Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guest Post by Kemberlee Shortland

We hear it all the time when it comes to choosing space. Whether you want to buy a house, start a new business, even deciding where to place sales items in a shop. It all comes down to location, location, location. No truer words have been spoken, especially when it comes to setting scenes in your stories.

In my current story, Rhythm of My Heart, book one of the Irish Pride Series, I’ve set various scenes all over Ireland . . . Dublin City, Killarney in County Kerry, the Cork and Kerry Mountains, and in Cork City. It’s Cork City I want to talk about today.

First, let me tell you a little about Cork City. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, it was once a major shipping port, and in medieval times it was surrounded by high walls with guard towers. Today’s main streets were once shipping lanes; merchant houses are still evident in some areas. The River Lee flows into the city but separates out at Sunday’s Well into two channels and rejoins in Cork Harbour, making the heart of the city Ireland’s only island city.

Many famous people are from Cork City and from the county, many of them rebels, which gives the county its nickname, The Rebel County. Ireland is also famous for naming streets, bridges and, well, things, after notable figures. Cork’s main street is called St Patrick’s Street (St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland), or Patrick’s Street for short. The road crosses over Patrick’s Bridge and then up Patrick’s Hill.

MacCurtain Street (named for Tomás MacCurtain (1884-1920), a Republican rebel and Lord Mayor) crosses Patrick’s Street at the foot of Patrick’s Hill, and it’s these two streets which feature in part of my story.

The first view of Cork City we have is when Keiran Vaughan is driving through the city to his destination —

Kieran cruised through Cork City, making his way up side streets to the top of Patrick’s Hill. During the day this steep street had a fantastic view over the city. Down the hill and across the North Channel and Saint Patrick’s Bridge to Cork’s main street, Saint Patrick’s Street, was lined with graceful, tall, colorful buildings.

By night there was an equally fantastic view of a city in lights. Night people wandered the streets going from pub to club, and diners in their fancy clothes were doing ‘pana’, the phrase the locals used for the traditional lovers’ stroll along the main street in the evening.

You can see how pretty this part of the city is at night and what Kieran saw when he looked down Patrick’s Hill.

Here’s a view of Patrick’s Hill. You can see how steep the road is. It’s one-way driving down, which is why Kieran is driving through side streets to get to his destination, a house just before the crest of the hill.

If you refer back to the first photo, the yellow building with the dome is Debenham’s Dept Store. Eason’s Bookstore is directly across the road. Another thing making Cork City unique is the C-shaped main street, Patrick’s Street. You can see how the road curves to the right as you look past Debenham’s. As you’re walking or driving along Patrick’s Street, the long row or high, colorful buildings are practically right in front of you.

As Kieran suspected he would, he’d slept through most of the morning. Gráinne rose an hour before him, using up all the hot water of course, before coming down to put the kettle on. He needed a few things if he was going to stay with her for a few days and suggested she tag along. He didn’t know a single woman who wouldn’t jump at the chance to shop till she dropped followed by a nice meal. And Gráinne didn’t let him down.

Their first stop was Debenham’s, a modern department store built on the old style after the original building was burned down by the Black and Tans in 1920, as were many buildings in the city. The architecture of the new store blended in with the surrounding older buildings, as was fitting. His and Gráinne’s people were originally from Cork, so Kieran always found himself taking his own walking tour when he was here.

After the department store, they headed across the street to Eason’s Bookstore where he spoiled himself with the latest music rags and let Gráinne indulge in the shelves of romance novels.

Here are some of those houses on Patrick’s Hill. That’s a mighty steep grade to walk every day. The city has actually made it easier by putting in stairs on parts of the footpath, as you can see here.

Kieran’s destination is one of these houses. And as it turns out, Eilis’s best friend also lives on this street. Long terraces line both sides of the road, broken by a couple cross streets to the top of the hill. It’s almost like the Streets of San Francisco on that hill! Probably why Red Bull hosts the Soapbox Derby in the city every year.

Let’s check out MacCurtain Street. The Victorian period in Ireland is most noted for its red brick buildings. The building here was once the sorting office for An Post, Irish Post. Facing this building is the Gresham Metropole Hotel. These building were constructed in the 1850s.

MacCurtain Street is a one way street and it’s the crossroads with Patrick’s Street when we’ll find Crowley’s Music Centre and the Wolfhound Pub.

Crowley’s is a Cork tradition. If you’re looking for a guitar, this is the place!

Now, standing in the little music shop on McCurtain Street, Kieran gazed at the guitars on display. Acoustics hung beside six and twelve string steels, which hung beside electrics and bases. All lovely, but by no means the shop’s best.

“What’s yer pleasure?” came the owner’s lyrical Corkonian voice. Kieran turned to see a middle-aged older gentleman of lean, average build standing beside him, his face clean-shaven and sincere. He knew this man knew his business frontward and back and always offered the best deals in Ireland. But that was just one reason why he shopped here. “Ah, Kieran!” the man exclaimed. “‘Tis yerself. How’s the craic?”

“The craic is mighty, Ger.” Kieran put out his hand and was met with a solid handshake.

“What brings ye to Cark, boy?” Ger asked, adding in the traditional Corkonian endearment.

Now, The Wolfhound Pub . . . When I first came to Ireland in 1997, The Wolfhound was here at the corner of MacCurtain Street and Patrick’s Street (notice Patrick’s Hill). Today . . . it’s . . . a Subway restaurant! {hangs head} The pub was in the basement of this building and was very popular for live music. It had been there for years, and being across from Crowley’s seemed appropriate.

“Miss Kennedy,” whispered the man who’d assigned himself as her personal assistant tonight. “Can I refill your glasses?” The bottle of Jameson whiskey was already in his hand. She nodded without looking away from Kieran.

“Do you see that man over there?” she asked the waiter.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Tell your manager he has Ireland’s top blues guitarist in his pub and see if you can get him to perform.” She looked into the young man’s eyes. “And don’t,” she emphasized, “tell him who found him out.” She hoped the look she gave the man told him she’d have his job if he did. He agreed and she watched the man go to another man she assumed was the manager. She’d noticed him earlier standing at the back of the room overseeing the goings-on in the pub.

There was a brief discussion, fingers pointing, then the manager stepped over to Kieran. She was thankful the manager didn’t motion towards her as he spoke to Kieran, but it was obvious he was confused. His woman pushed him out of his chair. He hesitantly stepped up to the stage when the other performers were done with their set.

“Ladies and gentlemen. The Wolfhound is honored to have one of Ireland’s greatest blues guitarists with us tonight,” the manager oozed dramatically. Eilis knew he had no idea who Kieran was, but because she’d mentioned him he took her word for it that Kieran was as good as he was now telling the audience. “Please put your hands together for Kieran Vaughan.” The audience applauded, though not enthusiastically. They had no idea who Kieran was either. But they would.

Eilis leaned over to Megan. “Sometimes it’s very good to be me. Watch and listen.”

The Wolfhound was once very popular for not just live music, but for both bands and singers just starting out in the business as much as it was for established performers.

You may also notice the big sign on the building which says, “The official pint of us—Murphy’s.” Dublin City has its Guinness and Cork has its Murphy’s. Both are Irish stout . . . black ale. Cork also produces Ireland’s third black ale, Beamish which is produced by Beamish and Crawford, now part of Murphy’s. On wort-making days, you can smell the yeasty fermentation in the air all over the city . . . {drifting . . .}

Sorry. I went away there for a second. Back now!

There has long been a rivalry between Cork and Dublin, Corkonian’s proclaiming Cork is the real capital of Ireland. So sure of their status on the island, they have gone as far as proclaiming Cork as The People’s Republics of Cork, which happens to be in Ireland. Gotta love a tryer!

Guinness may be for strength, but Murphy’s is the official pint of us!

See how you’re getting a feel for the city? You’ve learned some city history, geography, and landmarks. You’ve had a glimpse at some of the places Corkonian’s shop and relax, you’ve even heard a bit of the accent which is regional only to the city. What’s more, you’ve caught a wiff of the city air on worting day. AND if you were paying attention, you got the briny scent of the channel water as the harbor water mixes with the river as it flows through the city.

What more could you want from a great read but to be say at the end of the book that you’ve used all of your senses? If I’ve done that for you here, then I’m happy.

• • •


Kemberlee Shortland was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America's Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. In 1997, Kemberlee had the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months where she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her sixteenth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a *cupla focal* along the way—a few Irish words.

Kemberlee has been writing since a very young age, and over the years she has published many travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland.

After publishing travel articles since 1997, Kemberlee saw her first short stories published, and by 2010, The Irish Pride Series made its debut.

Kemberlee also writes erotica as Scarlett Valentine.

Away from the computer, Kemberlee enjoys knitting and other needlecrafts, playing with her Border Collies, castle hunting, travel, reading, and cookery. One day she hopes to have time to learn to play guitar properly.







• • •

The Irish Pride Series

Irish Pride Series, book one
July 2012
Tirgearr Publishing

Artist representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.

Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his whit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.

When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.

Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.

Will Kieran be able to protect her?

Irish Pride series, book two
Fall 2013
Tirgearr Press

Mick and Kate thought they were falling in love. Kate hadn't been just the girl next door. She'd been Mick's life, and he hers. When an unforeseen force draws them apart they're left with wounds that refuse to heal. Now, ten years on, Mick's father's will should have been straightforward, except his addendum was like ice water in Mick's face.

It's essential that Mick and Kate work together to save his family's farm. Mick doesn't count on his new manager being accused of murder, and Kate doesn't expect a dangerously seductive woman from Dublin to claim Mick is the father of her child.

Kate thought she was falling in love with Mick all over again; however this newest revelation is too much for her. She is determined to finally say goodbye to her childhood sweetheart forever, but Mick has other plans for Kate's future. And none of them involve goodbye.

Irish Pride series, short story sequel to A Piece of My Heart
Fall 2013
Tirgearr Publishing

The perfect life Mick and Kate thought they had was slowly dissolving. With Mick obsessing about the farm and Kate thrown into a life of domesticity, both lose some of what they'd fought so hard to regain.

It all comes to a head when Kate suspects Mick of having an affair. Kate’s parents step in to give each of them advice from their own years of marriage.

Now, both Mick and Kate have set their own romantic plans in motion, but it could all fall through when Kate nearly blows up the kitchen.

Irish Pride series, book three
Winter 2013
Tirgearr Publishing

Grainne has moved back to Dublin to get her life straightened out. She dreams of college and a better life. She’s working for her brother, Kieran, in his newly reopened pub, The Blues Tavern, but the money isn’t enough to support herself and pay tuition. Moonlighting at The Klub! as an exotic dancer seems to be her answer fast money.

John ‘JD’ Desmond is a detective working undercover in the Blues Tavern. The Klub!, owned by Jimmy Malloy, is being used as a drug front, headed by the notorious Taylor Wade. JD had intended to get Grainne to snitch for him, but when he falls in love with her, things get complicated.

When Grainne witnesses Jimmy’s murder, she and JD are forced to go on the run until Wade can be apprehended. Wade lives up to his nickname, The Hunter, and JD and Grainne quickly find themselves at the end of a gun and running for their lives.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today. I'm here all day, ready for what comes :-)

  2. I LOVED Rhythm of my Heart and how well you steeped the culture into the story. Seeing these pictures now shows just how well as they're very similar to what I had imagined.

    Loved Kieran's scene on Patrick's Hill. Sigh. :)

    I'm really looking forward to reading Grainne's story in Shape of my Heart too.


    1. Hi Kate,

      Kieran sure is a man who knows what he wants and goes for it. Even if it means screaming STELLA . . . I mean EILIS . . . in the middle of the road ;-)

      I love Grainne too. I hope you enjoy her story when it's out later in the year. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Yay, Kemberlee! Such an interesting article. I love the pictures. One day, when I visit Ireland, I might have to hire you as a tour guide. :)

    1. Hey Dellani. Thanks for stopping over. I was a travel consultant for 15 years, specializing in Ireland. ;-) The hubs is from Cork City so I've spent a lot of time there. I guess it was natural to set part of a story there. I've heard writers set stories in places most familiar to them. I think that's true. When I lived in Cork I set stories there. Now that I'm closer to Dublin, I'm excited to finish my Dublin set story. When I lived back home, my stories were mainly set there. Funny.

      What do you think? Do you set your stories in places you're most familiar with, or just find interesting locations?

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