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

Scene from An Táin

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.

Shadow Conflicts

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.

Nead an Iolair/ The Eagle’s Nest

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.

Working on ‘The Hungry People’

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.

Battle Scenes

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.’

The Quiet One

Still a few more days to go back here in Ireland and my mind’s already overflowing with sensations, memories, thoughts, and concepts that I’m desperate to get down on paper.

At this stage, I have plans for three new series I want to start – on top of the series I’m currently running – so the remainder of this year looks like it’s going to be absolutely chocker.

This is an image for another Liath Luachra short story I’ve been playing with (which absolutely has to be short as my last ‘short story’ morphed into the full’length book ‘The Great Wild’).

Excerpt from ‘Liath Luachra: The Great Wild’

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

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.

An Táin

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.

Breith [Birth]

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.


This is the opening scene to Liath Luachra: The Great Wild, a novella that I’m hoping to complete by the end of next month.

It’s probably been influenced (to a degree) by some of Alessio Albi’s beautifully moody works (attached)