After viewing The Book of Kells, we moved on to Dublin Castle, formerly the center of British government in Ireland. The current building looks more like a Georgian Palace than a castle, though we were assured that there had once been a Medieval castle on the spot. I do love Georgian architecture with its clean lines and symmetry. (In the US it’s called Federal style, since George III was so heartily disliked.)
There are plaques in the courtyard, including this one commemorating Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. All signs were in both English and Irish Gaelic, which is taught in the schools.
We went a little ways underground to see where the old walls of the castle were being excavated. It was a bit damp down there, not to mention dark, so it was hard to get good photos. Here’s one of the wall.
The chapel is quite lovely.
Inside the main building we saw the assembly rooms that were used for official functions and entertaining. The rooms are still used for state functions. Upstairs there is a room dedicated to the martyrs of the April 1916 Easter Rebellion.
There’s a lot more information about the castle at the official website. Click if you’re interested in more about the castle’s history.
I’d love to go back to Dublin some day. It’s a lovely city.
Please welcome author Kim Iverson Headlee and her heroine, Rhyddes, also called Liberty from Kim’s historical novel of the same name, for our last Eggcerpt Exchange of the year.
Liberty, second edition
by Kim Iverson Headlee
Kim Iverson Headlee
Historical Romance (ancient Rome) Winner BooksGoSocial Best Book 2015.
They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.
Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.
Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.
When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.
With the party’s noise muted somewhat, Aquila paused beside a column, bade Vederi to give them some distance, and faced her.
“Gladiatrix, I am sorry for any unseemly behavior this evening.”
A nobleman apologizing to a slave? Had the world gone mad?
His gaze intensified. “I am serious. I did not intend to cause you discomfort.”
She glanced past him. The braziers were still burning bright and warm. The aromas of roasted meat and fish still wafted from the dining hall, along with bursts of raucous laughter. Her guard still kept his gaze trained upon them. As she regarded Aquila, her stomach’s fluttering resumed.
Mayhap she was the one who’d gone mad.
“My lord, I thank you.” Her honor demanded a trade in kind. “I am sorry I raised my rudus against you, and I thank you for intervening with Lanista Jamil on my behalf.”
“I deserved your scorn. You did not deserve to feel the lash for my transgression.”
“My mistake.” He reached his hand toward her, seemed to think better of it, and rested it against the column. “You attacked me because I killed a worthy opponent, did you not?”
“Yes, my lord. I—” There could be no remedy other than the truth. “I viewed it as an act of murder. And I despised you for failing to change the sponsor’s decision.”
“It was murder,” he ground out between clenched teeth. “But I was sponsor that day.”
“You?” She felt her jaw slacken. “But why couldn’t you—”
“That man was my father.” His fist pounded the column with a dull thud. “He ordered me to obey or die.” An ocean of anguish washed through his tone.
Character interview of Rhyddes, heroine of LIBERTY:
Thank you for visiting us today. We understand that you have quite a tale to tell. Let’s start with a few questions about you, and then you can tell us about the book.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am Rhyddes ferch Rudd, which in your tongue means Freedom daughter of Red. The blood of ancient Celtic warriors flows in my veins, though I am a farmer’s daughter by the circumstance of my birth.
How did you first meet your writer?
My bones were discovered by some men and women of her era, almost two millennia after I was laid to rest. Because of the wealth of gladiator-themed grave goods buried with me, these people surmised that I must have been a popular gladiatrix. But it was Kim Headlee who unearthed the details of my story for all to read.
Do you sneak into your writer’s dreams?
Most certainly, though oftentimes I find the realm quite crowded with many other folk with whom I am not acquainted.
We’d love to hear about your setting. Where and when is it and what makes it special?
My life spans much of the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of a very few men ever to claim that title who did not abuse his power for personal gain. When my lover Aquila came to me with news that this man was in danger, I could see the loyalty and respect—and concern—in Aquila’s eyes, and for that reason alone I chose to help him protect his sovereign, even though I cared not who ruled and who died in that gods-cursed empire.
Did you help your writer come up with the title or do you know how this title was chosen?
The title of my tale is Liberty, the word in your language that translates to the Latin word Libertas, my arena name, which I adopted since Rhyddes is too difficult for the Romans’ stiff tongues.
Thank you, Rhyddes, for stopping by and letting us get to know you.
And thank you for taking the time to converse with a lowly gladiatrix-slave. I earnestly pray the association shall not bode ill for the preservation of your social status.
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet. She has been an award-winning novelist since 1999 (Dawnflight 1st edition, Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian Legends for nigh on half a century.