I am in the land that inspired Narnia: Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, UK. It is a picturesque place with vines growing over every surface of some of the houses, a quiet stream with a stone bridge running through the middle, and I can almost imagine a Faun with an umbrella coming up to ask me in to tea. But, alas, we are in The Church Bistro having tea and scones. It is a 1920s Methodist church building which was converted to a bistro and bar about three years ago. (This Bistro used to be a cute Cathedral – to parody a Steve Taylor song.) Although, it is not as interesting as a Faun’s cave, it is a beautiful bistro with delicious scones, clotted cream, and wonderful tea. The Irish (like the English and Scots) certainly know how to brew a pot of tea.
Yesterday, we stayed in Kilkeel, a beautiful fishing village which is just inside the border of Northern Ireland, a 20-minute ferry ride from Carlingford. Kilkeel is the place where my paternal grandfather, Thomas (Tommy) Shields lived until he was 14 and set out to live in Canada. I went for a run along the beach as the sun came up over the sea and I felt like I was reliving the opening scene of Chariots of Fire. What a glorious morning it was.
C.S. Lewis was inspired by the Mourne Mountains around Kilkeel and Rostrevor. I find myself imagining what he would have written if he had ever seen the Rocky Mountains near Calgary, Alberta. It is here, near the coast of Ireland, a little south of Belfast that he dreamed up the idea of Narnia, a land where it was always winter and never Christmas, until Aslan is on the move. It must have been a particularly cold winter when he came through this region. We are here in mid-October on a 17-degree Celsius afternoon and the humidity and sunshine feel wonderful. I am working on a book as we vacation, and the Literary Society of Rostrevor has many inspiring poetic quotes posted around the town and so I am feeling suitably inspired to write and think and dream. Ireland has always inspired poets and writers and sent them off to inspire the rest of the world. Who knows what will get written in this wonderful country?