“Love wasn’t like it was portrayed in the movies; I understood that now. It wasn’t an ethereal cloud of hearts and flowers and happy-ever-afters. It was a solid gritty living lump with sharp edges plunging around in my chest, a spiky ball of complex conflicting emotions all rolled into one indistinguishable, exquisite messy mass which extended feelers into every aspect, every layer of my being.”
This is how Cethlenn, the main protagonost of my latest WIP, Swanskin, describes the experience of falling in love.
Of course, it’s different for everyone. Here are some thoughts on love from some of Ireland’s more famous writers;
“Hearts are not to be had as a gift, hearts are to be earned.”
-William Butler Yeats
“You don’t love someone for their looks or their clothes or their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.”
“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”
– both by Oscar Wilde
If you want to tell someone special how much you care this Valentine, here are some things you could say in Irish…
(pronounced graw-im hoo)
I love you
Is tú mo ghrá
is a more formal way to say I love you
(pronounced muh khish-la)
a chuisle mo chroí
pulse of my heart
grá mo chroí
love of my heart
Which reminds me, around this time last year, Jane Dougherty and I published some retellings of Irish love myths. You can get a free copy on Smashwords, but if you want to download from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com, you’ll have to pay 99p/99c… they won’t let us permafree it, sadly. If you haven’t read it, get it… it’s free (on Smashwords) and it’s perfect for the season that’s in it!
Now for some poetry. I came across this, and thought it was quite sweet…
“The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white- rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.”
– John Boyle O’Reilly
“Love hath a language of his own – A voice, that goes
from heart to heart – whose mystic tone
love only knows.”
– Thomas Moore
Here are some old country Irish marriage proposals, which I quite liked…
- Come live in my heart, and pay no rent.
- Would you like to hang your washing next to mine? And the reply – Tis a lonely wash with no man’s shirt in it.
- November is the time to wed, the harvest’s in and it’s cold in bed.
And some old Irish sayings about love…
- If he/ she doesn’t hear poetry, they won’t hear anything at all.
- Love is like stirabout (porridge); it must be made fresh every day.
- A little fire that warms the heart is better than a big fire that burns.
According to tradition, Irish oysters are an aphrodisiac, especially when eaten with a pint of stout. It’s said to be more powerful magic than standing under the mistletoe at Christmas.
Finally, the Claddagh Ring is a symbol of Ireland that we all know and recognise. It is often used in place of a wedding ring, but in Ireland, it is just as often given and worn as a sign of friendship, as of love.
The design takes the form of a crowned heart nestled within two hands. It symbolises the intention, ‘let love and friendship reign’. It is thought that originally this ring was an heirloom belonging to a family from the fishing village of Clauddagh in Galway.
The Claddagh is a variation of a type of ring known as a fede. The fede dates back to Roman times, when the gesture of clasped hands was a symbol of pledging vows, and represented faith and trust.
Queen Victoria was said to have worn a Claddagh ring. It was only then that the crown was added to the design, and the ring gained popularity as a wedding ring.
There is a lovely story concerning the origins of the Claddagh ring. Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway was captured by Algerian Corsairs around 1675 while travelling to the West Indies. He was sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him the craft.
He was freed fourteen years later, when King William III sent an ambassador demanding the release of all British subjects who had been enslaved. Joyce then returned to Galway, taking the ring he had made while in captivity, which he gave to his sweetheart upon their marriage.
Tradition dictates that the ring must never be bought for oneself, but only given as a gift. The people of Clauddagh were said to have handed them down through the generations of their families as heirlooms.
The way the Claddagh is worn can reveal a lot about the wearer; if you are single, you should wear the ring on your right hand with the heart facing outward from your body. If you are in a relationship, you should wear the ring on your right hand with the heart facing inwards. If you are engaged, you should wear the ring on your left hand on the third finger with the heart pointing outwards, and if you are married, you should wear the ring on your left hand on the third finger with the heart pointing inwards.
Who knew the wearing of a ring could be so complicated! Only in Ireland…