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.
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.
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.
‘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.
I’m testing a new cover for ‘Liath Luachra: The Consent’ – a long-short story that follows on from the last Liath Luachra book (the Metal Men). I won’t be publishing a new Liath Luachra book until the end of 2024 at the earliest, so this was intended as an additional story for those who wanted more.
The story concerns Liath Luachra’s reconnection with her old leader Bressal Binnbhéalach (Bressal of the Sweet Tongue) who was last seen in Liath Luachra: The Grey One.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed writing the interaction between the elusive Liath Luachra and the predatory Bressal but, older now (and far more experienced) the young woman warrior’s relationship with her rífénnid is certainly not going to be the same.
You can find the link to the book HERE and the blurb is as follows:
Ireland: 1st century A.D. A land of tribal affiliations, secret alliances and treacherous rivalries.
Although ‘The Seeking’ is complete, to fulfil her word to the Uí Loinge Elders, Liath Luachra must reconnect with Bressal Binnbéalach – the previous leader of Na Cinéaltaí – and obtain his consent.
But Bressal hasn’t forgotten her actions against him at Dún Mór.
And there’s only one thing she has that Bressal truly wants.
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.
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.
One of the gorgeous initial scenes from ‘An Táin’ by Cló Mhaigh Eo – Ireland’s only Irish-language comic producer (that I’m aware of – feel free to correct me). This involves Meadhbh and Aillill comparing their belongings to see which of them is the wealthier.
The image is by Dublin artist and animator, Barry Reynolds (who subsequently went on to do character design for ‘The Secret of Kells’ animation film.
These days, thanks to many decades of misinformation (and an unregulated internet), most non-Irish people (and, sadly, some Irish people) can’t tell the difference between a Gael, a Celt, a Viking, a Gaul, a Pagan/Wicca, a Skyrim warrior, a Briton, a Saxon, a Pict, blah, blah, blah, etc. etc. and if you look at many English-language representations (particularly in gaming) you’ll find that they use a mish-mash of completely different cultures for each.
I’ve recently been researching various conflicts and battles between the early European peoples and the Roman Empire and, of course, the long-term engagement between the cultures is far more complicated than you’d think. Interestingly, most of the imagery around this subject also tends to be Eurocentric in nature (the Gauls and the northern German tribes).
The above image by talented French artist Thibault Ollier, pretty much epitomises how most western people visualise those early conflicts. Applying the historical story to the reality to 1st century Ireland means a certain amount of adaptation is going to be an interesting challenge for the next book in the Liath Luachra series if I want to make it work on both a creative and culturally authentic basis.
This is the location of Nead an Iolair, down on the Beara Peninsula. The local story is that when Domhnall Cam Ó Súilleabháin departed on his mid-winter flight north to Breifne, he left his wife and child in the care of a trusted captain. Through the stark and hungry days of winter, unable to leave the valley due to enemies nearby, the Captain supposedly fed them by stealing food from the eagles with a very clever strategem. This is probably something I’ll use in one of my next books although I will be referencing the original.
Supposedly, the nest was located on one of the ledges on the cliff face to the right. As usual, however, you really have to take such local legends with a healthy dose of salt.
I took some time out yesterday from my current projects to play around with various concepts for ‘Liath Luachra: The Hungry People‘ (and, sorry, I won’t get to writing that until mid- next year at the earliest).
The previous book in the series left a number of unanswered questions and unresolved plotlines that I’ll be picking up in the next book but, as with the previous book, I want to avoid the whole cliche of western represented Romans and play the observation from the ‘native’ side.
I’m still not sure how I’ll achieve that but I’m sure it’ll come together.
The attached images (from Roman Zawadzki, Marius Kozik, and Joseph Feely) have been helping me formulate some ideas.
An ‘early medieval batte scene’ from Polish artist Aleksander Karcz.
As a general rule, I tend to avoid large scale battle scenes in my books, except where they’re the culmination of some important plot point or otherwise a necessary contribution to the story I’m writing.
Fantasy entertainment has probably set a few unrealistic expectations when it comes to Irish battles – cartainly in pre-history times (i.e. pre 5th century). During that period, there was no real warrior class in the Irish society of the time and the low population density meant tribal warfare would have been more ‘skirmish’ than ‘pitched battle.’
There was one morning when the world dissolved, obliterated in a downpour that melted the distant islands, then the immediate surroundings as well. Preceded by a cluster of unusually threatening, blue-bruised clouds, the incoming deluge had given plenty of warning. As a result, the girl was comfortably settled under a solitary oak at the tip of the inlet outcrop, cloak tugged tight around her shoulders as she waited to watch the clouds unload their burden.
The downpour rattled the lake’s surface with a startling intensity that she’d not seen before, a ferocious hail that scattered white-foamed eruptions across the water around her. Mirrored by countless ripples on that shuddering surface, the resulting kaleidoscope of movement was giddyingly, but terrifyingly, beautiful.
Tethered to the island by nothing but a thin strip of rock, the girl felt a swell of panic when even that link disappeared, and her existence reduced to the tree above and three paces of the rocky outcrop. Conscious that there was nothing beyond the fusillade of rain, she was struck by a sudden, shocking sense of absence. Terrified at the prospect of being cut adrift, she peered desperately through the deluge for any hint of physical substance, for any trace of natural solidness, for … anything.
To her trembling relief, the downpour eased soon after, and although it seemed to take far too long a time, the outline of the island took substance through the rain. Whole and expansive, the Great Mother’s bulk emerged from the surrounding murk. Slowly, ponderously, it reached across the thin strip of stone, embraced the girl in her fulsome whole and, soothingly, reassuringly, brought her home.
Liath Luachra: The Great Wild was released on 2 June 2023. You can find the details here: The Great Wild
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.
There’s a new version of ‘An Táin’ released this week. The cover image and fact that its title is ‘THE Táin’ suggests it’s designed for a non-Irish audience (although, to be fair, it’s primarily targeting children).
I’ll be writing more about ‘An Táin’ in ‘Vóg‘ – the Irish Imbas newsletter – at the end of the month.
Father Sun had neared his peak when the girl in the clearing stirred.
Stretched across the ankle-high grass, her initial shiftings were indiscernible beneath the black cloak that swathed her. As vigorous ripples of activity shifted through the garment however, it loosened and slowly unravelled. A bare pair of legs slid into the open and a solitary figure unfolded from it in a series of awkward angles.
Lying face down in the flattened grass, the dark-haired girl who’d emerged, raised her head to peer at the forest standing twenty paces away. A long moment passed as she stared blankly at the trees, engrossed by the shifting depths of its mottled browns and greens, the smooth sway of branches that throbbed with the sound of birdlife.