I am often asked about the title of my first published book, Aroon. Where did I get that name? What does it mean?
The answer seems, at first, mundane. But as you will see, the story takes a surprising turn. It’s not one of my plot twists. It’s—well, decide for yourself.
On my trip to Ireland in 2005, I visited a wonderful book store in Dublin. Chapters, I believe it was. In any event, it was vast and magnificent. I bought several books. It’s rare I visit anywhere that sells books and leave empty-handed, and this was that on steroids.
One was Irish Words & Phrases by Diarmaid O’Muirithe. Once I returned home, I was spending a lazy afternoon scanning the book and I came across ‘arun,’ which is Anglicized as ‘aroon.’ It stated the definition as ‘my secret’ or ‘secret love.’ While my story is not a romance, the word had significance to the plot. Plus, I liked the sound of it.
The more the word rolled around on my tongue, the more I liked it, until I locked it in as my book’s title. Ta da!
But that wasn’t the end of it. Three months ago, I contacted a local Tipperary historian who has helped me with my research, particularly for Book Two, Harps Upon the Willows. I’d bought Ed O’Riordan’s comprehensive book on Father Nicholas Sheehy, the basis of my novels, and received a signed copy. Which I treasure. My latest communication was to tell him I had finished my stories.
To my great pleasure, he responded, “I LOVE the titles and I am sure I will love the contents.”
Ed O’Riordan and his ancestors have made it their passion to honor and maintain Father Sheehy’s gravesite and keep his 250-year-old story alive. Just four years ago, eight years after my own visit to the sarcophagus, Mr. O’Riordan arranged for a new plaque for the tomb.
On it, he had etched ‘Sagart Arun.’
This couldn’t be true! I quickly clicked on Google and searched for a translation: Dear Priest.
No, Ed O’Riordan explained. That translation was too weak.
“I suggest Beloved Priest,” he wrote. “It’s a powerful title you have on your book!!”
This still raises the hair on the back of my neck. How did I scan a phrase book so long ago and come up with a title because I liked its sound, while the caretaker of the very man I was writing about used that same word on his tomb?
Coincidence? Maybe. Somehow, it feels like much more. What do you think?