The Hill of Uisneach

When I began writing The Prophecy, I knew certain elements would be part of the story. Briana going through a tree into another world was key. In many cultures and religions, trees, mountains and waterways are the axis mundi, or connectors, between worlds, between heaven and earth or the above and below. I named my mythical kingdom Uisneach based on something I’d heard in a workshop on tree folklore.

In Celtic folklore, oak, hawthorn and ash are sacred trees that have magical and mystical properties. I happen to have all three in my yardJ For Uisneach, I chose the oak tree in Maine for her to enter and the ash tree as the sacred Tree of Uisneach, the dwelling place of the dryad Nionon, guardian of the Four Treasures of Uisneach.

I was well into writing the story when I came across a website for The Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath, Ireland. It is considered the sacred and geographical center of Ireland and a gateway to mythical worlds. That was cool, but then it got strange.

I had given Briana the nickname “Mouse” and created a plot that connected her with the “Mouse of Prophecy” in my mythical Uisneach. I had also written into the prophecy a reference to “the cat” which became a symbol for Silas. I was stunned to discover on the hill of Uisneach the limestone boulder ‘Aill na Mireann’, which translates to the mouse and the cat. I have to tell you that this discovery produced goosebumps on my body the size of acorns! The Catstone is the resting place of the goddess, Ériu, and considered the axis mundi, or gateway, to the mythical fifth province of Mide!

The strange part was that I had no previous awareness of the hill of Uisneach, or the Catstone! Was I tapping into what Carl Jung called “the collective unconscious? Was I being given a gift from Awen, the druidic muse of poetic inspiration? have no explanation for why these kinds of things occur. But it was both magical, exciting and a bit freaky.

Muse, magic or coincidence, the hill of Uisneach became a location that could easily fit into the Kingdom of Uisneach trilogy. It became a prominent plot location in The Runes of Evalon.

InRunes, Silas journeys from Uisneach to Maine, to Ireland where he must sift through every inch of the Hill of Uisneach to find the runes that will restore magic to his kingdom. Google Earth and the hill’s website became key research buddies. I spent a lot of virtual time on the hill and reached out to Justin Moffat, the curator of the hill, with a few questions and permission to use the website map for the book. In a twist of fate, my bestie, Marsha, went to Ireland during the editing of Runes and took pictures of the very tree where you will meet Áed, the nasty wee clurichaun, who drives everyone crazy with his drunk and disorderly conduct.

Thanks to Justin and my friend, Donna Therrien, you have the use of a map of the hill to track Silas’ search for the magical runes. I strongly encourage you to visit http://uisneach.ie/history/ for deeper exploration and insight into Ireland’s mythical history and to enhance your experience of reading about Silas’ adventures there.

We are days away from the publishing of The Runes of Evalon. I hope you enjoy the story and map as an added resource.

Beannachtai Ríocht (Kingdom Blessings)

About The Author

For Heidi Hanley, reading and writing are like breathing. On her 5oth birthday, she got serious about turning her passion for writing into a goal to publish. The result is The Prophecy, Book One of the Kingdom of Uisneach series. The Runes of Evalon, the second book in the series, is due out in April. Heidi lives in New Hampshire beside the Connecticut River with her husband and a Scottish Terrier. She has enjoyed a career as a Registered Nurse, Interfaith minister and is currently serving as a Hospice chaplain. When not working, you will find her reading, sneaking away to Maine, or and in the garden with the birds and faeries.

2 thoughts on “The Hill of Uisneach

  1. So much research on your part as well as interesting “happenings” along the way of writing down your ideas. You have a way with words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *