Unless you’ve been living under a stone for the last few weeks, you will have heard that Ali Isaac and myself have got together a collection of our retellings of some of the great love stories from among the Irish myths. This is the official cover reveal for Grá mo Chroí. Second really because I see Ali was up sometime before dawn in her excitement to blog about it. ☺
It might seem no big deal to those of you with blockbuster epics under your belt, but we have gone back in time, to the golden age of Irish storytelling, and we have added our own small contribution to the great tradition.
Susan Toy, blogger, writer, and very perspicacious asked, why did we decide to do this? Good question. Why did two writers who have never even met decide to produce a collection of stories that, let’s face it, have already been told many times?
The easy part of the answer is that if your roots lie in Ireland, you will know that the myths and stories you were brought up with are at least as true as the Magna Carta and the Wars of the Roses. We are dealing with real people who have landmarks named after them and local legends associated with them.
Both Ali and I are familiar with some of the versions of these stories and have had great fun researching some of the versions we didn’t know. Because unlike the Wars of the Roses, for which there is a fine, blow by blow account, the Irish stories have had so many interpretations that some have been tempted to doubt they happened at all, incredible as that may seem!
The Christian monks wrote down the first versions. Their ecclesiastical superiors disapproved and made them do it again with saints instead of sinners. Fiery Brigid becomes a nun, and Saint Patrick sticks his oar in wherever it’s humanly possible.
But if you dig deep enough, dump the Christian misogynist overtones, you get some beautiful stories, full of real people with real, modern emotions. Irish love stories are not soppy and they are rarely about rescuing damsels in distress. There is almost always blood shed, wars waged, and the damsel is as likely to be waving a sword about as she is to be cowering behind the battlements.
For a writer who loves the poetry in words, these retellings are pure self-indulgence. For a reader who enjoys reading a bit of prose mixed in with their poetry, these stories are for you. Our gift to you for Valentine’s Day, especially for those with a drop of Irish blood in their veins, hoping to rekindle a dormant passion.