Friday, December 28, 2012

CWA: Irish Spies O My.

With only three more days left in the cruise you wonder what other adventures Tasha has for you and the rest of the passengers. When you dock back in Texas will your memories be swiped, too? The thought of you impending mind swipe scares you more than anything. Tasha had said you wouldn't forget anything since you joined her crew. But how can you trust her? Good thing you had taken precautions in case she lied to you. You had written down the directions of how to get to your secret chamber in the boy's journal. You carried the journal in your satchel wherever you went.  Nothing is going to stop you from revealing the truth. Nothing. 

You walk with the rest of the group towards the large tower next to the river. The cruise ship had travelled back in time again. You love old Ireland and hope that someday you will be able to return to this time period.

Welcome to Clew Bay on Ireland’s gorgeous west coast. I’m Granía O’Malley, captain of my fleet. Don’t be alarmed by our sudden appearance. Yes, some may call us pirates. We’re not. Yes, we are known to collect tolls from passing ships, and if they refuse to pay their tribute, we take the toll by force and add a “surcharge” for the trouble of having to board their ships, but so do all toll collectors who manage a way of passage. We have our right to earn our living, and you shouldn’t listen to rumors started by the colonial government. It’s their way of justifying what they do to us. You can reason with some of them, though. I worked out a deal with Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. I now barter in rumors as well as supplies. So if any of you spotted ships from King Philip’s armada, there’s coin in it for you if you tell me the details.

Not to sound defensive right from our introduction, mind you. Enough of the politics. Can’t help it, you know. We spend long hours on the ships, and there’s naught to do sometimes but pass time with long debates while we play cards and dice. Behind me is my home, the stronghold of Carraigahowley. You may know it as Rockfleet Castle. It’s been in my family for generations. The living quarters are on the top, and storage is below. You may have heard I keep a line from my window to my favorite ship’s mooring. It’s true, but that’s a long story for another time. Return again someday when you have time to join me out booleying on Clare Island. I can offer wonderful feasts and plenty of delicious mead. Those long summer stays out on the islands are the best times to tell such tales.

We navigate out to Clare Island from Carraigahowley, due west, but you have to be careful of the rocks under the water. My father trained me to navigate Clew Bay when I was a child. He told me little girls couldn’t be sailors, but after I cut my hair, dressed as a boy, and stowed away on his flagship, he couldn’t argue with me anymore. I worked just as hard as any man on his ships. After he died, I inherited all the ships and the crew, and they are happy to serve with me.

Each summer we ferry the livestock out to Clare Island and let them graze for the season. We live in booley huts and go hunting and fishing. We hike up the mountain called Knockmore on the north side of the island—the view is amazing. My father spent hours with me at the top of Knockmore, teaching me everything I need to know about the weather. “To be a good sea captain is to be a prophet of the weather,” he used to say. You can see Ireland’s most sacred site on clear days—Croagh Patrick, the heart of County Mayo.

If you had more time, I’d take you far up north to Tory Island, the place of many legends about the Tuatha Dé Danann and their ancient enemy, the Fomorians. Many a spirit wanders Tory Island. But if you see a man in a cloak stomping around the shores of the island, beware—a storm’s coming. That would be the sea god Manannan, son of Lir.

You can learn more about this old seafarer’s life in the upcoming Dark Lady of Doona, to be released in early January 2013. I have a great many tales to share in that book. Find out more by visiting I thank you for the chance to share a bit of my story with you. 

Who is Christine Frost?

Christine Frost graduated from UMass in 1994, and a master’s degree in literature and creative writing from Harvard Extension School in 2008. Having worked as a beer and mead brewer and an international sales assistant for a record label, she eventually found her career in the world of words, becoming an editor, writer of historical fiction, and teaching assistant for college-level literature courses. She’s happily ensconced in a place overcrowded with books in Boston with her husband.

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