The Legend of St Patrick on White Island

The climactic scene in Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, takes place along the Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. There are actually two lakes, the Upper Lough and the larger Lower Lough and in between is the beautiful and picturesque town of Enniskillen. The lakes are actually widened sections of the River Erne, which runs northward and empties into the Atlantic, some 26 miles’ stretch. (Picture above courtesy of Falcon.)

There are 154 islands in the Lower Lough Erne, including White Island, which was the site of several monasteries dating to approximately 500 A.D. In 837 A.D., Vikings attacked and destroyed the monasteries, leaving in ruins a number of incredible carved figures made of quartzite. A popular theory is the figures depict St. Patrick healing a local Irish chieftain. It is possible the king may have been Prince Conall Gulban, whom St Patrick touched with his crosier, forming the sign of the cross just prior to baptizing him. He bestowed a blessing upon him as well; that if he followed that cross, he would always remain victorious in battle. A Constantinian shield bearing Saint Patrick’s outstretched hand holding the cross became the O’Donnell coat of arms and the clan was to indeed rise to tremendous power. I am currently writing about the O’Donnell clan along with the O’Doherty clan on a nonfiction book that takes place in 1608 and will be released later this year.

Around the year 1200, a stone Romanesque church was built on the same site and for whatever reason the figures were used as building stones. It wasn’t until a few centuries had passed before the figures were uncovered. They are on display today in the ruins of the church. (Picture at right credit of Jason098.)

Interestingly, because of the number of islands, this region largely escaped the potato famine of 1845-1849. The blight that affected so many potatoes could not reach those planted on the islands.

Here is an excerpt from Cloak and Mirrors:

Jack’s instinct was on high alert, the adrenaline building to a crescendo that was surging with increasing intensity. His eyes moved between Dylan and Alexei as they stood near the water’s edge. The three Russians standing in front of him were not the only ones; he was certain of that. He heard the motorboat’s engine, heard it coming in their direction, and heard the distant sound of men’s voices from the mainland.

He had the advantage of knowing the area well. Behind him was Lower Lough Erne, one of the largest lakes in all of Ireland. It was formed by the River Erne which flows north instead of south before curving toward the Atlantic Ocean. The currents often ran swift and sure like those of the ocean, making it ideal for the avid or extreme sportsman but deadly for those not ready for her powerful waves.

There were more than a hundred islands within the lough, 154 to be precise; some he had explored and some not, some privately owned and others maintained by the Irish government. During the high summer months when tourism was at its peak, this shore would have been littered with visitors who took the ferries to some of the largest islands. Behind him was Abbey Davy’s Island, the site of a medieval monastery that was now little more than stone ruins. And to the north of it was the larger White Island, best known perhaps for the stone figures and church ruins that dated back to 800 A.D. Though that was impressive enough, he supposed, the church and figures were actually built upon a far older monastic settlement.

The island was mystical; some said magical, with monolithic pagan creatures interspersed with Christian figures. The mists tended to swirl and sway over White Island as though they were spirits still alive, and many who graced those grounds came away with stories of hauntings and sightings. Some might have been too fantastic to be believed but so many had now experienced them that it was undeniable something lurked there that remained largely invisible to the naked eye but never undetectable by the attentive soul.

Now the tourists were gone and the lough nearly deserted; deserted enough, he thought, for the five of them to disappear without a trace.

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p.m.terrell is the author of more than 21 books in several genres, including the award-winning River Passage, Vicki’s Key, The Pendulum Files and The Tempest Murders. Cloak and Mirrors has been nominated for the 2017 International Book Awards. For more information, visit