Wow! Midwest Radio in Ireland Live Interview

I want to sincerely thank Tommy Marren, host of the Tommy Marren Show on Midwest Radio for hosting me on his show yesterday morning. Also, a huge thank you to Ciara Mannioin, also at Midwest, who coordinated the entire event. If you’d like to listen to the interview, here’s a link to the audio file.

I’m looking forward to listening to Midwest when I get to Ireland next week. In fact, as soon as I can I usually tune the car radio to Midwest to keep me company on the drive from Shannon to Castlebar. I’ve mentioned in other posts that there’s no television in the cottage. I always look forward to listening to Midwest in the morning and then again in the evenings. The opportunity to get away from the wall to wall television here in the US is a restful component of my vacation.

Thanks again to Midwest Radio for your hospitality and demonstrating once again Ireland’s and especially County Mayo’s warmth and welcoming spirit.

Keep the love going, Martha

Céad Míle Fáilte

Photo by Steven Hylands on

Ireland: Land of a Hundred Thousand Welcomes. This lrish saying is something I’ve seen and heard countless times since I was four years old. That’s when I made my first visit to Counties Mayo and Cork with my parents. Over the years I’ve traveled to Ireland many times and have had an opportunity to experience the warmth and welcoming spirit of the Emerald Isle.

For me this saying has a deeper meaning. My mother left Ireland when she was sixteen years old. Fortunately, she’s had an opportunity to return many times. She and my father even lived there for a few years after they bought a cottage.  But my mom was the only one of her siblings who left Ireland. So, for me and my two brothers growing up in New York and New Jersey, it was a special treat to go to Ireland. What a welcome! The excitement of meeting aunts, uncles, and cousins. It didn’t matter how many times I went to Ireland; the welcome was always there, always fresh.

People here in the US would often ask “Aren’t you afraid to travel alone?” Me, “no”. Not when my trip took me to French Hill, Castlebar, County Mayo. There was family to see. Tea to be brewed. (Oh, as much as they love me, they wouldn’t want me to brew the tea…too weak), brown bread and butter to eat. It doesn’t matter where you go in Ireland…someone will always welcome you. There will always be a cup of tea (cupán tae) if you need it.

In September I will be in Castlebar for the launch of my book Death on Clare Island. I will be interviewed on Midwest Radio and hold a book reading at the Castle Book Shop on Castle Street. I’m excited about all of this but the most amazing part of it all: how welcoming and hospitable the radio station and book store owner is. I called and explained who I am and what I’d like to do. And they said “Yes.” They welcomed me and will accommodate my schedule and wishes. This is the sense of openness and community I’ve witnessed in this land of a hundred thousand welcomes throughout my life.

Several years ago, I published a journal article about how to create and live in community. It takes trust, respect, love, and the idea of liability for each other. Yes, we are all individuals but I believe our sense of being also comes from our relationships with others. Those relationships often shape who we are, our spirit, and our mind.

I guess for me all the welcomes, the cups of tea, the love, the support, and understanding for someone who pops into the country once in a while has been a core part of who I have become.

Star O’Brien, the main character in the Star O’Brien mystery series also experiences this welcoming spirit when she arrives in Ireland. I hope that as time goes on, Star will also find that she is part of an amazing community.

Keep the love going, Martha

Reek Sunday and The Pilgrim’s Path

This Sunday, the last Sunday in July, is Reek Sunday in County Mayo, Ireland. What is that you might ask? I cannot begin to explain or describe it all. It is a tradition in Ireland that began at least 1500 years ago. It is a day and the night before of pilgrimage to climb to the top of Croagh Patrick. The Reek is Croagh Patrick’s nick name and is about 2500 feet above sea level. It’s also one of twelve mountains (called the Twelve Bens) that form a mountain range in Connacht.

Now Croagh Patrick is a holy mountain. Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, is said to have climbed to the top where he fasted and prayed for forty days and nights. Thousands of people climb the mountain each year. I’ve heard all kinds of stories of how people do the climb: husbands and wives join hands and arms to climb it together; some people climb in bare feet as an act of penance. There’s a chapel at the summit where Mass is celebrated.

I’ve had a few climbs of the mountain myself. I was sixteen years old the first time. A student in boarding school, I was dating a local boy, Michael Rice. I had no idea the import of the Reek Sunday. All I know is that on the Saturday evening, we went to Murrisk where we climbed to the top of the mountain and when we got down, we went into a church in Westport for Mass.

The next time, I climbed was not on Reek Sunday. It was a beautiful summer day. It was just an opportunity to go for a hike. One of my cousins came with me. I will never forget the view of Clew Bay. The West of Ireland in all its beauty. Its sacredness.

Then when I was much older, one summer I took part in the Pilgrim’s Path. This does not occur on Reek Sunday. It about a 26-mile walk from Balintubber Abbey along the path that Saint Patrick took to the top of the mountain. We walked on roads and through fields. We stopped at a holy well. The priest who led the walk said Mass in a cemetery just as the priest’s did during Cromwell’s times. And, finally we came to the backside, south side, foot of Croagh Patrick. There was no path. No guide. Just sheer determination to climb and reach the summit. And I did it! But how you might ask. With a set intention!

At the beginning of the walk, we each received a walking stick (staff) to use along the way. Our priest guide also suggested that each of us go into the church at Balintubber Abbey, light a candle, and make an intention to guide us through the day. At that time, my father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. So, I went into that church and lit a candle to the Sacred Heart that I could do this walk for my father. I kept that candle’s light in my heart and soul that entire day.

When we finally reached the summit, we still had to make our way down the mountain on the well-trodden, dry, slippery stone path that is normally taken by pilgrims.

I arrived home that evening at our family cottage in French Hill. My Uncle Willie and Aunt Celia Hughes came by to see how I was and if I’d done it. I was so happy to see them.

That day, for me, was a pilgrimage to a sacred summit. I still have the walking stick. I have wonderful memories of my Aunt and Uncle. They and my father have gone on to another spiritual place. But their love, their guidance, their faith, their light remains.

So…. let us not despair when all seems awry in this world or in our personal lives. There are sacred places and people in this world. We each have our mountain to climb. But light your candle and set your intention. There’s good energy around us. Seek it out. Throw your arms around it. Bring others into it. And, get to the summit.

Keep the love going, Martha

A Cozy Week in Ireland

It’s been another busy week. I put a great deal of time into editing Death at Ashford Castle. A fellow author and good friend, Nick Johns, (you can check out his work on Amazon) reviewed the first draft two months ago. I’m going through the entire manuscript with his feedback in hand. I was happy to read that he didn’t “cop on” to the murderer until the reveal. (Note: “cop on” is an Irish slang phrase typically meaning “common sense”).

Best of all this week, I finally made flight and car rental arrangements to go to Ireland in September. I’m so excited!

Bill is coming with me. The airport and flight will be a challenge but we will work through it. Once we get to Ireland, we’ll have plenty of loving and caring moral support from family.

Speaking of family, I can’t wait to see my cousins and good friend. And, to go for one of my morning walks along Barney Road in French Hill. To go to Café Rua on Spencer Street for a morning cup of coffee while reading the Irish Times.

I’d also like to hold a book signing event for Death on Clare Island while we’re there. No promises yet. All I can say is I’m working on it. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for this week. Stay in touch and if you enjoyed my book, please tell your friends. If you have time, please leave a review on Amazon. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your feedback.

Keep the love going, Martha

Time for an Update

I know. I haven’t posted in over a week. I haven’t answered emails either. Sorry. I’ve even ignored my TBR. But I’ve been busy.

Followers of my blog know that my love is dealing with what I call “brain blindness”. The medical name is right homonymous hemianopsia. He has it on both sides of his brain. It’s extremely difficult even for me who’s around him all the time to imagine what it is he can and cannot see. And this life event impacts your cognitive abilities.

Two weeks ago, the neurologist wrote a prescription for physical therapy. And so, two days a week, we are there working on building awareness and scanning techniques. At home, I work with him to take longer strides while swinging his arms. This practice will build his confidence and overcome fear of falling.

The doctor also recommended more vitamin D and folate in his diet. So, I’ve been doing lots of research on the Mediterranean diet and looking for simple recipes to make. Initially, this has taken up lots of time. And I’ve had to convince Bill that he loves dishes like broccoli slaw and arugula salad.

But I am also working on the second book in the Star O’Brien series. I love that readers of Death on Clare Island have contacted me about when the second book will be available. All I can say is: I’m working on it. These days I’m going through edits that a fellow author provided. I expect there will be several more rounds of editing between now and the end of August.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently. If you’re like me you too are caring for someone you love. My only advice is to take time to do what feeds your soul, if only for a few minutes each day. For me, it’s bringing my Star O’Brien series to life.

Stay in touch and if you enjoyed my book, please tell your friends. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your feedback.

Love, Martha