Liath Luachra talks with Feoras

This is a scene from the upcoming novel ‘FIONN: The Betrayal‘ (although that title is likely to change).

Set in the settlement of Ráth Bládhma, in this scene, the woman warrior Liath Luachra, is attempting to plan a dangerous trip to the distant Tailte Méithe – The Fat Lands.

To do this however, she needs information from the punacious techtaire (messenger) Feoras -and a conversation she has not been looking forward to.


Leaving the firepit, Liath Luachra worked a path between the roundhouses, slowly making her way to the southern side of the ráth embankment and the lean-to where Feoras was sequestered. There, despite the mildewed light and the lean-to’s interior shadows, she had little difficulty making out the sour puss on the techtaire as he watched her approach.

Cónán, standing guard to the left of the lean-to, rolled his eyes and shook his head as the Grey One drew closer. The previous evening, the young warrior had expressed his weariness at the techtaire’s incessant complaining. According to Cónán, when Feoras wasn’t bitching about the food, he was carping on about the accommodation, neither of which he considered commensurate with a messenger of his standing. His treatment at Ráth Bládhma had drawn particular vitriol, although there at least Liath Luachra felt he might have had some grounds for complaint given that, on their return to Glenn Ceoch, she’d drugged the cantankerous old man and transported him on a litter, to conceal the settlement’s location. When the techtaire had finally come to, he’d been furious to learn what she’d done. Bizarrely, that fury towards her had been exceeded by his fury at the ignominy of being billeted in a lean-to used for the storage of winter fuel.

It was hard to know where the techtaire’s delusional expectations of hospitality might have come from, but Liath Luachra had little interest in trying to find out. As she slid in under the shelter’s slanted roof, she ignored his scowling features, quietly grabbing a nearby stump of wood and rolling it into an upright position. Sitting herself on the makeshift seat, she shifted around so that she was facing the old man directly.

‘We leave Ráth Bládhma tomorrow,’ she said bluntly. Feoras wasn’t a nice man so there seemed little point in social niceties.

The techtaire’s scowl softened a little at that announcement.

‘You’ll hear no complaints from me,’ he answered haughtily, raising one hand to ruffle his thick bush of white hair. ‘Arriving at Ráth Bládhma has been akin to stumbling upon a precipice marking the limit of human influence. My welcome has been nothing but a litany of insults and injury. My hospitality, little more than cast-offs a mottled swine would reject.’

He waved a hand to indicate the cramped, wood-strewn interior, as though to support the validity of his grievance. Liath Luachra said nothing, waiting for him to complete his querulous griping before she proceeded to the reason for her visit.

‘We’ll leave Glenn Ceoch at first light. By then, the final preparations should have been completed. More importantly, that allows a full day for the ground to firm up after last night’s rain.’

Feoras’ forehead creased a little at that. He pursed his lips and squinted at her uncertainly.

‘If the ground is firm,’ she explained, ‘we leave less trace of our passage on the Great Mother’s mantle. Tracks become less important the further we get from Gleann Ceoch but with Clann Morna haunting the nearby hills, I’ve no desire to leave a trail that leads straight back to the settlement.’

The techtaire scratched at his beard but made no comment.

‘Before we leave,’ the woman warrior continued, ‘it would suit my purposes to learn what you can tell me of the character of the land we’ll be traversing, any relevant water sources, impassable rivers or other obstacles …’

Her voice stalled momentarily as she registered the particularly sour expression he’d turned towards her, but she continued with fresh resolve.

‘That knowledge would allow me to take proper account of the supplies we’ll need.’

‘The Cailleach Dubh has agreed to follow my guidance,’ the techtaire countered, his jaw jutting forward with mulish obstinacy. ‘It should be my role to decide on what might be needed over the course of our travels.’

Liath Luachra regarded him coldly.

‘The argument was lost before it even started, Feoras. I lead the travel party. You’re a guide, Nothing more.’

The old man glared at her, but the heat of that glare glanced harmlessly off the smoothness of her serene, somewhat remote features. Defeated by that unruffled composure and the finality of her response, he turned his angry gaze away.

‘Well?’ she prompted.

She noted the techtaire’s jaw clench a little and, for a moment, she thought he was about to sink into an outraged sulk. To her surprise however, he seemed to think twice about it for when he spoke again, his voice was smooth and calm if, troublingly, cordial.

 ‘What is it you wish to know?’

Note: FIONN: The Betrayal should be available in May/June 2024

Book to TV Series – how times fly

It’s almost four years ago now, since the pre-production work started on a television series based on ‘Liath Luachra: The Grey One‘.

The series (to be produced by Graisland Entertainment) was renamed ‘Liath: Celtic Warrior’ and I confess I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the new name – it simply doesn’t make sense from an Irish perspective. That said, it wasn’t my production and, with screen adaptations, you really just have to step away and accept that it’s a completely different product.

Sadly, the sudden arrival of the Covid pandemic knocked the production off its feet and it never really recovered. I’ve let the screen options run out as I’ve just been too busy on other things, but I might start sending this out again later this year.

Interestingly, there seems to have been a lot of interest from fans to have ‘Liath Luachra: The Great Wild” adapted for the screen. Because the story’s smaller in scale, it’s probably easier to negotiate an option but it’s pretty low on my list of priorities for the moment.

———————-

LIATH LUACHRA: THE GREY ONE

Graisland Entertainment have an amazing team doing some innovative pre-production work around the potential television series for Liath Luachra the Grey One.

Based on the story of a young Irish woman struggling to survive in the brutal, misogynistic world of warrior bands in 1st and 2nd century Ireland, if this gets the green light it’s going to throw what people think of ‘Irish mythology’ on its head.

Coming in 2024

After a hectic, but production poor 2023, I’m proactively returned to creative mode. At the moment, my key focus is on finishing ‘FIONN: The Betrayal’ – the fifth book in FIONN mac Cumhaill Series and, probably, the second last.

This particular work has been a lot harder to write than most other books in the series thus far. That’s not really a surprise as it’s also the first book to start reeling in all the different plotlines spread across the FIONN series (and some elements from the overlapping Liath Luachra books).

For that reason, it’s a lot more ‘talky’ and includes far more character development than many of the other books but that’s critical to maintaining an appropriate narrative pace leading up to the series culmination.

That’s all boringly technical, I know, but the last thing I want to do is rush the story (in a manner similar to the last season of the Game of Thrones television series, for example).

I’m hoping to publish this on the Irish Imbas website at the end of March /start of April. It’ll then go wide to all the other ebookstores a month or two after that.

On completing this book, I had intended to start the next in the Liath Luachra series but, given the overlapping narratives, it’s important that I’m further along in the next FIONN series before I can do that. As a result, I’ll probably start immediately on the sixth FIONN book (title not yet decided).

I’ll also be working on a shorter Liath Luachra work (LIATH LUACHRA: The Quiet One) once that’s completed. That will follow the story from ‘Liath Luachra: The Great Wild.’

Not to be confused with ‘The Quiet Girl’.

My last priority is non-fiction work entitled ‘Irish ‘Mythology 101 (How Irish ‘Mythology’ Works) which I’ve been working on for some years but which I’ve regularly had to put aside due to other commitments.

This should be available by the end of the year.

I have other projects and creative work on the go, but these are the ones I’m focussed on delivering in 2024.

Maith agaibh!

Fionn mac Cumhaill … The Poet

A lot of people tend to forget that Fionn mac Cumhaill also held a reputation as a talented poet (which has a whole bunch of relevant associations) and the Fenian narratives are strongly linked with what’s generally referred to as ‘nature poetry’.

A number of ‘nature poems’ are actually attributed to Fionn (and I’ve a bridge to sell you if you believe that). This one is a 9th century poem (in Irish and English) which was translated by the German philology scholar, Kuno Meyer, back in the early 1900s.

Note, this was written in 9th century Irish, so it’s quite different to modern Irish. I have to say, though, Meyer did a superb job of the translation.

Scél lem duíb

Dordaid dam

Snigid gaim

Ro-faíth sam

Gàeth ard uar

ísel grian

gair a rith

ruirthech rían

—————

Here’s a song

stags give tongue

winter snows

summer goes

high cold blow

sun is low

brief his day

seas give spray.

An Teachtaire

‘An Teachtaire‘ is an Irish-language book written by Colmán Ó Raghallaigh and published through the excellent Cló Mhaigh Eo.

An Teachtaire can be translated as ‘The Messenger’ in English but of course there are a number of cultural connotations the English version misses out.

In this book, the title refers specifically to Saint Patrick who is seen as the ‘messenger’ of a higher power. In my own Fionn mac Cumhaill Series, I use teachtairí (the plural form) in a far more detailed and historically practical way, essentially portraying them as individuals who communicate between different tribes.

Given the importance of this role, the individuals acting as teachtairí had to be carefully chosen. Individuals with connections (intermarriage etc.) between tribes would certainly have been considered, but they’d also have to be individuals of standing within the two different groups. Most importantly, they’d have to be considered trustworthy.

The various dynamics are covered off pretty well in FIONN: Traitor of Dún Baoiscne but, at the moment, I’m having a lot of fun writing about a teachtaire in FIONN: The Betrayal who has absolutely none of the skillsets mentioned above.

The Problem with Series

I was trying to explain to someone yesterday about how I ended up having four different book series on the go at the same time.

Beara: Dark Legends was my first book but it’s the type of book that takes ages to write (not linear and it’s actually two different – but interlinked – stories) so I started the Fionn series.

After two books from that series, I wrote the first Liath Luachra book as a prequel but it ended up being more popular so I wrote a second one. Since then I’ve written two more Fionn books and have a fifth coming out early next year. That series will finish with the sixth book.

When Hollywood showed an interest I had to write two more Liath Luachra books as they wanted enough content for three seasons if it got off the ground. I the added a prequel. As a result, I currently have five Liath Luachra books out.

Needless to say, I get at least one email every month from readers demanding the 2nd Beara, the 5th Fionn, the 6th Liath Luachra etc.

Sheesh!

More on the Beara Trilogy next year!

Imagining Iron Age Ireland …

What was prehistoric Ireland like 2,000 years ago? Before Christianity, when it was likely an Island with a population of 100,00 – 200,00 people?

And how you get that across for a contemporary audience?

I discuss this with the Irish Stew gang on the latest Irish Stew Podcast interview.

You can find the link here: Irish Stew Podcast

“A unique merging of beauty and action”

Over the years, I’ve been lucky with some very generous reviews of my books but I’ve only recently realised that I’ve reached something of a peak with ‘Liath Luachra: The Great Wild’.

This book is currently sitting with a five star rating on Goodreads … because every review of the book has given it a five star rating!

That’s not something I’ve ever achieved before and although I know it can’t possibly last, the fact that its reached this point with no launch activity to speak of, and very limited advertising, is quite astounding in itself.

As always, a huge thanks to those of you who’ve made the effort to write a review.

Míle buíochas daoibh!

You can find the Goodreads reviews page HERE

Fionn: The Betrayal

Now that I’m back in the office, I’ve started work on FIONN: The Betrayal – the fifth book in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series. At this stage, this is intended to be the second last book in the series.

The current chapter one (these things tend to change) involves a conversation around a game of fidchell between Demne (Fionn) and his aunt, Bodhmhall. This approach allows some development of the Fionn character but it also provides a helpful recap of the story so far and sets the scene for the rest of the book.

More importantly, it’s also quite fun writing the conversation dialogue between the young/eager Fionn and the much more worldly Bodhmhall.

I’ll make this first chapter available in the ‘paid’ section of my newsletter once I’ve advanced the story a little further.

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.

Ten Years Later

As of today, it’s 9 years exactly since I published FIONN: Defence of Ráth Bládhma – my first attempt at producing a genuine (as culturally authentic as I could make it) Irish historical/ adventure novel.

To be honest, at the time I had no idea whether people would like it. I’d never written anything similar before and given my insistence on using Irish cultural concepts and – occasionally – language, I assumed most people would be scared off.

Nine years on, four books in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series have been published and five books will have been published in the spin-off series (The Irish Woman Warrior Series) by April this year.

Since their initial publication, several have been bestsellers, one of the series was fully adapted for a television series, another for a video game. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some amazingly talented people at the top of their game in different sectors and I’ve learned a lot over the last decade.

2023 will bring some major changes in the way I work. My longer-term intent is not just to publish books but to revitalise Irish genuine cultural knowledge in a meaningful way and that requires working in other formats as well as books. As a result, over 2023, although I’ll be increasing the amount of time I spend writing and publishing, I’ll also be expanding my work in the production of other projects, the details of which will be revealed when, and if, they become available.

A key principle I adhere to is that any project I work on must retain its cultural authenticity and meaning. That approach places practical limitations on what you can do with an international audience, but it also forces you to apply levels of innovation and creativity that provide their own opportunity and reward.

I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all of you who’ve taken the time to support the work I do. I hope you continue to enjoy what I do over the next decade

Fionn the Poet

A lot of people tend to forget that Fionn mac Cumhaill also held a reputation as a talented poet (which has a whole bunch of relevant associations) and the Fenian narratives are strongly linked with what’s generally referred to as ‘nature poetry’.

A number of ‘nature poems’ are actually attributed to Fionn (and I’ve a bridge to sell you if you believe that). This one is a 9th century poem (in Irish and English) which was translated by the German philology scholar, Kuno Meyer, back in the early 1900s.

Note, this was written in 9th century Irish, so it’s quite different to modern Irish. I have to say, though, Meyer did a superb job of the translation.

Scél lem duíb

Dordaid dam

Snigid gaim

Ro-faíth sam

Gàeth ard uar

ísel grian

gair a rith

ruirthech rían

—————

Here’s a song

stags give tongue

winter snows

summer goes

high cold blow

sun is low

brief his day

seas give spray.