Sunday Sojourn – Enniscrone (or Ballytokeep?)
Today on the blog, I am joined by Faith Hogan, talking about the inspiration behind her new novel, Secrets We Keep.
It’s true I think that the most enduring memories of place are stimulated by our sense of smell. Even today, when I visit Enniscrone in County Sligo, it is the salty smell of the waves, the oily scent of seaweed and the wafting aromas fish and chips that transport me instantly back to the seemingly never ending summer days of my childhood.
The town has changed a lot since then. Back when the so-called Celtic tiger roared through Ireland, it grew exponentially, with any number of new housing estates built to cater to tourists who would miss the breath-taking gales and the wind that sings forlornly for most of the year.
In winter, the landscape draws me to Enniscrone when any sane person would remain at home curled up with a book on a blustery day. Miles of sandy beaches cut up by the biting winds, the grey pier besieged by battering storms. The sea stretches icy and crashing to the horizon and too often the sky, overhangs grey and threatening above the windswept village. It is sweeping, melancholic and powerful and when you walk alone and listen to the whales far out in the bay, you are reminded at once that you’re no greater than a grain of sand in this vast universe. It puts all those little uncertainties in perspective.
Winter at Enniscrone Pier. (Photography courtesy of Michael O’Dowd.)
Enniscrone is not always bracing, far from it. The people are still warm, the shopkeepers happy to supply a sincere welcome served up alongside generous portions and permanent good humour.
In summer, it is quite a different prospect. From May until late September the little town fills with visitors, many returning like the swallows every year – it seems of little importance that the chances of a week of sun are slim to most. You see, the thing about Enniscrone is that it’s still the kind of place where you have old-fashioned fun. Families play ball on the beach. Grannies lounge behind wind-breakers, Mums try to spread sun cream on everything but the sandwiches and racing, happy, yappy dogs manage to shoot sand everywhere they can. It doesn’t matter if it rains, because – well you’re going to get wet when you go swimming anyway, aren’t you?
My childhood memories are of trekking to the perfect spot, dropping everything and then peeling off our clothes before spending hours in the sea. It was probably freezing – it must have been, my mother still talks of us being ‘blue with the cold.’ Then, running up the beach, eating sandwiches that were warm and soggy, with sand crunching delicately, but we washed it down with red lemonade or if we were lucky a 99 cone from the nearby ice-cream van.
The old Cliff Baths, Photography from flickr.
When I started my new novel Secrets We Keep – it had a working title of Purple Rock. Of course, my publisher suggested much better names and in the end, after much to-ing and fro-ing, we agreed on SECRETS WE KEEP. The story started with the old Cliff Baths in Enniscrone. Like most people who have spent time there, I’ve looked at the kooky little building overseeing the vast Atlantic ocean and wondered what if…
The story of the Bath House in Ballytokeep is my answer – it’s a story of family, betrayal, secrets and lies. It’a story of finding love when and where you least expect it.
Because in the end, when people are MFEO – really the SECRETS WE KEEP can’t ever hold them apart.
About Faith Hogan
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.
Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published by Aria, (Head of Zeus) in 2016. ‘Secrets We Keep,’ is her second novel out on Feb 1st 2017.
Find Faith online…
Twitter (her favourite): https://twitter.com/GerHogan
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/
Web Page: http://faithhogan.com/