ROSS CASTLE: KILLARNEY,COUNTY KERRY,IRELAND
Members of The Leprechaun King Tour ofIrelandstop to share a smile.
STORMING THE CASTLE WALLS
by Arthur Cola
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles on how to write for a particular genre and watched television shows which are really promoting how, where and when to take one’s vacation. What struck me most is that all agree that a writer should concentrate on things they know or have experienced if they are to create a convincing narrative within the story or TV program. Well one may say that after reading my novel of The Shamrock Crown (Legend of Excalibur) you will have certainly experienced the Realm of the Wee Folk and become a believer. But the story is more than that. For it brings to life a legend that most of us grew up with, that of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. My tale also presents those special places known and not so well known in Ireland and Britain in such a manner that a yearning to visit those countries may result from reading the story. Perhaps it’s because of that background, love of legends and conducting tours which are based on my books, whether that be The Leprechaun King Tour of Ireland, The Excalibur Tour of Britain or The Michelangelo Tour of Italy, one can be sure that whenever I see a castle, particularly one from the Middle Ages, my thoughts go back to those days of Champions, Chivalry and jousts. I would venture to say that most readers of this article have a fascination for castles as well. And it is because of that belief that I make sure whenever I accompany a group on one of myToursthat we get to visit a variety of those magnificent symbols of another age which stimulate one’s imagination and excite one’s very soul.
Ross Castle in CountyKerryjust outside Killarney is a lovely example of what I’m talking about. It was built in the 1400’s and was never conquered until that woeful day when Oliver Cromwell’s troops appeared on the lake which borders it two hundred years later. So frightful a sight was this impending attack and so well known was Cromwell’s reputation for utterly destroying that which he conquered that the Castle surrendered in the hopes of saving its people. Unfortunately parts of it were destroyed, but luckily for us today its main keep has been restored to the delight of tourists who come to this lovely forested site on Lough Leane. So impressed was I on my first visit to the restored ruin that it ended up in my story of Papa and the Leprechaun King.
It was our second visit toIrelandand this time my wife and I took along our two youngest sons. I wasn’t writing books as yet, too busy being a school principal and teacher of History. But I was creating stories and keeping a journal so as to one day entertain our granddaughter and three grandsons.
It was an August day when I drove our mini bus into Killarney and checked into our B&B, a charming place a stone’s throw from the town centre and across from the little park with the statue of Christ the King in the centre. It was around that piece of serene spirituality where the Jaunty Carts would park waiting to pick up passengers for a ride into the National Forest. We stopped for lunch at a pub down the street from the International Hotel which would become the headquarters for ourToursin Killarney when they would begin several years later. It was also in that Pub that our 18 year old sons had their first taste of Guinness. The photos of that first tasting are priceless for that beverage is an acquired one to be sure. This is especially true for Americans with little exposure to its frothy head and whose lack of experience with beer and ale was quite evident, much to the delight of my wife and me, I might add.
After that historic tasting we boarded the mini bus which we called the blue beast. The term was one of endearment and sarcasm referring to its loud diesel engine. I, as the driver headed out on the narrow road toward see Muckross House, a stunning example of 18th Century architecture nestled on an estate which was donated to the Republic of Ireland. On the way we saw the signs for Ross Castle. Naturally, I quickly turned down the tree lined path and came upon the Castle sitting ever so peacefully on a beautiful lake on which swam a flock of Swans. Talk about a picture post card moment, one could not have asked for a better photo opportunity. Unfortunately for us, the main gate was locked so all we could do is walk around the outer areas; that is until we got to its backside or the side facing the lough (lake). There we instantly noticed that a series of giant rocks offered one a boost to the Castle’s outer wall. The wall itself had protruding stones which made for a handy staircase which in turn got you close enough to the top of the fortress wall where one could pull oneself up onto the top of it and look down into the courtyard below. It was a childhood dream that flashed in my mind just as my sons began to role play a sword fight with me. It no time I challenged them to storm the castle walls and save the captured maidens. As if they were born to chivalry and the days of old they gingerly made their way up onto the top of the summit and were able to assist their less agile father up onto the ledge as well. From below my wife and friends were shouting various words of encouragement and horror as a foot slipped or unbalanced swerving was detected. But the deed was done and we had stormed the walls of Ross Castle and found ourselves on top of the perimeter of the outer wall enjoying the view of courtyard with cannon and the lough as one probably would have seen it on that day when the boats of Cromwell’s forces could be seen crossing its now placid waters on what was a cool August day for us.
And so, as they say, the rest is history. Ross Castle had been etched into the recesses of my mind and the events of the day onto the pages of my journal that evening. Now I can’t say that’s how most writers place special sites or events into their stories but it is how I do it. And for me it is a labor of love and a chance to experience Swans tranquilly swimming along the docks, imagining troops sailing across the lough, visualizing those 15th century days in history and enjoying the bonds of family and friends once more. And hopefully those who read my stories, or see the films which we hope to produce based on them, will feel that sense of adventure, family and mystery as they read my legendary tales.
(Arthur Cola is the author of three novels: The Stone Cutter Genius, The Shamrock Crown (Legend of Excalibur) and Papa and the Leprechaun King. He has also written three screenplays based on his books. They are The Stone Cutter Genius, The Shamrock Crown and The Leprechaun King. The last two may be viewed at www.studios.amazon.com/arthurcola. Make him your friend at Facebook, Twitter or Youtube. Visit his web site at: www.arthurcolalegendarytales.com. His books are available through www.amazon.com/arthurcola or Barnes and Noble. Blog site: www.arthurcolalegendarytales.wordpress.com. Tour contact: firstname.lastname@example.org ).