Why Ireland? It has always fascinated me. Then I married an Englishman, and lived in London during the worst of the Troubles—more than 30 years of continuing bloody violence between the Protestants in Northern Ireland who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom and the Catholics who lived there who held to the dream of a united Ireland, ruled independently. It only ended at the turn of the 21st century, when the ordinary people in the North grew too tired of the hard men on both sides to continue to give them sanctuary.
I decided the Irish were all crazy. Why go on fighting when thousands had already died in battles over seven long centuries, and the Irish had, after all, won? In 1923 the Republic of Ireland gained independence, except for the 8 counties that chose to remain British.
But the Ireland of today, both the independent country and the 8 counties of Northern Island, is amazingly beautiful. In the west the sapphire blue Atlantic smashes against giant cliffs, and the land is green and dotted with ruins from the generations before. As you go east, you encounter the astonishing variety of greens that Ireland offers, and the wonderful twisting roads that wind through the countryside. And the people! Just as I’ve always read, Irish people love to share a story—over a pint, preferably—and welcome anyone who has the time and patience to hang around for a bit rather than rush off to the next page in the guidebook.
But what increasingly intrigued me was the clash that had gone on for 700 years in all between the English who were determined to tame the Irish and the Irish who refused to be tamed, to become English. I had history books to tell me how it happened: what caught my attention was how it must have felt to the people who made their life there, the ruling English and the Irish they dominated.
I imagined an Anglo-Irish girl whose family had held Irish estates for generations, born in Ireland and passionately attached to the land and the people she knew. Like many of the English in Ireland, she knew little or nothing about how many of the Irish people suffered under the English rule, that hunger and starvation were never far away. So there were two men there she met: one an enigmatic red-headed Irishman and one a handsome, responsible Englishman come to run his new Irish estate himself, rather than trust to a middleman who might or might not care about the people living on his land. She has to choose where her loyalty lies.
I called it The Divided Heart, for the girl who must discover who she most truly is. And I hope her story will be one that interests other people who, like me, have fallen in love with Ireland, with all its complications.
Bio: Beppie lives in the surburban Detroit, Michigan area with her husband, a British architect, and two cats. She has four adult children. She has also lived in England and calls Ireland “the home of my heart.”
She has written all her life and has eight published books to her credit. Her first story was published in a children’s magazine when she was eight years old and her second, an article published in Seventeen magazine. She has worked at the University of California Press at Berkeley, Doubleday in New York, Doubleday’s wholly-owned English subsidiary, Aldus Books.
She is a proud member of Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.
You can find Beppie at:
Anne is an Irish-born daughter of an English earl, who has a fierce love for the brilliantly green countryside around her and the haunting figures of the Irish tales of past greatness. Protected from reality through her girlhood, she comes to discover she lives in a society bitterly divided by Irish hatred for the English and English contempt for the Irish. Where will she fit in this beautiful, troubled land?
You can buy The Divided Heart at: Amazon.com
14 thoughts on “Why Ireland? – Guest Post by Beppie Harrison, Author of The Divided Heart”
Thank you so much for sharing! What a perspective. I’ve added your book to my TBR pile. Good luck and wish you many sales!
Thanks so much! I have to admit to a continuing fascination with the place and its people. And seeing it primarily from the English point of view made it even more interesting when I crossed the Irish Sea and looked at the complications from the Irish point of view.
It’s always wonderful hearing all the nuances that inform storylines and this one is fascinating. I have a particular love for the Irish ;). Here’s hoping that your beautiful story reaches many readers.
Thank you, too, for calling it a beautiful story! I hope it is, because it takes place in such a beautiful country, one that I’ve grown more and more attached to. Fortunately my English husband pats me on the head and tells me it’s just a temporary aberration.
Ireland seems like such a beautiful place–the countryside especially, from the pictures I’ve seen. My SIL and her daugher had a week’s vacation there and they rave about it. I’m so looking forward to reading your book, which is now proudly on my Kindle. (Yes, it is. Proudly :D)
Congrats on the release, Beppie. Looking forward to reading The Divided Heart. As for Ireland, you know you’re preaching to the choir here. All six of my books are set there, and a seventh is in the works. And I never object to hands-on research. Heading back over next month. We’ll have to meet in a Dublin pub one of these days. Best of the best to you and your writing!
It is a beautiful place–partly because of the poverty. Much of the charm of Dublin is that the center is in many ways a Georgian city. When the Irish Parliament was eliminated and the Irish (i.e. Anglo-Irish at best) “representation” moved to Parliament in London in 1803, Dublin quietly withered away. There was no money to rebuild, and so the Georgian stamp remains on the city. More might have been destroyed had the Celtic Tiger phenomenon of Irish prosperity starting at the end of the 20th century continued, but Ireland has, like Spain and Iceland, suffered from the global depression. And of course, now there are many in Ireland (not least the Tourist Board!) who appreciate the traditional beauty of Dublin, although unfortunately there are still some unfinished modern buildings where lovely old ones used to be.
Pat, somehow my reply to Barbara has ended up down here. I am definitely not a digital genius!
I loved your book, The Rosewood Whistle–and the fact that it takes place in the Ireland that is. Yes, we’ll definitely have to meet there, but not this year! I’ve spent the last six months recuperating from major spinal surgery and my husband pales at the thought of carting me across the Atlantic this year. You up for next year or the year after? I’m going to be there!
I was wondering about the history lesson 🙂 No worries. I’ve done a few daft things with comments myself. Let’s keep in touch, Beppie. Give me a shout whenever you’re up for a visit to the Emerald Isle, and we’ll see what we can do.
Huge congratulations on your release, Beppie!! It’s on my Kindle queued to read! Tweeted and shared!
Ella, I do appreciate you and your thoughtfulness. Yes, I feel especially triumphant about actually getting this one out after an enforced time out. With any luck (and a lot of determination) the second book will be published in late May or June. Trying to keep up with you!
I’ll probably be stoned, but Ireland isn’t on my must see list. 🙂
I promise not to tell anyone else, and next time we’re together I will enlighten you on your misjudgment. Have to admit that there are places around the world well down my list, and I guess it’s only fair to allow others the same! But thanks for visiting anyway . . .
As the daughter of Irish immigrants, stories deeply rooted in the history of the country always appeal to me. The Divided Heart sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it. 🙂