Irish Folklore: Let Sleeping Giants Lie

One of the most interesting aspects of Irish folklore is how legendary Irish characters are often said to watch over the land from great heights – usually from dominant local topographical features. This particular photo is taken at the hill called Seefin on the Sheep’s Head peninsula (Seefin being a particularly bad anglicization of Suí Finn or Suidhe Finn –… Read more »

Irish Folklore: Water Values

Two words that most Irish people know – no matter how limited their Gaelic vocabulary – are ‘uisce beatha’: the Irish for ‘whiskey’. Uisce beatha – as everyone loves to explain ad nauseum – literally means ‘water of life’. Most Irish people are pretty proud about that description. It’s a cool intellectual construct after all,… Read more »

My Writing: Taking the Bog Road Home

Finally heading home to carry out some final research on the second book of my Beara Trilogy. With this particular series, as well as the usual thriller and mystery element, I’ve always been keen to include a strong contemporary issue that’s recently been to the fore in Ireland. Unfortunately, these days, I seem a bit spoiled for choice. Events in Ireland  over… Read more »

Folklore: Messing with the Past

I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the prehistoric structures around Aghabullogue (there’s an ancient bivallate ring fort to the south-west, sacred saint stone and of course the Ogham stones etc.). Although the prehistoric remnants there are quite cool, what I find particularly fascinating is the way that later communities of that region have actually interacted with them. In present day Ireland there’s, generally, a pretty decent respect… Read more »

Irish Folklore: Beware the Black Pig

The mythical ‘Black Pig’ features in many folklore stories through Ireland, a reflection of both the respect and fear in which this animal was held by our ancestors. In its most positive sense, the pig was prized for the taste of its meat and this is reflected in the many legends where mythological Gods and… Read more »

Irish Stories: Survival in Beara

  In 1602, Donal Cam (also known as The O’Sullivan Beara) was caught between a rock and a hard place.  In actual fact, he was caught between many rocks and many hard places, trapped as he was in the bleak valleys around Glenn Garbh (Glengarrif) on the Beara peninsula. Having played his hand and backing… Read more »

Folklore: Big Fairy, Small Fairy, Good Fairy, Bad Fairy!!

Yesterday afternoon, I had two fairy-related incidents within a few minutes of one other. The first – a somewhat laboured and exaggerated incident, I admit – was listening to Michael O’Súilleabháin’s traditional music piece “Sí Beag, Sí Mór” (Small Fairy, Big Fairy). Shortly afterwards, leaving the house for a reflective walk around the Wilton Bush, I… Read more »

Mise (Me): Drawing From the Well

Sometimes when you live abroad, the alien nature of where you’re located can come in at you from the side. Sometimes it’s incremental – particularly if you’re living in an English-speaking culture that’s not too different from Ireland – sometimes a bit less so. It’s at such times the homesickness kicks in, a kind of… Read more »

My Writing: Who was Liath Luachra?

Who was Liath Luachra? I’ve had a few people ask me whether my book Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma is based on real characters and, in particular, whether Liath Luachra was real or not. I figured I’d focus this weeks post on that. There really isn’t much information available on the original source of the character,… Read more »

Satire and ‘Practical’ Magic

According to legend, the Irish poet Cairbre was the original ‘inventor’ of satire.  This ancient narrative ‘The Second Battle of Moytura’ describes how, during a visit to Bres – the Formorian king of the Túatha Dé Danann – Cairbre was hosted in a miserly hut without any furniture or a fire in the hearth. As… Read more »