Inspirational Locations

 Camping in Clare, Castles in Kerry

Each July my husband, our youngest and our eldest daughter, along with her husband and their two kids choose a spot in Ireland to go camping. This year we invaded a site called Pure Camping in Querrin, a small village on the Loop Head Peninsula. You can rent a pre-erected Bell tent (some even have a stove installed) or bring your own. My daughter and son-in-law have their own Bell tent and we have a standard two-bed nylon one. As you can imagined our cars were pretty loaded down with seven of us between the two tents.

The weather was surprisingly dry (for the west of Ireland) and the scenery of course was inspiring. I finished editing my latest book in the warm and cosy reception room early each morning before any of the family woke up. Yoga classes and Dolphin watching are some of the facilities offered. About 200 Bottlenose dolphins live in the mouth of the river Shannon and calves are born there every year. The vicinity is an EU Special Area of Conservation.

DSC_0558On the third day of our camping holiday we took the ferry across the Shannon for a road trip along the Kerry coastline. We found the most amazing castle and I took lots of photos and a couple of videos of it. If you were looking for a setting to film a thriller or a scary movie, Carrigafoyle castle would be ideal. This video captures the essence of the place better than I could describe it: (please excuse the quality, I took it with my phone while climbing the 100 or so steps to the top)

You can read the description and history of the castle by clicking on the images below.






A fine example of a late 15th century Irish tower house.




Thomas Moore and The Vale of Avoca

Thomas MooreDSC_0429Thomas Moore (1779-1852) is to Ireland what Robert Burns is to Scotland, with many of his poems being set to music by the likes of Robert Schumann, Benjamin Britten and Charles Ives, to mention just a few. Busts of Moore can be found in Avoca, Wicklow and Central Park, New York. A large bronze statue stands near Trinity College, Dublin, where he was educated. The institution had just opened it’s doors to Catholics and Thomas Moore’s mother wanted him to become a lawyer. He continued his education in law at The Middle Temple, in London and became well known for his poetry, singing,  translations and ballads. Some of his best known works are The Meeting of the Waters, (inspired by Avoca, pictured above) The Minstrel Boy, Oft in the Stilly Night, The Last Rose of Summer and Canadian Boat Song. I remember while at school, learning to sing and play on my recorder (thankfully not at the same time) Silent oh Moyle! Be the Roar of thy Waters. I can still play it today but believe me, you really don’t want to hear that. Instead I’ll leave you with a video of the place that was so inspirational to Thomas Moore, where two rivers meet to flow towards the sea. If you listen carefully you can hear  the sound of uilleann pipes playing some music from Moore’s works, just above the roar of the water (courtesy of a young man busking).   The Meeting of the Waters, Avoca


As Time Goes By


Youghal Strand on a Sunny Spring Day

A walk on the beach inspires some writing

A walk on the beach inspires some writing

After a brisk walk with a good friend along this beautiful beach I felt well able to add another chapter to Finding Henry Brubaker, book 3 of The Finding Trilogy. It’s amazing how the spring air of a bright sunny day in March clears away the cobwebs and brain fog. On returning home I got stuck in and completed chapter eleven.


A Place to Find your Inner Peace


This is a photo I took of a beach near where I live. It has a wetland nearby where otters, migrating geese and lots of other wildlife can be seen if one patiently waits for the right moment. An early morning stroll along the water’s edge will leave you relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated. I feel so privileged to have such a beautiful display of nature on my doorstep. This is the image I used for the back of my book, A Pocket Full of Shells.


An Ideal Setting for a Book

ideal setting for a book

ideal setting for a book

The Old Quarter of Sintra in Portugal, is a place that is magical, romantic, and an ideal setting for a book. Classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, the Quinta da Regaleira was built just over a hundred years ago by Antonio Carvalho Monteiro (1848-1920) and sits within a landscape of trees and shrubs. Being an academic with a strong interest in the initiation rites of Masons – there are Masonic symbols everywhere – Monteiro created a place with a mystical atmosphere. His architect, Luigi Manini (1848-1936) who designed La Scala in Milan, was inspired by Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline architecture.

There are secret caves to explore and a labyrinth of tunnels, one of which is accessed through a massive stone door, opened by a hidden mechanism. This leads to a large initiation pit that spirals down into the earth.  There are nine levels to the pit, or well, reminding one of Dante’s nine circles of hell.

Pathways weave through abundant foliage leading the walker from one ornate tower to another, each one of a different design. There are grottoes along the way with Waterfall Lake and Leda’s Cave just beneath the Regaleira Tower. These are often interpreted as being symbolic of a journey between darkness and light or death and resurrection.

The Initiation Well, mentioned earlier, is a 27 meter deep stairway leading to a subterranean tunnel that connects with other underground walkways. Some of these are faintly illuminated, others are in complete darkness.  Here and there a flash of light from a cigarette lighter or a phone can be seen, as people dart from one tunnel to another. It is not unusual to hear the echo of a scream or a shout, as tourists blindly bump into one another feeling their way along the cold, stone walls.  Occasionally, a sleeping bat gets disturbed, resulting in a lot of shrieking and frantic waving of arms in the darkness.

There are footpaths and roadways scattered throughout the densely packed trees in the four hectare estate. Carvalho Monteiro, whose nickname was Monteiro the Millionaire, believed in primitivism and this is reflected in the way the forest was cultivated. The upper section is left in its natural state, growing wild. The lower area is neat and arranged in an orderly fashion. To sit and read a book in such surroundings is one of the most relaxing experiences to be had.

The trails wind their way through exotic foliage, passing turrets of various design and size. Climbing any of these towers allows the visitor to take advantage of breathtaking views. Quinta da Regaleira is also known as Quinta da Torre, because of an octagonal tower that stands within the estate.  The entire area has an air of mystery about it that fires the imagination. It is an ideal setting for a book of any genre and an inspirational place for poets and artists.

The façade of the palace is decorated with gargoyles and Gothic pinnacles. Over a basement sits a ground floor with hallways connecting dining areas, living rooms, a billiards room and various other quarters. There are stairways and a balcony that looks out over the magnificent grounds. On the first floor the bedrooms and a dressing room can be found. Monteiro’s office and female servants’ bedrooms are on the second floor. The third floor has an ironing room and access to the terrace.  The male servants’ bedrooms, along with the kitchen, are located in the basement from where a dumb-waiter delivered food to the dining rooms on the ground floor.

Monteiro’s library walls are completely covered with bookshelves and the floor has mirrored glass placed around the edges, giving the impression that it is suspended. The room is windowless and dark to preserve the books and if you would like to see it, the video below will take you there. You can also experience the magic of Sintra by clicking the source link just beneath the video. With its intriguing atmosphere, it is easy to see why Quinta da Regaleira is such an ideal setting for a book. If you would like to “stroll” through the grounds, why not take one of these Virtual Tours.

By Jean Reinhardt  (first published on MARSocial November, 2013)



16 Responses to Inspirational Locations

  1. Pingback: 1 Poet, 2 Rivers and Banksy | Jean Reinhardt

  2. Pingback: Camping in Clare, Castles in Kerry | The Writers' Workshop Blog

  3. Pingback: Camping in Clare, Castles in Kerry | Jean Reinhardt

  4. Beth says:

    You’ve collected some inspiring places! Beautiful, each and every one. The Quinta de la Regaleira is going onto my travel wish list:0).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Beth, I haven’t done a lot of travelling as I don’t like flying, so when I do venture out of Ireland I make sure it’s a place I feel is worth the effort. Quinta de la Regaleira is most definitely one of them. If you do go, set aside at least three hours, if not more, to explore, take photos and just soak up the atmosphere of the place.


  5. Inês says:

    I’m portuguese and live about 45 minutes away from Sintra, but only recently i’ve had the oportunity to visit Quinta da Regaleira. What a wonderful, magical, breathtakingly beautiful place. Absolutely a must see.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing! I actually also found the Youghal Cemetery quite inspiring… One of the nicest ones I’ve seen in Ireland so far!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The old cemetery here is a great place to visit. I’ve been putting some photos together to do a blogpost about it. One of my friends has researched and listed all of the old burial records of the Collegiate church so they can be accessed digitally. She volunteered to work on the project and it’s a treasure for anyone researching family history in Youghal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was actually a cemetery photograph that made me want to travel to youghal back then 😀 I wanted to see it with my own eyes. The gate was closed somehow and we ended up climbing the walls 😉 That’s very good of you to be doing that, I bet many people will be very grateful for that. Good job!

        Liked by 1 person

        • It was my friend who did all the work and she’s been asked to help out with some more records if she has the time to spare. Those gates at the old cemetery close around 5pm but there’s a bell for people to ring if they get locked in, although I’m not sure how long they would be waiting for someone to come to their rescue. Climbing the walls would be quicker, lol.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. loravenkova13 says:


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alan H says:

    I’m surprised Dan Brown or someone similar hasn’t based a book on the Quinta da Regaleira like you suggested. Caves, tunnels, hidden levers, Dante’s Divine Comedy. It almost writes itself. The figures in the ceiling painting keeping guard on some unknown horror!

    Liked by 1 person

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