• Craggaunowen 2021

    29 August 2021

    Earlier in the summer, the Shans headed for Craggaunowen on a day trip, as we do at least once pretty much every year. Craggaunowen is a Celtic theme park, with recreations of what this part of the world looked like fifteen hundred or two thousand years ago. It's a fabulous place to stroll around, with lots of fascinating structures to admire, and interactive staff who can tell you all about the world of the past, and even show you a few of things they used to get up to back in the day.


    Craggaunowen played a very important part in the creation of my book, Bec, the fourth entry in my Demonata series. That book was set about 1600 years ago in southwestern Ireland, and by visiting Craggaunowen, I was able to bring that world to life inside my mind. It made it much easier for me to picture what Celtic Ireland looked like, and meant I didn't have to rely solely on books for my research. I wrote about the process in my author notes for Bec on my web site, and you can check it out by clicking on the following link -- the notes relating to Craggaunowen are in Part Two. https://darrenshan.com/books/details/bec


    The photos from our most recent visit give you an idea of what the park is like, and should hopefully provide a sens of deja vu for those of you who've read the book! In the first, my children Dante and Gaia sit by an open peat fire, toasting the Celtic equivalent of marshmallows -- sticks!!! :-) The second features a hut on a crannog, a village built on an artificial island in a lake. In the third, Dante sits astride a dolmen, an ancient burial chamber for the dead.


    The fourth photo is taken inside the throne room of a lovely castle that is part of the site. When Bec was released back in 2006, we had a launch party for the book in this very room, which was packed with very excited Shansters who had won tickets to attend. Of all the events I've done over the years, in all sorts of different places, this one stands out in my memory as one the most enjoyable, and one of the best. It's very rare for an author to be able to launch a book in a place that very strongly inspired that book, so for me this was a very special day, and one I always recall fondly whenever I return.


    Craggaunowen was shut to the public last year, because of COVID, but thankfully was able to reopen this summer. It's due to close for the autumn and winter months next weekend, on Saturday 4th September. If you live in Ireland, or are visiting, and are able to get along because it shuts up shop for the year. I HIGHLY recommend it. I might even try to get back myself once more this year before the shutters come down (most probably on the final day, if I can work it), so keep an eye out and you might just spot a certain Celtic master of YA horror on the prowl... :-) https://www.craggaunowen.ie/





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