Some readers might find this image a little familiar.

That’s because it’s remarkably similar to the layout of the ‘Crannóg‘ used in the book ‘LIATH LUACHRA: The Metal Men.

In fact, this is an early image of the ráth at the Irish National Heritage Park. It has a very similar layout to the fictional crannóg as, in general, there wasn’t major differences in terms of structural designs back in the day. People used the natural materials available and the fundamental designs of what worked were easily adapted to many structures.

Our ancestors were eminently practical as, a lot of the time, their lives depended on it. 

Initial thoughts on ‘LIATH LUACHRA: The Great Wild’

Initial thoughts.
Predominantly one character alone in the forest. No dialogue apart from limited self-dialogue.

This book is quite an experimental work for me but one I’ve really felt compelled to write. I’m particularly enjoying the challenge of trying to make the story work effectively (in terms of mystery and action) within such a limited setting.

If I get it wrong, the final product will be like that ‘wanky’ art-house movie you once got dragged into, to please a friend or partner.

More on the book here: THE GREAT WILD

Coming in 2023

For all of the bad news over 2022 (the Ukraine War, Climate change disasters, attacks on democracy etc.), the year was a relatively calm time at Irish Imbas Books and we managed to release a trio of works that I’m quite proud of.

In March, the fourth book in the Irish Woman Warrior Series – Liath Luachra: The Metal Men – was released (and well received by followers of that series). This was accompanied by a supporting short story, Liath Luachra: The Consent (note: this is only available through this website) which resolved a gap in the plotline that I hadn’t been able to cover in the books without disrupting the flow (it brings the character Bressal back into the series). Overall, I’m very satisfied with both

Meanwhile, in about two weeks, the digital version of FIONN: Stranger at Mullán Bán, book four in the Fionn Mac Cumhaill Series finally gets released.

This book marks a step change in the direction of the series as the maturing Fionn (Demne) starts to make his mark and begins his struggle to solve the mystery around his heritage. As always, he’s supported by his three guardians: his aunt – the bandraoi Bodhmhall, the woman warrior Liath Luachra, the eccentric womaniser Fiacail mac Codhna, and a number of other characters from Rath Bládhma (and further afield).

At this stage, I’ve seen three reviews for the book. All three have been very positive, which is always something of a relief.

What’s coming in 2023?

For the next six months, I’ll be working full time in the creative space and focused on completing the following projects:


Liath Luachra: The Great Wild.

The Great Wild is a prequel to the Irish Woman Warrior Series. The first ‘chapter’ is now complete but its slightly experimental nature means I’m still a bit uncertain as to what the final product is going to look like. The target for release to Patrons is Mar/April 2023. I’m not sure when it’ll be publicly available, yet.

Liath Luachra: The Raiders

This isn’t a new book but a repackaging of two previous ones (Liath Luachra: The Seeking and Liath Luachra: The Metal Men) so if you’ve read those, this probably won’t be of interest

Given the strong positive feedback on these books, I wanted to bring the two stories together into a single narrative (which had always been the original intention). This will require some minor rewriting to make the story more accessible for people who haven’t read the other books, but it shouldn’t be significant.

‘The Raiders’ will be exclusive to Amazon for a few months (which means the digital versions of Liath Luachra: The Seeking and Liath Luachra: The Metal Men will be unavailable from all other bookstores over that time. If you’re thinking about getting either of those books from Apple/Kobo/Google Play/Barnes & Noble/ etc., I’d recommend getting them before Christmas as they won’t be available from those suppliers for several months.

Fionn: The Betrayal

Are you a follower of the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series? Have you ever wondered who facilitated the deadly ambush in Fionn: Traitor of Dún Baoisnce or how’The Adversary’ managed to obtain physical tokens from Bodhmhall and Liath Luachra? Have you, perhaps, wondered what exactly happened at the great battle of Cnucha (where Fionn’s father Cumhal was killed) or why so many vested interests have it in for Demne/Fionn?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then Fionn: The Betrayal may be for you. This series is slowly but surely drawing to its conclusion, so I’m planning to resolve a number of plotlines with this particular book. It won’t be the last in the series, but it will certainly answer some of the mysteries lurking in the background since book 1. There’s also an overlap with the Liath Luachra Series in there although I don’t think you’ll be able to identify it just yet.

The projected release date for this is June/July 2023.

Beara: Cry of the Banshee

Yes. It’s finally happening. After six or seven years of distraction with the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series and the Irish Woman Warrior Series, I’m finally returning to West Cork and Beara, the most south-western point of Ireland. There, more skullduggery and mythological detective work, await the ever-cynical Mos O’Suilleabháin (O’Sullivan).

Beara: Dark Legends was my first self-published book and it took about 4 years to research and write. It was quite successful at the time of its release, but the effort of producing it left me wrung out to the point where I couldn’t cope with starting the second book (hence the detour into the Fionn and Liath Luachra series). I’m now satisfied that I can get this series up and running again, so expect to see an announcement towards the end of 2023.

Other Projects

There are also a number of other projects sitting at different stages of development or completion, that I’ll also be working on over 2023. Some of these include audiobooks, film/tv scripts, a non-fiction project (The Fundamental Concepts of Irish Mythology) and two more ambitious projects that I’m not in a position to talk about yet. These kinds of projects are hard to scope out in terms of timelines but they’re important from a creative perspective in that they allow me t explore different aspects of storytelling.
I’m also hoping to carry out at least one or two collaborations over 2023 so if you have an interesting (and appropriate) project, send me an email before I get overloaded. 

All in all, 2023 is looking like a very important year from my perspective. Roll on New Years Eve!

FIONN: Stranger at Mullán Bán – First Reviews

The first reviews from the paperback are just starting to trickle in. Usually, by the time I release a book I’m far too close to tell if its any good or not. As a result, it’s always a bit of a relief to find the reviews are positive.

The digital version gets released on on 15 December.

The first review from Padraig O’Mahony can be found here:

The second review, from Wayne McAuliffe is here:

Huge thanks to Wayne and Padraig. Go raibh mile maith agaibh!

Another Fionn mac Cumhaill Book

I’m currently in the process of outlining the next book in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series, which will finish up the adventure commenced in ‘Fionn: Stranger at Mullan Ban‘ (but not the series).

All going well, I’m aiming to have this out in Oct/Nov 2023.

This current arc develops the ongoing direction of the series a little further. Demne/Fionn – the titular hero – is growing up and takes a more proactive role in the adventures but his three guardians (his aunt Bodhmhall, the woman warrior Liath Luachra, and the gregarious Fiacial mac Codhna) have their work cut out for them as they try to identify who’s behind the latest threat against their charge.

Cue more adventure, betrayals, and violence with a sprinkling of friendships and romance.

Liath Luachra III Cover Image

One of the early variations from artist Brian Mahy when developing the cover for Liath Luachra: The Seeking.

This was at a point where we were still playing with the colour palette and we hadn’t reached the final ‘look’. I’d asked Bryan to get me a somewhat shocking/bracing cover that reflected the anger/frustration of the character and his final version image certainly delivered.

So much so, that Facebook banned the image from its shop front (one of the many reasons I don’t bother adding anything new there). Hilariously, the initial reason given was because they didn’t permit the sale of animals (the screening programme thought she was a zebra). When I appealed that, the decided the image was too lewd.

That’s why I love running this on their newsfeed (where such apparently lofty regulations appear to be dispensed with)!

CON MÓR

Macnas have put together another impressive art creation for the Halloween celebrations in Galway (down at Fisheries Field, on the banks of the River Corrib) this year. It’s accessible on Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th October. [Images from Macnas]

The blurb is as follows:

Inventors and explorers from all over the world are baffled by startling evidence of an ancient giant living underneath the Fisheries Field in Galway city. Professor Marjorie Morrigan, an expert on “Giants & Where They Come From”, reported – “This giant seems to have been here for centuries. There is a very large iron nose, so big and rusty, you could park a car in one of the nostrils.”

Professor Marjorie Morrigan went on to confirm that this big giant is called Con Mór and originates from the ancient ‘Island of Giants’ off the coast of Connaught. Con Mór was so famous across Ireland for his love of birds and nature, his friends used to call him ‘The Bird King.

Some of the fantasists are probably going to miss the fact that this is a production with kids in mind, so I’ll just clarify here … This is not true!  

But it’s still worth a visit!

Future Productions

The 4th book in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series (Fionn: The Stranger at Mullán Bán) is now a close to final draft (another three to four weeks are required to complete the reviewing and editing process).

Irish Imbas Patreon supporters should be contacted by the end of October. The book gets officially released on 14 December.

Meanwhile, work has commenced on Liath Luachra: The Great Wild which we’re hoping to complete by March/April 2023.

‘The Great Wild’ will be a shorter novel that outlines the beginning of the future woman warrior’s adventures and the events that made her the person she is.

As 2023 progresses, Irish Imbas outputs should increase with two additional publications. That will most likely include one of the following:

  • Fionn: The Betrayed (Book 5)
  • Liath Luachra (Book 5)
  • Beara (Book 2)

Production will also commence on a number of audiobooks (probably the Beara Series) and one or two additional non-book projects.

Overall, 2023 is looking like a busy year.

Floored with the Rings

I don’t know how many readers have been following that LOTR spin-off (‘The Rings of Power’) but from an Irish perspective, I can tell you that a lot of people are angry at the creators’ appropriation of Irish accents for their Hobbit/Hapfoot (or whatever they’re called) characters.

Misrepresentation of someone else’s culture has a longer-term detrimental impact on that culture when it occurs on a sufficiently large scale – definitely the case with Irish culture. The fact that the Amazon show runners have demonstrated such little understanding or appreciation of the Irish struggle to shuck off the impact from centuries of colonization (and the undermining of our culture) is incredibly disappointing. 

I really get the sense that this one was really that ‘step too far’ and its going to come back and bite fantasy creators on the butt. 

Irish people are often told by such creators that this misuse of their culture is ‘in homage’.

As a result, I’ve decided to make a little homage of my own with this short, sharp review of the Rings of Power Series.

“Téigh trasna ort féin, a Amazon!”



In the Shadow of the Death Sun

I’m just in the process of completing the last chapter in Fionn: Stranger at Mullán Bán and felt it might be timely to offer a small taster of what that book will be about.

For those of you who’ve been following this series, the events in this fourth book take place six years after Fionn: The Adversary. By now, the settlement of Ráth Bládhma is well-established, even if it’s inhabitants are still haunted by the unknown forces arrayed against over the previous three books. Demne – soon to be Fionn – is now a young teenager and dealing with the ramifications of drastic actions to keep him safe. Bodhmhall, meanwhile, continues to lead the growing settlement while dealing with her Gift and the disturbing premonitions it continues to send her.

Liath Luachra, meanwhile, continues to roam the wild, hunting and teaching the younger members of Ráth Bládhma … where this story begins


It was a death-sun that revealed the strangers’ tracks, south-east of the Bládhma mountains. Sliding in on the heel of dusk, its slanted glare cast a bloodstained hue that clearly illuminated the broad spread of footprints. Liath Luachra, the Grey One of Luachair, regarded them in silence, her expression grave and hard as stone. In all her years travelling that isolated territory, she’d never once encountered evidence of another person’s passage. To find such a number, and such a diversity, of tracks all at once, made her stomach muscles clench in unease.

Kneeling beside the nearest footprint, she chewed on the inner tissue of her left cheek and glanced warily around at the surrounding forest. The dense vegetation meant there was little enough to see: a series of endless dark walls where tall oak trees layered the ridges to the north and south, the distant blur of the Bládhma mountains peeking above the canopy to the east. Within that landscape however, there was no sign of movement or anything else out of the ordinary.

Reassured by the absence of any immediate danger, the woman warrior bent closer, probing the footprint’s shallow depth with the fingers of her right hand. Conscious that the early evening sunlight would soon be fading to grey, she scraped a piece of dirt free, raised it to her nose and sniffed.

It smelled, naturally enough, of earth.

Of The Great Mother’s moist and muddy breath.

Tossing the gritty residue aside, she wiped her hand on the leather leggings that hugged her haunches and considered the two boys who stood nervously to her right. Bran, with almost seventeen years on him, was more youth than boy and by nature tended to solemnity. That sombre temperament was evident now in the furrows that lined his forehead and the nervous manner in which he chewed at his fingernails while studying the erratic mesh of tracks. The youth was visibly troubled by the prospect of strangers in Bládhma territory. He might not have been able to remember the full detail of his parents’ brutal murder at Ráth Dearg fourteen years earlier, but he was certainly old enough to realise that incursions like this didn’t bode well for anyone.

‘Who are they, Grey One?’

The younger boy, the dark-haired Rónán, had little more than seven years on him but was markedly more upbeat than his friend. Despite being burdened with a wicker backpack full of pork and venison cuts – the prize from a successful hunt in the Drothan valley – he stared down at the scattered tracks with unbridled excitement.

The woman warrior shrugged dispassionately. ‘Read the story in the Great Mother’s mantle. Read what the earth tells you and tell me what you see.’

The dark-haired boy reacted to the suggestion with his usual animation, nodding fervently as he moved closer to the tracks. Ever keen to accompany the woman warrior on her forays into the Great Wild, he invariably responded to such tests with enthusiasm. Crouching alongside her, features fixed into a frown, he chewed on the inside of his own cheek in unconscious mimicry as he studied the tracks. His long hair was held from his eyes by a leather headband, but several strands had worked free, and he brushed them away with an irritated gesture.

Liath Luachra watched as his gaze fixed on the single footprint in front of him before transferring to the jumbled network of other tracks that surrounded them.

He’s just like Bearach. Happy, eager as a puppy.

She suppressed that thought immediately, burying it deep in a dark place where she rarely chose to venture. Some memories were best embedded in dark caverns, places best avoided, crannies where it was wiser not to light a torch for fear of what you’d see.

‘There’s five or six sets of tracks,’ noted Rónán. ‘The prints are spaced wide apart so they’re travelling fast.’

She nodded, pleased by the keenness of his observation.

‘Yes.’

‘They’re headed east.’

She inclined her head to her left shoulder but made no response. That fact was plain enough to see from the direction in which the tracks were pointing.

Sensing that he’d disappointed her, the boy tried again. ‘They’re men,’ he said warily, as though not entirely convinced of his own conclusion.

Again, easy enough to work out from the breadth of the imprints and the depths of their impressions.

‘Yes,’ she pressed. ‘But what else? What’s the pattern?’

Rónán looked down at the prints once more. Unable to distinguish any obvious configuration, he threw an anxious glance towards Bran, but the youth had already turned away, focussed on other, more distant tracks.

Realising there was little succour to be had from that quarter, Rónán turned back to scrutinise the nearest imprint, bending to examine it more closely in the fading light. Despite further study however, his efforts garnered no fresh intuition. Finally, raising his eyes to the woman warrior, he conceded defeat with a frustrated shake of his head.

By then, Liath Luachra had already changed position, moving away to lean against a holly tree, her backpack pressed against the coarse trunk to take some of the weight from her back and shoulders. She was looking towards the dying sun when she caught the movement of his head from the corner of her eye and, squinting against the ruddy light, turned back to consider him with an impassive regard.

‘It’s a tóraíocht. A pursuit.’ She shifted to adjust the balance of the backpack against her shoulders. ‘A group of men is chasing a single man, a solitary traveller from the looks of it.’

She gestured towards a particular line of tracks that had a visibly different appearance to the others.

‘See how those footprints look older? The edges of the prints are friable, the flat sections drier. All the other tracks are still damp because they haven’t fully dried out. That means they were made more recently, probably just a little earlier this afternoon.’

Rónán thought that explanation through for several moments before raising his eyes to look at her, his lips turned down in a frown. ‘Why are they chasing the single traveller?’

The woman warrior shrugged. ‘I don’t know. The Great Mother only ever reveals part of the stories of those traversing her mantle.’

Bran, who’d turned back to observe their interaction in silence, cleared his throat and shifted his weight awkwardly from one leg to another. ‘Grey One. If they’re travelling east, they’ll strike Ráth Bládhma.’

Liath Luachra rubbed her nose and sniffed.

‘Perhaps. Perhaps not. Just because the tracks here show them moving east, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll continue in that direction.’ She gestured loosely towards the forested ridges north and south of where they were standing. ‘In the confines of this landscape, it makes sense for the intruders to travel east but they might well drift to a different course once the ridges drop and the land opens out.’

Bran kept his eyes lowered and he made no response, but she sensed he was unconvinced by the argument.

Sighing, the Grey One stepped away from the tree, grunting as the full weight of the backpack settled back down on her shoulders. ‘Rest easy. Our own course to An Poll Mór follows their trail for a time yet. If they veer off the eastern path, we’ll know they’re no threat to Ráth Bládhma.’

‘What if they don’t veer off?’ asked Rónán. ‘That …’ The woman warrior gave another noncommittal shrug. ‘That’s an issue we’ll address if we come to it.


Fionn: Stranger at Mullán Bán will initially be available through Amazon on 15 December 2022

You can pre-order that book here: FIONN

You can find more information on the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series here: Fionn mac Cumhaill Series

Oisin Rides to the Land of Youth

This beautiful painting is entitled “Oisin Rides to the Land of Youth”. Painted in 1936 by American artist Newell Convers Wyeth. it represents a more Anglophile view of Irish mythology that many non-Irish creators continue to produce today.

You can’t fault Convers Wyeth however. A talented illustrator and painter, he produced a huge body of work in his time. This included well over a hundred ‘action/adventure’ style images for book covers.

I can imagine, he’d be in high demand today.

Last Days of the Liath Luachra Sale

The first book of the Irish Woman Warrior Series has been on a trial sale for the last two weeks but this will soon be coming to a close.

Liath Luachra: The Grey One is probably the favourite book (and Liath Luachra is the favourite character) of readers who follow my mythological adventure stories, so if you want to get a ridiculously cheap introduction to her, you only have a few days left.

And you can find that book HERE

Set against a backdrop of encroaching forestmythic ruins and treacherous tribal politics, the Irish Woman Warrior Series (or the’ Liath Luachra Series’) is a series of books based on the adventures of the woman warrior Liath Luachra and her mercenary fian (war party), Na Cinéaltaí (The Friendly Ones).

It tells the story of a damaged young woman who can count on nothing but her wits and fighting skills to see her through. Rising above the constraints of her status and overcoming her personal tragedies, she emerges Ireland’s greatest warrior and a protector whose influence lives on one thousand years later.

Next Book in the ‘Production Line’

Although I’m close to finishing Chapter 8 of Fionn: Stranger at Mullan Ban, today I’m writing an outline for Chapters 1-3 of ‘Liath Luachra: The Great Wild’.

The next book in the Liath Luachra Series, it’s actually a prequel to the current set of books. The character is much younger and far more feral and hence it’s a lot of fun to write.

Culture Nicking in Fantasy

Some very strong portrayals of Gaelic culture in this image (the Tara broach, the tartan, the bodhrán etc.) but, in fact, this is from the Polish ‘Witcher’ Card Game.

The talented artist was Anton Nazarenko but it aligns with Sapkowski’s borrowing of other culture’s constructs. The naming patterns in the Witcher, for example, often include garbled mixings of Gaelic, French etc.

Great pic, though!

Irish Book Sales

For lovers of Irish mythology books, Irish historical fiction books, Irish historical fantasy books, Irish adventure books and Irish action books!

Circumstances beyond my control mean I won’t be returning to the office until the end of July. As a result, the sale of our two bestselling Irish adventure books:

Fionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma

and

Liath Luachra: The Grey One

will continue until 31 July.

When it was first published, ‘Fionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma‘ became a finalist for the 2016 SPFBO competition (it came in at 4th place)

Liath Luachra: The Grey One, meanwhile, was adapted for the screen as a potential television series by Graisland Entertainment.

Needless to say, we’re very proud of both books.

The Saint’s Potty

This charming story is associated with Áed Uaridnard, who was one of the senior Northern Uí Neill chieftains. According to the source, he was passing through monastic land controlled by Saint Muru when he stopped to wash in the river flowing through the town. As he did so one of his men warned him not to do so.

Oh, rí. Do not put that water on your face.’

‘Why not?’ asked the rí

‘I’m ashamed to say,’ he said.

‘What shame is on you for telling the truth?’ asked the rí.

It’s this. The clerics latrine is over the water.’

‘Is that where the cleric, himself, goes to defecate?’ asked the rí.

‘It is. indeed,’ said the youth.

‘Then, not only will I put it on my face,’ said the rí. ‘I’ll also put it in my mouth, and I’ll drink it – drinking three gulps of it – for the water his shit goes into is a sacrament to me.’

Obviously, this somewhat extreme example of piety reflects a fanatical sense of Christian dedication, but you’ve got to avoid the temptation of jumping on the anti-Christian outrage wagon to get your head around this particular story.

That said, there there are plenty of other valid reasons to be annoyed with Christian (and Wicca and Pagan and etc. etc.) interpretations of ancient Irish culture.

Certainly, too many to cover here.

Almost eight years of Liath Luachra

A blast from the past with this old post (and draft cover) from 2015.

At the time, I was still writing the first Liath Luachra book with the intention of using it as a prequel for the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series.

That plan went kinda sideways. After an initial lacklustre reception on it’s publication, more and more people started writing and asking for a second book. Four books (and a few short stories) later and the Liath Luachra series has now surpassed the popularity of the original series it was meant to introduce.

Add in subsequent screen options and the character seems ot have taken on a life of her own that I’d never really anticipated.

———————

LIATH LUACHRA – THE GREY ONE (VERY EARLY DRAFT COVER)

2015 has been a bit of a tough year on the work front so far but I’m pleased to say that we’re actually making good progress on the book and website fronts (amongst others).

At this stage, I’m approximately two thirds of the way through Liath Luachra – The Grey One (which is something of a prequel to the Fionn Mac Cumhaill Series). I usually find that by the fifth chapter, the plot lines are cohesive but that I need to go back and rewrite/amend some of the earlier sections to ensure the linear flow of the narrative. This tends to delay the completion but it really is the most important part for me in terms of ‘plot quality’ so getting over that ‘hump’ is important. Everything else after this feels like “walking downhill” (as one of the Ents in LOTR says)

A vulnerable – but feral – savage

This is a selection of some of the images I used when I was originally conceptualising the woman warrior Liath Luachra.

This particular set (from Spanish artist/photographer Lídia Vives) visually captured the savage/thoughtful aspect of the character and proved a helpful prompt when writing. I’ll probably be using these again for the next book (Liath Luachra: The Great Wild) – which will actually be a prequel to the Irish Woman Warrior Series, and involve the character when she’s far younger and far more feral.

I have a number of key scenes already sketched out and I’m looking forward to getting them down on paper.