Tag Archive | Erin O’Quinn

“Burning and Scorching”: The Easter Curse of St. Patrick

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For centiuries, great ritual fires were burned during the high festivals of the ancient Celtic world. And then the upstart Patrick lit his own in defiance of tradition . . .

Church historians and hagiographic scholars have claimed that St. Patrick, then a bishop ordained by the pontiff, was the center of a dramatic confrontation on the occasion of the Christian Easter in 433 AD.

The date was May 1, and the site was the Hill of Slaine, ten miles distant from the High King’s domain at Tara.

At that time Patrick had been in Ireland only about a year, but he had been held as a slave for six or seven years when he was much younger. His master Milchu had been a high druid, and historians believe that Patrick must have learned much about the druids and the religious life of the people of Ireland, along with a thorough knowledge of the language and culture.

circle of druids

Whether white-robed (according to Roman scribes) or not, the druids were a hugely powerful class, second only to kings in ancient Ireland. Who besides Patrick would dare hurl a curse back at them?

The Festival of Beltaine, in honor of the sun god Bel, was one of the two most sacred observances in the Celtic world. Huge fires were lit all over the island, signifying (among other beliefs) purification and rebirth through the power of great Bel. The high king when Patrick was in Éire was Leary, a stubborn and devoted pagan, who surrounded himself with scores of druids.

Leary’s purification fires, of course, were to be the highest and most sacred in the country, and Patrick well knew it. According to these historians, Patrick probably spent several months planning a fire that would not only rival Leary’s, but would awe and convert thousands on the occasion of the Christian Easter, which coincided with Beltaine.

Patrick was not only stubborn and highly intelligent, he must have been a very courageous soul to flout the power of the highest power in the land.

In my novel THE WAKENING FIRE, I imagined what happened on that fateful day, May 1, 433 AD and told it through the eyes of the main female character Caylith. After Patrick set his huge bonfire, King Leary angrily sent for the upstart to be brought before him on the sacred Hill of Tara.

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[Incensed that the meddling priest has lit a high Easter bonfire in defiance of his Beltaine ritual fire, High King Leary speaks to the bishop Patrick: ]

“Me druids tell me ye would usurp the laws of our land. Ye would defy the ancient Brehon precepts, an’ ye would replace our gods with yours. How do ye plead on those counts?”

“I plead only to my God,” Patrick said evenly. “I speak to kings, and to common men alike. But I plead only to Christ, that he forgive your ignorance and hold you to his bosom in his mysterious love and compassion.”

I felt warm admiration for Patrick. In all the time I had known him, I had rarely seen even a trace of anger. But now I saw it slowly building in his eyes, and in his very demeanor, in spite of his mild words.green paddy 330

“Then I must bid me guards take ye to confinement.”

“Even as Herod did, would you so dismiss me?”

I saw Leary’s face change then, and a flicker of fear or alarm in his eyes. “If I but believed the lies ye spread about a man who died an’ walked again, then yes. Even as Herod.”

Patrick’s tone changed then, and for the first time he spoke softly, in the fatherly tone so familiar to me. “Thousands of your subjects believe those lies, O King. Would you call them foolish? Misguided? Or do they see something that perhaps you are missing? That Christ is love. Is é grá Chríost. That he asked not for special treatment. That he sought only to teach others about God’s love and forgiveness. That he did indeed die and live again, even as your own god Bel, whom you celebrate as the sun. And so I also celebrate Christ, also the son—the son of God.”

Leary’s voice was almost pleading now. “Then why do ye flout me laws, priest? Why do ye set your own fires to be higher than me own? How does that show love?”

“I must love all men, even as my Lord Christ loved. I cannot show you more love than I show your worthy fair-faced advisor.” And he gazed directly at one of the most ugly men I had ever beheld, a hairy-faced druid whose lower lip seemed to emit a constant stream of dribble. A ripple of laughter drifted through the room.

The druid stepped in front of Patrick then, and he stood on one foot and extended his bony arm, and with the other hand he held one eye shut. “Dóite agus loisceadh ort!

“Burning and scorching on ye,” whispered Liam. I heard the note of awe in his voice. The druid’s high-pitched voice screeched almost as effectively as Talon’s own squawk had echoed in this room several months ago. Even I was mildly impressed.

Then Father Patrick drew himself up to the extent of his slight frame, and his own eyes began to crackle and burn. His tonsured head shone like a ritual fire in the bright light, and his voice rang out as though he were shouting at his enemy from a high rampart.

druid handsup

druid 433

When Patrick utters his own curse in answer to the druid, everything changes. What words does he speak that spare him and change the mind of stubborn King Leary?

Guess you’ll just have to read The Wakening Fire

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caylith fire final

 

 

 

 

How St. Patrick Changed Ireland

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A land mysterious, untouched by the hands of the Romans, pre-Patrick Ireland was a study in ancient ways . . . a land of mighty stones, gods, and stalwart warriors.

In about 432 AD, Pope Celestine I elevated an unknown priest to bishop and gave him a mission. He sent him as a bearer of the Gospels, or good tidings, to an island steeped in mystery and considered a place of hellish paganism. The man was of Roman heritage, called “Patricius” or “patrician one.” The mysterious place was Ireland.

From what historians and archaeologists have been able to determine, the island that the Romans named “Hibernia” was a world so protected by fierce clan warriors that the emperors chose to stay on the larger island of Britannia and the European mainland. Few remnants of the Italian marauders . . . um, the proud Roman armies . . . are found throughout the island that its inhabitants proudly call Éire.fierce 200

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Why did the Pontiff choose Patrick? It is a matter of historical record that as a youth, Patrick himself had been taken from his home somewhere in Britannia—possibly Wales, or even Scotia—by a band of freebooters or pirates and taken to the island called “Hibernia.” He was about 16 years old, a pious young fisherman whose father and grandfather before him had been priests. Once in Ireland, probably in modern County Antrim, he lived in slavery for six or seven years.

Once taken, Patrick was sold to a clan chief, supposedly a druidic high priest. Patrick became both his lowly shepherd and possibly even his unwilling acolyte. In those several years, the young man learned the language and the beliefs of the druids—both of which would stand him in good stead much later, when he returned as a missionary.

According to his own published Confessio, Patrick lived among the people and spoke to them every day of the man named Christ. He says that he prayed to God hundreds of times every day, trying to maintain the utmost humility and love, even for his captors.

In a young adult novel called HIDDEN BY THE ROSE (to be published March 22), the authors Bil and Bon Franks recount his life as a slave. Here he is talking to a young girl whose mother, too, has been taken by slave-holders to Hibernia, and he is trying to  comfort her with his own story of captivity. During the telling, his own voice begins to take on the lilt of the Éireannach people:

st p statue ~2x5“Knowing me end had come, I collapsed to me knees and began to pray. ‘Lord, me Father,’ I whispered, ‘I come to thee with glad heart. If I cannot spread thy word abroad to the heathens, let them hear me now.’ I raised me voice in joy as the wild men gathered ‘round me. ‘Love thy God, thy father, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind.’

“The savages stopped in their tracks. They exchanged looks of wonder at the strange young man on his knees, laughing and smiling at their imminent attack.

“Slowly, they lowered their barbed spears and talked among themselves. I continued me prayer, for I understood not a word of their gentle conversation.

“At last, two of them seized me, one on each arm, and dragged me to the water’s edge. One of the oarsmen reached over the side and hauled me into the currach. Thus I became an unwilling passenger on what turned out to be a slave ship. . . .

“I spent the next few days in ropes, alternately praying and vomiting, while the vagabond slavers made their way back to the Isle of Hibernia.

“I will tell you only that I was able to survive quite well during the seven years of thralldom that followed. Me captors soon sold me to a chieftain named Milchu, whose land lay on the hills of Slemish and down into the valley of the Braid. Milchu was a high priest of the group they call ‘Druids.’

“Thus I learned their strange beliefs, and I also learned their melodious tongue perfectly, and whenever I could, I taught the word of God to anyone who would listen. I spread glad tidings, and I prayed hundreds of times every day, not once failing to thank God for me good fortune.”

Patrick finally managed to escape on a boat that was bound for Britannia. After his return, he studied to become a priest somewhere in Gallia (modern France) and served as parish priest somewhere in Britannia before being called to Rome.

He recounts, again in his Confessio, how he was convinced in a dream to return to Éire, for he heard the children calling. Whether or not one believes in miracles, the outcome of this dream is one of the astonishing facts of history. For the lowly priest not only returned to convert the “children,” he lived a long and productive missionary life in Ireland and was beatified some centuries later as Saint Patrick.

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The Book of Kells, dating from the 9th century, is a direct result of Patrick’s insistence on re-copying and preserving the scriptures.

If one can differentiate the legends from the facts, it is safe to say that Patrick sent for scores of bishops and other priests to join him in Ireland, and that he insisted the ancient scrolls and scriptures be brought with them, copied and protected. This dedication to ancient learning is what “saved” the world from the dark ages of ignorance after the retreat of the Romans in the fifth century. Thomas Cahill’s best selling book How the Irish Saved Civilization is a great one to read in this context.

There is not a place in Ireland that does not boast of Paddy’s footprints somewhere on its soil. In the novel WAKENING FIRE by Erin O’Quinn, the people of modern Coleraine (Northern Ireland) trace the name of their town to a visit by the latter-day saint:

The brothers O’Cahan lived some ten miles north of Limavady, near the mouth of the River Bann. . . I gathered it was near a settlement called Cúil Raithin, or Coleraine, once visited by Father Patrick himself. Brion told me how his own grandfather, a chieftain, had offered Patrick a portion of land near the river overgrown with great ropy ferns that had to be burned to the ground each year. After Patrick left, the residents then adopted the name, meaning “ferny backwater” . . .

This was not the first folktale I had heard about Father Patrick in the northern part of this island. I began more and more to realize that Patrick’s influence was beginning to be felt in many places besides Armagh, even if he had never set foot near most of them.

Every place name in Ireland bearing the root word “kell” or “kil” can in a sense be traced to Patrick or his later followers, for the name means “church.” And St. Patrick’s day has become a celebration not just of the man, but of Ireland itself.

Patrick has put his stamp so firmly on the Emerald Isle that to think of him is to think of that charmed place, no matter what may be one’s religious denomination.

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We are left to guess at what Ireland would be today if an intrepid priest named Patrick (“patrician one”) had not set his sights on converting the inhabitants to Christianity. But it hardly matters. Once Patrick entered Ireland, the charismatic bishop set about changing the entire religious life and world view of the people. Here, in an ingenious portrait of the saint by Hamish Burgess, we see the various symbols associated with St. Patrick: the tri-partite shamrock, the banished snakes, the gentle deer. The fanciful halo shows a kind of crown of thorns, possibly the paschal fire he set in defiance of High King Leary in 433 AD. Note that this image shows Patrick’s hair as it probably was worn—in a tonsure.

One last blessing to all: HAPPY ST. PADDY’S DAY!

~

Books noted here:

 

Wakening Fire:

A tale of tempestuous romance and blazing fervor in the Ireland of St Patrick.

cay fire correx copy WAKENING FIRE tells the story of several fires:

The one that flares between Caylith and Liam, as they find that married life is just the beginning of hot desire…

The burning zeal of imprisoned Owen Sweeney to find the long-held secret of his birth, held only by his mother, now on her deathbed…

The ritual fires of pagan Ireland, set for purification in honor of the mighty god Bel, the symbol of the “Sun of God.”

The smoldering flames of Christianity that Father Patrick is beginning to light across the landscape of Old World Ireland, culminating in the famous Easter fires of 433 AD.

And there is yet another fire quickening, this one a surprise, revealed only at the end of Erin O’Quinn’s smoldering second novel in The Dawn of Ireland trilogy.

MF historicalromance steamy StPatrickAsCharacter
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Other photo credits: Wikipedia.

St. Patrick art:

‘ST.PATRICK’ © Hamish Burgess 2012. Original Celtic and folk art by Hamish Burgess, a piece for the cover of The Celtic Connection newspaper in Vancouver BC and Seattle, the March issue.

 

Healing herbs and plants in Old World Ireland

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Dandelions are known throughout the world’s temperate climes for their tenacity, but also for the flavor they give to our teas and salads. In my books, they’re called “sun-petals,” because the French word dandelion hadn’t yet evolved.

From the time she was 16, starting in a series of my books under a different pen name, the redheaded Caylith began to study the properties of plants. Under the guidance of her marvelous grandfather, she found that somehow the plants had an affinity for her, rather than the other way around!

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Caylith’s road lilies are similar to this white lily grass, Ornithogalum, in itheir delicate flowers, leafless stems and bulbous roots. The word “road lily”–indeed the plant itself– is my invention.

From the road lilies that give her uncommon strength, to the “sun-petal” tea and chicory that she and the other characters drink daily, all the Caylith books—from the early fantasies to the later romances— are full of plants, used for preternatural magical abilities, for food, for refreshing beverages, and of course for purposes of healing.

Notice how many of the plants in this article are in the family compositae, those with composite, “daisy-like” flowers.

As the author, I gave healing properties to plants both fictional and real. “Road lilies” are pure fiction. And yet, almost two years after making up those little beauties from  my imagination, I found that the white lily grass called Ornithogalum almost exactly fits my idea of Caylith’s beloved road lily! They resemble the extremely hardy “rain lilies” in my central Texas yard. Just like Caylith’s plants, whose leafless stems favor the harsh soils in the cracks along the old Roman roads, their bulbine roots find deep cracks and are difficult to bring up completely without using a shovel and plenty of elbow grease.

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The ubiquitous dandelion–what would mankind have done without her? This lovely weed has one of the longest taproots I’ve ever tried to extract!

I invented the name “Sun-petals” for dandelions, a word that would not have evolved for several hundred more years, for it was adapted from the French words dent de lion or “lion’s teeth.”

In Gaelic Irish, dandelion is called lus Bhríd (Brigid’s plant) or Bearnán Bríd (indented one of Brigid) where “lus” is the Irish equivalent of the English “wort,” or “plant.”[1] To this day, dandelion roots and leaves are used widely in teas, and the leaves are considered by many to be a delicacy in salads.

Rough-and-tough former soldier Gristle favors chicory, another flower from the family  compositae. Our pioneer fathers drank a coffee-like beverage made from the tuberous roots of these hardy plants. Even in my rough “pioneer” yard out here in central Texas, chicory grows wild in sunny, gravely alkaline soil in patches throughout my yard.

Chicory flowers, a kind of pale purple or lilac, nod in exquisite greeting to the coolness of early morning. But their roots are anything but exquisite. Tough and stout, they give a bitter yet rich flavor when boiled or ground and steeped, so that they make a coffee substitute when there is no Starbucks around.

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Chicory is distinctive for its lilac-colored petals and for the savory-to-bitter flavor of its roots.

One of the recently discovered ingredients in chicory is inulin, a complex of sugar that is high in fiber and that has several beneficial medicinal properties, especially for treatment of diabetes and for weight control. But Gristle drinks it for its sweet-bitter edge that he’s grown almost addicted to over the years. In fact, his companion Wynn gives him a hard time over his “herb,” which the young man claims to put hairs on his friend’s knuckles.

In Fire & Silk, the young woman Mariana tries to mend the bruised and twisted limbs of Flann, who has fallen into a deer blind. Looking around the boglands, she finds feverfew and fennel, both of which grow throughout the northern stretches of modern Co. Donegal (then Tyr Connell) where she has found herself.

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Daisy-like with feathery leaves, fennel has many beneficial properties, especially its ability to reduce both pain and fever. Attribution: Photo taken by Carsten Niehaus

The fennel, thankfully, was well past its bloom, and hundreds of seed capsules were loose. She shook the bunch onto her woolen blanket, releasing the seeds. Next, she stripped leaves from the fever weed. She poured water from her wineskin into her own metal cup and threw in as many fennel seeds as she imagined would make a strong poultice. She found Flann’s cup among his supplies and brought it to the fire, filling it, too, with water. Before the concoction became too strong, she poured part of it into the second cup. And then she added the stripped leaves. This second cup would be his wildwood tea.

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Feverfew, as its name suggests, is an anti-inflammatory that can bring a fever under control quickly.

Another interesting plant used throughout my novels–indeed throughout most of Europe  to this day–is the bark and leaves of the willow, salix. Scientists have found that the main ingredient of willow bark is salicylic acid—yes, the main ingredient in aspirin.

A white willow tea, or a poultice  made from the steeped parts of the willow, would have soothed fevers, cured headaches, and dulled toothaches . . . if the patient could tolerate the nasty flavor.

One of the healing combinations that I invent for my books comes from an old idea, the use of gruits. In beer making, as we know, hops lend the bitter yet delicious flavor that makes beer such a distinctive and desirable beverage. But in those climes where hops do not grow, ingenious beer-makers have come up with any number of substitutes for them. Such combinations are called “gruits.”

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White willow–our ancestors’ eqivalent to aspirin.

Trying to find a palliative for Owen Sweeney MacNeill, Caylith comes up with an individualized potion, or gruit, for him. She uses part of the sacred hawthorns that grew near his sacred clootie well, and other plants such as heathers that were native to his homestead at Limavady. The resulting mix really does act as almost a narcotic for the ailing Owen. It also has the astonishing side effect, as Caylith discovers, of being an aphrodisiac.

Following is a list of additional plants that could have been readily gathered in Caylith’s northern Ireland: [2]

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Cat’s Claw – (Uncaria tomentosa)

Oregano – (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum)

Rosemary – (Rosmarinus officinalis)r:mary 80

Thyme – (Thymus vulgaris)

Yellow Dock – (Rumex crispus)

Wood Betony – (Pedicularis canadensis)

Passion Flower – (Passiflora incarnata)

Saffron – (Crocus sativus)saffron 80

Wild Lettuce – (Lactuca virosa)

Tumeric – (Curcuma longa)

Herbs that are helpful in pain treatment by gradually restoring the proper function of the body and increasing health and vitality:

Echinacea – (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea)echinacea 370

Burdock – (Arctium lappa)

Skullcap – (Scultellaria laterifolia)

Lobelia – (Lobelia inflata)

Valerian Root – (Valeriana Officinalis)

oat 170Oats – (Avena sativa)

Herbs that are are used externally for pain relief

Peppermint – (Mentha piperita L.)

Lavender – (Lavendula officinalis)

[1] Noted in “Plants in Folklore,” part of a series by folklorist Eugene Daly in the Ireland weekly magazine Ireland’s Own, summer  2012. With special thanks to my friend Paul McDermott who sent me  this article.

[2] This list, and the photo/art of the fennel and feverfew, are taken from “The Herbal Resource,” www/herbal-supplement-resource.com

Don’t miss Erin O’Quinn’s Dawn of Ireland writing, including the MM Iron Warrior series.

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Erotic M/M Romance:

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Chariots and wheelchairs in the Celtic world of O’Quinn

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This fanciful image of “horned” warriors and horses is not true to my Celtic research, which does not show this kind of “Germanic” influence in Ireland; but the chariot itself is what I have in mind for my character.

I began to be intrigued by the idea of Celtic chariots when I expanded one of my “Dawn of Ireland” characters, Owen Sweeney. Owen actually began as a mysterious, villainous man in a book that preceded my O’Quinn novels and his past and his personality are slowly revealed throughout five books (so far).

Quite without my willing it to happen, a man in a wheelchair began to take on immense proportions. Always described as “bigger than life” for his towering intellect and personality, Owen Sweeney MacNeill is actually half a man. He has spent the past twenty years confined to an invalid’s cart, his legs no more than withered sticks.

Owen had a tragic past–from the time he began his anguished search for a father he would never find, to the incident when his legs were crushed by a frightened horse, to the loss of his beloved wife and his near-death in a currach tossed into the sea . . . all this and more makes up the many-wefted tapestry that reveals the complex man.

In the novels Captive Heart and Fire & Silk,  Owen needs a way to travel. Therefore I had to research the kind of “chariot”-like devices that could have been used in the fifth century AD.

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First, I discovered that wheeled invalid carts have been around since the days of the ancient Greeks. This photo (L) of a sculpture shows a man possibly sitting in a wheeled conveyance. The photo below of the wooden wheeled chair is much later than my stories, but the construction is not so far from what could have been possible at the time. The most likely way Owen could get around in his own  home would be similar to a small ox-cart. He turns the wheels by means of his massive arms, whose muscles have developed preternaturally from the strain of pushing himself from place to place.wheelchair 243

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Just as important as making his way through his own home, Owen must travel long distances to set up a new domain in the northern expanses of Ireland. After all, it is this man who gave his name to Ireland’s Inis-Owen and Tyrone (Tyr, or Land, of Owen). Luckily, his own nephew Michael MacCool is a gifted craftsman who has built a fleet of currachs and a gracefully-prowed longship.

Therefore I, in the guise of Michael, had to construct a chariot.

chariot sketch 275

The first question one might ask is whether the ancient Celts even used chariots. The scholars agree that they did. In the Bronze-Age epic the Bo Tain Culaigne, war chariots are noted constantly. Reconstructionists have given us ideas of what those chariots must have looked like: double yoked, with a passenger “basket” made from pliable branches; spoked wheels; a kind of floating suspension so that the chariots could travel safely over the rugged landscape.

The Irish Gaelic word for “chariot” is carpat, itself  a cognate of the Latin word carpentum, their word for “chariot.” The Gaelic word no doubt entered the language through the Romans, who did not much venture into ancient Ireland–or even Scotland–but who were past masters at the art of building and using chariots.

In Captive Heart, the narrator Caylith sees the finished chariot that Michael has just built:sketch #2 275

Framed by strong oak, fashioned in the center with latticed wicker and strengthened in strategic places with forged steel, the chariot was about six feet wide, including the wheels, and it stood at least that high. From the center, like a tongue, there jutted a long, flexible pole attached to an axle. I knew the pole would be attached on each side to two horses, for it ended in a metal yoke.

The wheels were six spoked, the rims covered in wrought iron for added strength. I saw that the hubs were also metal. 

I turned to Michael. “The wheels—so small—”

“Aye lass, this is me own invention. The bigger the wheel, the weaker the wheel. An’ the bigger it is, the heavier it is. So these are only about a foot or so high, an’ spoked for added lightness. The metal hubs give it strength. What do ye think?”

“Ah, is Owen supposed to sit with his—his legs down, or spread before him?”

carpat 487“Two people sit side by side, Cay, as if they sat on a bench. Ye see here? Their feet are protected by a board, an’ they can sit with support for their back. An when they are tired, the back can be laid flat. They can enter and leave by the rear also.”

I saw that the carriage itself—the “basket” that held the passengers—was very lightweight, almost like the latticework of the clay-and-daub houses or the frames of Michael’s currachs. At the joints, the lattice was interlaced with strong steel rings. I ran my fingers along the latticework while Michael talked. “The best part of all is the way the platform hangs free of the wheels an’ the axle. If it hits a rut, the whole chariot does not jump an’ dislodge the riders. “

Yes, that really was the best part. I could see, from the point of view of an ignorant observer, that this chariot would cause Owen no pain as it jumped and quivered along the rough countryside. In fact, he could ride like a very king. He could hold the reins, or Moc could be the driver.

“Michael, it is—beautiful. I can think of no better word.”

“Go raibh maith agat. It tested me brain, an’ the next one shall be better.”

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Research has shown that the chariots used in Ireland, in order to be driven across the rough terrain, were built with a kind of “floating” or independent suspension, as the reconstrution here shows.

Here is a scene from Fire & Silk, where Owen and his stalwart sons are traveling from their home in Inishowen to the home of his brother in (now) Donegal:

A curious procession moved south, beyond Snow Mountain. It bore slightly west, away from the worst of the foothills in the high pastureland. In front rode a quiet redheaded man on a black stallion. He turned his head often to gaze at the woman next to him, one whose long, dark hair lifted like wings around her face. 

He turned in the saddle to glance at his companions. Behind him, there rolled and rattled a vehicle borrowed from the poetry of the filí, bards of the kings. The man in the chariot was large and heavy browed, and he shouted out to a brace of strong horses as he guided the vehicle around a rocky outcropping or a small gully. Beside him sat a shapely little woman, her deeply black hair swept up with a large ivory bodkin, her eyes sometimes on the driver and sometimes gazing ahead.

Behind the chariot, three very large men sat astride horses, shouting and laughing, sometimes singing. And in the rear walked six packhorses. This was the caravan of Owen, King of Inishowen, who traveled to meet his own brother for the first time.

gaelic chariot 600

I hope you will read the Dawn of  Ireland novels, starting with Storm Maker . . . if not for the love stories, then for the evolution of a complex man, the character known as Owen Sweeney MacNeill.

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Erin’s Blogs:  Gaelic Spirit  The Man in Romance 

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Erin’s Contemporary MM Romance: Amber Allure 

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The fire today!

The Wakening Fire is available right now at the publisher’s site,

http://www.bookstrand.com/the-wakening-fire  (buy link)

Installment Two:  Caylith and Liam begin to experiment not just with the new language they share, but also the new state of marriage. Liam drinks too  much barley beer, opening a  new vista for Caylith who begins to understand  that her husband is deeply desirous of even more than she has been giving him.

Today, as always, Liam felt himself to be the hunter, and I the hunted. I was the deer to his swift arrow. Seeming to ignore his passion, I saw it clearly—the arrow flying to its mark. At that split second my weak defense became a steel barrier, and the arrow shot straight up, for my own weapon guided his skyward. Then my bata was resting lightly on the crown of his head. Captured! Who is the hunter, O Liam, and who the hunted?

At that instant, Liam and I reached out to each other, our eyes riveted on each other. Our mouths began to bite and lick and kiss with an untamable intensity. He gathered me up in his arms, strode to our house, and roughly pushed the door open. He turned and closed it with one foot, his mouth traveling all over my face and shoulders, and then he swiftly moved to the bed. He did not lay me down but stood me up on the floor beside the bed.

He pulled down his bríste, stepping out of them as though shedding an old skin. He stood before me with an erection so swollen that my knees turned to water. Still he said nothing, reaching out to my shoulders and pulling the deerskin down almost to my nipples.

“Say it, Cat.” His voice was thick with passion.

I stood before him with my entire body humming and alive, craving his mouth, craving his groin. “I am hungry for you,” I said. I could hardly talk.

He pulled the tunic down to my waist in one sudden movement, and he seized one breast. He took almost the entire breast into his mouth and then noisily, slowly came off it, lingering on the nipple. Then he seized the other breast and did the same, all the while I was crying out and moaning loudly.

“Eat you,” he said with a gruffness that almost frightened me. He picked me up and stood me on the elevated bed. His hands at my waist, he pulled the deerskin down to my ankles and leaned into me, both hands on my butt.