"If you’ve never heard the low whistle, let me describe it for you: it’s a paradox, a modern invention that sounds old, ancient. Gets hold of your guts and pulls them up through you, into your heart and throat, then upwards again, towards the heavens. Floating and soaring like the flute, deep and resonant like the oboe, yet strangely earthy, as if it’s been carved, or moulded from wood, bamboo, or clay, instead of cold, smooth metal. Beautiful, haunting, irresistible, if they were as old as they sound, then Pan would surely have had one." ("The Session" Beyond Realities II, Luna Press Publishing)
Earlier this year, I was honoured to be a guest in 'The Quoyloo Quill' blog, written by the fabulous Babara Stevenson’s (author of 'Where the Earth Meets the Sky' and 'The Dalliances of Monsieur D'Haricot', Luna Press Publishing). In the piece I wrote, I explained that although inspired by folklore and legends, my stories always come from a place. Somewhere I’ve been. Realising this gave me an idea for my own blog. To share those places in both Ireland and the UK, that so sparked my imagination, and how the atmosphere and feeling they created led to the story that followed.
The first story I wrote in the Dark Fantasy/Horror genre began its life in the iconic town of Westport in the West of Ireland. “The Session” won the Luna Press Publishing Short Story Competition in 2016 and was published in Luna's subsequent anthology, “Beyond Realities Vol II.”
It's hard not to fall even a bit in love with Westport. On the edge of the Atlantic, the circular walk from the town to the quay, with stunning views of the pilgrim mountain, Croagh Patrick, and island-rich Clew Bay, is one of my favourites. Staying overnight in winter with my partner, we went to dinner, then on to an Irish traditional music session in a local pub. It was raining when we left. Soft, West of Ireland rain that is so quiet, but instantly wetting. It was after time, so with the door locked behind us, but the music still going, we turned up the hill, towards the hotel. The street was dark, the pavement running with water, and at the top of the hill, past the boutiques and gaily painted shops and cafes, was the clock tower. Art Deco, framed by lamplight, with the rain, and the music behind us…
That image was all it took. The folklore came later. This inspiration coming from the legend of a ring of standing stones at Stanton Drew, Somerset, in the West of England. Where a fiddler player entices a wedding party to dance into the Sabbath and turns them to stone. Transpose Somerset into Westport, and with a few changes, like the low whistle my partner was learning...and so, the story begins….and on a cold, rainy, winter’s night, a stranger with a low whistle joins a Trad music session, and plays with an unearthly skill….