This is my latest profile photo for Locating the Gothic. I’ve told you about the wonderful events we have planned for the autumn and while I know it’s hard to think about this when the sun is shining, the winter is inevitable. So don’t leave it until the wind is howling in the chimney and ghostly fingers tap at your window panes to have a look at the site.
Another wet and grey Sunday here in Limerick, but below is a link to put you in the mood for such a day . Click on the link to find a list of events for the coming October, and although it may seem far away, you know how the months fly by, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out. For all of you with a yearning to put pen to paper, you will see from the site that I will be teaching a Creative Writing Workshop on the Gothic novel. I know we have a wealth of people in Limerick who have so many great ghost stories to tell about our city,so go on and have a look. And keep liking the Locating the Gothic page.
Some months ago I took a break from writing my usual Gothic ghost stories and missed them terribly. I was in the middle of writing the history of a haunted house, it’s titled An Undesirable Property and am taking up where I left off with this. I’ve missed the suspense and the creeping terrors the dark nights bring with them and I know from your emails, that some of you have missed them too. So back to work I go, along dark, deserted corridors with creaking floorboards and darting shadows. The chill in the air warns that the house is a place of unrest, but there are those not sensitive enough to feel it. I’ll keep you undated as the house comes to life and bring you with me as we enter its ancient door, past peeling paint and rotting wood. Stay warm, my friends.
Despite having spent a week suffering from the worst flu ever, I will post a new story on Sunday; I’m a brave, little soldier. It’s inspired by a trip I made to the strange and haunting island of Iona in Scotland. With its beautiful abbey overlooking a bay of crystal blue water, it cannot help, but inspire the artist and stir a feeling of wonder in the hardest of hearts. The graveyard is the resting place of 48 kings of Ireland, Scotland and Norway; one is said to be Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was strange to imagine such great power lying still beneath my feet. The stones, covered now in clinging moss, hold echoes of the dirges sang for the warrior dead and whisper tales of sword and kilt that made gods of men.
Before I get lost in memory, let me tell you about the place my story is set, the Nunnery. It is a ruin, made derelict during the time of the Reformation and unlike the Abbey, it has not been restored. Why one wonders? Let’s leave the answer to the poets and those who know the true reason. The Nunnery is known by its Celtic name, An Eaglais Dhubh, the Black Church. It is said it got its name from the colour of the nuns habits and that may well be.
Iona is the island where St Columba took refuge with his small group of followers and it’s believed the famous Book of Kells was written here. I found the Abbey to be the most powerful place on the island and I had one of the strangest experiences there. I was exploring the main building and in the centre aisle there is a small grating set into the floor. I stepped over it, not sure that it was safe to walk on and was overcome with the most profound feeling of sadness. Since there was no one about, I was able to sit down in one of the pews and allow the feeling to overwhelm me. A young man appeared out of nowhere and asked why I was crying. When I told him I had no idea, he asked if I felt sad when I stepped over the grating. He explained that the bones of the martyrs were buried there. I have never felt anything like it before and I’m not one given to hysterics. This will give you some idea of the strangeness of the island and the power the past hold over the present. Until Sunday then, when I’ll tell you a tale of horror that makes you wonder…
What happens then.
When old bones uneasy lie.
And age old feuds don’t end
And things that lie still under morning sky.
Rise up when darkness and the mists descend?