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Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The Irish are notorious for spinning a wee tale or two when it comes to legend and lore. And being Irish, I’ve been known to weave a little extra yarn into a story for a dash of color. Humor is the spice of life. Regaling over age old legends in front of a roaring fire with a cup o’ tea or Irish coffee keeps tradition alive from generation to generation. Some of the things associated with St. Patrick’s Day are the wearing of the green, shamrocks and pots of gold—and who could forget the mischievous leprechaun?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th. And if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s the spinning of favorite myths while regaling the day. Here are a few fables we can count on:

Green shamrocks, green t-shirts, green party hats, green beer, green everything!
The color green in any form on March 17th will bring good luck.

But as much fun as we have with the color green on St. Paddy’s Day, the deepest origin represents the coming of spring when the earth is reborn with new grass, budding trees and flowers after a long, harsh winter.

Wear a shamrock on your left lapel and you will be blessed all year with the wink of St. Patrick himself
This is fun and we all partake in it, but the true meaning of the shamrock, the three-leaf flower of Ireland, was used by St. Patrick to demonstrate the Trinity.

Shake this stick and ward off bad luck and evil spirits
All fun and games aside, this club was used by the ancient Druids and thought to have the ability to shake it at the dead and bring them back to life.

Associated with the wee folk stealing the pot of gold and hiding it—and finding it over the rainbow.
But the pot of gold is associated with the goddess Cerridwen, worshiped by the Druids. And when Cerridwen’s gold was stolen and transported from Irish soil to Britain soil, it was gone but never forgotten.

Spot a wee cobbler on St. Patrick’s Day and good fortune will befall. Rub the belly of a leprechaun on St. Paddy’s Day and you will come into great wealth and fortune. Trick a leprechaun and steal his lucky charms and riches will bestow.
But in reality, the leprechauns were wee gods, mean little creatures with shaggy red beards, tart mouths, born with the ability to steal a pot of gold in the blink of an eye and never get caught. It is believed the leprechauns stole Cerridwen’s gold.

We’ve all heard the one about St. Patrick standing atop the Croagh Patrick and shaking a stick at the snakes, sending them all into the sea.
In reality, there were never any snakes in Ireland. Snakes are associated with evil Druids and black magic. The fable of St. Patrick chasing all the snakes out of Ireland refers to his chasing the Druids out and spreading Christianity throughout the land.

And that’s what St. Patrick’s Day represents, bringing Christianity to a land ruled by ancient gods and druids. And the man responsible for doing this is St. Patrick, born Magonus Sccatus, later christened Patricus Thought to be born in either Scotland or Great Britain, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and sold to a sheep herder in Ireland where he was held in captivity for six years. But one night he escaped by boat, returning to his homeland. But deeply haunted by some of the things he’d witnessed in Ireland, human sacrifices made to ancient gods, many of which were children, Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary where he lived until his death. And because of the tireless efforts of one man spreading the word of God despite the risk of persecution, Patrick won the war when he drove the druids out of Ireland.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanting land, rich in culture and tradition. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to green rolling hills and long stretches of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on the hillsides of the misty mountains, it’s like stepping back in time.

A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filmed here. The Irish take great pride in pointing out the farmhouse on the Dingle Peninsula where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Inch Strand Beach, shaped like a sandy half moon, is one of the most remote areas of the island. But the best part of the trip was learning the significance of The Claddag, which has an ancient history dating back three hundred years.

According to legend, the first Claddagh Ring originated in a small fishing port off the coast of Galway. Truly a land of legend and lore, the Irish are known to spin a wee bit of the “Blarney” from time to time. Some say the original Claddagh Ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the first ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original ring was brought back to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith.

But whatever the case, the tradition of The Claddah has lived on for the past several centuries. And in today’s materialistic world where love and friendship are taken far too lightly, the significance of The Claddagh Ring has strengthened.

The Claddagh is said to bring eternal love and lasting friendship to its wearer. The design consists of two hands holding a heart and a crown on top of the heart. The heart represents love, the hands friendship—and the crown designates loyalty. But in order for the ring to cast its mystical spell, it needs to be worn in a certain way.
If worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, this means the heart is open to love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, it means the wearer is taken. But when the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found true love for all eternity and will be forever blessed.

Being part Irish, I was born with a superstitious nature. Totally awed by this legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring, a White Rose rosette of 34 pages. Because I had the pleasure of touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare.

The Atlantic Breakers pound the west coast of the county, sculpting the grey limestone into a myriad of shapes, the most notorious the Cliffs of Moher. A rich plethora of birdlife as puffins and shags dominate these rugged cliffs, adding to the savage grandeur. Beneath the rocks, the waves have spread a thin dusting of golden sand, said to be sprinkled by angel wings. Standing on these cliffs with the wind at my back and the sun on my face, I truly enjoyed writing The Claddagh Ring. Here is a blurb and excerpt.

“To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.”
Thomas Campbell

Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort in wearing her Claddagh Ring, said to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan meets Rork, she finds love, loyalty and friendship. But before everything comes full circle, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.

Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul—and has a deep secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley tending bar at her club, he falls hopelessly in love with her and wants to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors pull them together—or break them apart?


As Meghan mixed drinks from behind the bar of The Wild Irish Rose, the fiddle and violin captured the true essence of Ireland. The tantalizing aroma of Irish stew, corn beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread wafted through the room.

Suddenly, all activity came to a halt as the eerie wail of bagpipes keened through the bar. The lead singer took center stage with his rendition of Danny Boy, the haunting lyrics crawling into Meghan’s skin. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she stopped what she was doing and met his penetrating gaze. With the exception of her mother, she’d never heard anyone pluck the strings of the harp with such finesse. The Claddagh Ring on her right hand felt hot, the heart pressing into her skin. By the time the song ended, Meghan’s green eyes were misty with tears.

“Well now, darlin’,” he touched her cheek. “If I knew Danny Boy would make you cry, I’d a sung When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Meghan Shannon O’Malley lost herself in pools of midnight blue.
“I’m Rork,” the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He took her right hand and kissed the heart on her ring. “Single and looking, are ya?”
“The Claddagh Ring, darlin’,” he kissed it again. “On your right hand with the heart facing outward, means you’re single and looking for romance.”
“Ah…I have no idea what you’re talking about; it’s just a ring, a gift from my mother.”
“Ah, come on now, darlin’ girl,” he got a little closer, staring into her eyes. “Ya can’t fool an Irishman. My mother bought one for each of my sisters. I’ll have ya know they’re all married.”
Meghan felt lightheaded. “My mother gave me this ring the night before she died. It’s a family heirloom, said to be blessed by St. Patrick himself. Mama promised me by wearing the Claddagh, everything in my life would come full circle. So before you go thinking I’m wearing it to find a husband, think again.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” his blue eyes seared into hers like lasers. “What do ya say, Meghan, darlin’ girl of my heart.”

The Claddagh Ring Available Now!

To see the book trailer, visit my website:


February 25-March 17
Visit my website for contest rules
Winner to be announced St. Patrick’s Day!
And will receive…



Ricardo Cabeza said... is running a special where you get a free Drunk Leprechaun St. Patrick's Day T-shirt when you buy another Irish t-shirt!

Julie Robinson said...

So much interesting Irish trivia! I loved it.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks Julie! Glad you enjoyed it. I'm a real trivia buff and am drawn to legend and lore.