Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison

Mullaghmore mountain on the Burren, County Clare, Ireland

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Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Davoren is such an unusual name, Elizabeth, that I think there may be a very good chance that you could be related to the legal family in North Clare.
Domhnall O'Davoren is my hero - it was so wonderful that he preserved so many of the laws by getting his scholars to copy them out. When I looked through the actual book in the British Library in London and when I saw the handwriting of the boys - and one girl(!) I just trembled with excitement.

Sat Oct 27 18:10:00 2012

 
Elizabeth writes from Australia
Hello Cora,
I found the first of your 'Burren' series shortly after our new library opened. I was rapt...Mara and her life became so real as I read the books, ordering them ahead at the library so that I always had one at hand until I had read them all. My Irish ancestry is of the Burren, which I have visited on several occasions. I love its stark beauty and uniqueness and its connections to my Irish families (O'Dea, Lee, Davoren/Davoran). To find your series added so much extra knowledge - culturally, historically, geographically and geologically that I not only do appreciate my heritage even more but feel a close affinity to it. I too have visited Cahermachten - the site of the law school and wondered so much about its history. Now I understand why its so special. As I have Davoren ancestry I now also wonder if my family was originally O'Davoren and whether I can trace my family back to Mara or her relatives. As for Mara, I was able to relate strongly to her in so many ways - what a special character but to know that your story was based on a real person certainly made the series live even more for me. Thank you.

Sat Oct 27 07:41:24 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I share your frustration with the lack of resources for the history of pre-Elizabethan 16th century Ireland. I think that the most fruitful are books or articles on local history where someone has gone to the trouble of tracking down all the available resources. I found such books and articles very useful for the history of the Burren and north-west Clare in that era.
For a more generalized approach 'Gaelic and Gaelicized Ireland in the Middle Ages' by K.W. Nicholls is scholarly and detailed.
For law, my 'bible' is Fergus Kelly's 'Early Irish Law'. My copy is dog-eared and bristles with post-it notes.

I'm delighted that you like the characters. I'm rather fond of Mara, myself. I always know what she is going to say or do - rather as though we have many friends for years and years!

Thu Oct 18 15:37:08 2012

 
Charlotte writes from England
Dear Ms Harrison
I don't usually leave messages like this, but having come across your guestbook I can't resist! I've been thoroughly enjoying your books for several months now and would like to say how delighted I was to find them! Other historical mysteries series that I have read have been great in details but very lacking in character depths - so refreshing to find both so well written.
I've been fascinated by 16th century Ireland for many years, and am currently doing in-depth research, but find it very difficult to find good sources to work with. Might I ask how you've achieved your research, particularly into the details of the Brehon laws? I see that you've mentioned before working with sources at hand - might I been very cheeky and ask what these are?
Many thanks, C.

Wed Oct 17 11:39:39 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I'm as delighted that you found Mulloughmore as that you like my books. What a magical place it is - especially in May.

I set my books in the early days of Henry VIII as the summers then were, apparently, wonderfully fine warm summers. If only we could get them back again! When the sun is out, the Burren sparkles.

It was finding the remains of the law school at Cahermacnaghten which gave me the infpiration for the Mara stories.

Fri Oct 12 16:51:59 2012

 
sylvia sfree@fltg.net writes from usa
Helllo Ms Harrison, I am just writing to let you know I have been captured by your books. I found them after my last visit to Ireland in 2010. I think I have read them all. I love the Burren area and went there in September. Of course I read 2 of you books while there. Last time in 2010 we went to CaherMacnaughton, unaware it would show up as a Brehon law school in your books. Since, we have been to many of Maras places, your stories add a lot of color to the memories of them.
You really know your neighborhood well. I kept asking about you in the burren this time, one fellow at Dysert O'dea knew you. you live in my favorite part of Ireland, thanks for bringing out the flora that lives there. We even found Mullaghmore mountain. Keep writing!! You have a real gift for it.

Fri Oct 12 15:57:57 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Michael:
Great minds think alike...

My agent came up with a similar suggestion a couple of weeks ago. He suggested sending one or two of the cholars to Tudor London...

Mon Oct 8 09:58:01 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Richard: I think that is a very good idea. It would probably be easier to have it on my website as publishers are very fussy and difficult about any additions to books, other than the usual acknowledgements etc. For years I have been pleading for a map of the Burren, showing the places where Mara visited, but they have not been keen.

Mon Oct 8 09:54:48 2012

 
Richard J. Vielbig
Ms. Harrison, I saw and heard your presentation at the last Feilè Fidelma in Cashel. Following it, I had picked up your first Burren mystery: My Lady Judge. I totally enjoyed it. I am reading its sequel now and hope to complete the series.

Might you be persuaded to write a "forward/introduction" to the next book in this series or post online a "typical" milieu of "life" in this period of Irish history for us who are not as familiar with it as you are. Thank you

Mon Oct 8 07:53:17 2012

 
Michael writes from USA
Thanks for responding. I thought that "Burke" was a typo because you have written a lot about Burke in the last two or three books and you mentioned about Brutus just before calling Margaret a Burke.
I think it was interesting to show how the two laws conflicted in Laws in Conflict. Mara is certainly portrayed as a strong woman, smart and quick-witted. There have been enough women in history to indicate that one could have been that bold and survived. I think the portrayal of the English law is a good example of its basic inhumane basis, especially how it is supposed to be based on Christian tenets. The Irish law is much more humane. It does seem, however, that murder is rather accepted without rancor in the Burren. Of course, the people who are murdered are generally not sympathetic figures.
I like the idea of including Galway and since there is so much interchange between the two areas, I could see more such action occurring. I would also like to see more
of the other two O'Brien kingdoms included, and to see Mara's students go out on their own, but calling on her for help. You have given the kids enough character development to have stories...

Thu Oct 4 10:16:27 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Michael: I'm afraid that was just a careless error - yes, of course, Margaret Lynch was a 'Blake', not a 'Burke' - I think because I had quite a bit about Ulick Burke and his family in other books I just made a slip.

re the other matter, I think that Mara's concern always is that a crime should be admitted and that retribution should be offered - whether it was needed or not.

If you want me to reply privately you could send me your email address (it would not be published) and then I would reply to that.

Opinion seems to be divided about whether it was a good idea or not to take Mara out of her home environment in the Burren and set one of her cases in the anglicized city of Galway. What do you think?

Tue Oct 2 17:11:24 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
That's very nice of you, Michael, to think of that.

However, there is no problem as I see all messages before putting them onto the guestbook, or the children's message board. I can therefore remove all 'spoilers' from the message or just answer without putting the message on.

Thanks for the compliment - I'm no expert and write with three Brehon law books by my side.

Mon Oct 1 08:08:00 2012

 
Michael writes from USA
I have read all of the Mara books and recommend them. I try solving the mysteries but seldom get them right. I am amazed at how much law you know to be able to use it to write the novels. I have some questions about Laws in Conflict. I don't want to ask the questions in an open forum so I won't spoil the ending. Is there any way to ask the questions through a website or your publisher?

Mon Oct 1 05:23:21 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I hope that when you were in Doolin, Leonie, that you took the opportunity to visit the Aran Islands - they are so incredibly beautiful, and would, of course, be part of the kingdom ruled by King Turlough Donn in the sixteenth century. I set quite a bit of the story of 'Eye of Law' there and they are also a backdrop for 'Deed of Murder'.
Thanks for the praise - it's very nice of you to take the trouble to write.

Sun Sep 16 08:30:59 2012

 
Leonie Murphy writes from Australia
Dear Cora
I have just finished the fourth of your Burren mysteries and can't wait to get the next one. I visited the Burren in 2008 and stayed in Doolin at the time. It was such a beautiful place and I would love to visit again. I have a ramblers guide map which I bought while I was there and I find myself checking it as I read to locate the places in each story. Thank you so much - you have me hooked!

Sun Sep 16 05:09:19 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I'm delighted to hear that my Jane Austen books have found their way to Australia and that you enjoyed it, Sarah.

Ask your library to get 'Debutantes' - I bet you will like that one, too!

Tue Aug 28 13:15:21 2012

 
Sarah Dowdney writes from Australia
Cora Harrison,

I loved the book 'I was Jane Austen's best friend'! i read it in about two days. I thought it was such a good book so passed it on to my friend to read, she loved it to. Her mum read it and thought it was wonderful. I also suggested it to my school library and they bought the book. I can't wait to read 'Jane Austen stole my boyfriend'.

Tue Aug 28 12:23:01 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Constance: I'm glad that you liked my first two books - I think that gradually I am approaching the time when English law will take the place of Brehon law - perhaps that will be Mara's last case and my last book! Agatha Christie wrote 'Poirot's Last Case' during the war and put it in a vault in the bank with instructions that it was published after her death.


Scott: Yes, the summer was dreadful - and still is. We haven't had all of our hay cut yet, and I think that our lake meadow will probably have to wait until next year. Did you visit the Aran Islands from Doolin? I'm not too keen on Doolin, myself, but lots of tourists must like it.

Sat Aug 25 07:48:05 2012

 
Scott writes from USA
Hi Cora,
I met a young lady who said you visited her class as a younger student (now attending U Limerick) and she still lives/comutes from Doolin. I didn't see you on Main Street but did enquire. Leave it to a Calif boy to visit on the "wettest July (and August it appears!) in 40 years"!

It took me a while but I just finished Writ in Stone- many possible culprits, back and forth but in the end.......it surprised me.

Thank you,
Scott

Sat Aug 25 05:34:12 2012

 
Constance Brown writes from US
Dear Cora,
I discovered you this summer with A Secret, Unlawful Killing--just after i had visited the burren for the first time! I enjoyed the book so much, and I've now also read My Lady Judge. I am intrigued by the wise, humane laws of the clans; how is it possible that humans made such excellent laws? Of course, we know there are few if any places in the world where such wise laws are in place any more--perhaps they do exist in small groups.
Our guide made it clear that England had an overwhelming impact in Ireland for centuries; the prospect of course hangs over the burren books.
Thank you for these books; I look forward to reading more.

Tue Aug 21 23:40:45 2012

 
Nicky Cox writes from UK
Hi Cora,

I'm the editor of First News, the UK's national newspaper for children (with more than a million readers a week). We're writing about you and your historical novels in this week's edition – I'd love to read some of them.

Nicky Cox MBE
Editor
First News
Shand House, 14-20 Shand Street
London
SE1 2ES

Tue Aug 14 11:07:07 2012

 
Joe O'Laughlin writes from USA
Hi Cora,

Indeed a surprise twist to the ending in Laws in Conflict. But also lots to contrast with folkways in previous Burren books.

I think some branch of my family kept Gregan's Castel "in the family" by marrying in to a Galway judge's family.

108 F. here yesterday in an urban freeway solar cooker in south Denver yesterday. Cools off a little at nights, so far. Any Mexican monsoon is VERY weak so far in Colorado.

Good indoor reading weather.
- Joe O'Laughlin

Sun Jul 22 17:14:41 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
Thanks, Amanda. I love it when people find the ending a surprise. I hope that 'Deed of Murder' is also a surprise, though the one that I like best at the moment is 'Laws in Conflict'.

However, a friend, and fan, says she doesn't like that as much as the others because Mara goes to the city of Galway, which, at that time, was ruled by English laws and English ways of dress etc. My friend said she missed the Burren and the dog and Brigid the housekeeper! However, I think it's a good story with a surprise (I hope) ending.

Sun Jul 22 08:04:59 2012

 
Amanda Hogg writes from Australia
Hello Cora,
Wow I finished Scales of Retribution and I was indeed surprised by the ending!
I will keep up my vision of seeing this on the big screen soon and look forward to reading more of your wonderful work.
It is so real-I feel like I am stepping into a time machine when I open your book!




Sun Jul 22 01:03:48 2012

 
Cora Harrison writes from Ireland
I must confess, Nadine, when I wrote 'My Lady Judge' that I never really thought of how many books I could write about Mara and her Brehon law school. I was amazed that Brehon law still existed in the sixteenth century and fascinated to find the remains of a law school in the Burren, not far from where I live.

Tue Jul 3 08:41:58 2012

 
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