Excerpt from ‘Liath Luachra: The Great Wild’

There was one morning when the world dissolved, obliterated in a downpour that melted the distant islands, then the immediate surroundings as well. Preceded by a cluster of unusually threatening, blue-bruised clouds, the incoming deluge had given plenty of warning. As a result, the girl was comfortably settled under a solitary oak at the tip of the inlet outcrop, cloak tugged tight around her shoulders as she waited to watch the clouds unload their burden.

The downpour rattled the lake’s surface with a startling intensity that she’d not seen before, a ferocious hail that scattered white-foamed eruptions across the water around her. Mirrored by countless ripples on that shuddering surface, the resulting kaleidoscope of movement was giddyingly, but terrifyingly, beautiful.

Tethered to the island by nothing but a thin strip of rock, the girl felt a swell of panic when even that link disappeared, and her existence reduced to the tree above and three paces of the rocky outcrop. Conscious that there was nothing beyond the fusillade of rain, she was struck by a sudden, shocking sense of absence. Terrified at the prospect of being cut adrift, she peered desperately through the deluge for any hint of physical substance, for any trace of natural solidness, for … anything.

To her trembling relief, the downpour eased soon after, and although it seemed to take far too long a time, the outline of the island took substance through the rain. Whole and expansive, the Great Mother’s bulk emerged from the surrounding murk. Slowly, ponderously, it reached across the thin strip of stone, embraced the girl in her fulsome whole and, soothingly, reassuringly, brought her home.

Liath Luachra: The Great Wild was released on 2 June 2023. You can find the details here: The Great Wild

An Chailleach Bhéara

There’s a lot of misinformation online about this rock in Kilcatherine on the Beara peninsula. So much so, that the rock is now regularly polluted by votive ‘offerings’ left by visitors and ‘seekers’ who don’t really understand the context or the evolution of its fame.

This year, I’m hoping to make a start on the next Beara novel in which An Chailleach Bhéara plays a large part. Hopefully, at the same time, I can make it a bit easier for those who come to Beara to actually understand what they’re looking at.

Changes in Creative Output

It’s been three years since I released the first official ‘Irish Imbas Catalogue’ (to much hoorah!) back in May 2020. One of the problems with catalogues, however, is that they really are a snapshot in time of creative work and output and, often, they don’t reflect creative or professional changes that have occurred over a particular period.

Last year, I instigated a slow-moving change in response to patterns that I was picking up around Irish culture and what people mistakenly call ‘Irish mythology’. Some of that involves an increase in non-fiction work – on top of my fiction work – the results of which should become more evident towards the end of this year or the start of next year.

At the moment, therefore, the current Irish Imbas catalogue doesn’t provide information on the following:

• LIATH LUACHRA: The Great Wild (book release 4 June 2023)

• LIATH LUACHRA SERIES: Screen Bible and Script (Aug 2023)

• The IRISHNESS Conceptual Model– Cultural Work (Oct 2023)

• THE FENIAN PROJECT – Cultural Work – (Oct 2023)

• How MYTHOLOGY works– anticipated release Dec 2023)

• FIONN 5– book release – anticipated release Dec 2023)

• BEARA SERIES: Screen Bible/ Script (Dec 2022)

Fortunately, it does still offer a good summary of what Irish Imbas does and why. If you’re interested you can find that here: Catalogue

Woe and Woe

Each year An Post runs a programme of special and commemorative stamps on behalf of the Irish Government.

Deirdre of the Sorrows was part of the mythology series produced a few years ago and illustrates the legendary love story of Naoise and Deirdre and the jealous rage this caused in Conchubar mac Nessa.

The story is one of Ireland’s classic tragedies where the pair flee to safety in Scotland but are subsequently tricked into returning to Ireland where Naoise ends up being killed by Conchubar. Stricken with grief, Deirdre then kills herself as well.

Pretty much, a run of the mill love tragedy that’s very similar to other tales like Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne and other tales.

Irish ‘Mythology’ in Pictures

Oisín and Niamh galloping towards Tír na nÓg.

Or is it?

Is this an authentic reproduction of the classic Fenian tale or something else entirely?

“How we picture Irish mythology” – the next in-depth post from Vóg (subscriber edition) on 30 April.

You can find the ‘free’ and ‘paid’ sign-up to the newsletter HERE

What is the Sweetest Sound?

What is the Sweetest Sound?

The music of what happens next.

In terms of what happens next, I’ve got my head down on a number of separate IRISH IMBAS projects, most of which won’t see the light of day until later this year (and some later still).

Most of these are in varying stages of completion and although, in some regards, I’m champing at the bit to get them out, I also know they won’t taste anywhere as sweet if I rush them.

Key amongst these projects are:

  • LIATH LUACHRA: The Great Wild (book release for 4 June 2023)
  • LIATH LUACHRA SERIES: Screen Bible and Script for Pilot Episode (Aug 2023)
  • The IRISHNESS Conceptual Model – Cultural Work – anticipated release Oct 2023)
  • THE FENIAN PROJECT (working title) Cultural Work – anticipated release Oct 2023)
  • How MYTHOLOGY works – anticipated release Dec 2023)
  • FIONN 5 – book release – anticipated release Dec 2023)
  • BEARA SERIES: Screen Bible and Script for Pilot Episode (Dec 2022)

I’m back home in Beara and travelling around Ireland during June and July, catching up with family and friends and carrying out some additional research.

If you’re seeking an interview or have a mutually interesting project you’d be keen to work on together, feel free to email before I get back.

Liath Luachra: The Great Wild Release

I’m currently behind on where I want to be with Liath Luachra: The Great Wild. At this stage, the draft is sitting at over 30,000 words and although I had planned to keep it around that length, the final product is looking more like 40-50,000 (in other words, it’s about 3-4/5 complete).

This means that the final version it won’t be released in April as intended. I’m now postponing release until the start of June (although Patrons and paid newsletter subscribers will get it earlier).

In that regard, I’ve now put it up as a pre-order for Amazon which you can find here: The Great Wild Preorder

The back cover blurb reads as follows:

Ireland : 1st Century

In the deep, green depths of the Great Wild, a naked girl awakes in a forest clearing. With no belongings – bar a cloak and a bloody knife – and no memory to guide her, she must adapt and survive in an unfamiliar world.

With every possible kind of danger.

The Irish Mythology Seekers

We had a bunch of foreign visitors arrive at our home in Cork last night.
Being hospitable, we fed them at the kitchen table.
As soon as they’d consumed what we’d offered, they got up and started rummaging through the cupboards, combing through our personal correspondence, pulling our belongings out and throwing them one side as they continued their search.

‘Where do you keep the Irish mythology?’ they demanded.

Cath Fionntrá – The Battle of Fionntrá

For those of you who aren’t aware, an updated version of An Seabhach’s “Cath Fionntrá” came out last year.

The story concerns the King of France’s ire (clearly, this was pre-revolutionary France) when his wife and daughter run off with his guest Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Joining up for vengeance with Dáire Donn (the King of all the World who wants to add Ireland to his collection) and a host of other famous kings and warriors, they sail in a gigantic fleet to Fionntrá in Ventry (Kerry) where the biggest battle the world has ever seen, takes place.

The white sands of Ventry will be white no more.

Although a little formulaic, this classic is still an interesting read for anyone interested in the non-kernel Fenian narratives.

Doon … and Other Works

An Roinn Tithíochta, Rialtais Áitúil agus Oidhreachta (Ireland’s Office of Public Works and National Monuments Service), get a lot of bad stick online, usually from opinionated keyboard warriors who don’t understand the realities of managing a nationwide conservation programme.

It’s nice, therefore, when they release a new project that helps to increase accessibility (and understanding) of our native monuments.

Earlier this year (in Dublin Castle from 8-12 February 2023), they held an exhibition with some stunning photographs of archaeological monuments throughout the country. If you missed that, the collection is also available in their book “Monumental Ireland” which is now available as well.

The attached image of ‘Doon Fort’ (Doon lake on the west coast of Donegal Ireland) is from that collection.

An Táin

There’s a new version of ‘An Táin’ released this week. The cover image and fact that its title is ‘THE Táin’ suggests it’s designed for a non-Irish audience (although, to be fair, it’s primarily targeting children).

I’ll be writing more about ‘An Táin’ in ‘Vóg‘ – the Irish Imbas newsletter – at the end of the month.

The Evolving Nature of St Paddy’s Parade

It’s nice to see people enjoying the St Paddy’s Day parades , taking place again after the Covid-19 years (this photo from the Cork parade in 2022 – from Cork County Council).

It’s also interesting to see how the parades have changed so much over several decades.

It’s probably worth noting that the parade was originally very religious in nature, acting as a demonstration of faith for Irish Catholics. After the sixties it became demonstrably more ‘national’ in nature, equally representative of national identity as well as religion.

By the late 80s and 90s, the religious nature was pretty much gone, displaced by a far wider celebration of ‘Irishness’ and a commercial and political branding opportunity for various entities. It also took on a far wider entertainment and creative meaning (i.e. an entertainment event) which, to be honest, appeals far more than any of the preceding articulations.

The St Paddy’s parade will never lose the religious, political, and commercial connotations but if you can keep all those at arm’s length, its actually good craic.

It’ll be interesting to see what its like in another 20 years.