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Book Updates and Other News

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 the last few years have pretty much been overshadowed by the recession but, more recently, we’ve also had to deal with a new wave of emigration, Garda upper management that cannot be trusted with issues of justice, a complete dearth of political  leadership (seriously, anyone voting for either of the two larger political parties really has to ask themselves why), the impacts of climate change in terms of flooding etc. blah, blah, blah and so on.

If you’ve read the first book in this trilogy, you’ll know of course that, structurally, it consists of two separate (but interlinking) mystery stories – a style to be reproduced in the remaining two books.  For the second book, I can finally say that I have the contemporary section completely plotted out – something that proved decidedly difficult.

Now, however, I have to work in the folklore an mythology linkages that connect the contemporary mystery not only to the Beara of the 1960s but to an issue the country faces today. I do have one particular theme in mind which I found through my research some years ago and which encompasses all of the issues raised above. It is something, in fact, so important I’m pretty shocked that it seems to have disappeared through the cracks of history.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to getting into it.

Once I finish the second Fionn book (due in September 2014).

Until then, research, friends and lots of yacking beckons.

BEARA: Dark Legends

The Beara Mystery Trilogy – Book One

“A fascinatingly informative yet nailbiting cultural thriller!”

Nobody knows much about reclusive historian Muiris (Mos) O’Súilleabháin except that he doesn’t share his secrets freely. Mos, however, has a “sixth sense for history, a unique talent for finding lost things”.

Lured from seclusion, despite his own misgivings, Mos is hired to locate the final resting place of legendary Irish hero, Fionn Mac Cumhal. Confronted by a thousand year old mystery, the distractions of a beguiling circus performer and a lethal competitor, Mos must draw on his unique background and knowledge of Gaelic lore to defy his enemies and survive his own family history in the Beara peninsula.

A fascinating mixture of contemporary thriller, Irish culture and ancient Gaelic lore,  Beara: Dark Legends is the first in a trilogy of unforgettable Irish thrillers. Propulsive, atmospheric and darkly humorous, Beara: Dark Legends introduces an Irish hero like you’ve never seen before. Nothing you thought you knew about Ireland will ever be the same again.

This book includes the following EXTRA CONTENT:

  • historical notes on the Fenian Cycle
  • a pronunciation guide and links to an online audio pronunciation guide


About Us

Welcome to the ‘About’ page.

Some Bio details:

My name is Brian O’Sullivan (Brían Ó’Súileabháin in Irish) and I’m from County Cork in the Republic of Ireland. These days I’m mostly based in New Zealand (ironic, given that, geographically, this is about as far as you can possibly get from Ireland).

I’m an author, mythologist, cultural commentator and also a strategic analyst who analyses patterns of behaviour on a ‘process’ and on a societal level. In 2014, I set up Irish Imbas with my partner ‘K, occasionally helped out by my kids.

What do we do?

To put it simply, we research and identify ancient Irish cultural knowledge and belief patterns (often interpreted as ‘Irish mythology’ but essentially more to do with ‘how our ancestors thought’ and ‘what they believed in’ ). We then translate the more workable pieces into narratives and learning material for a more contemporary audience.

To date, we’ve mostly done this through ‘fiction’ but all of our works contain strong, rarely seen elements of Irish culture and history. While we’re very focused on delivering content that’s culturally authentic, it’s also important that any learnings are passed on in way that’s entertaining and easy to absorb. All our experience to date indicates that people learn more through entertainment narratives than through strict educational teaching and our aim is to make both as seamless as possible.

We also provide independent advice on Irish/ Gaelic culture for individual creative projects.

In terms of fictional narratives, we currently have three independent fiction series in the works;

The first book in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series was selected as a finalist for Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO 2016 competition (a major fantasy competition for small/independent publishers). The first book in the Irish Woman Warrior Series (Liath Luachra: The Grey One) meanwhile, has just been adapted for the screen by Graisland Entertainment as a potential television series.

We also run an annual Celtic Mythology Short Story Competition and produce regular collections of tales and learnings from the mythologies of the “Celtic” countries (although workloads mean this is currently on hold).

Although many of our projects are not yet publicly available, most of our books can be obtained through the major ebookstores such as Amazon/ Google Play/ Kobo/ iBooks/ Barnes & Noble and so on. We also sell our digital books through our own Book Shop so if you’d like to support what we’re trying to achieve through there, that’s always appreciated.

Hard copies of our books are available through Amazon and most can be ordered through any bookshop.

What’s Our Motivation?

We have four key motivations for doing what we do.

Firstly, K and I are both completely and utterly passionate about culture and language – ancient and contemporary. Honestly, on a personal level, I could quite happily spend the rest of my life browsing through arcane, dust-covered books on Gaelic culture and improving my Gaeilge!

Secondly, I love telling stories. It’s what I enjoy most and what I think I do best.

Thirdly, we’re keen to address the huge dearth of accurate Irish/Gaelic cultural information available on the internet.

Fourthly, and most importantly, we want to revitalise Irish/Gaelic culture in terms of language, cultural knowledge systems and cultural identity.

Over the years, we’ve encountered many people of Irish people and people of Irish descent who, through no fault of their own, have been completely disconnected from their cultural heritage. By ‘cultural heritage’, we don’t mean passports, accents, family connections or anything like that. We’re talking about the less defined things: connection to authentic heritage, self-identity, cultural concepts, those background things that give true depth and resonance to our lives

It’s our hope to help people reclaim some of that through the books and other projects we do.

What does ‘Imbas’ mean?

Imbas’ is a very old Celtic word meaning ‘knowledge’. Unlike the modern Irish equivalent (eolas), the word ‘imbas’ has always had the connotation of ‘restricted knowledge’. Most often, it was used when referring to the secret knowledge kept by the druids or poets.

In some respects, that knowledge is still restricted as a vast amount of Irish cultural knowledge is still locked away in the realms of academia, rare and somewhat esoteric books, or remains untranslated from the Irish form. In this respect, it’s clear that Irish cultural knowledge remains completely inaccessible to the general population.

Given the kind of work we do and the odd, little-know material we work with, the word ‘imbas’ seemed a natural fit.

The Blog and the Newsletter

Every two weeks (I used to say every week but life has a way of intervening), I blog on elements of authentic Irish culture (contemporary or historical), mythology, occasionally on new books or writing, interviews, other things that amuse me. Most of our more in-depth news and articles go out in Vóg, our monthly (actually only 10 issues/year) newsletter.

It’s our hope that some of the topics raised will entertain or stimulate interest and encourage people to provide feedback and relevant commentary. Like everything else in our lives, it’s an ongoing development.

Working with Irish Imbas

We’re always happy to hear from people who are interested in what we’re doing or doing something similar themselves, whether it’s just for a yack to compare ideas or to discuss future projects we could potentially work on together.

In recent times however, given the publishing work we do, we’ve also found ourselves inundated with requests to look at/review other people’s writing. Unfortunately, with the best will in the world, we simply don’t have the capacity to do that. We don’t really see ourselves as a publishing company so much as a distributor of authentic cultural information. We’re also a tiny organisation and tend to work on a project-by-project basis, hiring the technical expertise we need as required. Between the research and analysis we do, publishing two books a year and other projects that interest us, we regret but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to look at other people’s work as well.

That said, we strongly support and enjoy promoting the work of other native Irish artists – particularly if it’s in Irish or it’s bilingual. If you have a creative work (in any form) you’d like help in promoting, we’re happy to help (time permitting) through our own networks.


Fáilte romhat go dtí IrishImbas

Welcome to Irish Imbas.

We research and explore ancient Irish cultural knowledge and concepts and transfer them into a form that’s more accessible and relevant for contemporary times. Mostly we do this through stories but also through associated learnings for modern-day audiences.

All of our books and other projects incorporate authentic Irish/Gaelic culture in a way that’s exciting and entertaining and that respects the original sources. A selection of these can be found at ‘The Books’ tab.

Enjoy your visit!