Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Myths and misses in Ireland

He was around when the myths were real.
Bog body ("Gallagh Man"), National
Museum of Ireland
, Dublin. Photo by
your humble blogkeeper.
I brought back with me from Ireland Lady Gregory's celebrated collection of Irish mythology. Its early stories, presumably taken from The Book of Invasions, offer marvelous deeds, a flair for drama, conventional numeric denominations (lots of nines and three times fifties), a bit of humor, and some good poetry amid their telling of the peopling of Ireland.

They also include the following, and I wonder if you will notice the same feature I did that distinguishes this from other tales of ancient battles:
"And three days after the landing of the Gael, they were attacked by Eriu, wife of Mac Greine, Son of the Sun, and she having a good share of men with her. …

"It was in that battle Fais, wife of Un, was killed in a valley at the foot of the mountain, and it was called after her, the Valley of Fais. And Scota, wife of Miled, got her death in the battle, and she was buried in a valley on the north side of the mountain near the sea. … And Eriu was beaten back to Tailltin, and as many of her men as she could hold together; and when she came there she told the people how she had been worsted in the battle, and the best of her men had got their death."
An episode or two from the myths struck me as ripe for treatment as crime stories. See the short-story collection Requiems for the Departed (Gerard Brennan and Mike Stone, eds.) for evidence that old Irish myths can inspire new Irish crime writers.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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