Cast of Characters
In order of appearance
The teenagers, Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew, are orphans growing up in a Benedictine abbey in 1958.
The dark stranger is a warrior, a monk, and a prince. He goes by many names: Dubhghall, Dubh Súile and Dubhshìth, to name a few, but you may call him Dubh (DOOgal/Doov Sul-e/DOO-she/Doov).
Part One ~ Pirate
Grania Uaile/Grace O’Malley (GRAUN-yuh Wale), while not chieftain of the O’Malleys, she maintains her own strongholds along Clew Bay, and is captain of a fleet of 20 ships.*
Tomás Conroy (tuhmAAs) is a local blacksmith and now-retired member of Grania’s fleet.
Liam and Owen O’Neil are brothers allied with Grania and serving on her flagship. Liam is one of Grania’s most trusted lieutenants.
Galen O’Flaherty is a young ‘ship rat’ in the fleet and Grania’s kinsman.
Sir Richard Bingham is an English nobleman and Queen Elizabeth’s most recent appointee as Governor of Connacht.*
William Pennington is the captain of the mercenary fleet hired by Bingham.
Jamie is a midshipman in Pennington’s mercenary fleet.
Part Two ~ Rebel
Gerry Ballard is a local boy in 1916 Carrickahowley heading to Dublin to race motorbikes.
Mrs. Jenny Mallory is Gerry’s aunt and proprietor of the Mallory Boarding House and Mallory Dry Goods Emporium in Dublin.
Patrick Pearse is a schoolteacher and a poet. He is also a member of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).*
James Connolly is a socialist and nationalist. He co-founded the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), which has recently joined forces with the IRB.*
Seán Connolly is a stage actor from the Abbey Theatre and captain in the ICA.*
Sir Matthew Nathan is the Under-Secretary for Ireland, head of the British Empire’s administration in Ireland.*
Colonel H.V. Cowan is the Assistant Adjunct General in Dublin.*
Brigadier-General William Lowe is the commander of the British Forces in Ireland.*
Part Three ~ King
Niamh Golden Hair (Neeve) is the rebel queen of Tír na nÓg, and Dubh Súile’s confidante. ±
Nuada Silver Arm (NU ah) is the king of Tír na nÓg. ±
Dian Cécht (deeAAn kay-cht) is the king’s healer. ±
Credne (KRA-na) is the silversmith who created the king’s silver arm. ±
Macha (mOH-ka) is handmaiden to Queen Áine. ±
Miach (ME-ik) is Dian Cecht’s son and a young healer. ±
Patrick O’Malley isMaureen’s father. He was a pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and died during an air raid in 1942.
Katherine Keefe O’Malley is Maureen’s mother. She served in the RAF Women’s Auxiliary. She adopted Sean informally when his mother died, and died herself in 1949, from cancer.
James – Jamie – McAndrew is Sean’s father. He served as Pat’s navigator and died in the same air raid. He was heir to an estate in Strathpeffer, Scotland.
Mary O’Neil McAndrew is Sean’s mother. She served with Katherine in the Woman’s Auxiliary and succumbed to pneumonia in 1943.
Sister Theresa is Maureen’s dorm mother at Carrickahowley Abbey who, while stern, regales them with tales of the Good Folk.
Mother Bernadette is the Mother Superior at Carrickahowley Abbey. She was responsible for arranging for Maureen and Sean’s care when Katherine O’Malley died.
Margaret McAndrew is Sean’s great-aunt who maintains his inheritance until Sean reaches his majority.
Hon. William O’Malley is Maureen’s consumptive grandfather living in Dublin. He has nothing to do with his son’s family.
Captain John Bingham is Sir Richard’s brother. Grania’s youngest son, Tibbot, was reared in his household.*
Sir Hugh O’Donnell is The O’Donnell, King of Tyrconnell (Donegal). He and Grace are allies.*
Sir Christopher Lawrence is the Lord of Howth. Some claim Grania kidnapped him years ago to teach his grandfather the meaning of hospitality.*
Margaret Burke is Grania’s daughter by her first husband.*
Richard “Devil’s Hook” Burke is Grania’s son-in-law.*
Aiden and Ionia O’Malley are Grania’s kin, recently married. Ionia hails from Scotland.
Liam Mellows is a governing council member of the Irish Volunteers and IRB in Galway.*
Michael Mallin is second in command of the ICA.*
Sir Roger Casement is a British consul and activist currently in Germany procuring arms for the IRB.*
Countess Markievicz is Constance Georgine Gore-Booth, born to an Anglo-Irish entitled family. She is a socialist, suffragist and member of the ICA.*
Fomorians (F’MoR-e-ans) i.e. the Fomorian Faction is the name used by Nuada’s enemies in the Fomorian War. Nuada’s brothers, Bres (BRESH) and Balor, led the faction. ±
Áine (AAN-yuh), Nuada’s onetime queen and Niamh’s mother. ±
Manannán mac Lir (MaNa-Nan mac LEER) is Nuada, Bres and Balor’s father and onetime ruler of Faerie.±
Fionn mac Cumhaill/Finn McCool is the leader of the legendary group of warriors, the Fianna. ±
Oisín (Ush-EEN)is the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, a poet, and a member of the Fianna. He tarried in Tír na nÓg for 300 years. ±
Mairead mac Tadgh (Mar-EAD mac Teague)is the love of Dubhshìth’s mortal life and the mother of his child. She was thought to have killed herself when Dubh disappeared in Ireland.
Mártainn mac Aindriú/Martin mac Andrew is Dubhshìth’s rival for Mairead’s affections. He married her when Dubh was presumed dead in battle, and pledged his warriors to help win the war Dubh had been fighting.
Domnall mac Aindriú/Donal mac Andrew is Dubh’s son, who he thought had died with his mother, Mairead. He did not, instead he lived to be an old man whose descendants may or may not include Maureen and Sean.
*Historical figure – these people all exist, however I have put words in their mouths and taken liberties with their actions.
± Mythical figure – all the named Tuatha Dé Danann are figures taken from Irish myth – but as with the historical figures, I have certainly put words in their mouths and taken liberties with their mythologies.
Speaking the language
A note on the text: I used Irish/UK spellings and terminology where applicable. Dialect, for the sake of the reader, has been abandoned except in those rare occasions when it was necessary to define a character.
Regarding the Irish spellings of names, generally I used the simplest, era-appropriate variant while Anglicizing the last names, with one exception. Grace O’Malley – or Grania Uaile as she is called in the story, has a variety of names, including Gráinne Ui Mháille, which is the formal variant, and Granuaile. Granuaile is a term used in folklore, taken from the spelling I use in the book, Grania Uaile. I have always found this last easiest to read, as it most resembles how her name is pronounced in Irish. While Grace O’Malley is the contemporary Anglicization of her name, in her lifetime, her name was often recorded as Grany O’Mayle, or some similar form.
Concerning the Fae, while not specifically of the Seelie and Unseelie Court, the Tuatha Dé Danann (TOO-ha da Dah-n’n) – at once old gods and an ancient Irish race – are here, considered Fae. Tír na nÓg (TEAR na’nog), the Land of the Young, is one of many Irish mythological “otherworlds.” Although Tír na nÓg is just one of the realms of Faerie, and the Tuatha Dé Danann just one group of the Fae, I use the terms interchangeably.
Dubh is correct when he says we now know the Cruthin as the Picts, though they likely would not have called themselves such. Picti or Pict, meaning painted people, was the name the Greeks and Romans gave them. Cruthin, on the other hand, is an Irish term, which refers to those northern peoples not conquered by the Romans. I could have also called the Picts the men of Fortriu, but as that looked too similar to the Fae city of Findias, I opted for visual simplicity and picked Cruthin.
Dubh’s use of a surname was a willfully created fiction for ease of reading. His people would have used patronymics – or even matronymics – that would have changed with each successive generation.
For example, Dubh really should have been called Dubhshìth mac Ciniod, as Ciniod was his father’s name, not Dubhshìth mac Alasdair. His son Domnall should have been called Domnall mac Mártainn (or, even better, Domnall mac Dubhshìth) not Domnall mac Aindriú. Additionally, if his family had such great regard for an ancestor named Alasdair, they would have used the “Ó” for grandfather or ancestor.
Finally, Alasdair and Aindriú are Gaelicised versions of non-Celtic/Pictish names, a practice not common in the seventh century. However, the names/surnames have significance to the story – and particularly the next book – so they stay.
Fact vs Fiction
Part One ~ Pirate
Grania Uaile was indeed the Pirate Queen of the Irish seas. She was born in 1530, daughter of Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille (Owen ‘Black Oak’ O’Malley), the chief of the O’Malley clan. In 1546, she was married to Donal O’Flaherty, who was heir to the O’Flaherty titles. They had three children, Margaret, Murrough and Owen. Grania returned to her family’s holdings when Donal died, taking with her a significant number of O’Flaherty followers. This was the start of her independent fleet.
In 1566, Grania married her second husband Richard “Iron” Burke. Popular history states they were married under Brehon Law, ‘for one year certain,’ and at the end of the year, she dismissed Richard, but kept Carrickahowley (Rockfleet) Castle, where this book is set. However, contemporary English records state they remained together – or, at least, allied for a common purpose – until Richard’s death in 1583.
There was one child of the union, Tibbot. Captain John Bingham raised Tibbot in his household as a hostage – a practice common at the time, not only to ensure the ‘good behaviour’ of the hostage’s family but also to ensure the Anglicization of the next generation of Gaelic leaders.
Politically, Grania submitted to the English Crown with Burke in 1577.
Despite said submission, she maintained her fleet and seafaring activities, and supported a number of uprisings among the Gaelic chiefs as England’s power sought to supplant their own. The prison stay she mentions when speaking with Sean took place in 1577-1579 thanks to the efforts of the Earl of Edmond (Limerick) in an effort to prove his loyalty to the Crown.
In 1584, Sir Richard Bingham was appointed Governor of Connacht. He and Grania played a cat-and-mouse game via the various rebellions the broke out in response to Bingham’s attempts to enforce English law.
In 1586, Bingham’s appointed lieutenant and brother, Captain John Bingham, confiscated Grania’s horses and cattle, and murdered her eldest son, Owen. Saved by her son-in-law, Richard “Devil’s Hook” Burke, Grania fled to Ulster, where conditions were more favourable for her various enterprises. Bingham was eventually sent to Flanders and Grania returned to Connacht to resume her activities there.
In 1588, Queen Elizabeth pardoned Grania, but as that was the same year Bingham was reinstated as Governor of Connacht, and was still bent on curbing Grania’s power, the pardon had little effect. The Queen also interviewed Grania via the Articles of Interrogatory in 1593. The two women finally met in September 1593 at Greenwich Castle, in England.
Although Bingham did attempt to intervene, Queen Elizabeth took pity on an old, seemingly helpless woman. Grania’s remaining sons were pardoned and their lands reinstated. Grania was also granted her own personal freedom to act and ‘prosecute any offender’ against the Queen – which meant she could still ply a trade by the sea, so long as her enemies and the Queen’s enemies were the same.
However, as Bingham continued in his position of Governor and curtailer of Grania’s activities, he was able to circumnavigate the Queen’s orders regarding Grania’s ability to eek a living out of the sea.
Despite Bingham, the Nine Year’s War that pitted Grania’s son Tibbot against her onetime allies in The O’Neil and The O’Donnell, and an impoverished west coast, Grania persevered. She was still an active seawoman well into her sixties, as much out of necessity as desire. Nevertheless, she finally laid her body to rest in 1603.
My Fiction: I am not aware of any oak-circled sidhe mound, shrine or active Benedictine Abbey just outside of Carrickahowley (Rockfleet) Castle. There is the Burrishoole Friary, run by Dominican friars, upon which the abbey was based. The Friary, currently a historical monument, was operated well into the eighteenth century, despite the dissolution of religious orders following the English Reformation. It was finally abandoned in 1793.
Furthermore, while Grania did have a fleet of more than 20 ships, I doubt a Spanish caravel was her flagship, nor did she name said flagship “Widow’s Weeds.” That was just my attempt at humour, considering by 1584, Grania had outlived two husbands. Galleys would have made the bulk of Grania’s fleet. Rowers mainly powered these nimble ships, although they were equipped with sails.
Finally, while Bingham and Grania were long-time sparing partners, Bingham did not hire a mercenary fleet to lure Grania to Dublin in 1584, or any other time, that we know of. His ability to curtail her activities was primarily administrative, while his agents were the ones to deal the more physical blows to Grania’s way of life.
Anne Chambers, and her book Granuaile (1979, Wolfhound Press, Dublin) does a much better – and more comprehensive – job at describing the life and times of Grania Uaile, and it was an invaluable resource in the writing of this book.
Part Two ~ Rebel
On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, Irish Nationalists, in a bid for independence from the British Empire, laid siege to Dublin. The 1916 Rising – or Easter Rising – was organized by the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood as well as James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army and members of the Irish Volunteers.
Initially, the rebellion was scheduled to begin via a set of parades and ‘manoeuvres’ on Sunday, April 23, 1916 – Easter Sunday. However, a series of complications and setbacks – mainly the scuttling of the weapons from Germany and Sir Roger Casement’s arrest – led Eoin MacNeill to call off the Rising. He met significant resistance from the IRB military council, which countermanded his order. The Rising began at 11 AM on the 24th.
More than 1,300 men and women turned out for the Rising in Dublin alone, and staged simultaneous takeover attempts on strategic locations throughout the city, including the Four Courts, the South Dublin Union, the Mendicity Institution, Jacob’s biscuit factory, Boland’s bakery and St. Stephen’s Green. The failed attack on Dublin Castle ended with rebels, led by Seán Connolly, occupying City Hall instead.
Just before noon, James Connolly, flanked by Joseph Plunkett and Patrick Pearse, led 150 men in parade formation before the broke ranks and secured the General Post Office (GPO) as their headquarters. From its steps, Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
The siege lasted for six days. The British brought in more than 4,000 men and heavy artillery to combat the rebels but it was not until the unconditional surrender was issued on Saturday, April 29 that the fighting ended.
As it was wartime, Major General Maxwell maintained martial law over the city in an attempt to quell any further unrest. Under his orders, the rebels were tried, in secret military courts, for treason.
Ninety insurrectionists, including one woman, the Countess Markievicz, were condemned to death. Of those ninety, only fifteen were executed, including all the signatories of the Proclamation.
Of those met in the story, Patrick Pearse was executed on May 3. On May 4, Joseph Plunkett, dying from tuberculosis and married only seven hours before, was executed, along with Willie Pearse, Patrick’s young brother. Michael Mallin was executed on May 8, while on May 12, James Connolly was executed tied to a chair because the wound in his leg had become gangrenous.
Sir Roger Casement, who had spent the Rising in the Tower of London following his failure to land the German guns, was hung for treason on August 3, 1916.
Countess Markievicz’s sentence was commuted, and she remained in prison until 1917. She would later become first woman elected to the British House of Commons, although she did not take her seat. She was also the first woman to hold a cabinet position of the Irish Republic.
Of course, another high-ranking nationalist, who did not make it into the story, Éamon de Valera, avoided execution because of his US citizenship. He would later become Prime Minister and then President of the Republic of Ireland.
My Fiction: While there were guns under Trinity’s Art’s Department, they were not claimed by the rebels, nor was Dublin Castle successfully taken.
In addition, the timing of the Dublin Castle siege was different from what I have depicted. There were simultaneous takeovers – or takeover attempts – that coincided with the reading of the Proclamation. For dramatic effect, however, I gave Maureen the opportunity to hear Pearse’s words and then stick her nose in history.
Aside from meddling with history, the fiction in this particular part of the book was more in what, and whom, I did not include. There were many historical personages Maureen and Sean could have met, and I had to choose among them, lest I overwhelm the story with a textbook rendition of the Rising.
That said, many of the anecdotes related by Maureen, Sean and Dubh, including Casement and the Libau/Aud, Eoin MacNeill’s attempts to stop the Rising, and the murder of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, actually happened, although not always in the manner depicted in the story.
Finally, the 1916 Rising did not happen in isolation, nor did the struggle for independence end there. For my purposes, A History of Ireland by Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry (1988, Routledge, Dublin), Rebels by Peter de Rosa (2000, Poolbeg Press, Dublin) were incredibly useful in the writing of this book and are excellent starting points to understanding not just the 1916 Rising, but the landscape in which it took place.
Part Three ~ King
So many mythologies, so little time! Tír na nÓg is one of the many ‘otherworlds’ described in Irish mythology. It is the place to which the Tuatha Dé Danann retreated when the Celts took over Ireland.
As detailed in the Book of Invasions (seventh century), first there were the Nemedians, from whom the Fir Bolg and Tuatha De Danann are descended. They fought for control of the land with the Fomorians, a semi-divine race. After a Nemedian diaspora and return, the Fomorians would share the island with the Fir Bolg. Finally, from the four island cities in the north returned the Tuatha Dé Danann – the People of the Goddess Danu.
Following a series of wars against both the Fir Bolg and Fomorians, the Tuatha Dé Danann ruled Ireland until the Sons of Mil – the Milesians – came. The Tuatha ceded the land to the Milesians and retreated to the sidhe mounds, and through them, Tír na nÓg.
Nuada Silver Arm was king of the Tuatha Dé Danann when they came to Ireland, and he lost his arm during the war with the Fir Blog. As the Tuatha Dé Danann tradition stipulates a king must by physically perfect, Nuada was no longer eligible for kingship and Bres, a half-Fomorian/half-Tuatha prince replaced him
During Bres’s reign, the Fomorians imposed an oppressive tribute on the Tuatha Dé Danann. The people became disgruntled and when Nuada’s lost arm was replaced with a working silver one by the silversmith Credne and the healer Dian Cécht, he took back his throne. Miach, Dian Cécht’s son, would eventually replace the silver arm with one of flesh-and-bone.
Bres then joined forces with the Fomorian, Balor, he of the Evil Eye. Together, they waged war on the Tuatha De Danann and subjugated them completely.
At this point, Lugh – at times an Irish god of storms, trickery and war – joined Nuada’s court. Sean accurately recounted the method by which he gained entrance to Nuada’s stronghold: while the Tuatha had a wright, a silversmith, a champion, a swordsman, a harpist, a hero, a poet and historian, a sorcerer, and a craftsman, they did not have one who was all those things at once.
Nuada appointed Lugh the Chief Ollam – or official bard – of Ireland and abdicated the throne in his favor. Lugh led the Tuatha into battle against the Fomorians, where Balor killed Nuada. Lugh avenged the former king’s death by killing Balor, and eventually claimed victory over the Fomorians.
The Tuatha brought with them four treasures from the northern island cities: From Falias, they brought the Stone of Fal, which would cry out when a true king sat on the throne at Tara. From Gorias, they brought the Spear of Lug which was similar to the Spear was the Sword of Nuada, brought from Findias. No one could sustain battle against it. Likewise, no one could escape the Sword of Nuada once it was drawn from its sheath. It also glowed, bright as a torch. Finally, from Murias, they brought the Cauldron of Dagda, which could feed even the largest of companies.
As for the other Fae mentioned in the book, Manannán mac Lir is a sea god in Irish mythology, and it is his cloak that is responsible for the mists, which separate the mortal world from that of the Fae. Manannán is the guardian of the Irish otherworlds and a lawgiver.
Depending on the myth, Áine is either Manannán’s wife or his daughter. She is an Irish goddess of summer and wealth. She is associated with Limerick, and in some myths, she is the queen of the fairies. As an embodiment of sovereignty, she can both grant and remove a man’s power to rule.
Also associated with Manannán mac Lir is Niamh, who is his daughter. She is also one of the queens of Tír na nÓg, while Macha is one of the three goddesses of war, or the Morrígan.
My Fiction: All of it. I left out the Nemedians and Fir Bolg, and Nuada was physically unblemished. His silver arm became a silver gauntlet and I doubt he would have been a revered High King of Ireland if he had been as unpleasant as the nemesis I created.
Niamh, a queen in her own right, was not Nuada’s daughter, nor was she associated with him specifically. Neither was Áine, but her embodiment of queenliness and nobility was too tempting to not put her into the story. Because she ‘has passed’ at the time of the story, and not able to speak for herself, Niamh and Dubh use her as a symbol – one they alternately wield for their own purposes and cling to for comfort.
As for the rest of the myths, I had fun weaving small nuggets into the story. Dubh’s sword is Nuada’s sword from Findias. Lugh became a title instead of a god, and Manannán’s misty cloak, which separated man from Fae, became the magical mists of the story. Manannán himself became a dynastic figure for the Fae ruling class. Finally, Dubh’s story itself could be a hazy retelling of Oisín’s tale, and yet, I know Oisín has his own part to play in the series.
Changelings was not meant to be a direct recounting of the myths, but more a ‘what if’ story, and an homage of sorts to the tales I first read in a delightful book, A Treasury of Irish Folklore, originally edited by Padriac Colum in 1954 (1992, Random House Company, New York). My memory, and the stories, were further fleshed out by online resources available through CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts, Ireland’s Humanities Computing project.