Touring Rural Landscapes in Ireland and Britain

My plane left O’Hare at 2:15 p.m. on Friday, August 5. I arrive at Shannon Airport near Limerick, Ireland the same day at 6:06 a.m., reclaiming a few hours of my life. Several tour members wait with me for our Irish driver. His name is Tom and lucky for us, he’s a retired history teacher. We tour Limerick and settle in briefly at our hotel.

dscn0229An overcast morning greets us the next day as we travel through the rugged countryside of western Ireland. The country is so exuberantly green that I want to burst into song. The mists, the bogs create enchantment. I see auras everywhere.

Tom tells us there’s a resurgence of interest among the young in learning Gaelic, and ancient songs and literature. Later, I learn that the European Union funds the study of ancient languages and arts. Brexit will remove those funds from Wales and Scotland, but not Ireland, as it is not part of the United Kingdom. Road signs are in Gaelic, as well as in English.

Tom tells us stories of atrocities committed by the Black and Tans, the constabulary recruited to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921). Memories of the Black and Tan stoke hatred in the hearts of many Irish.

As we drive through the countryside, we see cows, horses, and sheep on the hillsides. Most of the fences are dry stone walls. Artisans to repair broken walls, we learn, are a dying breed. Tom informs us that the original Irish were small in stature. After repeated Viking invasions, the Irish “grew up.” He tells us about Brian Boru (c 941-1014), who defeated the Danes at the Battle of Clongarf and afterward was slain in his tent by a Danish slave. The battle took place north of Dublin.

DSCN0163We head for the Ring of Kerry, a 112-mile coastal route, known for its ancient forts. The forts were thought to have been built betwen 500 BCE and 300 CE for defense from rival clans. Inner rings allowed an enclosure for livestock. We stop at Cahergal Fort near Cahersiveen. See photos.

DSCN0137At Kinsale, we tour Desmond Castle. Tom tells us there are 780 castles in Ireland. Desmond Castle was built in the sixteenth century. Located on the Celtic Sea, it was built as a customs house. In 1601, Spain occupied Kinsale and turned the castle into an armory. Later, it held prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars, as well as American Revolutionary War prisoners captured at sea. During the famine years, it served as a relief center.

The next stop is Cobh near Cork, where we learn about the Potato Famine.

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Latest Review of Edwina

Kindle-EdwinaCover“A poet writing a posthumous biography of a horror-novelist colleague gets caught up in an investigation of bones found buried on the author’s property in Handy’s (Spy Car and Other Poems, 2016, etc.) thriller.”

Read the entire review…

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Look to the Skies

While cleaning the garage, I found a tape recording from Carol, an astrological counselor I’d consulted while suffering through the darkest days of my life journey. In six months, two family members committed suicide–both young men. One death was caused by my gun and my bullets, which I had not hidden well enough to thwart a young man high on drugs and alcohol.

Like Cassandra, I’d foreseen family stresses and desperately sought help, but no one listened. I managed to get everyone in front of a therapist at the same time, but my attractive, witty family charmed him into pronouncing them all well-adjusted. I was old, out-of-touch, imagining things.

While I was in my initial stage of grieving, a well-meaning priest attempted to explain why God hadn’t answered my prayers to save my family. The suicides, he said, were consequences of forces set in motion long ago. That was true. Was he saying those forces were stronger than God? He avoided answering that question.

Exhausted by grief and guilt, I turned to Carol and her astrological acumen. In speaking to me and by casting my chart, she determined that underneath the rubble of my self-loathing, I was a seeker, whose will it was to armor through darkness in search of light. She compiled mini-charts of those with whom I was involved–they were wall-builders, disinclined to self-awareness. Reconciliation attempts would continue to be futile. I did not need those people in my life. “Give them to the universe,” she said. “Let the universe care for them.”

What a blow! Hope rises as a natural desire and I refused to accept her advice. With passage of time, however, I found she was right. I’d need to carve out a new life and leave part of my family behind.

I was a sentimental person. Memories were fly-papered to my soul–children’s fingerprints on my high school graduation photo, dandelion bouquets, long games of Clue and Monopoly, bedtime stories, a set of pastel bowls, so many, so many…

I followed Carol’s instructions. Without bitterness, I cast my memories into the heavens, and after a short time, they lost their power to torment.

The universe treated me kindly and I was unused to kindness. As a result, I fell in love with the heavens, planets, clouds, the moon, the stars, the dim winter sun. It forgave me, accepted me, and I flourished.

I tried to email Carol to tell her of my progress, but she didn’t answer. Later, her partner responded–she’d passed away. I told him I was grateful for her help. He said that had been her mission–to help people.

Often I look into the night sky and see Carol there. How many others did she help?

Lynne Handy Photo taken by Denise Bennorth June 23, 2016

Lynne Handy
Photo taken by Denise Bennorth
June 23, 2016

amid the stars.

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What’s Wrong with America is Us

I’ve been writing poetry today, not creating, but tending to line breaks, listening for sound structures, weighing words. The poems are about a river storm, a shooting of an old, sick dog, and a worm’s destruction of rosebushes. I had in mind to write one about my fabulous back yard–I’ll do that tomorrow.

But I can’t keep the present out. Another shooting. The worst one we’ve ever had. I’m aghast. I’m numb.

I’m also riding a wave of anger. I’m mad at the NRA, which goes past reason, accountability, and morality in its refusal to support stronger gun legislation and enforcement of current laws. Selling a person with ISIS connections a gun–an AR assault rifle–is unconscionable. The seller didn’t know? The seller should have known.

I’m furious at politicians–Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians. A pox on all their houses! How dare they not do their jobs. I’m mad at apathetic people, those who counsel “thought” and “prayers” to solve our direst problems. I’m mad at the media, at TV news that is biased and simply ON TOO LONG. Orwell’s telescreen in 1984 continually spouted propaganda.

As far as I know, my TV isn’t monitoring me, but my computer is.

I’m mad because education isn’t given the financing it merits. An education helps you assess data and come to informed decisions. The Constitution was not created by uneducated people. The finest minds in the country came together to create our nation. How we dare we shame our forefathers by electing bumpkins to be our leaders!

I’m also mad about that kid in California getting away with rape, but that’s another entire issue–the denigration and control of women. I’m saving that for my next rant.

I’ve come to the conclusion that what’s wrong with America is us. We’re not standing up for our basic principles. We’re sloppy, lazy, and self-focused. We’re closing our eyes to what’s slipping away–and I don’t mean the Fifties (let that time of hypocrisy go). I mean our future.

Lynne Handy, Poet

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My Novella, The Untold Story of Edwina, is Available!

Kindle-EdwinaCoverI am pleased to announce that my novella, The Untold Story of Edwina, is ready for purchase on Amazon.

When poet Maria Pell agrees to write a biography of deceased writer Edwina Frost, she has no clue that the horror fiction maven’s ghost will tag along. Complicating matters is the discovery of a child’s bones on Frost property. How does Louise, Edwina’s aloof sister, figure into the story? Her Poe-quoting cousin James? Then there’s the Spanish poet who writes of peacocks…

Maria loves her housemate, Mathieu. So does her gorgeous red-headed neighbor, Sybi, who shares photos of dried monkey heads to help with his article on voodoo. As Maria’s jealousy grows, will she suffer the same fate as Edwina? Will a malevolent spirit possess her? Read The Untold Story of Edwina to find out.

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Read My Tale of the Old West

Read my short story on FewerThan500.com!

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My Poetry is Featured in Reverie Fair!

ReverieFair

 

 

I’m pleased to announce that my poetry and I are on pages 40-41. Read the magazine.

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