t. elizabeth renich

author of historical fiction

I'm NOT Margaret Mitchell, and I'm NOT re-writing Gone With The Wind!

I grew up in southern California, but knew little of what transpired there in 1860-1865. Research turned into treasure hunts for accurate details gleaned from California to Virginia to Alaska and lots of places in between. I wove invented characters into actual events, mingling them with real people of that era in a believable manner; to illustrate that history isn't boring, and to inspire another generation to take an interest in our country's heritage.

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Because We Could — A Quick Drive Down to Manassas Battlefield

Posted By on July 21, 2011

Today was one of those days when I rejoiced over living in Virginia.  I do love it here, and am thankful to be where there is so much history, not to mention the beauty of this area. 

After finding out we were getting off work early, I called Ginger to see if she was available to do something spontaneous, and since it’s her summer vacation time, she was up for an adventure.  We made the drive down through Arcola on Gum Spring Road, beyond the Braddock Road and turned onto Sudley Road toward the Manassas National Battlefield – because we could, as it is not all that far away.  Knowing it was edging close to a hundred degrees outside, we were glad we’d brought cold water and had the air conditioning on full blast.

 There weren’t many cars out in the middle of the afternoon, though the VDOT road signs warned of “Heavy Traffic” anticipated from today through the 24th – the scheduled commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the first battle that took place at Manassas on July 21, 1861.

We drove to the location of the Stone Bridge over Bull Run, parked, and walked a bit of the trail.  There was shade and a bit of a breeze, and a handful of other people arriving as we were on our way out.  From there, we made our way back toward the intersection of Routes 234 and 29, where the Stone House is situated – and where they took in wounded during and after the fighting.  In between, we stopped to get pictures of the historical markers narrating the action of the battle.  I didn’t mean to scare Ginger with the semi-U-turn, and we got back to the highway just fine…  The Stone House was on her side of the road and so she snapped a handful of photos of the house with its red hospital flag while I kept driving.

A brief stop at Sudley Church and a short walk to the unfinished railroad cut, and that was enough.  We could both say, “been there, done that” – and on the actual anniversary date.  We were back home by 3:00 pm and had noticed that the volume of traffic was already picking up, even before we left the boundary of the battlefield.  Too much fun, from a historical standpoint.  I love it!

Sign(ing)s of Summer

Posted By on July 18, 2011

June turned out to be a busy month with three book signings scheduled.  On June 11th I was invited to bring books to the Glenfiddich House, formerly known as Harrison Hall, in Leesburg, for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of their new Civil War Trails historical marker. 

On June 25th, I was at Second Chapter Books in Middleburg.  This was one of those instances when the shop owners had the books already in the store, waiting for me to come in and sign…  they had even pre-sold two sets of books before I got there, so that made my day.

The next afternoon, June 26th, I’d been asked out to Oatlands for the event celebrating the “200th Birthday” of the Greenhouse on the plantation grounds.  Visitors were able to take tours and enjoyed the birthday cake and balloons.  I had a chance to talk history with folks who stopped by my table and sold out of the stock I brought with me in the two hours I was there. 

And all this follows on the heels of finding out my Shadowcreek Chronicles are being sold in the Museum Book Store at Gettysburg National Battlefield, and that my publisher is in the process of converting all four books into the Kindle format, hopefully before the end of the summer.  While visiting my aunt at Bethany House, I also got to meet Julie Klassen, who recently won a Christy Award for Girl in the Gatehouse.  (Way to go, Julie! : )

What next?  Well, Jay Blevins (author of The Last Fall) and I have discussed the idea of trying to arrange a joint book signing in Loudoun County, so I’ll keep you posted on that as more details come about.

I’m very thankful for my blessings, which include the continued prayers, support, and encouragement from my readers.

Changing My Name

Posted By on July 17, 2011

I’m thinking about changing my name to grace – because I certainly need some!  After tumbling down a flight of 16 stairs while visiting my Momma in Minnesota in early-June, all the bruises and aches had pretty much faded away.  Until yesterday, when I took a spill while riding.  I’m still unsure as to what exactly happened, but the horse I was riding (one I have ridden before at Penni’s out in Purcellville) and the one Penni was riding, directly behind me, apparently were not getting along or behaving well.  Moe was being ornery and Zipper bucked.  I came off, hitting the ground on my right side with a distinct thud. 

 Thankfully, John and Zoe rounded up Zipper and several nice people came over to see if I was okay.  The photographer who had been following along on foot comforted me, assuring me he hadn’t been taking a picture at that precise moment, so my gracefulness (or lack thereof) was not captured photographically.  Oddly enough, a few weeks ago after the fall down the stairs, I thought “I’ve fallen off of a horse worse than this before…”  Yesterday, after ascertaining that I hadn’t broken anything, I thought, “Well, that fall wasn’t as far as going all the way down the stairs…”  So, it’s all in perspective, and I’m thankful, yet again, that the LORD covers me with His grace.  It could have been worse.  Yeah, I’ve got aches, pains and bruises (on my body as well as my pride), but I will heal and give God the glory through it. 

The one thing I can take away from the experience – on an absolutely gorgeous day for a ride – was that I have actually ridden – even if just a little bit – over ground where the likes of Stuart, Mosby, and Pelham had been at various times during the Civil War.  It was a day for memories, too.  The first time I ever visited Welbourne in 1998, was when I met Morgan, my most favorite horse of all.  I used to think it would be fun to be able to ride him across land where the cavalry had been…  So, when I was invited to go along on the Welbourne fund-raiser trail ride and had two kind offers to ride horses that were available, I thought I would be okay.  And I might have been, if not for the bucking part.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it as far as the Goose Creek Bridge, so I will simply be content with the fact that after I fell, I got back on Zipper and walked around (slowly) a little while longer in the “front yard” of the manor house.  All in all, I still had a good time, the money raised went for historic preservation, and the cavalrymen decked out in period uniforms and horse equipment helped history come alive.

 I Timothy 1:14 — And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Return from the Holy Land

Posted By on June 30, 2011

I am amazed at how quickly the past year has passed.  A year ago today (30-Jun-2010) Barb and I, along with the rest of our fellow travelers on the Israel trip sponsored by Cornerstone Chapel, were on our way home from Tel Aviv via Frankfurt.  We spent ten days meeting new people and seeing old places.  Bible studies with Pastor Gary and Pastor Andy, traversing the country of Israel in places known to have been visited by Jesus and His disciples, Paul, King David and King Solomon, Elijah, Abraham, Gideon, and a host of other characters found in the pages of my Bible.

Me and Barb near the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Pastor Gary had given us a list of scriptures pertaining to the places on our itinerary.  It took me three weeks to go through all of them and I used a light blue gel pen to underline the verses and passages.  Once we were there in Israel, I dated the underlined places in the margins — now, when I come across these notations, I have fun memories of having been there, done that.

Soldiers at a stop on the way to Jerusalem

I took hundreds of pictures, and ended up with two 12×12 sized photo albums to which I added postcards and little momentos as keepsakes.  It was definitely a memorable trip, and it changed the way I read my Bible.  Our tour guides, Tisha and Ronnie, were awesome and really knew their stuff.

Synagogue at Capernaum: Me with my two teachers (Pastor Andy and Pastor Gary) in a place where Jesus taught

Vardit and I exchanged messages and phone calls, but unfortunately we weren’t able to meet up in Jerusalem.  Our days were full of activities.  Some places reminded me of the terrain in Southern California, where I grew up.  Galilee, in the north, seemed much greener than the desert in the south.  Masada was very impressive, even though it was 104 degrees the day we were there.  Tiberias, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, Caesarea, Capernaum, Arbel, the Golan Heights, Gethsemane, The Garden Tomb, En Gedi, the Dead Sea, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem…and more.  I learned a lot and

I got close enough to have my picture made with a camel, but I didn't ride...

took copious notes.  Who knows?  Maybe someday, somehow, I will use my memories of that special trip as a thread in a contemporary storyline…  In the meantime, I’ll keep waiting on the LORD to give me more words.  He is faithful…  and I’m still grateful that I was able to make the trip.  He brought all the details and pieces of the puzzle together to make it happen.  In ways I’m not sure how to explain, it changed me.  I am blessed.

150 Years Ago…

Posted By on April 12, 2011

April 12, 1861 – At 4:30 a.m., Union forces manning Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina were fired upon by Confederates…  On the afternoon of April 13th, Fort Sumter surrendered.  A great many spectators in Charleston had come out to watch the “opening of the ball” – from The Battery and from the city’s rooftops – they watched history in the making.  After the fall of the fort, the Confederates raised their flag in victory.  Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to defend the Union, and the fight was on.

 April 12, 2011 …and so begins the series of anniversary-type commemorations of the battles of our Civil War.  These types of events will take place on their appropriate dates starting today through April of 2015.

 There are still history lessons to be learned…

To learn more about the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, visit the National Park Service’s website at http://www.nps.gov/civilwar150/ or run a Google search.  I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of interesting things you might not have known before.

I visited Charleston in April of 1998.  I’ve been to The Battery, I know how far out into the harbor Fort Sumter is, I know where Fort Moultrie is located.  It was a productive research trip.  My own photos, however, were pre-digital camera, and so those prints languish away in a box somewhere here in my “archives.”  At present, I wouldn’t even know where to begin searching for the negatives.  I’ll just have to content myself with images from the internet that depict the fortress and the battle.

“The Last Fall” Book Signing at The Christian Shoppe in Purcellville

Posted By on April 9, 2011

A few weeks ago I read a novel by Jay Blevins called The Last Fall (see Read & Reviewed page).  Last night, to my surprise, I got an e-mail from Jay himself, thanking me for the review and telling me he was having a book signing in Purcellville on Saturday morning (April 9th).  Since my book signing at the Very Virginia Shop in Leesburg isn’t until Sunday, April 10th, I took the opportunity to drive over to the Christian Shoppe in order to meet Jay.

It was so nice to talk with him one on one, discuss his novel, his plans for a next project, figure out how many people we know in common, plus the fact we both attend Cornerstone Chapel.  Jay’s enthusiasm is contagious and his encouragement much appreciated.  I always find it interesting to learn things from fellow authors.

He introduced me to the owners of the Christian Shoppe, Dave and Jami, and I gave them the same information I’d shared with Jay about my Shadowcreek Chronicle books.  We’re going to talk about the possibility of doing a future book signing there.  If you’ve never been to the Christian Shoppe — I hadn’t, so Jami gave me the grand tour — next time you’re in Purcellville you should stop.  They have turned a neat old house into a resource for Bibles, books, greeting cards, art and items by local artists, and much more.  You can even get a cup of coffee or tea in the kitchen.  Turns out, Dave, Jami, and I know someone in common, too.

If you are looking for a good, insightful book that has the potential to change your perspective, give The Last Fall a try.  I think you will like it.

Visit Jay Blevins/The Last Fall at http://www.thelastfallbook.com/the-book/ and The Christian Shoppe at http://www.thechristianshoppe.com/.  They are located at 161 N. Hatcher Avenue, Purcellville, VA — 540-338-5380

Guests at Gunnell Hall

Posted By on April 6, 2011

Capital Christian Writers Group Meeting (14-Mar-2011)

Tamela Hancock Murray, author and agent with Hartline Literary Agency, was the speaker at the March 14th meeting of the Capital Christian Writers in Fairfax.  I invited Ginger, one of the ladies from our Bible Study group through church, to be my guest and join me for the meeting.  Incidentally, Ginger ran into someone there from her old church, so she wasn’t exactly among strangers.  We both learned some new things from Tamela’s presentation and it was interesting being able to hear her answers to various questions.  The more time I spend around other authors, the more I realize that there is always a story behind the story of how manuscripts get published, and no two are exactly identical. 

Trish Perry was also present at the meeting.  It was nice to see her that night since I hadn’t seen her since I joined CCW back in 2009.  I look for her at church from time to time, but Cornerstone is a big place and lots of people go there.  Trish is a contributor to a collection of devotions written by several authors entitled Delight Yourself in the Lord…Even on Bad Hair Days.  A portion of the proceeds are designated for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  Her newest release is a novel called Unforgettable, set in the early 1950’s.  It just came out in March and I’m going to have to find out more about it for myself.  When I’ve finished reading it, I’ll add it to my “book reports” under my Read & Reviewed tab.

The “Extra” Days

Posted By on March 5, 2011

February 1-4, 2011

On Tuesday morning (1-Feb), Bernadette drove me back to the airport at Shannon.  Instead of dropping me off at the curb, she parked and walked with me into the terminal.  Something seemed odd, as there was hardly anyone in line at 7:00 am for what was supposed to be a 9:00 am international flight.  There was, however, a congealing crowd of people in front of the Continental customer service desk.

I got in the queue with my fellow travelers, trying to ascertain what was going on from the hushed whispers and gloomy countenances.  An agent approached me asking my name.  She found me on the list and instructed me to wait until one of the ladies at the counter could assist me in changing my flight.

Excuse me?  What do you mean I can’t go home?

Well, it seemed that the anticipated storm was about to descend on New York/New Jersey and the rest of New England…  the Newark-Liberty Airport had shut down for the day, and for the next day as well.  Continental’s hub in EWR, they weren’t flying any farther south.  The first available flight was going to be Thursday, 3-Feb, but that was already full.  The soonest they could send me back would be Friday, 4-Feb.  I looked at Bernadette:  “Seems I’ll be here for your birthday after all.”

The customer service agent – a helpful lady by the name of Jacqui – told me they could put me up for the next three nights at the Park Inn Hotel which was right across the parking lot from the SNN terminal.  Bernadette shook her head and whispered, “I’m not leaving you here to stay by yourself in a hotel room.  Come back home and stay with us.  You’re welcome and we’ll have fun.”

I turned to Jacqui and asked her if we could make a deal.  She listened to my plan and agreed to it:  Instead of putting me up for three nights, Continental would comp a room with two beds for one night, Thursday, so that Bernadette and I wouldn’t have to get up so early to drive all the way back.  We’d spend the night at the hotel and be here all ready to go on Friday morning.  She even put it in writing for me (which turned out to be a good thing upon check-in on Thursday night).

Bernadette had taken enough time off from working at the crèche (day care center) for my “planned” stay.  I told her I didn’t mind staying at her house while she was at work, as it would give me a chance to read and study.  But, first, I had to make several phone calls in order to cancel appointments and reschedule things I’d booked for days I thought I’d be back home…  Of course, America didn’t “wake up” until almost 2:00pm Irish time, so Bernadette went to work and I got busy washing a couple of loads of clothes and folding the towels I found in the drier.  I could at least be useful.

It was funny, because we’d been having such a good time that I was too busy to miss Virginia.  As soon as they told me I couldn’t go back, the homesickness hit me.  More than I expected it would.  I received texts and e-mails back.  The guys I work with weren’t expecting to see me until the following Tuesday, so they wouldn’t be missing me.  Jim had a good laugh when I texted him.  He knows all about being stuck at airports and having flights canceled.  It happens to him all the time.

My trip was originally planned for a week, I’d packed enough vitamins and protein powder for eight days, but being gone ten, I was running out.  We went to a health food shop on Tuesday night, and found a sample of whey isolate protein powder, but it just wasn’t the same as the Unjury that I use at home.  The other powder (a soy/rice concoction) I left with Bernadette.  She said she liked it, but I didn’t care for it at all!

The next day, Wednesday (2-Feb), Bernadette came home for her break and told me what time the library in Gort opened.  She came back at lunch time and drove me to the square.  I had the map she’d drawn for me and following her directions I stopped off at the Internet Café, took a few pictures, walked past Supermac’s and headed up the hill for the library.  I didn’t see it at first because a huge shredding truck was blocking the sign, but there, behind it was indeed the building that housed the library.  The place was converted church – which explains the signs for the cemetery right next door.  Browsing through the local history section, I came across two books that were exactly what I was looking for.  One called Women in Ireland, which had some details in it, but the even better one was called Yesterday in Ireland.  Great pictures, details, and narrative that told of Ireland in the time period I was looking into.

When Bernadette came to pick me up after she got off from work, she talked to the librarian about my borrowing the books.  Bernadette agreed to co-sign for me, and to bring the books back after the requisite 21 days.  The lending fee was €1, and that was no problem.  I now have my very own Irish library card!  (Next time I am in Town on a weekday, I’m going to go to the Library of Congress so I can have a reader’s card from there, too.)  I was able to study all day on Thursday, then repacked my carry-on to get ready to leave again.

The extra days proved to be quite relaxing – actually, they seemed most like a vacation to me – and so I rested and read and spent time with everyone else when they came home from work and school.  There really is never a dull moment at the Whelans.  Whether it’s an impromptu concert with flute and accordion by Bernadette and Frances, or Frances dancing, or Colm making us laugh, Pakie singing “The Fields of Athenry,” and Mary cooking and talking about the political news on television.  It was nice to feel so included even though I was mostly a spectator.

Wednesday night, the winds picked up and the rains fell steadily.  Pakie said it was nothing to fret over, that it was normal for this time of year.  He didn’t think a little bit of a stiff breeze would keep my flight from departing come Friday.

Thursday night (3-Feb), Leonard met Bernadette and me at the Lady Gregory and we three had dinner at the pub there, and they gave me a beautiful Claddagh necklace as my going away gift.  Bernadette and I continued on to the Park Inn and once we settled in to our room, we talked for a good while until we fell asleep.  (Though I still think she was texting with Leonard long after I dropped off…)

Our wake-up call came on Friday morning, and once more, I stuffed everything back into my carry-on and rucksack.  It was a tight fit, and I was certainly thankful for the wheels.  I’ve had it for many years and many trips (3 to Ireland, 1 to Japan, 1 to the Super Bowl in Miami in 1995, once to Israel, several visits to Minnesota to see my family there, and to a couple dozen of the states in America at least.  I’m hoping it will last long enough to get me to those last five states that I still need to check off my list.)

In the wind and rain, Bernadette drove us across the parking lot.  Inside the terminal, there was a line in front of the check-in counter – very good sign.  And sure enough, I was able to hug her goodbye and thank her for everything before I left to pre-clear customs and wait at the gate.  I didn’t have a row of seats to myself this time – there was a gentleman who sat next to the window, but at least we had the empty seat between us to spread out a little.  He didn’t say much, slept through most of the flight, and maybe it was my imagination, but this fellow bore a very strong resemblance to Jeremy Irons.  I didn’t ask him who he was, though.  I’ve traveled with a few “celebrities” on occasion and sometimes, they’re okay with being un-recognized.

There was a good bit of snow and ice still on the ground when I changed planes in Newark, as there was once we landed at IAD.  Beth picked me up, we went to dinner at the Blue Ridge Grill, and then she brought me home, only to find my car had been plowed in.  She let me borrow a shovel, since I don’t own one myself, and the next day, after the sun had melted the snow a little, I started digging into the nearly 3’ tall bank.  I only had to go as far as I thought necessary to run over the rest with my 4-wheel drive.  Works for me!

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, including those extra days.  There are worse places than Ireland to be stuck, and if I hadn’t been stuck there, I wouldn’t have gotten to the library in Gort, and that’s where I found the books with the details I needed most.  I am still thanking the LORD for His provision.  He is so good, and I am blessed.   We’ll simply chalk up that enormously large international cell phone bill (insert choking and sputtering sound effects here) to experience and go on from here!  Just another lesson in what not to do next time…

To Be Determined…

Posted By on March 1, 2011

Monday, 31-Jan-2011 

Bernadette and I, when initially planning my visit, deliberately left Monday unscheduled just in case the weather turned bad or any original plans needed to be rearranged.  Since everything went pretty close to how we’d intended, we chose to do a few things that filled up my “last” day.

 By Sunday night, both Frances and Bernadette had finished reading the pages of my rough draft.  On our way into Galway to go shopping for some last minute gifts and souvenirs, Bernadette and I talked about some ideas and discussed some more details at length.  At Easons, I found a book and some maps while she was perusing the home improvement and bridal magazines.  Among the gifts I brought home were a tweed cap, a tapestry cosmetic bag, Cadbury bars, key chains of Connemara marble, and dark chocolate flavored with Guinness.  Little small things that I could fit into my rucksack…

This was also my chance to re-take any other pictures that I thought might be missing.  We went back to the library, chatted with Peter Rabbitt for just a few minutes before thanking him again for his assistance, passed by the Mustard Restaurant at Bridge Mills, but decided it wasn’t necessary to revisit the museum. 

We had stopped at Taylor’s to check the post, but the box I’d shipped over was still nowhere to be found.  Bernadette took me to see the church she and Leonard will be married in.  We counted 39 steps from the back door to the altar in front – not trying to make her nervous, or anything, just to give her an accurate count…she had just about 53 weeks to go, at that point.  A quick drive by Tulira revealed swans swimming out in front of the castle, which is across the street from where the Whelans live.  In the meantime, the sky above was growing darker.

Before going to Gort, we visited Coole Park, where Bernadette and I walked most of the 1.75 mile “family trail” through the estate grounds, past a stone staircase, by the Autograph Tree with names of famous Irish authors and poets engraved in the trunk, and alongside the lake.  I could only imagine what the place must look like in the spring, when everything would be green and growing again.  The quaint little lodge house seemed a darker shade of gray beneath the heavy pewter sky.

For lunch, we ate at the Supermac’s, not far from the internet café in Gort.  To me, it seemed sort of like a blend between McDonald’s (or Burger King) and Chick-fil-A.  The batter on the chicken tenders reminded me of some of the chicken schnitzel I’d had while in Israel last summer, although in Ireland it seemed someone got a little heavy-handed with the pepper…  and of course there was garlic mayo for dipping.  After returning a rented DVD (Letters to Juliet), the rain poured down in earnest.  (It’s a good thing we did the walking trail before the rain came…)

After I finished getting everything I could back into the carry-on and backpack, I joined the Whelans in the living room, watching a bit of the Irish soap opera called Fair City.  Bernadette had missed an episode or two of her favorite, Home and Away, but she was sure she’d be able to figure out what she missed.

Leonard came over to say goodbye on Monday night.  The days had flown by so quickly and it was hard to believe I was already leaving in the morning.  That always seems to be the way of it, though, as lunch time, holidays, and vacations pass swifter than any other hours in a regular day.  Colm consumed enough tea to keep us all awake through the night, but he wasn’t quite hungry enough that he’d ate the handlebars of a bike.

Of Castles & Causes

Posted By on February 25, 2011

Sunday, 30-Jan-2011

The third time proved to be the charm.  Finding Clifden Castle now has a check mark next to it on my done list.  I had purchased a postcard with the castle on it on my first visit (2003), even though I hadn’t seen it for myself and it wasn’t on Willie’s trail ride.  In 2008, Bernadette and I went driving along the Westport Road, but didn’t venture beyond the Abbey Glen on Sky Road.  John D’Arcy founder of the town of Clifden, built Clifden Castle closer to Clifden Bay, and having seen the view, I can certainly understand why he did so.

Unfortunately, Clifden Castle passed out of the D’Arcy family in 1850 due to financial debt and crop failures during the famine.  D’Arcy’s son sold the castle and the town to Charles and Thomas Eyre, brothers from England.  Members of the Eyre family lived at Clifden Castle until the early 1920’s, when the government purchased the estate and divided the lands among the tenants.  The castle subsequently fell into disrepair, stripped of its usable timber and roofing slates.  Today, the walls of the ruins are ivy-covered, as are the outbuildings.  It was said that sheep and cattle used to graze all about the estate.

Seeing the castle from the hill above was enough for me.  The morning light did make it look a little different than it had the night before, and I was already imagining a way I could work this site into the manuscript I’m working on.  I very much want to include it…

After revisiting the castle site and snapping a few more pictures of the twin church spires and the colorful buildings that comprise Clifden, Bernadette and I went to Mannin Bay.  This is where, back in August of 2003, I actually cantered on the beach…  this time, I drove along the beach, on the “other” side of the road, from the “other side” of the car.  I did well enough to get into high gear and do 55 kilometers per hour…  but, I’m rusty with a manual shift and stalled it out as we were stopping in order to switch seats again.  Oh, well.  No damage done…

Back at the Station House Hotel, Bernadette took her change of clothes from the “portable tack room” in her trunk and went to get ready for the ride.  Leonard, Pakie, Colm, and Frances were going to meet us in Moycullen with the horses.  The cross-country ride, a fund-raiser for a charitable cause, would start sometime between half-twelve and 1:00 pm.  (Running a little ahead of schedule gave us enough time to take a detour at Oughterard, where we made a quick stop at Aughnanure Castle — another O’Flaherty property where Grace O’Malley had ties by marriage.)  At the meeting place in Moycullen, each rider paid an entry fee of €30, which was on this particular day, donated to breast cancer research.  When I asked Pakie how many riders had entered, he said he knew there were at least 105 horses, but probably more.

Frances, Leonard, and I went with Petie in his Jeep (any SUV is referred to as a “Jeep” – even if it’s manufactured by another car maker, sort of a generic term applied like “Kleenex” or “Xerox” machine…).  We left after all the riders rode out and met up with dozens of other spectators at the first stop for the jumping.  Most of the riders took the stone walls with what appeared as effortless ease, but every now and then a rider took a spill or a horse refused to go over the wall.  Everyone would wait until the riderless horse(s) were reunited with its rider, and the leaders would lead the pack forward to the next checkpoint on the route.  Then, the jumping would start again, and it was amazing to watch.  The horses, at times, rode right along and amid the cars.  They had no problem with the sounds or nearness of the automobiles.  The people in Moycullen, quite used to these cross-country gatherings, minded the horses in the roads and in the crosswalks. 

Inside a stone-fence enclosed pasture at one of our stops, I spoke with a man who was driving a real “Jeep” that looked like “Lizzie,” my old Liberty – but of course the steering wheel was on the right and the model name on the side of the door said “Cherokee.”  Interesting how things can be the same, but different.  Petie’s SUV was an Irish version of a Kia Sorento, but I didn’t see many similarities between it and mine aside from the glove compartment moulding and the console between the two front seats.  Go figure. 

This event was probably as close as I could imagine to going along with the “car-toppers” to follow a hunt.  Bernadette’s ride had everything but the fox.  After the ride concluded, the riders were welcome to go through an equestrian park with a steeple chase course, so we went and followed along with that, too.  By the time we got back to the car to go back to Ardrahan, my toes were pretty numb.  My borrowed Wellies didn’t have any insulation other than my socks.  It was nice to have the electric blanket on my bed to get warmed back up later.