A new novel that’s being dubbed as “a modern day Wuthering Heights” showcases the spectacular setting of Rossnowlagh.
The book, Maker of Footprints, is set in Belfast and Donegal. It tells the story of Paul Shepherd, who abandons his career as a society photographer in London to return home to his roots, and student Jenna Warwick. When they meet, a chain of events is set in motion, which will leave none of the people around them untouched.
Author Sheila Turner Johnston, who lives in the North, spent much of her early childhood in the area. “My father, Rev. JB Turner, was the Methodist Minister in Ballintra from 1952 to 1956. We lived in the Manse on the corner of what was then the Old Forge Lane.
“The house is gone now but I have such fond memories of it, even though I was only six when we moved to Belfast.
“When my father was preaching, my brother and I used to nip out and play in the garden. I can still remember the rhubarb, the cabbages and my mother’s hens.
“I’m a preacher myself and took a Service in Ballintra about fifteen years ago, which was an eerie experience. Of course, the church seemed much smaller, for one thing!”
“Rossnowlagh was our family beach. It was quite different back then, with sand banks everywhere and sand martins nesting in them whereas now there are rocks and caravans,” she laughs.
“We also holidayed in a guest house in Bundoran and that was a wonderful experience for a child.”
Over the years, Sheila and her husband returned often to the area for quiet holidays, usually staying at the Sandhouse Hotel.
And, when she was writing the book, she came back to make sure that she would be as accurate as possible.
“I used Rossnowlagh very much for the emotional anchoring of the main character.
“There’s a description of a hotel room that is very much based on the one I stayed in at the Sandhouse, and I also write about the surfers. It’s all very vivid.
“I wanted to get it all right, not just how it looks but how it feels, what it smells like, what it sounds like. For example, can you hold a conversation on the beach in the winter?
“These little details are very important to me. They’re the brush strokes that make the picture.”
Maker of Footprints is available in bookshops, online at BooksNI.com and for Kindle on Amazon.