Irish Fireside Chat with Cindy Thomson
Last month we asked what topics you’d like to see more of on the Irish Fireside. So far, the responses have been clear; you want “more Irish history.”
To help in that category, Cindy Thomson joins us as a regular contributor. She blogs regularly about Celtic spirituality and Irish history on her Celtic Voices blog, and she is the author of several books including “Celtic Wisdom” and “Brigid of Ireland.”
Please join us in giving Cindy a warm Irish Fireside welcome with this little Ireland inspired chat…
Cindy, what motivated you to start writing about Ireland?
The short answer is my genealogy research. I have been an avid genealogist since I was about 12. When I learned my roots went back to Ireland, I became interested in all things Irish. I love history so one thing just led to another.
If you could meet three people from Irish history, who would they be?
Certainly St. Brigid. Just how does someone become so generous? She is said to have given away things constantly, even things that weren’t hers!
There are plenty of others, so I’ll just choose two more: W. B. Yeats. I wonder what conversations with him were like. Did he talk the way he wrote?
And going back to ancient history, it would be a toss up between St. Patrick and St. Columba. I wonder if Patrick did all the things that were said about him. And Columba must have been a very interesting man to have founded as many monasteries as he did.
No, wait! Certainly St. Brendan would be fascinating to talk to about his famous journey. What did he really see, and where did he really go? America possibly?
This is a dangerous question to ask me! I could go on and on…
Tell us a little about your books and writing?
I’m fascinated with ancient Irish history. That led to my novel about St. Brigid, but I was interested in the whole early Christian time period, so I put some of that research into Celtic Wisdom, which is non fiction. However, my first love is historical fiction, and I’m still working in that genre and hoping to get publisher interest on some new projects.
I also do quite a bit of genealogy writing for some magazines, mostly Irish genealogy. I’ve also written some historical short stories for children. History is my focus in whatever I write.
Does your family share your passion for all things Celtic?
Yes, although they’re probably not as passionate as I am. My husband Tom loves that I often sign books and speak at Irish festivals. He enjoys the music. He’s learned to make St. Brigid crosses, and while I sign books he teaches children how to make them.
He also wanted to go to Ireland almost as much as I did, and he even volunteered to drive on the other side of the road. He’s gotten very interested in tracing his roots after we visited Maghera in County Londonderry where we knew his ancestors came from.
My middle son chooses to identify mostly with his Thomson Scottish roots. I think Braveheart had more to do with that than his mom’s writing though.
Name an off the beaten path destination in Ireland you think more people should visit.
We stayed an entire week in a town called Moira in County Down. It was an easy drive from there to Belfast and Armagh and plenty of “on the beaten path” places. We stayed at a B&B and had several conversations with folks from Wales, England, Scotland, along with the local Irish. Some stayed at the B&B while they worked in the area, so they were not tourists.
The town was so beautiful and quaint and peaceful, plus the restaurants were first rate. And if we had needed it, there was a train station nearby. It’s close to Downpatrick, where my Irish roots go back to. And the St. Patrick Centre in Downpatrick is a must see.
What’s on the must see/do list for your next trip to the Emerald Isle?
We were not typical visitors because we purposely planned to not see it all in one trip. That left plenty to go back to see. On my list: Galway, Glendalough, Glenstal Abbey, more time in Dublin and Giant’s Causeway, and a trip over to Scotland.
Any travel tips you’d like to offer?
Spend time in the city where you arrive before renting a car and taking off for the countryside. We weren’t able to do this because our first flight was canceled and we had to adjust our itinerary.
We slept very little on the flight over, and we could have used a little down time before heading off (and taking on the challenge of driving on the opposite side of the road, maneuvering roundabouts, and getting used to the narrow roads.) Jet lag is real, and I think it’s a good idea to allow yourself time to adjust before hitting the ground running. Once we were rested, we enjoyed our trip a lot more. Another tip is to use headphones on the flight to drown out distractions so you can sleep.
Chicken or beef?
Well, chicken because I try to watch my cholesterol. But if I’m in Ireland, beef for sure. Nothing beats the taste of an Irish hamburger.