SAMHAIN: A Ninety-Second Quiz

A few years ago, a New Zealand friend asked if we were going to host another Sam Hayne party in November. The question actually threw me a bit at first (I thought he was referring to some traditional Irish musician I hadn’t heard of) until I realised he was actually talking about Samhain, the ancient festival… Read more »

Song of Granite – A Review

As an Irish publisher, I’m always interested in Irish stories no matter what the medium used, hence I’d heard of the film Song of Granite long before I finally got a chance to see it earlier this month. A movie by Irish art-house director Pat Collins, Song of Granite tells – or rather illustrates –… Read more »

A Cultural Theft in the West Cork Heartland

Travelling to a favourite West Cork site this July took on a somewhat surreal edge. Over the morning, the drizzle congealed to mist then back again (several times) before finally deciding to settle on a light grey fog of soupish consistency. Taking the old road right some time after the Coosane – a road I’ve… Read more »

The Most Incompetent Warrior in Ancient Ireland (Irish Mythology)

I’ve got to admit, I’ve always kinda liked Lóegaire Búadach (Lóegaire the Victorious). Ulster Cycle hero, contemporary of Cú Chulainn, husband to Fedelm Niochride and warrior in Conchobhar mac Nessa’s court, Lóegaire’s main function seems to have been as a comedic extra on the periphery of the principal action. In that respect, Lóegaire Búadach often… Read more »

Out Drinking With The Witches

Years ago, while waiting to be served at a bar in Glandore, I met a pair of witches over on holiday from England. After they told me that, they both kind of stood there waiting, clearly expecting a bit more of a reaction. What they couldn’t have known, of course, was that over the years… Read more »

What Irish Mythology Is Not

[I had a fascinating, if somewhat surreal, conversation about two weeks ago with someone (not Irish) asking me about elements of Irish mythology for a book he was writing. This is a summarised version of that discussion.] HIM: ‘So there’s no vampires in Irish mythology, then?’ ME: ‘No.’ HIM: ‘But what about Bram Stoker?’ ME:… Read more »

Magic Roads in Ireland

The Magic Hill up in Louth (or ‘The Angel’s Highway’ as it’s sometimes called) is one of a number of magic roads in Ireland where, if you park at the ‘bottom’ of the hill, turn of the engine and shift it out of gear, your car will actually run back uphill. Magic roads are, in fact,… Read more »