Be different: read a book for Saint Paddy’s Day

As most of the inhabitants of this planet know, Tuesday is Saint Patrick’s Day. There will be parades, parties, hard drinking, and riotous assemblies on a global scale.

This year, Ali Isaac and I thought we would start a new trend. We are going to encourage the drinkers and partygoers, the green-painted ones with fake shamrocks sprouting out of silly hats, the paraders with shillelaghs made in China and dogs wearing leprechaun outfits, to stay at home and READ A BOOK!
To this end, we are prepared to equip the entire planet of revellers with A BOOK to read, completely FREE OF CHARGE.

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I am not kidding. For three days, March 16th 17th and 18th, Grá mo Chroí, our little collection of love stories drawn from Irish myth, will be available from

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

For absolutely nothing!
So, get your copy, stay ahead of the pack, and you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren you were one of the first. You hung up your shillelagh and read yourself stupid instead.
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Thanks to Ardfern for the lovely pic.

And the winners are…

Valentine’s Day is upon us, in case you haven’t noticed, and of course, the main event of the day (what you do later in the evening is your own business) is the announcement of the winners of the Grá mo Chroí poetry contest.

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We had a great response and some real little gems of poetry submitted. Nina Loard, poet, editor, and organiser of #fieryverse a tremendous twitter poetry site, very graciously agreed to act as judge. We are especially grateful as she was in the final stages of publishing Neverlasting, her anthology of love poetry.

Here are the three winning poems
1.
Deep water forests
of kelp and the moss
green bones of lost ships:
your city of silence
whose streets I cannot walk.

By Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

2.
She writes her love on the wind
In light upon the water
In the pure line of a tern’s dive
From blue to blue
Reading, he smiles.

By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

3.
the warship left.

in hawthorn trees
yesterday
he twist a twig ring

now in grief,
hand on the back
of her neck

it became gold.

By John Feaster ‏@JohnFeasterB Feb 9

And four runners up because there were too many good poems to just choose three.

1.
She meets her love by starlight
A shiver & a shimmer
Two swans rise from the black water
By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

2.
In a howling wind
the hunt goes past,
wild geese in skeins.
Herne himself,
writhing in mist,
shakes his spear
By . Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

3.
Arise with me
Before dawn
Awakens with its golden flame
Alone together
We’ll weave a fire
So bright it puts the sun to shame
By Éilis Niamh ‏@EilisNiamh

4.
Niamh wept emerald tears
for her lover of so many years
she kissed his lips
bid him farewell
the isle of Eire
his death knell
By Merry Maiden ‏@QueenofCups99

Congratulations to the winners and runners up, and many, many thanks to all the poets who entered the contest. I wish everyone could have won.
Thanks to, to Nina Loard, our judge. You can find the Neverlasting: Poetry of Love Lust & Lechery anthology here.
I wish you would—I have three poems in it ☺
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For the few people who haven’t yet got their copy, the Amazon links for Grá mo Chroí are here

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

You can find all of Ali Isaac’s books here
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

And mine here
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

Grá mo Chroí : Cover reveal

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. ☺

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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.

Although Grá mo Chroí isn’t released until February 11th you can pre-order a copy at
Amazon UK
Amazon US