The feasting lasted three days. Someone had hung sad, scanty boughs of evergreen. They were poor substitutes for Glenmirril’s gaily decked halls, though their scent mingled tantalizingly with hundreds of wax tapers, and roasted venison carried in by streams of servants to the thousands of Scots filling the hall. He could almost forget the rain streaming down the windows and pattering in the courtyard, as the dishes kept coming, each smelling better than the last.
“I thought there was famine here.” On the third day, Niall stood in the doorway of the great hall with Hugh, Owen, and Lachlan, wanting to be home, with one bird roasted inside another, a dozen sauces, fruits and nuts, and, most importantly, Allene and her father beside him.
He surveyed the crowd of bearded men at Carrickfergus’s tables. Gil Harper sat before Robert and Edward Bruce at the head table, singing lauds to the Scots. Candle and firelight flickered off the gold threads of the prancing lion on Bruce’s tabard, and off the thin circlets of gold on the brothers’ heads.
“There’s famine indeed.” Beside them, the servant girl who had cared for Niall spoke softly in an Irish brogue. “We’ll see it soon enough.
From Westering Home
Book Four of The Blue Bells Chronicles by Laura Vosika
Laura excels in setting her stories to historical fact. There was indeed famine in Ireland–and across all of Europe–in 1316, due to the extreme rain that lasted from 1315 to 13117. To learn more about the backdrop of this scene and the grisly events that happened at Carrickfergus in County Ulster, in June of 1316, just months before Niall dined on his Christmas feast here, see Laura’s blog.