Hugh Reynir is a photographer. At the beginning of his adventure, he takes a ferry from Uig to Tarbert in the Hebrides with his new friend, Patricia. “The ship picks its way among the tiny islands that dot East Loch Tarbert and eases toward the town, which is nestled at the foot of a hill dark in shadow.” (Click on photos to enlarge.)
They climb the cnoca cluiche (rocky hill) that Patricia has come to Tarbert to see. “Sheep run before us, then circle and trail us curiously. Kilda [her collie] walks close between Patricia and me, showing little interest in the sheep.”
“We stop at a small lake on a plateau near the top of the hill.”
“Far below, West Loch Tarbert stretches among sprawling purple islands and spits of land toward a meeting with the orange clouds. Hills and headlands roll ever fainter into the distant mist like visible thunder. I take several pictures, entranced by the harmony of shape and color …”
The next stop on Reynir’s itinerary is Peel, a fishing village on the Isle of Man. (See Earn Fire notes page.) Dave Fisher arranged for me to go for a ride on the Three Sisters, the fishing boat he worked on, when the captain was testing engine repairs. Mac’s Wave Sweeper in Earn Fire is modeled loosely on the Three Sisters, as you can see in the first and third photos. In the background in the second photo is Peel Castle on Saint Patrick’s Isle. In the background in the third photo, you can see on the left Peel Hill where the shadow form in the shape of a Viking berserker attacked Reynir.
From Peel Hill, where the Viking berserker attacked Reynir, a view of Peel and boats along the East Quay in the River Neb.
During his travels in Ireland, Reynir visits Grianán Ailigh in County Donegal, identified by a leaflet as the “seat of the O’Neills from the fifth to the twelfth century” and by a sign as the Sun Parlour of the Goddess Aileach.
“Goddess, me arse,” [a nondescript-looking man who turns out to be The Dagda] says with a sideways spit. “It’s Ail Leachta Gréine, the Sun’s Headstone, which those northern bastards broke up to build their feckin’ fort.”
“Aedh, Son of the Dagda.”
Aedh is the Irish form of Hugh, Reynir’s first name.
At the end of the book, in Ireland, Reynir’s dead body is taken into a regeneration chamber similar to these passage tombs: Seefin in County Wicklow and Carrowkeel in County Sligo.