Louisa Campbell, my female protagonist in The Bowes Inheritance, didn’t materialise out of thin air – she had a past. Back stories give your characters more flesh and bone, so sprinkled throughout my tale, the reader slowly learns about Louisa and her family’s past and where they lived.
As I have family connections and a deep love of the west of Ireland, it was probably inevitable that I would choose this area as the home of this typical Ascendancy family. A crucial part of character development is that I have to be able to visualise their world and to this end, besides being fun, I spend a lot of time on research for all my locations. Without the benefit of time travel, that meant looking up the Landed Estates Register set up by NUI Galway, browsing good old google and checking out Archiseek.com and similar websites.
And I was spoilt for choice …
Here is a small selection of the wonderful old estates, now mostly in ruins, that I discovered. Sadly over 200 houses were lost during the Irish Civil War in the early 1920s, as the houses were often regarded by Republicans as symbols of British imperialism and burnt down.
- Cool Park was the home of Lady Gregory, dramatist and co-founder of the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
- Gortnamona House – frequently visited by Percy French and inspiration for The Woods of Gortnamona. The house is now a ruin.
- Eyrecourt Castle was home to Colonel the Right Hon. John Eyre who was granted the land by Cromwell. He built the house c. 1660. However, by 1883 the estate was insolvent and was offered for sale.
Louisa could have been born in any of these houses and perhaps one day she may have returned … but that would be telling.
Images are copyright of Archiseek, and NUI Galway
If this topic is of interest check out:
- The books of photographer Tarquin Blake. Visit his website http://www.abandonedireland.com to see his amazing work.