About Dancing to an Irish ReelTitle: Dancing to an Irish Reel
Author: Claire Fullerton
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Romance, Literary Fiction
Length: 220 Pages
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Twenty five year old Hailey Crossan takes a trip to Ireland during her sabbatical from the Los Angeles record business. While on the trip, she is unexpectedly offered a job in the Irish music business that is too good to turn down, so she decides to stay.
Although Hailey works in Galway City, she lives in the rural area of Connemara, an area steeped in history and famous for its Irish traditional music. When Hailey meets famous Irish traditional musician, Liam Hennessey, a confusing relationship begins, which Hailey thinks may be the result of their differing cultures,for Liam is married to the music, and so unbalanced at the prospect of love, that he won't come closer nor completely go away.
And so begins the push and pull of an attraction that Hailey struggles to decipher. Thankfully, a handful of local friends come to her aid, and Hailey comes to love a land and its people-- both with more charm than she ever imagined.
why I returned to the misty, velvet shores of western Ireland
I’ll tell you why I returned last October to the misty, velvet shores of western Ireland, where I once spent a year: it is the setting for my novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” and I wanted to reinvigorate my standing amongst the land and its people before my book was released. In order to do that, one has to show up in person to let the very air saturate the skin until it permeates to a cellular level and recalibrates the soul.
Ireland affected me deeply when I lived in the rural village of Inverin, in the western region of Connemara, yet it took a few months before I allowed myself to let go of my American frame of reference. Once I did, there was such a shift in my being that a local at the grocery store (or the shops, as they call it there) did a double take upon seeing my tranquil face and commented, “Claire, you look more Irish!” I knew just what she implied. I could already feel a newly acquired demeanor settle upon me, one that relaxed me physically and slipped me into a present tense mind frame where a type of willing acceptance of events replaced my harried propensity to manipulate my way through life. Ireland will do this to a person quickly, for it is an island with its own peculiar consciousness spawned from its cloistered history and its humble dependence upon the vagaries of the weather. I see it as an overarching attitude of rightful thinking, something which suggests there’s no point in becoming too worked up over much of anything, for change will rule the day of the best laid plans, and in the meantime, we’re all in it together, safe under the watchful eyes of God. And the Irish are a reverential people. And it’s not just God they revere. They pretty much hold all things sacred: the land, Irish history, each other. And because they comport themselves this way, they don’t take themselves too seriously, which is exactly why they have the reputation of being the friendliest lot on earth.
Let me now digress by confessing I over use the expression, “I can’t tell you how much I love” this or that. The fact is, I can tell you, and I did when it comes to the subject of Ireland. I wrote many of my thoughts and impressions of Ireland in my novel “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” by working them into the story of a twenty five year old American named Hailey Crossan, who leaves the record business and moves to rural Ireland, where she meets an Irish musician who won’t come closer not completely go away. The story depicts the ambiguity of attraction, with all its hopes, excitement, doubt and often times, confusion.
Since Hailey is a stranger in a beautiful, but strange land, she is uncertain of Ireland’s cultural nuances, and begins to think her lack of understanding might be behind the perplexing dynamic of her budding romance with Liam Hennessey. But thankfully, she is surrounded by a handful of vibrant Irish characters who help her decipher the codes of attraction, as well as the mixed messages Liam displays, as she comes to feel at home in a land that has more soul than any place she ever imagined.
There’s an energy that hangs between strangers even in a crowd. Call it interest, or attraction, or the knowledge of things to come. It is awareness, and I was aware to the exclusion of all activity around me that Liam Hennessey was watching me. He was sitting at the corner of the bar by himself, and because I could feel his gaze upon me like an electrical current, I froze. I did not move an inch because I sensed I didn’t have to, that something would come about with little prompting from me. I don’t know how I knew this, but I was right, it came about within the hour. It began as a series of introductions to people near Liam, and drew itself closer until Liam was introduced to me.
Right before Leigh left, claiming she had to get up early the next day to drive to Cork, Kieran pointed out that the Irish traditional musicians playing in the corner were the father and older brother of the lad sitting at the end of the bar.
“That’s Liam Hennessey at the bar there,” Kieran gestured to my right. “He’s the best box player in Connemara – even in the whole of Ireland, many say. His family is long in Connemara; they’re all players, so. That’s Sean Liam, his da, and his brother Anthony there on the guitar.” Kieran seemed proud to know the facts. He next took my arm and led me straight to Liam.
“I’ve the pleasure of knowing this American here, her name is Hailey,” Kieran announced to Liam.
I had an uneasy feeling. It’s one thing to suspect you’ll cross paths with someone again, and quite another to be fully prepared when it actually happens. For some unknown reason, I kept thinking it was strange to see Liam this far out in the country from Galway, but then again, what did I know? I didn’t know anything about him.
Liam looked at me with large dark eyes and smiled brightly. He was different than I had imagined: he was friendlier, more candid. I assumed because he looked so dark and mysterious, there would be a personality to match. I assumed he would be reserved, aloof, perhaps arrogant in an artistic sort of way. I was paying close attention, and there was none of that about Liam. In seconds, I realized he was a nice guy. I moved a step to my right as an older man approached the bar.
“Would ye give us a hand there,” the man said to Liam, and for the next few minutes, Liam handed pints over his head to a group of men too far from the bar’s edge to grab the glasses themselves. Just then, Kieran said something that set off a chain of events and put the rest of the night in motion.
“Liam, will you watch Hailey for me, I’m off to join the sessiun.” With that, Kieran produced a harmonica from his shirt pocket and walked off to join the musicians in the corner.
I stood at the bar and waited for the next thing to happen. The world seemed to operate in slow motion. All the noise in the room subsided, and the only thing I knew was I was looking directly at Liam Hennessey. I searched his face for imperfections. I had never before seen such beauty in the face of a man. I hoped my thoughts didn’t show on my face. He was so good looking, I wondered why other people in the room weren’t staring at him, then I realized most of Hughes’ patrons knew him and were probably used to the way he looked. I was reticent, unsure of how to speak to Liam, unfamiliar with how provincial he may or may not have been. Words tend to get in the way in moments like this, but they lay in wait just the same.
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