My Wild Irish Time

Aug 9, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Nancy Nau Sullivan

It was a wild Easter in Webster Groves, Missouri, that year. My young sons were smoking on the third floor and throwing cigarette butts on to the den roof (unbeknownst). My sister-in-law was doing jumping jacks and other muscle-bending exercises in the den with my sisters, and the kitchen pulsed with eaters, drinkers, and laughers over ham and scalloped potatoes. Church and the egg hunt were done with; now the revelry began in earnest. This was pretty much holiday life in the Nau-Sullivan household.

It was crazy, all right. But this year was a little bit different. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos we decided we were going to rent a castle in Ireland. That we flew over there, all together, on Wrong Way Corrigan’s infamous anniversary, July 17, was no small coincidence. What could go wrong? Well, not much. At least we were headed in the right direction—to Glin Castle, County Limerick, and we all arrived safely.

It was a fine visit, and I couldn’t let the experience go. My fourth mystery in the Blanche Murninghan series, A Deathly Irish Secret, takes place in my recreation of Glin Castle: the wonderful staff, the color, food, smells. The pink, blue, and green bedrooms. The double-flying staircase, the red dining room with seating for thirty and carved chairs and ornate gold-framed pictures, the flowers, salmon from the Shannon with homemade mayo, the den and fireplace off the green manicured lawn with white benches and topiary, and a cow on the loose. Yes, I used as many goodies as I could squeeze into Blanche’s visit. She needed a soft place to land amid the troubles. There was no murder on our visit, thank God, but, alas, Blanche Murninghan wasn’t there a day when the body turned up.

Besides Glin Castle, an echo of the village of Glin appears in my book. During our visit, my sister met the butcher. His shop sat on the edge of a tributary of the Shannon. He had lost a young son to that river, and the telling of that story brought us all to tears (and led me to an idea for the book—rather far-fetched from the awful event). It wasn’t the last time we heard a heart-wrenching tale—of drama, death, love, betrayal. As GK Chesterton wrote of the Irish: “For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

Those songs of murder, rebellion, and love were the highlight at Barrett’s pub: “Molly Malone,” the poor fishmonger/doomed prostitute; “The Long Black Veil” of staunch, illicit love that led to the gallows; “A Bunch of Thyme” about that sailor who came to town, left a “rose” (read baby), and a warning to young maidens to “keep their gardens fair.” “The Patriot Game,” Father Murphy’s rebellion, and “The Soldier’s Song” tell of standing up to the British, over and over again, for hundreds of years.

Of course, I put Blanche and her cousin, Haasi, right into the middle of it—in the pub with a shot of Paddy and a Harp draft, dancing on the plywood stage. Just like we did.

Ireland inspired me, born Murnighan, McLoughlin, Mullins, and married to a Sullivan. The writing brought me back to the castle and to a bunch of fine memories (plus one hapless, imagined murder victim). I’m glad to share the adventure—with the addition of Blanche’s misadventure—in A Deathly Irish Secret.

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Nancy Nau Sullivan is a writer, traveler, and teacher. She wrote an award-winning memoir, THE LAST CADILLAC, about caring for her elderly father while the kids were still at home (on a Florida island). She set her first mystery there, SAVING TUNA STREET, on the fictional Santa Maria Island. A DEATHLY IRISH SECRET is the fourth installment in her Blanche Murninghan mystery series. Nancy also wrote the novel, THE BOYS OF ALPHA BLOCK, based on her years of teaching at a boys’ prison. She lives in Northwest Indiana, and as often as possible, on Anna Maria Island. Find her at, @NauSullivan, and Facebook.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the review .


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