This story / scene was inspired by my friends, Susan Sullivan and Betty Ann Wakely. Thank you Susan for recommending we visit Cobh (formerly Queenstown) during our trip to Ireland. Thank you Betty Ann for sharing your story last week of vacations with your spinster aunts, one of them a nun.
This week’s assignment centered on Credibility and Research to describe a setting. What a great excuse to try another scene for my novel since historical fiction must be deeply steeped in facts. I applied functional research through fact checking and looking and really examining photos for my setting. Another critical skill in a writer’ development is observation, seeing and listening to the world around you, gathering overheard conversations and situations that could lend themselves to inspiring a piece of a story.
We want to smell, hear, and see your setting. We also want to hear it written about with credibility. That character must interact in that place and time. Choose from one of these settings: a hospital room, foreign country or blackout. For the foreign country, you may write from the point of view of a tourist or visitor. You might want to pick a place you’ve visited in the past. Use functional and imaginative research to create your setting.
Word Count Minimum = 500 and Maximum = 750 / Word Count Actual = 749
TITLE: A Stop Along the Way
April 4, 1912
I arrived into Queenstown this afternoon. After two months in Dublin, it was refreshing to traverse the countryside south and westward to the Celtic Sea. The Irish have done a fine job with their railways and the Great Southern & Western Railway connecting Dublin to Cork is top rate. I secured an unoccupied window seat and settled in for the four hour trip. My blessings continued as we pulled out of the station. Sunshine. Glorious, bright rays broke through the ever-present clouds and mist that hang over Ireland and found their way through the smoke-filmed window warming my cheeks.
The warm sun, refracting and amplifying its heat through the window, and the train’s steady chug forward, quickly lulled me to sleep. I was very happy my nap was brief for I would have missed the beauty of the passing lands. Never in my life have I seen so many green, green fields. Their expansive stretch outward to the horizon, with gradual rises and falls, only to be interrupted by intermittent clusters of short shrubbery and dull grey stone boundary fences marking clan lines for generations.
On the gentle green rolls there were also white blurs and dots. At first I thought we had been transported to the American South. Surely cotton did not grow in Ireland? No, they were sheep, their black-faced heads focused down grazing which left only their winter woolly balls of white visible. Their multitude and round, plump bodies explain the Irish lamb stew found on every pub menu. Seeing these quiet creatures so content, innocently ambling across the fields gave me the slightest pang of guilt, for I did partake many a night of that delicious and aromatic stew for my dinner.
There was a quick change in Cork to the Cork & Muskerry railway which delivered me to Queenstown, my final departure point which will bring me home to you, my love. The station abuts the wharves where the launches tie up awaiting to take their passengers out to the mighty liners anchored in the great harbor of Cork, the second largest harbor in the world I am told. With a week until my departure, I turned away from the wharf in need of finding my accommodations.
This task proved quite easy for one cannot miss the dominance of St. Colman’s Cathedral. Rising above every roof line, its multiple spires thrust upward, pointing to the heavens in exultation. Its foreboding, dense, dark ironwork frames the top levels, protecting all inside that come daily to worship and pray. Espying the Cathedral was easy, getting there was not. The wharves are at sea level which belie the outer geography of the village. Each intersecting street into the village is the deposit of steep inclines that I surmise must cause many runaway buggies to end in mangled tragedies of horse and humans at the foot of the hill.
I began my trek up the aptly named West View. The road is flanked by stone dwellings connected in a row of ten or twelve homes, each one a hue off a colorful palette. Vibrant reds and dreamy creams, blues and greens to mirror the nearby sea, and every shade of each. I felt as if I was walking alongside a rainbow that cheers one, lifting the spirits and giving one hope as the clouds again rolled in and the top of the street seemed to get further away with each step instead of closer.
Finally I arrived at St. Colman’s. Please extend my gratitude again to Beth and Kate O’Brien for their introduction to their aunt, Sister Mary Angus. She was awaiting my arrival. After taking tea with the Sister, she directed me to her sister’s rooming house where she would be joining us for supper. They were both eager to hear from someone who has met their sisters first hand and to hear how they have fared in America after leaving so many years ago.
So now I must close. Miss O’Brien informed me of a strict schedule with supper at 7pm. A few other Titanic passengers have also booked rooms here and every night we must all partake of a few pints as we toast Ireland and send a few more off to America, who like Beth and Kate, may never return to their dear homeland. I shall post this letter in the morning with hopes you receive it before my arrival home to you in Philadelphia on April 18.
Ever yours, Peter