Why is Irish in my book?

My whole life has been embedded in Irish culture. The central character in Otherworld Tales: Irish the Demon Slayer, Peter (Irish) Kehoe, is named after my maternal great-grandfather, Peter Kehoe, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to this country in the midst of the great potato famine, circa 1850. Growing up in San Francisco, we lived in an Irish neighborhood. My Kehoe relatives, Irish nuns, priests and brothers surrounded me. Our high school motto was and still is “The Fightin’ Irish.” The fascinating Irish poet and IRA rebel, Ella Young, who conversed with animals, trees and even rocks, inspired the talking trees in my story. And finally, in the midst of writing the book, I toured Ireland to see the landscape where the famous Celtic warrior, Cuchulain, fought his battles and I visited Tara, where I placed the castle of Aine, queen of the fairies, in my novel.

 

Researching things Irish for the novel was an interesting adventure. As soon as Peter Kehoe became the character “Irish,” I started looking for information and accumulating books on Irish lore. I quickly discovered that a culture of oral history depicts the same event a zillion different ways. I spent about two years concurrent with my writing, digging through books that were mostly about fairies and leprechauns, cartoonish characters that did not belong in my fantasy-adventure story. I wanted the most authentic mythical characters I could find and I hit pay dirt when I discovered a treatise titled “Cuchulain of Muirthemne” by Lady Augusta Gregory, a peer and colleague of Yeats. Even her renditions were somewhat convoluted, but I outlined the stories and charted the characters in detail and used this to create my own versions of the Celtic episodes, which I included in my novel. I was able to verify my work later when Marie Heaney (wife of Seanus Heaney of Beowulf translation fame) published her book of Irish legends.

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