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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest blogger: Pat McDermott Writes about Fairies

Please join me in welcoming the delightful Pat McDermott, whose new novel Glancing Through the Glimmer is a paranormal young adult fantasy. It's now available from MuseItUp. I asked Pat to discuss what it's like to write on the ancient topic of fairies in Ireland.

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Fairies and their cousins appear in the folklore of every culture in the world. They’ve inspired many tales, including Glancing Through the Glimmer, my new young adult adventure. The title is a phrase from The Fairy Thorn, an old Irish poem by Sir Samuel Ferguson. The story, a blend of alternate Irish history, romance, and fairy magic, has been a joy to research. I’ve found countless web sites devoted to fairies, faeries, fae, fay, etc. and have added several volumes on the “Other Crowd” to my personal library.
Most fairies are small, benevolent beings, but in Ireland the “Good Folk” aren’t the cute little Tinker Bell types we know and love. Many are man-sized, and they can be downright mean. Mortals foolish enough to annoy them risk losing their hair, eyes, teeth, even toenails. (As I still have mine, I trust that the fairies in Glancing Through the Glimmer were happy to join the cast.)
I had always thought of Irish fairies as leprechauns. Not so, I learned while exploring the wealth of literature depicting these elusive beings. Leprechauns belong to the class of Solitary Fairies, which includes cluricauns, dullahans, pookas, merrows, silkies, and banshees.

Then we have the Trooping Fairies, bands of rascals who live beneath the hills and lakes of Ireland. One of these troops, the Connaught Fairies, inhabits a crystal palace beneath Knock Ma, a gentle hill in Galway. Their king, a frisky rogue named Finvarra, likes a good dance now and then, though he prefers mortal dancing partners. Over the centuries, he’s stolen quite a few, and he’s still at it, as American teenager Janet Gleason learns to her dismay in Glancing Through the Glimmer.

During a recent trip to the Emerald Isle, I decided to visit Knock Ma. My husband and I drove to Tuam, a small town 20 miles north of Galway City. The town’s name comes from the Latin word tumulus, which means burial mound. Thousands of years ago, the people who lived there used the area as a burial ground, which no doubt gave rise to the local fairy legends. In one of my favorites, an Irish chieftain sets his men to work digging into Knock Ma to rescue his wife, whom Finvarra had kidnapped. The trench they supposedly dug, known as The Fairy’s Glen, is still visible.
We found Knock Ma, and though Finvarra and his troop kept to themselves that day, the postman assured us they were there. “Ah, they’re all over the place,” he said.
Perhaps we’ll meet them another time. It’s their decision, of course.
Many roads twist in Ireland because the builders refused to cut down fairy trees. My grandmother once told me that when she was a child in County Sligo (around 1910), her father would set out a row of stones before erecting any outbuildings on their farm. If in the morning the stones were still where he’d placed them, he knew the fairies had no objections, and he was good to go. If not, then the Good Folk had disapproved of his choice, and he had to try again.
Superstitious nonsense?
I’ve heard too many strange things to be sure. What do you think?


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You can purchase Glancing Through the Glimmer here,
and visit Pat McDermott at her website.

35 comments:

  1. It's a pleasure to visit your wonderful blog today, Anne. Thanks so much for hosting my "friends" and me!

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  2. Good morning Pat. Yours has to be one of the best covers I've seen this year. Tough to underestimate the power of a good cover. If you've got faeries on your side too, that can only help. I wish you great success with what looks like a fun read.

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  3. Just want to second Derek's enthusiasm for that stunning cover!

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  4. And I want to ‘third’ the salutations about the cover to Pat’s new book. Evocative.

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  5. Thanks Derek. And Anne and Mirka! The cover artist, Kaytalin Platt, did a fabulous job - and the fairies clearly approved :-)

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  6. A lovely post, Pat. I do so adore all things fae. Good luck with 'Glancing Through the Glimmer'.

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  7. Glad you enjoyed the post, Dawn. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. What a lovely post! I love the story about your great grandfather placing the stones out overnight for the fairy folk to have their say-- and that builders in Ireland avoided fairy trees when they planned the roads.. May we all be so wise! I look forward to visiting Ireland someday! Thanks for this post!

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  9. Hi Amy! I'm delighted that you enjoyed the post. My grandmother was such a plainspoken lady, we simply believed everything she said, including her reports of hearing the banshee clear across the Atlantic when her siblings in Ireland passed on. To this day, I'm not sure if she was "twisting hay" with us. Sadly, she's no longer here to ask, or to tell us more of her spellbinding stories.

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  10. Pat,
    I just loved your post. I have a book that covers all kinds of fairies, ghosts, nymphs, etc. You've inspired me to read it again. Can't wait to read Glancing Through The Glimmer!

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  11. Hey Deb! Glad you dropped in. The more I read about fairies, the more I realize how much I don't know. I've acquired several books, some quite old, about those mischievous rascals, and it's all great reading. I hope you enjoy "Glimmer"!

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  12. I loved this post, Pat. Fairies are so fascinating, but I don't know that much about them. This helped educate me a little more.

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  13. Anita, I can almost hear the wheels turning in that wonderful imagination of yours. Let us know if the fairies inspire a future story! Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  14. What an enlightening post about faeries. I liked learning about the different types in Irish myth, Pat. I wish I'd know about Knock Ma when I passed through Galway in 2008. I think Tinker Bell must have had some Irish Fairy in her. She was a nasty little piece and she looks so pretty. She shocked me when I recently read Peter Pan and Wendy. Good luck with Glancing Through the Glimmer. This is on my to read list, when I get my ereader for Christmas.

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  15. Leprechauns belong to the class of Solitary Fairies, which includes cluricauns, dullahans, pookas, merrows, silkies, and banshees.

    Okay! Next blog -- gonna tell us the differences? I love your blogs, Pat, the in-depth view of the magical!

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  16. Wendy, I suspect that Sir James Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, had some knowledge of Celtic fairy legends. He got Tinker Bell just right for his story. But there are so many other stories! I had never heard of Knock Ma before I started exploring Irish fairy tales. The palace beneath Knock Ma is a nice place to visit, as long as you don't eat any fairy food - then they get to keep you forever. Best of luck with that new e-reader. It took me months to learn how to turn mine on. Now I find it quite useful. Thanks for making the trip from Down Under to visit!

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  17. Hey Gail! In a nutshell, cluricauns resemble their cousins, the hard-working leprechauns, but they're more playful. The dullahan is a horseman who rides with his head tucked under his arm. Pookas are shape-shifters who cause mischief at night. Merrows are mer-people, silkies are seal people, and banshees are keening fairy women who foretell death. Any of these mystical beings could star in a story. Getting any ideas? :-) Great to see you here!

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  18. Pat, your last comment was like a college course on fairies condensed into an exam review sheet. Very impressive!

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  19. Great post, Pat! I love Ireland (particularly Galway) and all of its wonderful legends. Can't wait to read "Glimmer" and visit with your fairy friends!

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  20. Hi Pat, I do have your story and cannot wait to read it. I think my Scottish ancestory rises to the surface when someone mentions fairies and such. I always enjoy the magic of them and prefer the nicer ones to the demons.

    Agree with Derek, that cover is awesome and think it would look great on top of a cake!

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  21. Hi Pat,
    Loved your blog....it took me back to my own trip to Ireland and how fascinating I'd found the folklore. I remember the tale about the winding roads and thought it so quaint. Good luck with your new book!

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  22. I'm drooling over this cover. I love castles and even the font is amazing!

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  23. LOL, Anne. I can't believe how many books I've found on fairies, and that's just the Irish ones. When my newlywed son recently moved from his bachelor digs, he found an oversized hardcover of Irish Fairy Tales my aunt had given him when he was a child. He asked if I'd like it for my collection. Seems like the fairies are sending their bios my way :-)

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  24. Cynthia, they're your fairy friends too, especially if you love Galway. Thanks for dropping by.

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  25. Paisley, I prefer the nicer ones too. The problem is, they're all a little flaky (hope they're not listening) and extremely unpredictable. Even the nice one can be vindictive. And yes, the cover did look great on that cake :-)

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  26. Mimi, Irish folklore is amazing. Those old storytellers were among the world's best. Thanks for the good wishes!

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  27. Kelly, the cover artist really did a great job. Glancing Through the Glimmer features two castles. The first belongs to the fairies, the second to the Irish royal family. I love castles too! Thanks for stopping by.

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  28. Well, I never dreamed there was so much to know about faeries! Interesting post. Love the book cover!!

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  29. Glad you enjoyed the post, ILWW. Knowledge is power, where fairies are concerned. Can't be too careful! Thanks for visiting.

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  30. Anne, thanks again for welcoming me to Jester Harley's Manuscript Page. I've thoroughly enjoyed my visit!

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  31. It was my pleasure having you here, Pat. I wish you great success with Glimmer.

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  32. Pat, what an terrific lesson on Fairies, Finvarra and Knock Ma. Ireland is on my list of places to visit, if not in this lifetime, certainly in my next one!! And Glancing Through the Glimmer is top of my to buy list, now I have worked out how to use my ereader!!
    Anne, thanks for hosting such a wonderful guest.

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  33. Rosalie, thank you for your kind words. I do hope you get to visit Knock Ma and the rest of Ireland one day. Good luck with that ereader. Mine baffles me constantly, but I'm glad I have it. Cheers, Pat

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  34. The first thing that struck me was how glowingly beautiful that book cover was! Then as I read on, I was slightly terrified by man-sized, mean fairies. King Finvarra, a rogue who likes to dance ... I can't wait to read about him.

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  35. Hello, Claudine. Yes, the cover is lovely, thanks to the talents of the cover artist. And yes, King Finvarra does like his dancing. I think you'd find him an interesting character. Just don't dance with him... Thanks for stopping by!

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