I’ve been dying to write this post, so my inner tour guide can step out and show you the literary tour of The Cross Of Santiago! This novel was inspired greatly by my surroundings – Galway city and county and in this first leg of the literary tour, I want to take you to where it all began.
In 1588, the Spanish Armada, the greatest naval fleet that ever was, decided to invade England in a holy war to overthrow the protestant Queen (why can’t we all get along?!) Anyway, things didn’t work out as planned (you’ll have to read the book to find out why) and the fleet had to return home via Scotland and down the west coast of Ireland. A raging storm caused many of the ships to wreck along the Irish coastline and it was these events that planted the seeds of a story in my mind.
Looking up the Irish Wrecks Online website, I discovered an Armada shipwreck recorded in 1588 in a small bay called Ballinakill. Ballinakill is in a beautifully scenic area of Connemara, not far from Tully village. I have always loved taking my holidays in the wilds of Connemara, so I instantly went searching for a cottage to rent in the area, where I could do more research. As luck or fate would have it, I found a cottage overlooking Ballinakill Bay, on the slopes of Tully mountain.
I instantly fell in love with the place and in my novel, this is the cottage belonging to Tori’s grandmother, where Xavier stays and explores the waters of Ballinakill Bay. At the foot of the hill (if you can run the gauntlet of wild Connemara sheep!) there is a small pier with a breath-taking view of the Twelve Bens mountains. How could you not be inspired by this place?
The Falcon Blanco Mediano, an urca which was most likely used for transporting supplies to the bigger ships, wrecked upon the rocks of Freaghillaun Island (try saying that with your mouth full) and many of the survivors were helped by local clans. The ship itself has disintegrated over time in the choppy currents of the Atlantic, but some believe there is still Armada treasure to be found, if you know the right place to look…. Below is a view of Freaghillaun Island from the mainland.
Click here to see a map of the area, if you would ever like to go there yourself and take part in The Cross Of Santiago literary tour! Stay tuned for further stops on the tour, and don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the giveaway to win a free e-book here.