Monday, September 23, 2013

An Irish Storyteller

I'm researching Irish storytelling. In Book Two of the Ellis Island series, Annie Gallagher remembers her Irish storyteller father.

Pop over to my Celtic Voices blog to listen to this Irish storyteller. I love it. I bet you will as well!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ireland, Yeats, and My Writing Inspiration

Drumcliffe Church built in 1809. Photo ©Cindy Thomson, 2013

When people learn about my visits to Ireland, most ask if I was researching a new book or if going there influenced my writing somehow. I usually don't have a definitive answer. All my experiences  influence my stories in some way. But, yes, Ireland is inspirational, and so is Ireland's literary history.
Since my last trip included a stay in Sligo, W.B. Yeats, who spent much of his childhood there and is buried in Drumcliffe, and how the landscape influenced him (and his brother Jack who painted some of Sligo's scenery) provided inspiration (but what for exactly, I've yet to discover!)

Benbulben, County Sligo. Photo © Cindy Thomson, 2013

Graveyard at Drumcliffe. Photo ©Cindy Thomson, 2013.

Over a century before Yeats spent his summers in Sligo, St. Columcille chose the site for one of his monasteries. In the 6th century, Columcille founded Drumcliffe and it has remained a sacred site since. (Although for all I know it was sacred to the pagans before Christianity, as many sites were.) 

Drumcliffe sits in the shadow of the magnificent mountain called Benbulben or Benbulbin (above.) The church that sits there now is of the Church of Ireland, and Yeats's great grandfather was a rector there. Not too far from the church's front doors (below, do you see swans? Some of my friends didn't when they looked at this pic) lies Yeats's grave. He died in France, but it was his wish (as written in one of his poems) to be buried at the base of Benbulben.

Drumcliffe church doors. Photo ©Cindy Thomson, 2013

W.B. Yeats Grave, Drumcliffe. Photo ©Cindy Thomson, 2013. Yeats's wife is buried there too.

The churchyard is home to a 10th century high cross, and the ruin of a round tower, which dates at least to the 10th century, but perhaps even earlier.

Drumcliffe Round Tower. Photo ©Cindy Thomson, 2013.

Apparently some of the ancient monastery's tumbledown stones were used to build the new church. I'm fascinated by the fact that for centuries people have come here to worship, celebrate, bury and mourn their dead. Hearts were full or heavy here, over and over. You can almost feel it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Immigration Experience Video

The creator says the images are in the public domain, but I've never seen the film clips at the beginning. Amazing. What do you think?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On the Trail of My Civil War Ancestor

I've been on the trail of my 2x great grandfather, Edward Myrick, ever since I found out he and his father, Enoch Myrick, were born in Clermont County, Ohio. My father's mother was a Myrick, and as far as I had known (and probably my father knew) they all lived in Indiana for a long time. But not this branch. Edward Myrick moved to Indiana right after the Civil War. He died when my grandmother was not quite six, so no one spoke of his service.

Edward Myrick served in the Civil War. He signed up not far from his home at Camp Dennison and he also mustered out there at the end of the war. Discovering he had applied for an invalid pension helped me find out this information. Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the site. It's only open on Sunday afternoons and run by some nice volunteer ladies from the DAR. There are two sites to visit. One is the Christian Waldschmidt Homestead, built in 1803. It's quite interesting, but by the time my ancestor was there, the Waldschmidts were not. The area and houses were abandoned and claimed by the state, and the surrounding land rented from the families who owned it--between 600 and 700 acres, depending on the source you pick. Being so close to the river, and with the railroad running right through the middle of the site, it was the logical place to put a large (about 18,000 men at a time) training facility. The DAR ladies said the site was chosen to protect the city of Cincinnati.

Camp Dennison

I did not take any pictures inside, but there were some amazing pieces, including a wardrobe from Germany that was able to be dismantled for travel. It was beautiful carved and dated to 1714.
Camp Dennison. This photo appeared in Harpers Weekly.

But the reason I'd come was to experience a later time, the Civil War era. The Civil War museum houses much less, but is still interesting. A small house at the rear of the property, named Kate's house by the Waldschmidts for the daughter it had been built for, served as the guard house to Camp Dennison. (The main house was for the officers and administration.) Kate's house holds some guns, uniforms, photographs, letters, Bibles, journals, and artifacts unearthed from the site. In addition there are stories displayed throughout that make interesting reading.
Kate's House, which served as the gate house to Camp Dennison.
Beyond where the railroad was. (Now a bike trail.) This serves as a youth soccer field but once would have held solider housing or perhaps a firing range.

This Civil War memorial was erected in the 1930s.

Back of the monument above.
Edward Myrick served in the 89th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company F, enlisting August 6, 1862. Camp Dennison opened about a year earlier. He was disabled by illness while on duty near Carthage, TN, on Feb. 28, 1863. He was treated at several hospitals in TN and Atlanta, so I believe with the exception of one 30-day furlough, he continued to travel with his company. He was discharged at Camp Dennison on June 17, 1865, essentially at the end of the war. The camp was deactivated in September of that year.

My dad, a WWII veteran, never knew this. He would have been proud, I'm sure.

Edward Myrick later in life. He died in 1907.

There is more to the Myrick story. Edward's father, Enoch and who I presume was his father, George, joined the Gilead Anti-Slavery Society of Clermont County when Enoch was only 14, in 1836. I'm still trying to find out more, so the search continues! :)
From the minute book, found here:

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Lots of exciting things happening. I'm hoping to get a newsletter out in a day or two, so if you're not signed up, just looking for the link above. I'm going to include a giveaway this month.

Next week I'll be at the Indy Irish Festival.

At the same time I'll be attending ACFW's annual conference in Indy, and I'll get to meet with my agent, three Tyndale editors, and many new and long-time author buddies. It will fun for sure!

On Saturday, Oct. 12, I'll be at the Books By the Banks book festival in Cincinnati.

For more updates, be sure to like my Facebook page:

I've been going through my photos from Ireland. Here's one I like. What do you think? I love beaches in all kinds of weather!

On a beach in Sligo.