Céad míle fáilte!
That’s the Irish for “A thousand welcomes!” Don’t ask me to pronounce it…
Anyone who has ever been to Ireland knows just how wonderful the land and the people are. Being of Irish descent, I have to admit a certain prejudice toward the Emerald Isle.
Claire Fullerton sets her story in this beautiful country, peopled with colorful characters that will be unforgettable, I am sure.
So let’s have a look, shall we?
Twenty five year old Hailey Crossan takes a trip to Ireland during a sabbatical from her job in the LA record business. While there, she’s offered a job too good to turn down, so she stays.
Although Hailey works in Galway, she lives in the countryside of Connemara, a rural area famous for its Irish traditional music. When Hailey meets local musician, Liam Hennessey, a confusing relationship begins, which Hailey thinks is the result of differing cultures, for Liam is married to the music, and so unbalanced at the prospect of love, he won’t come closer nor completely go away.
And so begins the dance of attraction that Hailey struggles to decipher. Thankfully, a handful of vibrant local friends come to her aid, and Hailey learns to love a land and its people, both with more charm than she ever imagined.
I can almost feel the sun on my shoulders and the cobbles beneath my feet…
Let’s find out more about Ms. Fullerton…
Claire Fullerton is an award winning essayist, a magazine contributor, a former newspaper columnist, and a four time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. She hails from Memphis, Tn. and now lives in Malibu California. “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is her second novel.
Make sure to check out her pages.
Lovely! Doesn’t she look like the ultimate Irish lass too?
Now for the best part of the blog, in my opinion. I love reading excerpts, don’t you?
I walked into Taaffes a few minutes after five and saw Liam sitting at the bar talking to the bartender. I sat down on the stool beside him and accepted the half-pint of Guinness the bartender placed before me as if he read my mind.
“Well, now I’ve seen where you work,” Liam said.
“You have,” I nodded. “Thanks for coming by.”
“Glad to do it. My brother Anthony will be here in a minute. He and his friend Eamon are playing here tonight.”
“Anthony plays guitar, right?” I asked. “I think I saw him playing guitar in Hughes, didn’t I?”
“He does. He sings as well, not very well, mind you, but he tries.”
“So, what’s he sing?” I asked.
“Songs from American songwriters mostly, people like James Taylor and John Denver,” he said.
It’s amazing the things that make it over here, I thought. I don’t know anybody who takes John Denver seriously in America.
“Do you have any other brothers besides Anthony?” I asked.
“No, but I have a sister,” he said. “People say we look exactly alike.”
“What’s her name?” I asked, thinking if she looked anything like Liam, she must be absolutely beautiful.
“Nula,” he said.
“Named after your mother or grandmother?”
“My grandmother,” he said.
“On your mother’s side?” I asked.
“Yes, did I tell you that before?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Then how did you know?”
“I didn’t, I was just guessing,” I said. Since most names in Ireland are family names, it wasn’t that big of a stretch.
“So, you’re a psychic then!”
“I’m not a psychic, Liam. Please,” I said.
Liam’s brother came bursting into the pub and headed straight for us, coming to a smiling stop and looking me in the eyes as Liam turned to me saying, “You remember Anthony, yah?”
Anthony stood looking me over with eyes suggesting he had all the facts. He was older than Liam, and was his complete physical opposite. Where Liam was dark, Anthony was light; where Liam looked mysterious and withdrawn, Anthony had a wide-open freckled face, big blue eyes and an eager manner. “Hi-ya,” Anthony sang, beaming at me.
“Hi Anthony,” I said, as if I knew him. “Does anyone ever call you Tony?”
“Ah, good question from an American,” he said, “I’ve heard that one before. We don’t pronounce the letter “H” over here. Naw, I’m not a Tony, just an An-Tony.”
“Very good, I got it. What time are you on tonight?”
“Not until eight,” he said. “We’re just here to set up. If you miss it, you won’t be missing much from me; Liam’s the real singer in the family.”
Surprised, I looked at Liam. “You sing?” I asked.
“I don’t,” he said quickly. “At least not in public.”
“He should sing in public, but he never will,” Anthony sang his brother’s praise.
“All right, if you were to sing, what would you sing? What kind of music do you listen to?”
“He likes Sting and Chris De Burgh. He has all of Chris De Burgh’s records,” Anthony answered for him. “You’re familiar with Chris De Burgh, yah? ‘The Lady in Red?’ Liam loves that song.”
“I know the song,” I said.
“Chris De Burgh is Irish, did you know that?
“No, I had no idea,” I said.
“Oh yah, and Liam can sing just like him,” Jimmy said. “You should hear him.”
Liam seemed embarrassed during this exchange while his brother did the talking for him. “Liam is known all over Ireland as one of the best box players around, but the truth is he’s good at everything: he composes, arranges, sings and teaches — he can do everything and do it well,” Anthony said, just as a stout young man wearing a waxed jacket joined us. “You ready?” Anthony turned to the young man.
“I am, yah.”
“This is Hailey; she’s an American.” Anthony clapped a proprietorial hand on my shoulder. “This is Eamon,” he said. Eamon made no pretense of hiding his newcomer’s once-over.
“Let’s do this,” Anthony directed, and the two retreated to set up the stage.
“Are you and Anthony close?” I turned to Liam.
“Not really. I guess we’re about as close as I am to anyone,” he answered vaguely.
I don’t know why, but I thought Liam’s quick response was kind of odd, or maybe it was just telling. You have to watch people when you’re first getting to know them because they send out clues when you least expect it, and you’d be doing very well to pay attention. I wondered if this was an insight into Liam’s character. Was he telling me he’d never had the desire to be close to anyone? Was he indicating he wasn’t capable of closeness? What was he doing sitting here with me if that were the case? I decided to keep an eye on it and just let time tell.
What time told in the days and nights that followed was that Liam Hennessey was on the case and everything ran together in one exhaustive blur. Two weeks after Liam appeared at the Centre, I sat in my porch writing in my journal, documenting how much had evolved in such a short amount of time, feeling as though I’d been thrust into a new set of circumstances from the singular event of Liam’s entrance in my life. At some point, I began to expect the sound of my sliding glass door sweeping heavily aside, followed by a knock on my living room door. I never knew when it would come, but I began to listen for it right around the time the sun set. Sometimes Liam would have a plan in mind, other times he just came to sit and talk. I never knew which it was going to be, and it didn’t much matter; I was just happy to have him around. Some nights, we walked through the fields to the sea, sitting down in that place at the land’s end where two gigantic boulders sat side by side on an elevated patch hovering over the Atlantic. The first time I took him there, Liam turned to me and said, “You discovered this place on your own, yah? Is this an initiation?” Humoring him, I assured him that it was.
“It’s not just anybody I would take here,” I said, much to his approval.
“Ah, then, this is your way of chasing new romance!”
I stopped and considered: the thing about new romance is there’s an unbalancing undercurrent in its heated thrall. You’re never quite sure where you stand in the other’s eyes until the subject is broached or some overt gesture is made. It is ambiguous guesswork until then; the air is thick with it. Maybe I was chasing new romance, but I wasn’t sure what I was getting in return.
Fantastic! Just from this excerpt, I can tell that this would be a book that is well worth the read. I know I would love to escape to Ireland through Ms. Fullerton’s words.
Speaking of escapes and vehicles–here’s another vehicle:
And do stop by all of these other blogs too–after all, there will be something different on each one, and I’m sure every one of them will be enjoyable!
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That was fun! Please come by again soon.