A Historical Murder Mystery
A Historical Murder Mystery: The Setting and Inspiration for A History Of Love And Now
It was the autumn of 1977. I was thirteen, and my family had recently moved to a beautiful Georgian country house situated in the heart of Southern Ireland. When I started at the old convent school in the village, my classmates told me a murder had been committed in my house. According to village lore, a young woman and her boyfriend had been murdered by her father in the room that had now become my bedroom. The historical murder committed two centuries ago still fascinated the villagers, and everyone I met seemed to still be speculating about it.
I found an old map of the estate, and studying it, I became increasingly entranced by the old story. It had something to do with a love affair. The father shot the boyfriend, and the girl subsequently starved herself to death—a crime of passion of sorts. I spent my free time exploring the surrounding countryside, the fields and the woodlands; I climbed the estate wall to the parklands that extended for miles towards the heart of the village. Having become a young teenage sleuth, I searched for clues: who were these people who had played a part in Brackfar’s historical murder mystery? Inside the main gate, I discovered a fairy fort.
I remember that the place seemed to sparkle with magic. And so years later, still intrigued by my memories, I researched Irish folklore and myth for my story and used these elements to enrich my plot. But also, the crimes committed at the time—The Troubles raged in the north, the tragic news bulletins about IRA attacks, my history lessons at secondary school, the stories of Cú Chulain and the old chieftains told me by my primary school teachers, and the photos framed and hanging on the walls of every classroom I was ever in; pictures of the leaders of the 1916 uprising and their subsequent brutal and bloody executions—all these elements inspired me many years later to write A History of Love and Now.
During a school trip in sixth class primary school, I found myself standing before the execution wall in Kilmainham Gaol (prison) in Dublin at age twelve and staring up at the bullet holes; I wondered if the ghosts of those poor souls were still present and watching me standing here in awe and commiseration at their place of death. But the historical murder committed in my bedroom intrigued me the most. What made a father murder the boy his daughter loved?
All these memories stayed with me and inspired me to write a novel infused with history and magical realism. I used the historical murder mystery committed in my bedroom as my central plot point. As Carol Birch wrote in Good Fiction Guide, ‘Given the vivid fairy lore and the troubled history of Ireland, a dose of magical realism seems to run through its writers’ veins’. Although I was born in a different country, I grew deep roots in Ireland during my formative years, and I believe in a bit of magic, as much as the majority of the Irish population do.
In my book, my protagonist, Anise, is older than I was when I lived at Brackfar. Still, like me, the magical countryside entrances Anise to discover the facts and circumstances of the murder committed all those years ago. She discovers a dark and deadly secret that threatens everything she holds dear, but she finds she must uncover the truth of Brackfar Castle before history starts to repeat itself…
©2023 A.S. Mink