Amanda Cassidy travels to Dublin locations in The Returned
Returned to Dublin
Guest post by Amanda Cassidy
The Returned is the story of a mother named Nancy Wills who is told her child perished in a house fire. But six years after the tragedy, she sees him on the street. Heavily-pregnant detective Ally Fields has her own demons to face when she’s called back to Currolough, Co Kerry to work on the case and to see if the little boy is in fact Nancy’s son. This is the place where Ally and her siblings grew up herself and where she experienced the biggest loss of her own life.
The Returned is set in dual locations Dublin – where the protagonist Detective Ally Fields works– and a fictional town in Co Kerry called Currolough.
Living in Dublin myself, I wanted to bring in some elements that I enjoy from the city centre. Ally lives just outside the city and in the opening scenes, she’s driving into her city centre precinct along the coast. This area is Sandymount, near where my brother lives. It’s also the way to the airport from my own home and seeing the stretch of beach with Dublin port in the distance, the red and white stripped Poolbeg towers and the curve around to Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire pier creates a beautiful bay that isn’t always what comes to mind when people think of Dublin.
There are often dogs racing along the soggy sand, children in wellies and others just sitting watching the horizon. At night, the lights create a row that reminds me of a pearl necklace. It’s the place where the smell of sea is always in the air and I wanted it to remind Ally of her home in Currolough, even though she’d left it behind a long time ago. I also enjoyed mentioning the Spire – a large pin-like sculpture that sits at the centre of the city near where Ally’s office is based.
Currolough is a fictional place, but it was born from a culmination of all the places I’d holidayed as a child – small Irish villages in Kerry, Donegal and Connemara where the landscape is vast and desolate, but also strikingly beautiful.
I was fascinated by the small-town tragedies that took place, and how they affect entire communities. When Ally arrives back into Currolough for the first time in decades and finds it changed, it is based on Clifden, a small village in Connemara where I spent a lot of time growing up. But the house and lake where Ally grew up is based along areas in the ring of Kerry, Kenmare where my family used to rent a cottage for the summers and the spectacular storybook villages that are steeped in legend and mystery that is hard to explain.
I also wanted to include a landscape that has small silvery lakes that stretch out to the sea – that clash of wetlands I find fascinating. The difference in the two bodies of water – the stillness, the wildness and how Ally navigated both elements in her own personality. For her the lake is beautiful and awful.
The island that her mother gazes across to in the book is based on the lake at Annaghmakerrig near Newbliss in County Monaghan where I spent a week’s writing retreat at Tyrone Guthrie centre editing The Returned. I watched the swans, the tangled overgrowth and imagined what it might be like to gaze across at the other side wondering how different things might have been for Ally if she’d had a different childhood.
BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Returned