazon

Make Celtic Wisdom a part of your library, but leave it on the coffee table for others to pick up and enjoy as well. Only 95 pages–small, but that actually makes it more accessible for those of us who are always too hurried to sit down to a longer scholarly work. Well researched and enlightening, Celtic Wisdom is a real treasure.~Cathi on Amazon

This book is an excellent survey but hopefully it will whet your appetite to recapture the whit, wisdom and understanding of an age long forgotten by today’s urban worries. By the time you finish reading it, you will feel the mist on your skin and the peat under your feet and see a light emanating all around you! Yet, it’s a quick read, well worth your time and energy if you are seeking a new old way of approaching God.~Martin on Amazon

10 Irish Books: Reading Your Way Through St. Patrick’s Day

10 Irish Books for St. Patrick's Day! Click To Tweet

About St. Patrick

There are many history books and some fiction choices. If you really want to know the man, start with his writings. Two exist: St. Patrick’s Confession

Book of Armagh page

A facsimile page from the Book of Armagh where St. Patrick’s Confession is found. Held at Trinity College in Dublin

and his Letters to the Soldiers of Coroticus. The letter is shorter and meant as an excommunication for Coroticus whose men struck down new converts. The Confession is much longer and is a bit of a biography where we learn about the man.

“I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts.”

But of course his story does not end there. Here are some reading suggestions, in no particular order.

Fiction About St. Patrick

I read this many years ago.

1. Patrick, Son of Ireland by Stephen R. LawheadPatrick by Stephen Lawed

 

I haven’t found much out there. If you know of any St. Patrick’s novels, please leave them in the comments.

2. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola

Patrick post by Cindy Thomson

Learn About Ireland

Of course you can read many books about leprechauns, if you choose. But if you are like me and want more history, here some suggestions.

3. Celtic Wisdom, Treasures From Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Even though it’s short, I’m still proud of the early history squeezed into these page with color photographs. If you’d like an autographed copy, let me know. Click on the picture.

 

About Ireland in General

4. Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookDid you know there are three patron saints of Ireland? (If you’ve read Celtic Wisdom, you do know that!) I still have print copies of Brigid of Ireland, or you can get one on your Kindle (or the Kindle app on your computer) for just a few bucks.

But there are plenty more choices than just my books!

5. How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

 

How the Irish Saved Civilization, top Irish books Cindy Thomson

 

A condensed, but still useful, overview of Irish history according to the influence of the Christian monks.

6. Ireland, a Novel, by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Featuring a seanchai, said to be the last of the itinerant storytellers, I really enjoyed this one.

7. Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford

 Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Rutherford writes Sagas, spanning generations of characters. No one offers so much history in a  500 or so pages like he does.

8. The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House by Sharon Owens, Irish Books Cindy Thomson

For a different pace and a great glimpse into modern Ireland. Funny and entertaining. Owens has others as well.

9. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Barry is a gifted writer so you should check out all his books. I enjoy these types of stories where an elderly character tells about her past.

10. In Search of Ancient Ireland by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton, companion to the PBS Series

In Search of Ancient Ireland by McCaffrey and Eaton/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Truly, if you want to know about Ancient Ireland, read this book. Excellent!

 

Of course there are many more. What Irish books would you recommend for St. Patrick’s Day reading?

Ireland’s Connection to Valentine’s Day

Discover the Irish connection to Valentine's Day #StValentinesDay Click To Tweet

The Irish St. Valentine Connection

This post originally appeared on my blog, Celtic Voices.
A Victorian ValentineHappy St. Valentine’s Day!You’ve probably read on other blogs that there were at least three martyred saints named Valentine, one of which is said to have died on February 14, thus the date of this observance. You may have read that just like other church observances, this one was set to coincide with a pagan festival, to draw attention away from it, in this case a fertility feast. You’ve probably also read that the exchange of valentine cards originated during Victorian times.

But did you know about the Irish connection? In the nineteenth century there was a Carmelite priest who was well known for his preaching and his service to the poor. Fr. John Spratt helped establish the Irish Carmelite order and was responsible for acquiring for the church the property that had once housed a 13th century Carmelite monastery on Whitefriar Street in Dublin in 1825. He visited Rome in 1835 and was invited to speak to the Jesuits the following February and was transported there in the carriage of the Cardinal who was the Pope’s advisor on affairs in England and Ireland. He visited more cities but somehow on that journey he was awarded with the relics of a 3rd century martyr, Saint Valentine.

Whitefriar Street Church
Photo by William Murphy

That is how St. Valentine’s remains (at least in part) came to be held at Whitefrair Street Church in Dublin, one of the city’s largest churches. They were forgotten for a time because the shrine was built in modern times.

Here is a photo of the outside of Whitefriar Street Church. I haven’t been there, but it looks like you could walk right past it without realizing the history it contains. Update: I can now say I have been there!

It seems to me that since so little is known about St. Valentine, Fr. Spratt might be the more interesting figure. He certainly gets lost in the story. He was charitable and showed the love of Jesus to the starving, the orphans, the homeless on the streets of the city where he was born and lived most of his years and died. He was so loved by the people that his death was mourned greatly. His example for the rest of us is something to strive for. I love my sweetheart, truly, but romantic love was not what the feast day was originally focused on. Just something to think about. I still think you should enjoy your chocolate today!
🙂

Box of Chocolates
Photo by
By Svadilfari


References:
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/92645667/FATHER-JOHN-SPRATT-BELOVED-OF-DUBLINS-POOR

http://attractions.uptake.com/blog/st-valentine-dublin-ireland-9215.html

http://www.carmelites.ie/ireland/Whitefriar%20St/valentine.htm

A Giveaway to Prepare for St. Brigid’s Day!

In honor of the upcoming St. Brigid’s Day, I thought I’d host a Goodreads giveaway for a print copy of Brigid of Ireland. Please share!

Get ready for St. Brigid's Day with this Goodreads giveaway: http://wp.me/p5bkeC-iR Click To Tweet

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland

by Cindy Thomson

Giveaway ends February 04, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

An Old Book Gets a New Life

Out of Print? Nope!

It happens, authors know it but dread it just the same. Not many books live forever. Or do they? That used to be the reality. When a book ceased to sell enough copies to satisfy the publisher, they put it out of print. An author can get the rights back (the rights to the story, not the cover or artwork) but in most cases that was the end of the line. Was. Now authors can easily reprint their books or put them out as ebooks, or both. With a fresh cover and more opportunities to reach readers through social media outlets, a book can live again.

My First Novel

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy ThomsonMy first published novel (I have several unpublished novels), was born into the market in the spring of 2006. I loved the process of writing this one, loved the Irish theme, loved imagining how a saint whom many believe never was a flesh-and-blood person could have actually existed and performed miraculous deeds. My publisher kept the book in print for seven years, not the norm for novels today. I actually earned royalties on this book. 🙂

When it went out of print, they allowed me to purchase the remaining stock. I still have a few boxes of the print version that I sell for just five bucks. But, in 2006 nobody was doing ebooks. Well, almost no one. Certainly not Monarch Books.

Introducing the 2014 Brigid

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookMy friend Deirdra Doan and I have bartered back and forth for editing (me) and artwork (her.) She has read this book and when it came time to create a new cover, she introduced me to her friend Kim Draper. I’m so glad she did! Kim created a lovely cover that I feel conveys the mystery and intrigue of the story.

I chose to publish the ebook on Kindle exclusively for now because most ebooks are sold on Amazon and even if a reader doesn’t have a Kindle, he or she can download the app on their computer for free and read it there. Here is the buy link.

Finding New Readers

That is my goal. I have heard from so many readers over the years who have enjoyed Brigid of Ireland, but of course there are many more who have never read it. I’m aware that some people prefer to read ebooks, and some for physical readers must read electronically. These days novels are published in both print and ebook formats (as are Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories.) Some may wish to go back and read my first novel after they read those two, and now they can!

When Brigid of Ireland first came out, my publisher and I were thinking the book was for adults. But so very many young girls have enjoyed it, and there is nothing objectionable that should prevent them from doing so. I have signed the book for girls as young as nine! Of course, these girls are reading above their grade levels. I’m mentioning this in case there is anyone out there is looking for an adventure story set in ancient Ireland for a young reader. Maybe for a Christmas gift?

At one of my first book signings a young girl and her father paused at my table. The girl told her father she loved that book. I was amazed she had read it! She told me she read it for a book report for school. As a former teacher and a current mentor to some young writers, that really made my day. Well, my year at the least. Seeing as there is lots of action in the story, I think boys would like it too, but of course girls relate to Brigid who is a young woman in the story.

One of my earliest fans was the 14-year-old daughter of one my fellow novelists. When I sent my friend my new novel, her daughter snatched it from her to-be-read pile and read it first! I sent her a t-shirt. She is a young woman today, but this was her then.

Jenni, a fan of Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Her review from back then:

Jenni’s Review

My name is Jenni and I’m a freshman at Concordia-Academy Bloomington (a Lutheran high school). I love to read and am currently working on writing a novel of my own. I like fencing and archery, playing flute, piano and guitar, and I hate geometry (but like algebra).

I took Brigid of Ireland from the stack of my mom’s books because the description on the back cover sounded interesting, and the cover was pretty. I liked the chapter openings with quotes – some Bible verses and some Celtic blessings or sayings.

But most of all, I absolutely loved the STORY of Brigid of Ireland. It has such a gripping plot, and is a great inspiration to my faith.

I’ve recommended it to all of my friends, knowing that they would love the suspense and heartbreak in it, as well as the spirituality. I admire Brigid’s strong faith throughout all her troubles. It gives me strength to go through tough things.

In addition to sharing this terrific book with adult friends, consider buying a copy for a daughter, student, niece, or other young woman in your life!

And Finally, Something for you!

Who would you recommend Brigid of Ireland to? Tell me and I’ll enter you in a drawing for your choice of either the ebook or the print version. Only comments on this blog post by Dec. 3, 2014 are eligible, and only if claimed by Dec. 31, 2014. Subscribe to the comments or check back to see if you’ve won. Update. Karen Lewis is the winner of this book. Congrats and thanks for commenting, Karen!

Getting Out There to Learn About the Scots-Irish

Part Two from Finding Help With Your Scots-Irish Line originally appearing in Tracing Your Irish Roots, Moorshead Magazines Ltd., 2012 ©Cindy Thomson.

 How Ireland Can Help Researchers

Family Tree. Tracing your Scots-Irish roots.Tracing a family line back as far as the 17th century might seem daunting, but records do exist. And where better to get help and learn about this group’s culture than a society established for that purpose?

A special school for genealogists researching Northern Ireland roots is offered in conjunction with several Northern Ireland agencies, such as the Ulster Historical Foundation; the University of Ulster; Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, County Tyrone; and local historical societies. Past participants came from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, The Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland, to enjoy a holiday researching with the help of local experts. Billed as “An Activity Holiday with a Difference”, the program stretches over a week and involves local history lectures, research visits to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and visits to historical sites. It is these visits to important sites within the homeland of our ancestors that help make this school intriguing to many, but the value of having access to local historians and genealogists should not be underestimated.

Previous students have enjoyed touring Belfast City Hall and Parliament Buildings. They

Tracing Your Scots-Irish Roots, Cindy Thomson

Ulster American Folk Park

also visited historical locations in the countryside, such as Sentry Hill House, and the Ulster American Folk Park and Centre for Migration Studies at Omagh. The Duke of Abercorn gave a personal tour of his home at Barons Court.

[Since this article appeared, I’m not sure the school is still running. But for research assistance options, check this site.]

One benefit is that because this effort is being supported by the University of Ulster, registrants will have access to that university’s library and electronic resources for genealogy research.

Short of making the trip, there are some materials available that can aid your research. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors by William Roulston, published by the Ulster Historical Foundation, 2005, is said to be the first comprehensive guide for family historians searching for ancestors in 17th and 18th century Ulster.Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors

The society also offers two pocket histories/fold out maps entitled “The Scots in Ulster Surname Map and Pocket History” and “The Plantation of Ulster: The story of the Scots, 1610-1630.” You can order these for only the cost of postage and handling through these links: Surname Map    Plantation of Ulster

An online resource worth plugging your surname into is the Scots in Ulster. I found several hits for Thomson in this database, which could provide some clues for own research.

Closer to Home

In America, researchers should not overlook local organizations where help may be found, such as The Ulster-Scots Society of America, whose stated purpose reads: “The Ulster-Scots Society of America is primarily an educational and social organization committed to the promotion of the Ulster-Scots history and heritage, especially as it pertains to the nearly quarter of a million immigrants who left the north of Ireland (Ulster) during the 18th century and settled in America (often referred to as: The Great Migration).”

The Scotch-Irish Society of the United States of America is another group to check into. From their website: “The Scotch-Irish Society of the United States of America was founded to promote and preserve Scotch-Irish history and culture of America’s Scotch-Irish heritage and to keep alive the esprit de corps of the Scotch-Irish people. Membership in the Society is available to United States citizens, and to legal permanent residents of the United States, who are of Scotch-Irish descent.” The Center publishes issues of the Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies.

[I had more links in the article, but since links are hard to keep up to date, I won’t repeat them all here. If you know of any, please leave them in the comments. And by the way, did anyone else find it amusing that the Scotch-Irish Society used French to describe themselves, or is it just me?]

Tom&Cindy Thomson, Ireland 2010

Our 2010 trip to Ireland, taken at Inch Abbey, County Down, Northern Ireland.

These are just some of the resources available, but by consulting those who have gathered together to promote research and understanding of the Scots-Irish people, you will find like-minded people who can help you along your research journey.