On the day that Titanic left Belfast docks in 1912 to begin her sea trials, it seems fitting to reflect on where my own Titanic story began.
The real origins of THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME are in a quiet corner of Ireland in the small town of Lahardane; the place where the Addergoole Fourteen are remembered. I recently visited the Titanic Memorial Park there and met with local historians and members of the Addergoole Titanic Society to talk about the fourteen men and women who left their homes on 10th April, 1912 and travelled to Queenstown to sail on Titanic to New York.
When I was writing the novel, I was very conscious of the reality of my story. How would the descendants of those who had inspired my book react to my re-telling? How could I tell their story in a way that was respectful, yet also engaging to the reader? This is the tricky thing about writing historical fiction – getting the balance right between the facts and the fiction – and with my historical setting only 100 years in the past, I knew that locals from the area and descendants would have a vested interest in the book. I wanted to do justice to the memory of the Addergoole Fourteen, but I also wanted to tell my story in my own words.
The trip to Lahardane was an emotional one for me for many reasons, and I could not have been greeted with more warmth and enthusiasm. I was also blessed with a glorious spring day which made for some stunning photos of the Memorial Park and the surrounding landscape. The impressive Nephin Mor towered in the background, and was still dusted with snow, just as I described in the novel. To go back to the place where the Titanic journey began for the fourteen passengers, and to the very origins of my novel, was quite something.