Journalist Marie Heaney skillfully revives the glory of ancient Irish storytelling in this comprehensive volume from the great pre-Christian sequences to the more recent tales of the three patron saints Patrick, Brigid, and Colmcille.
The legends journalist Heaney skillfully and suspensefully retells are interlinked episodes of the mythological prehistory of Ireland, a chronicle of heroic deeds, power struggles, magic, and passion. The core narratives of Irish culture--featuring the children of Lir, the voyage of Bran, the life of Cuchulainn, Deirdre, Finn, and Oisin-- are here animated by the gamut of human emotions: love, loyalty, grief, pride, and jealousy. Brief histories of Patrick, Bridget, and Columcille add a note of religious passion at the end. Violence abounds, but a young warrior must be as familiar with poetry as with weapons; and women assume important roles as leaders, poets, warriors, and healers. Although there are several volumes of Irish myths in print (most recently, Miranda Green's Celtic Myths , Univ. of Texas Pr., 1994), there is still room for one as thorough and as well written as this. Essential background for every reader of Irish literature.-- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle