Sandy Cove, Kinsale

Sandy Cove, Kinsale

Places are fundamental for any writers creative process.  I always know when a good writer is really familiar with a place, they bring colour and life that only really knowing makes possible.

John Steinbeck brought Southern California alive for me long before I ever visited the area. James Joyce made Dublin live for me. So here are a few of the places that feature in my novels but mainly the one that hold good memories. You’ll not find Belfast here – only horror there for me.

 Sandy Cove near Kinsale features in most of my later novels.  The Dawes from the Daniel series and the West Cork Trilogy  live there in the red house (centre of top image) on the sea. The fictional house is based on this place but I didn’t live there  and don’t know the people who did. (This is the view from the  house I lived in.) In the work I describe Lauren and the  children swimming here, crabbing, shrimping and fishing  for whitebait and mackerel. In the summer vast shoals of  little silver darlings come into the bay chased by shoals of  voracious hunting mackerel. It’s a harvest much anticipated  by the few who live here and appreciate the delights of deep  fried crunchy little whitebait. Oh my mouth is watering thinking of it. Brigitte gathered them by the bucket full with a children’s shrimping net while, I hooked the careless keen mackerel as fast as I could cast. Charlie  the cat went daft eating the silver darlings. He’d get high on fish oil and go ape. He attacked a huge dog that happened along and tried to interrupt his gorging. The sight of a white cat hooking little fish out of the water by the slip edge caused much hilarity among the human fishers.

 The other place of great magic and affection for B and I is the  Black Valley in Kerry. That has not yet featured in my  writing. It’s almost too precious for that. I first came here as a  17 year old to camp and escape Belfast. It’s not far from  Killarney but feels remote and rarely gets many visitors. I  used to leave a line and hook overnight in the mountain  stream ponds and have little brook trout fresh for breakfast.  Magical. There is something special about this valley. It’s not  the most majestic. It’s beauty is subtitle and small scale but  all the more charming for that.