This is the opening, or introductory page, to my new novel, ‘By Hook or by Crook’.
Other than vaguely establishing a setting, and being of general or background interest, it’s not a direct part of the narrative. The novel is set in The Barony of Gaultier, which extends from outside Waterford City, running eastwards until Tramore Bay, and incorporates the village of Crook(e).
The area has an odd and surprisingly busy history, for what is today, a quiet and out of the way spot, and this is also touched on in the book.
See what you think, and if it tickles the interest buds?
Feedback always welcome
By Hooke or by Crooke
“By Hook(e) or by Crook(e)” etymologically originates in the middle ages, according to some sources, and refers to an ancient aspect of Forest Law. The forests were owned by the King, and interference with them in anyway, from common grazing, foraging, assarting, or harvesting any kind of wood, were all strictly regulated. Seemingly, a man could often only gather what wood he could reach on the trees ‘by (use of his apple picker’s) hook(e) or (his shepherd’s) crook(e)…
In the south-east of Ireland, where a busy, and historically much used, inlet, known as Waterford Harbour lies, two villages sit on opposite banks of the estuary, no more than a few miles apart.
The first, a hamlet named Hook(e), retains a very old, but still functioning lighthouse, and boasts its origins as a protector of seafarers to the fifth century, when monks from Dubhán’s Monastery made their way to the headland tip, to light warning bonfires.
The second village, Crook(e), further into the estuary, has witnessed a multitude of invading forces avail of it. From the early Vikings in 852, to Richard de Clare (‘Strongbow’), and Henry II, the first self-styled Norman ‘Lord of Ireland’, followed by John Lackland, that notorious money-grabber of Sherwood Forest lore, through to the largest invasion force ever to sully Ireland’s shores, accompanying the last of that Avengian line of Norman Kings, Richard II, in 1377, Crook(e) played a pivotal role in all their plans.
Some years later, it is believed that Cromwell, on his way to take the hitherto ‘untaken’ city of Waterford, uttered the promise that he would do the deed ‘by Hook(e) or by Crook(e)’ … and he did indeed proceed to land in Hook(e), and advance to Crook(e).
Etymology being what it is, nobody can say for certain what the origins of the phrase truly are, but as Apple Pickers and Shepherds no longer concern themselves with the nuances of Forest Law, the denizens of Hook and Crook perhaps will carry the phrase safely into the future and make of it their own … if it isn’t already theirs of course.
After this, the novel begins …
I’ll post the first chapter over the week. Right now I’ve got to get packing as I’m off to Ireland in the morning, and may well find some nice images around The Barony to send out, and give people a feel of the place. I’m hoping for lead grey skies, blattering rain squalls, biting wind, cold rough seas, squinting old biddies, and pints settling on trays in The Saratoga Bar, as all of these turn up in the book.
It should still be light enough during daytime in July to capture some of these…