Monday, June 18, 2012

The Genesis of PIRATE WOMAN by Viola Russell

PIRATE WOMAN is the culmination of my long love affair with the Emerald Isle. I first went to Ireland in the mid-1990's. It was June, and the weather was still brisk and very windy. Ignorant Southerner that I was, I'd packed too many lightweight clothes. I quickly purchased several Aran sweaters. My finances hurt as a result, but I was very fashionable.

Ireland was beautiful. Th Cliffs of Mohr were breathtaking, and climbing Dun Aengus was liberating. I felt like a Celtic warrior goddess. The country was gorgeous; I'd never seen country so green.

That year had been a particularly stressful one, and I'd made the journey to Ireland with musician friends who were taking Irish folk music back to their homeland. We traveled through the West of Ireland. I fell in love with the people and the towns. The residents welcomed us with open arms, readily sharing their hospitality. Galway was a wonderful music town, and as we traveled, we encountered traffic jams of sheep along the highway.

I always wanted to celebrate this country in my writing. Since my first visit, I've returned to various parts of Ireland several times, and when I read of  GrĂ¡inne O'Malley, I knew she would be a wonderful subject for a novel. GrĂ¡inne, the daughter of a Mayo chieftain, lived on her own terms. She joined her father at sea when she was still a girl, and she continued her sea-faring adventures during her marriages to Donal O'Flaherty and later to Richard Bourke. Unlike many aristocratic women of her time, she wouldn't be sold in marriage to be her husband's slave. She was a partner and equal to both men. This Queen of Connaught stood up to the Queen of England. She is the ultimate heroine for the West of Ireland.

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