I have always liked Saint Patrick's Day. I can't explain why, but I think it's because I love the color green. That, and while everyone else answers "Christmas" to the question "What's your favorite holiday?" I felt like I wanted to pick something that not as many people chose. I guess I just don't like to conform to the status quo.
Besides Ireland is enchanting. The scenery, the history, the legends. I love to study them. For instance, have you heard the legend of the Giant's Causeway on the northern coast of Ireland? There are a few different versions of the explanation for the amazing geological feature pictured above.
One of which says a giant wanted to build a bridge between his home and another place, so he could travel across the water and engage the enemy in battle. But when he got there, he realized the enemy was a much larger giant. This scared him, so he ran home and dressed up like a baby and told his wife to tell the approaching opponent that the father of this giant infant would soon be home. When the enemy arrived, she did just that. And when he saw the size of the infant, he ran home in fear of the enormity of giant who must have sired the baby. As he ran, he tore up the bridge between the two places leaving only what is now known as the Giant's Causeway as proof the bridge had existed.
The picture on the right is a courtyard view of Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland located in Coleraine, a town near the Giant's Causeway. It is believed to be built on the original site of Saint Patrick's church which was in use back in the early 400s. The present church building was built in the late 1800s and has undergone renovation a few times since then. The history behind this beautiful building is amazing to learn about.
Saint Patrick is a patron saint of Ireland for obvious reasons. He worked there as a Christian missionary sent from Rome for many years.
He is not the only Irish saint though. Saint Valentine was adopted as an Irish saint around 1836, when his remains (found in Rome) were brought to the Catholic church in Ireland as a gift for a famous friar who had visited Rome and impressed the Pope. These remains were enshrined at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, which houses the shrines of a number of Catholic saints.
Pictured here is the shrine of Saint Valentine at Whitefriar. The statue of Saint Valentine shows him in the red martyr vestments and holding a crocus, his special flower.
All three of these settings are explored in Sacred Ring. Kynan Murphy and his two friends are on a field trip to the Saint Valentine shrine when they hear about the existence of a ring once belonging to the revered saint. A ring with special miraculous powers that can mend broken relationships.
The rocky relationship between Kynan's parents spurs him on a quest to find that ring and use it to help his mom and dad. Their quest takes them to Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland in Coleraine to search for clues in the church's archives. Those clues lead them to the Giant's Causeway, where a hidden uncharted cave holds more than just adventure for the three kids.
Here's what happened in the archives of Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland:
The archives were nothing more than a room the size of a walk-in closet with walls lined with bookshelves and one old wooden file cabinet in the corner. There was a small table and two chairs off on the side, but other than that it was unfurnished. Not that there was room for much else.
“Feel free to look around. There may be something here to help you with your project,” the man said.
“Your friend said you were working on a school project,” he reminded him. Kynan could feel heat rushing to his face.
“Uh, right. Our school project… I’m sure I’ll be able to find something for it. Thanks.”
The man scrutinized him for a moment, then stepped backward out of the doorway and pulled the door closed as he said, “Let me know if you need anything else.”
Kynan took a deep breath and turned to the shelves surrounding him. He coughed. The breeze from the closing door seemed to have stirred up the light layer of dust. It must’ve been awhile since the last time someone was researching the archives. Where to start…
Tracing the shelves with his eyes, his gaze fell upon a familiar brown leather binding on the top shelf. It looked remarkably like the book Brianna had borrowed from the reference section back at the school. Could it be another copy? Brother Leroy had insisted it was the only one of its kind. He grabbed the chair and dragged it across the short distance from the table to the shelf and stepped up on it to reach the book.
As he slipped it from its place, dust particles scattered through the air, floating down into his face and hair, making him sneeze. Whatever it was, it hadn’t been disturbed in ages judging by how much dust was there. Kynan brought the ancient book down and stepped off the chair. It definitely looked like the same title. It was hard to know for sure since he couldn’t translate Gaelic. He’d have to ask Brianna. He placed the book on the table and gently blew away the dust.
Holding back the urge for another sneeze, he lifted the front cover of the book and began to leaf through the brittle parchment pages. The drawings and script were familiar. It had to be another copy of that same book. When he came to the back he noticed the glue had begun to deteriorate under the endsheet pasted to the inside coverboard and was peeling away. He smoothed his hand over the thick parchment, but it felt as though something was under it—something hidden beneath the endsheet.
Kynan lifted the edge of the curling paper but stopped and looked over his shoulder at the closed door. He wiped his palms on his thighs to blot the nervous moisture while he glanced around at the ceiling for security cameras. This was an old book. Brother Leroy had been upset about them removing the other one from the library; if Kynan was seen damaging this one, he would certainly get into much more trouble.
Satisfied he wasn’t being watched, he reached again for the detached corner and pulled the endsheet away from the inside cover. The antique glue was brittle and came easily.
Hidden beneath the fragile parchment was a pale ivory papyrus folded in quarters. The corner nearest the peeling edge of the end paper showed had discolored with age. Kynan slipped the thick paper from its hiding place and closed the book.
Licking his lips nervously, he took the folded page and slowly opened it. In aged brown ink, a hand-drawn map of the northern Irish seaboard appeared as he smoothed the creases with a gentle touch. The broad hand stroke of Gaelic script marked landmarks along the coast. Again, Kynan cringed with remorse for not having paid more attention in Irish class.This had to be it. The map to the Sacred Ring.
What is your favorite thing about Saint Patrick's Day?
Follow me and leave a comment with your email address to enter the giveaway on this blog. One person with the luck of the Irish will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and a free copy of Sacred Ring. I will also give away two more free copies of Sacred Ring -- all three winners will be chosen at random and will be posted and notified on March 23rd.
Thanks for stopping by and make sure to make your way to the other blogs on this hop.