Friday, February 27, 2015

Top Ten with Kemberlee Shortland

Top Ten Favorite Places to Visit While Writing This Book

Thanks, Dawn, for inviting me here today so I can talk about my latest erotica romance novella, One Night in Dublin. This is book 9 in the City Nights series from Tirgearr Publishing. Each book is set in a major city around the world, and I chose Dublin, Ireland.

I’ve never really been a city person, but after living in Ireland for so long and visiting Dublin many times, it’s a city that has grown near and dear to my heart. So much to offer in such a compact place. And the history! Especially the Viking history of the city, which plays an important part in my story.

In no particular order, these are my Top Ten Viking Places in Ireland:

Number 1: The National Museum of Archaeology – This museum is located on Kildare Street in city center, just off St Stephen’s Green. This museum is archaeology building of the National Museum, and stores and displays some of the oldest artifacts in the country: from the Treasury to the gold hoard; from prehistoric Ireland to life in medieval Ireland; from kings and kingdoms to bog mummies; and my favorite . . . the Viking Room. The Viking Room is complete with gold and silver from the Viking Era of Ireland which includes the famous Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice. Artifacts here include everything from drop spindles for making yarn for weaving, to hair combs, to cloak pins, as well as warfare weaponry. There’s a great collection of swords. But the greatest artifact is the life-size full skeletal remains of a Norseman who was found with his sword, shield, and other personal items.

Number 2: The National Gallery of Ireland — The gallery is behind the National Museum and houses some of the most important paintings in Irish history, including my two favorites:

Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Sir Frederick Burton — This painting is done in what’s known today as gouache—a type of opaque watercolor paint—and based on a Danish balled called Hellelil and Hildebrand. As the story goes, Hildebrand was an English knight, one of twelve knights in the service of the Danish king. Hildebrand fell in love with the king’s daughter, Hellelil. The painting shows forbidden love. Delicately touching as they pass on the stairs, neither looking at the other, but the fallen feathers signify that Hildebrand has taken Hellelil’s virtue.

The Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow by Daniel Maclise (c. 1854) — Aoife, or Eve in Irish, was the only daughter of the Leinster King, Art MacMurrough. Strongbow was the nickname given to the Norman nobleman, Richard de Clare, for his skill with a longbow. MacMurrough appealed to English king, Henry II, for aid to help quell local troublemakers who were being aided by Vikings from Dublin, trying to unseat MacMurough from his seat of power as a provincial king. de Clare’s was asked to go to Ireland, but under his terms — he wanted Aoife’s hand in marriage! This painting depicts the end of the battle at Ferns, the provincial seat, where Strongbow and Aoife are married before the smoldering ruins of the church. The detail is incredibly amazing, with hidden images and meanings. Not only that, but this is the largest canvas painting in Ireland, and probably the world, measuring approximately 12 feet by 18 feet in diameter!

Number 3: Christ Church Cathedral — This church dates back to a founding in 1030AD, but was originally built as a timber church for the Viking settlement at Wood Quay. A short time after de Clare marries Aoife, her father, the king, dies and de Clare is made king of Leinster. At least temporarily, until Aoife’s uncle could arrive to take his rightful seat. During de Clare’s temporary reign, he and Father Laurence O’Toole, archbishop of Dublin, saw the timber church razed and a stone cathedral raised in its place. Today, the church has the largest open crypt in Europe and now houses the church’s gold collection. In medieval times, the church rented space in the crypt to marketers. Shoppers could get out of the Irish weather to do their shopping and trading. There is an effigy to de Clare in the main church. Fr O’Toole has since been made a saint, and until recently when it was stolen in broad daylight, his heart relic hung in a hand carved timber heart shaped casket on the wall at the back of the church.

Number 4: City Wall at Cook Street — A short distance from Christ Church is the last remaining piece of the old city walls that once surrounded Dublin City. City walls are an important part of any city’s history, more so than just for defensive purposes. At the time, it was believed that lawlessness existed outside city walls. Before the stone wall was built around Dublin City, stakes, or pales, defined the greater city limits. Beyond that region, lawlessness was rampant, where people lived beyond the law and acceptable behavior. This gave way to the phrase ‘beyond the pale’. Over time, castles were put up at outposts and stone walls eventually went up in medieval times to get rid of the outdated pales. This section of wall is the last remaining part of the city’s medieval defenses which includes an attractive gate.

Number 5: The Wood Quay and Excavation Site — While no longer visible, I had the privilege to witness some of this massive excavation that went on in the largest and longest archaeological excavation in Ireland (1974-1999/2000). This was the largest Viking settlement in Ireland, though not the oldest, and is the heart of the old Dublin City . . . to say, this was the original city center, called Dubhlin, the Black Pool, which got it’s name for the river which now runs beneath the modern city. Ship building on the shore was the main occupation, using timber from the forest which skirted the city at the time. Many homes and other buildings were discovered during excavation, and thousands of artifacts uncovered. A small disused church (#8) across the road from the dig site was converted into a laboratory/museum where visitors could watch professionals at work, cleaning and cataloging the discovered pieces. The finds have now been moved to the National Museum of Archaeology (#1). The name Wood Quay was applied in medieval times as the city saw its first massive expansion; the name was given for the timber boatworks there.

Number 6: Dublinia and The Viking Experience — This is housed in Synod Hall beside Christ Church Cathredral (#3). The museum and many of it’s displays set up at Wood Quay were moved to the Dublinia exhibit, others to the National Museum of Archaeology (#1), as above. Both tell the history of Dublin, starting from the Viking settlement through Norman/medieval times. Visitors walk through many interesting lifelike displays with full size costumed characters. Kind of like being there with sights, sounds, and smells of the day.

Number 7: Clontarf Strand — Technically, the strand is a manmade creation. Back in 1014, this part of north Dublin City was marsh with the sea beyond. It was on Good Friday, 23 April 1014, one of Ireland’s biggest and most famous battles was waged — The Battle of Clontarf. It’s up for interpretation why the battle was wages, but Ireland’s most famous Ard Rí, High King, Brian Boru went to war with Norseman, Sigtrygg (Sitric) Silkbeard, king of Dublin. Brian had spent much of his life battling with Vikings in Ireland, and it was on this day that Boru’s forces fought a long battle against this Norse king to force the Vikings from Irish shores, once and for all. The interesting part of this is that Sigtrygg’s mother was Gormflaith who was once married to Brian Boru, though not his father. Boru had a falling out with Gormflaith who returned to her son’s side for the battle. It’s estimated Boru was about 72 years of age so unfit for battle, but he had his tent set up on a hillside overlooking the battle. His forces were victorious, though he lost all but one son in the skirmish. But there was a traitor in their midst . . . Brodir from the Isle of Man. He came to Boru in his tent after the Vikings lost the battle, and after a short argument, Brodir struck Boru in the head with his Viking axe, killing Boru. Vikings did remain in Ireland after that time, but their hold on the country was severely weakened. Ireland was a relatively peaceful place from 1014 to 1169 when the Normans came. But that’s another story (#2, Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow).

Number 8: Smock Alley Theatre — While not part of Viking history, Smock Alley Theatre is not only mentioned in my book, but also plays an interesting role in Dublin’s history. It was built in 1662 and was the city’s first theater and ran for 150 years before it was consecrated to Saints Michael and John. When the bells first rang in 1811, this marked the opening of the first Catholic church in Ireland in nearly 300 years. This was monumental, as Catholic emancipation wasn’t to happen for another eighteen years. During a major refurbishment in the 1970s that archaeologists discovered the original theater foundations, and a previously-unknown cellar. Among the over two hundred artifacts uncovered was a 17th century wig curler that would have been used by the actors. The theater faces Wood Quay, with the back to the excavation area described in #5. This was the building used to house the discoveries from the excavation. Not quite Viking history itself, but played a role in helping preserve Dublin’s Viking history.

Number 9: Four Courts — Certainly not anything to do with Vikings in Ireland but is in my book, the Four Courts is Ireland’s national court house. It’s situated across the River Liffey from Wood Quay. This building played a vital role in another part of Ireland’s history, the War for Independence in 1922. This war proceeded the Uprising of 1916, aka the Easter Rising, a time when Irish forces rose up against British occupation. Two key players in the Uprising were Éamon de Valera (an Irish-American born to Irish parents, leader of the rebel party who later became president) and Michael Collins (leader of the military arm of the party). It was after Collins was forced to England by de Valera, to accept terms of settlement which gave rebels only twenty-six of thirty-two counties, that Collins and de Valera fell out. de Valera knew Ireland would only get twenty-six counties so rather than admit defeat, he sent Collins to England to take the fall. Collins was summarily hailed a failure in the negotiations, and realizing that his friend had sold him out, split the party and they began fighting amongst themselves rather than the British. There was a standoff in many parts of the city, but here at the Four Courts, like at the GPO (General Post Office) on O’Connell Street and other locations, visitors today can still see the thousands of bullet holes in the façade and columns gracing the front portico.

Number 10: Collins Barracks, Asgard, and Croppies Acre — These places are beside each other and the last point of interest in my story. The barracks was originally called the Royal Barracks but the name was changed after the War for Independence when the south became an official Free State; the name given in honor of Michael Collins. It’s widely assumed that de Valera had ordered the murder of Collins earlier in 1922 when he was visiting his home county of Cork. As a sign of good faith, de Valera named the barracks after his old ‘friend’. As a military barracks, it has seen much history, but in modern times it has become another of the National Museums. Where the Kildare Street museum is dedicated to the oldest of the old, Collins Barracks is dedicated to modern history, from 1600 forward, including costume displays, and exhibitions on interior design, international costume, and a wing dedicated to the 1916 Uprising and War for Independence.

The Asgard is a yacht built around 1904 and had been owned by Anglo Irish writer, Erskine Childers. In 1916, the Asgard was used for gun-running between Germany and Ireland but eventually went into long-term dry dock in Wales until it was sold in 1928. It was eventually acquired by the Irish State and refurbished and now on display in the old gym at the barracks.

Croppies Acre looks like any inner city park, located in front of the barracks. However, beneath the green grass is a mass grave with the bodies of executed prisoners from the 1790 Rebellion. The term croppy comes from the cropped hair the rebels wore at the time —the anti-wig/anti-aristocracy movement.

Bonus: The Sea Stallion from Glendalough — I guess to tie in some Viking history with the barracks, I’ll close by adding that some of the largest Viking ships ever discovered was in Denmark. Experts in ancient shipbuilding decided to rebuild the largest of those long ships. During examination, it was determined that the timber came from the Wicklow Mountains, most likely from around Glendalough, meaning the ship was probably built at Wood Quay in old Dubhlkin which was then sailed to Denmark before eventually being scuttled with the other ships. Specialists imported oak from Ireland and rebuilt the ship to original specifications, then sailed the ship to Ireland! It sat in ‘dry dock’ (in the courtyard at Collins Barracks) for nearly a year before sailing back to Denmark where it’s still in the water and being sailed. They called the ship, Havhingsten fra Glendalough, or the Sea Stallion from Glendalough.

Thank you again, Dawn, for asking me to talk about my top ten research sites. It was fun. I hope your readers pick up a copy of One Night in Dublin and share their thoughts after reading.

City Nights, #9
Kemberlee Shortland

Erotic Romance
Tirgearr Publishing


At her mother’s prompting (nagging) about grandchildren, Sive wonders if it really is time to settle down. She’s just finishing college so she should be thinking about her future. But is she ready to settle down? Is she ready for kids? And more importantly, which of the three men she’s been seeing does she want to spend the rest of her life with?

Sive has a choice to make, and only 24 hours in which to make it.



We all make them. From the moment we wake up, it's: “do I get out of bed now or hit the snooze button . . . again?” “shall I wear this outfit to work or that one?” “tea and toast or grab something on the way?”

It's all mundane bullshit. They’re all choices we make on the fly without even realizing we're making them.

Think about it. What choices do you make when you’re not thinking about them? Like going home from work. You get on the train, find a seat and wait for your stop. But when you get there, you wonder how the hell you got there because you don’t remember making the journey.

What I’m trying to say is that we often go on auto-pilot and just do what needs doing without any real thought, because there are usually more pressing things to think about—the important things. Or seemingly so. Like, what movie to see, what restaurant to eat in, where to go on holidays . . . and for some girls, this pair of sensible shoes on sale or another pair not on sale but immensely sexier?

For me, today, my choices aren't so mundane, and they’ll require a lot of conscious thought. I have an important decision to make. One that could change my life forever, pardon the cliché.

They—whoever 'they' are—say there is someone for everyone, that we all have a 'type' of person we're attracted to. I'm still figuring it all out . . . exploring to see what is my type . . . that someone just for me. And it doesn’t help that my mum’s voice is in the back of my head, asking . . . i.e. nagging (yes, I just said i.e.) . . . when I’m going to settle down and give her grandkids.

First, let me say this: I'm not a slut. I'm not loose, I don't carelessly sleep around, and I don't do one-night stands. I just love men and all of their vast differences.

What can I say about my boys that every other woman out there doesn’t already know about men? Charmers, every one of them. But they all give me something I need.

Tonight I need to decide what, or who, I need the most—Fitzy, Moss, or Sully.

Author Bio

Kemberlee is a native Northern Californian who grew up in a community founded by artists and writers, including John Steinbeck, George Sterling, and Jack London.

In 1997, she left the employ of Clint Eastwood to live in Ireland for six months. It was there she met the man she would marry, and relocated to live in Ireland permanently. While always writing, Kemberlee earned her keep as a travel consultant and writing travel articles about Ireland. In 2005, she saw her first romance sell, and to date, she has eight published romances. And in 2012, she and her husband launched Tirgearr Publishing.

Kemberlee enjoys spending time with her two rescued Border Collies, also knitting, gardening, photography, music, travel, and tacos!

Kemberlee enjoys hearing from her readers, so please feel free to visit her on her social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Kemberlee’s books can be found at:
as well as all major ebook retailers (Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc)


Kemberlee said...

Thank you for hosting. I hope your readers enjoy my list.

JD Martins said...

I've been to Dublin. Great city. Sounds like a great book!

Kemberlee said...

Thanks, JD. Dublin is a really fascinating city. You turn down a side street and you're like Alice down the rabbit hole :-)

Loved your book too. Good luck with it. City Nights is a fun series.