January 29, 2017

Diarmaid the Irishman @queenskeys #RLFblog #historical #romance

Donegal Landscape
Article by Beppie Harrison
I came late to my love of Ireland and I can't explain why Donegal spoke to me so insistently. Maybe it's the way it's said. You hear the rhythm of it: DONeegol, sort of wrapping your tongue around the last L. It's stuck way out on the end of Ireland, as far west and north as you can go. It's a land of peninsulas reaching out into the cold Atlantic. The largest one is Inishowen, and that's where I chose to place the beginning of the second book of Diarmaid the Irishman, because it's cold and harsh and has always demanded more from its inhabitants than they sometimes had to give. Not much grows there. There are the peat fields that gave the Irish there the material for their sweet-smelling peat fires to warm their houses—primitive huts for much of their history. The farther east you go the better the land becomes, and you can grow potatoes and oats. That's what the ordinary people lived on, traditionally. Oat porridge cooked over a peat fire morning and evening, with potatoes for the main meal. Fish, sometimes, if they were lucky. "Kitchen," the fish would be called. Anything extra from potatoes and porridge was kitchen. Sometimes a bit of meat—chicken, perhaps. Eggs would be a lovely luxury, but eggs were better sold for people who had no other way to earn coin.
A hard place, but a beautiful one for those of us who don't need to make a living out of
the unwilling land. Spectacular cliffs soar out of the churning ocean, and then, all of a sudden, a sweep of a golden sand beach. Now tourism is coming to save Donegal, for those who like a gentle sun and don't mind icy cold water. There are new roads which allow you to have a feeling for the land, the low peat fields and the small stretches of farmland, and there are old ones requiring nerves of steel and sharp attention as a narrow road winds treacherously around the cliffs with awe-inspiring views of the ocean battering rocks almost directly below.
Then of course there are the people. In some places they cling to the old ways and even teach their babies to speak Irish. There are three areas of Gaeltacht in Donegal—designated areas within which Irish speakers predominate, although the use of Irish is inevitably dwindling, given the global reach of English. Donegal people are as Donegal people have always had to be, sturdy and stubborn and set in their ways. But Irish they still are, which is to say they love to talk in the warmth of their pubs and are, in their way, welcoming to strangers.
The more I learned about Donegal, the more it seemed to be the perfect place to begin my story of Diarmaid MacGuinness as a dedicated Irish rebel, red-headed, in a secret organization, and determined to return the green and pleasant land of Ireland to Irish rule, in spite of his own inconvenient ties to the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. His mother had worked for them for years and, unknown to them, he had grown up in the Big House himself. Caught by unwilling trust, he was half drawn to those who should be his enemies and half determined to push them and all like them into the Irish Sea, back to England where they had come from.
I love Donegal. But I will always be a visitor there. Unlike its people, I've never had to wrest a living from its stubborn soil, and so will always be an outsider. Perhaps it's better that way.

Image credit: Donegal landscape taken by Beppie's husband in 2015

About Diarmaid the Irishman

It's 1810. The English have a firm grip on Diarmaid's beautiful green Ireland. But Diarmaid McGuiness is determined to make that grip impossible to maintain. In the first half of this two-volume combination (The Divided Heart) we meet the reckless, red-haired Irishman as he tries out his wings as a rebel to follow in his dead father's footsteps. In the second half (The Defiant Heart) we find Diarmaid as the determined leader of rebels that he has become, and the equally fierce, equally red-headed girl whose resolve to free Ireland is as strong as his own. Their clash leads them into unforeseen complications and new ambiguous challenges.
Genre Historical romance
Author Beppie Harrison
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG-13
Publisher Camden Hill Press
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CR6796M/

About Beppie Harrison

Beppie Harrison lives in Massachusetts with her English husband, two slightly addled cats, and an enthusiastic puppy. England with friends and family is a second home, Ireland a fascination that came later. She writes books placed in the Regency period, many of them in Ireland. The beauty of Ireland, its harshness, and the wonderfully garrulous people are close to her heart.


  1. So nice to have you on RLF. :) I shared your post on Twitter, Facebook, G+, and Pinterest.

  2. Thanks so much, Kayelle! It's splendid to be here.

  3. What a lovely post, Beppie. Poetic, descriptive. Makes me want to visit there right now! I wish you all the luck with Dairmaid!

    1. Such a nice thing to say, Barb! Yes, Diarmaid is one of my favorites among the people who came to life on my page.

  4. Wow! So vivid told, Lady Beppie! Thank you for sharing about Donegal and its people! ;)

    1. I do love Donegal--its harshness and its beauty and its history. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I've always wanted to visit Ireland, as I have family roots there. Your descriptions of the land and the people make me wish I could go now!

    1. The odd thing is that my family roots are all Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish, as I was told by the family), the Protestants that the English imported from Scotland to turn Ireland into a Protestant land. Not the side I have the greatest sympathy for--but maybe the fact that they left Ireland early and came to America justifies them. I guess.

  6. What a lovely, descriptive post, Beppie! A friend is moving to Ireland this year and I must make a point to visit!

    1. Yes, yes. You have to do that! The green beauty of Ireland--even in a barren land like Donegal--is unbelievable until you see it for yourself.


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