In the first and second century AD, the island of Ireland is a rugged land of dense, green forest that stretches from coast to coast, treacherous brooding marshes and clear, rivers that run fierce and deep. Scattered throughout this forest wilderness are magnificent stone ruins of an ancient Neolithic people, long since departed. Standing stones, dolmens and passage graves, erected more than a thousand years before the Celts arrived in Ireland, they are older than the pyramids and the native population treat them with awe and wonder.
Meanwhile, on the island, the native peoples have secured footholds within the land’s green mantle, settlements on open sections of coastline or inland waterways. Tribal communities led by their chieftains, advised by their druids and protected by their fian – their tribal war parties – stick close to their own, ever cautious of the surrounding forests, ever watchful of dark shadows between the trees of the untamed ‘Great Wild’.
Suspicious of strangers and jealously defensive of their territory, the different tribes trade warily amongst themselves, form alliances and sometimes wage war. Occasionally, they’ll intermarry to re-establish a more lasting peace and some expand and grow to form mórtuath – tribal confederations. But all tribes rise and fall relative to the quality of their leaders and the strength of their warriors.
Set against a backdrop of encroaching forest, mythic 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.
The events in the series take place prior to the events in the first Fionn mac Cumhaill Series book (FIONN: Defence of Ráth Bládhma).
The books in this series are:
- LIATH LUACHRA: The Grey One (Book 1)
- LIATH LUACHRA: The Swallowed (Book 2)
- LIATH LUACHRA: The Seeking (Book 3)
- LIATH LUACHRA: The Metal Men (Book 4)
- LIATH LUACHRA: The Consent ( A short story)
- LIATH LUACHRA: The Hungry People (Book 5)
The name ‘Liath Luachra’ originally appears in the 12th century text Macgnímartha Finn (the Boyhood Deeds of Fionn) but historical/ mythological information on the reference is very sparse.
Essentially, the name ‘Liath Luachra’ means “Grey One of Luachair“. Why the character was known as ‘The Grey One’ is impossible to tell. The text collates oral narratives that were in existence well before they were ever written down. There’s no evidence to indicate whether the character was male or female and the representation of the character as a woman warrior is completely my own interpretation.
“Luachair”, meanwhile, is an Irish word that means ‘rushes’ (as in reed plants) but could also mean ‘a place of rushes’. There was a Luachair in West Kerry mentioned in many of the early texts (Luachair Deaghaidh – Sliabh Luachra) but, of course, it’s impossible to know if that was where the author of Macgnímartha Finn was referring to.