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Maire Mac Domnail

@celticseastar / celticseastar.tumblr.com

Maire lives in Medieval Ireland while Viking settlements along the eastern shores of Ireland have intermingled with the native islanders.

This is Marie From "Waves of Love". to be published in 2022

Marie mac Domnail is caught in the middle of the cultural conflict between political Irish leaders and Vikings in Dublin at the turn of the 11th century. She wants to honor her parents, but senses there is good in the modern prosperity of the new Dubh Linn. In this story Marie searches for purpose, truth and love. She meets friends that help her discover all three.

Setting: Dubh Linn, Ireland 1000-1014 AD

~from Chapter 17 Waves of Love

The next morning Maire woke late to a quiet cottage.

A ray of sunlight poured in through the window, calling her to the seaside.  Even as she dressed, Thorfinn remained quiet in the next room as she made her way out the door.

The familiar rhythm of the waves lapping to shore comforted her and she moved down along beside them, breathing in the lovely salty air.  It was cool but refreshing and the warm rays helped to persuade her to stay.  She began to muse about the books that the brothers at the monastery in Glendalough had made for her and realized how Thorfinn had more than distracted her.

Blue Princess, Illustrious Queen

                           A closer look at Gormflaith

Gormflaith ingen Muchada O’Faelain

was born in Naas, Kildare Co, Ireland in 960 AD. She was a beautiful Celtic princess with long black hair and deep blue eyes.  Her father was Flann Sinna, the High King of Leinster Ireland.  Surely, as a child she must have been groomed for the life as a royal, for she went on to take what is recorded in the annals of Erin, “three leaps”!  She married three reputable and historical kings!  The first marriage was to the Viking King of Dublin, Olaf Cuaran, and became mother to the future Ostman, King Sigtrygg, better known as “Silkbeard”.

She also had a daughter, Muire ingen Muchada, who inherited Gormflaith’s beauty but not so much her cunning.

(In my book, “Waves of Love”, Gormflaith”s daughter, Muire was Maire’s mother.)

Both women became wives to Maul Sechnaill mac Domnell, better known as Malacky.  He was a member of the Ui Neill and High King of Mida.  To Him Gormflaith gave a son, Conn.

The last and most consequential marriage playing out with gusto in Irish Literature was to Brian Boru, King of Munster.

Some think Gormflaith died Boru’s widow, others think she went on to marry another.  Either way she was determined to get back at him for something. No one will ever really know whether the Munster king ignored her or how he treated her while he was busy gaining the tribes and cities of medieval Ireland.  She gave him two children as well.; Slaine ingen Brian, and Donnchad mac Briain.  Yet something surely went arye because  some believe her prying  had a lot to do why the Battle of Clondarf was fought in 1114.  Be it for revenge or because he had other motives, it is not clear, but in play which was written after she died , it had her throwing her brother’s tunic into a fire when she was asked to sew on a button.  She declared that he was a traitor because the tunic had been given to him by Brian Boru to earn his favor.  She shamed her brother and encouraged him to fight Boru in a war.  She must have seen manipulation and politics in the act and refused to give Boru Leinster approval.  The Viking Town of Dubflin (Dublin), was now a prime center for commerce and trade.  Boru was trying to maneuver his way into a relationship with the important gem port, through those who had friendship with the Ostmen.  

Like so many strong Irish women in myth and legend before her, Gormflaith understood politics and her prowess cunning was on display to affect it.  In the end, there was a war between the Kings of the North, South and East and although the Kings of Dublin did not prevail, Brian Boru died.

Ireland went back to a country with many lesser kings and chieftains.  Perhaps this would have suited Gormflaith.

Celebration with Druids in Kildare in Waves of Love book (top)

Illustration by Bruno Brucero (bottom)

Chapter 14 Magic (from Waves of Love Book) This is a story of a native Irish girl who lives around the turn of the first century in medieval times. She is daughter of King Maul Sechnaill (also known as Malacky). In this chapter they meet up with Brian Boru, King of Munster and make plans to war with the Viking town of Dublin.

The fog and mist cleared after the journey’s start, a stream of sunlight, determined to offer hope, illuminated the forest.  Hills of red, orange, gold and brown painted the landscape ahead, as Maire and friends navigated the trail lined with Oak trees.  Following her brother’s army, she smiled.  Thorfinn seemed a little cool.

Conn had been given orders to direct his sister and Father Cinead back to the sacred fields near Kildare from which she had come, to meet with her father at a Druid site and there.  She knew so little of Thorfinn, yet  she knew he understood the political drama which was playing out.  Conn hinted to them that the Mida King needed to  recruit more armies.  The Leinster King and Ostmen of DubLinn were ready to rise up against him and already worked their strategy.  

They were planning a war.  So many emotions swirled inside the princess and not least of them was love.  Just days ago she had been scattered to think that she couldn’t decide her own destiny.  She had run for freedom and for her life!  She was amazed at how fast real love could find her.  He cared about her, she thought.   The kiss was something like magic.   Her eyes drank in the panorama of nature around her as she sat tall upon Bridie riding between Conn and Thorfinn.   The earthen stones rested, random in the fields of bracken and moss along the road.   She could hear the woodpecker in the distance and the whippoor cheering them on.  At her calf the bulge of books and notebooks reminded her of her work.  Her father was expecting them.  He would soon know that she was falling in love.  He ken her that well.  They were planning a war, yes, but she was happier at this moment than she had been in a very long time.

They traveled all day without rest, until the sun set and a full moon rose over the blazing fires and the welcoming drums.  Maire recognized the ritual...it was mid autumn and the Irish would remember the spirit ones who had come before  The ancestors of the Tuatha de Dann and family that came after.  She began to smell the ashes and the venison on the spits.  Her stomach growled with anticipation knowing that they would be welcome.  These were the remnants of the Samhain Celebration.  King Malachy was a friend to the old ways.  Of course he would be here and would be pleased that she had come.  

It didn’t take long to find the place where the royal army had pitched tents and lit torches.  Maire’s father’s tent would be the largest one, in the middle.  Conn led the small party into the fold and Maire slid off Bridie and handed her reins to a trusted soldier.  She waited for Thorfinn to do the same, then reached for his  hand, she led him to meet her father.

“The King of Munster will arrive soon!” he declared.   “The plan is to starve Dubh Linn out.  They will be angered, but it seems war is inevitable.”  Maire’s father had been saddened by the turn of events.  He had friends in the Viking settlement.  He understood the consequences of war.  Brian Boru was determined to gain control, and the two had joint oversight of the valuable port.  Conn, Maire, Thorfinn and Father Cinead heard Malaky’s pronouncement as they drew near the main fire.  Maire pulled Thorfinn’s hand as she hurried before her father and fell into his arms.  

“I’m here now, father!  I ran that night to be free.  I don’t want to marry a Boru!  Can you forgive me?”

Maul Sechnaill held his daughter, his eyes filling with tears, his heart breaking with regret.

“Maire, my love. Don’t you know that there is nothing you could do to anger me.  The offer of marriage was sprung on me that night as well.  Lord knows we were all heavy in our cups!  I have been frantic since your leaving.”  He stepped back and his attention moved quickly to the ruffian who accompanied her, the stranger who didn’t seem to take his eyes off her every move.  

Maire turned and realized Thorfinn was waiting for an introduction.

“Father, this is Thorfinn.  He is a friend of Conn and Father Cinead.  Have you not met him?  In Glendalough he fairly saved my life….”  

She is in Kildare again with Thofinn.  They meet Malacky, her father and await Brian Born.  Then they will be off to DubhLinn.

Chapter 12  Waves of Love

Overcome with emotion, Maire entered Our Lady’s Church .  It was dark and empty, save for a wee grotto created by the local folk to honor Mary.  A small candle jar illuminated a clutch of bran berries offered and laid under her statue.

Maire really didn’t consider herself a Christian, having lived mostly with pagan influence.  Her family observed mostly celebrations which were melded pagan/Christian.  However, she did attend the Brigid’s Christian monastery school in Kildare.

On this night, the princess was experiencing desperate feelings of serenity, horror, sorrow and relief.  (Quietly she confessed to herself that there was one other nudging sensation which was blissfully unsettling.)

Rather than retreating to her small chamber off the church’s vestibule, Maire continued forward following the light in the sanctuary.  There was an unnerving curtain of tears over her eyes as she knelt before the image of the Virgin Mary.  Crying now, at her unworthiness, she spoke aloud;

“Mary…I know we don’t know one another well….but I feel your presence here….(silence)

Will you ask your son to bless my brother ….and my father, as there is soon to be a war.”

Then taking a seat in the front pew she wondered about the angel who rescued her.

All the worries of her past flooded her mind, as she realized that she was living at a crossroad.  It was all to complicated to untangle and she hoped the Lady could be of help.  

Touching the burning wound on her cheek she noticed that it still bled..and she thought of him.

She was not alone in her search for the right path.

Thorfinn, Conn, and Father Cinaed were her friends.  All of them would feel her pain.  Pain which divided their country and could result in darkness.  Pain which was really love in the end, because lives would be given and healing would be needed.

SHE CARRIED IT CLOSE          in Glendalough

She carried it close, under her cloak, because it was all she had from Cro Inis.  She had it when she went to Dubh Linn, it was in Bridie’s saddle bag.  Thank heavens it was still there.  It was dear to her on many levels.  Her father had given her; the beloved book that had been passed down through the generations and now she kept it tucked in her own journal, along with a collection of her own writings.

When she woke in that small room hidden in back of Our Lady’s Church, Maire thought about the book according to Mary.  Brigid had given it to Isolde two centuries ago and now she opened it here.  A stream of the sun’s rays touched the warn leather and Maire’s delicate fingers carefully turned the thin pages.  It was the story about Jesus Christ’s told by His mother.

There was no place that was safe enough to preserve it, and little chance that it would be ever added to the amazing book which was held by so many~ as the book of life.

Maire, like so many Irish, believed the words in the Bible, in addition to, the stories and legends of her pagan roots.  Those were the stories she vowed to write so they would be remembered.

Loose notes and pictures filled her journal.  Words that she had collected after they had been told to her by the bards, seanchaí, and druids.  But most of all, tales that had been passed down through her father.  There were so many…and so many times she had fought with herself about where, and when to start.

When Maire woke this morn, she knew, before she even ventured out to explore this glen surrounded by mountains and nature that this place, nestled quietly between two spectacular lakes and verdant landscape, that she would write.

Father Dun stopped by early, to invite Maire to the meal hall to break her fast for which she was grateful.  When she arrived, most were monks, dressed in brown robes, however, there were a fair share of visitors like her. She was happy to be received quietly, as if many had come here just like her, for refuge. She sat beside Brother Aidan, who welcomed her and tried to make friendly conversation.  This gave Maire the courage inquire about writing tools and a new journal.  After the  meal the monk was happy to escort her into a wooden building called The Scriptorium.  Maire had been in the scriptorium in Kildare, so she was familiar with the important work performed here by the monks; transcribing the Roman holy scriptures and other works of literature, and fine arts into English, Celtic and other languages.  She understood the ink and quill making crafts and how prayer and holy spirit contributed to the production of beautiful artwork.  

“You may choose from the tools here on this table

Lady Maire.  I would be happy to assemble a book or two if you choose the covers from among these leathers here.”  Brother Aidan was patient and generous with his time.  Maire was overcome by quality of the gifts.  She was sure this was exactly the opportunity she had been waiting for….and realized in her heart that this was not just luck. This felt like a magic far more powerful than that at work here.  

After choosing two leathers; one a deep rose color and the other a moss green, she found the paper, and a few feather pens which pleased her.   she smiled up at him.  

“I have a very old book which needs rebound.  Can I bring it to you, Brother Aidan.”

“Yes, of course milady, and when you return, I’ll have these books compiled….and mix you some inks.  Can you come back tomorrow about this time?”

“Yes, I will be here.  I thank you, truly.  She sighed.  “I can hardly believe I have found you!”

She carried it close

The words she loved best

The stories of beauty

And tales of unrest

The songs of the bards

The legends of men

Of faeries and castles

The people back when

There are the reasons

We owe them a debt

She wanted her people

To never forget

Words about ancient

Warriors and Kings

Words about feelings

Morals and things.

Writing the words down

Making us smile

Conjuring images

To escape for a while

She carried it close

Near to her heart

The tales of her people

Never to part

We all have a story

And if we are bold

Will write down that story

To someday be told.

Maire left the scriptorium walking on air.  To think that just two days ago she was questioning the world and her life in it. Questioning where she would go and whether she had any freedom at all.  Questioning whether she had a purpose.  She started to walk, deeply inspired by the generosity of people.  The cool mountain air had the scent of pine and hope.  She walked till she came to the edge of the lake and sat.  So many of the stories of her land were about the water.  This would be a good place to write.  But for today she would enjoy her freedom.

Glendalough Monastery, Ireland

Glendalough is an ancient holy place – in fact, it probably was a holy place before Christianity arrived in Ireland in the 4th century. To a modern eye, the Glendalough seems a far cry from a ‘city.’ But to a person living in the early Middle Ages in Ireland – a land dominated by family clans – Glendalough’s “Monastic City” would have been quite impressive. Those who called it home were considered “citizens of heaven,” and it was known as both a healing sanctuary and a learning centre. At Glendalough, monks would have written, copied and illuminated sacred manuscripts, as well as practiced crafting, teaching and subsistence farming.

Our Lady’s Church, Glendalough, Ireland

St. Mary's Church

This church is also known as 'Our Lady's Church' and is one of the earliest churches in the valley. It dates from the 10th century and was built separately outside the once walled enclosure. It was probably built for the nuns of the community and exclusively used by women. The church has a few interesting and unusual features, like an x-shaped cross incised on the underside of the massive lintel stone of the west doorway and two carved heads above the east window, as well as a bullaun stone built into the base of the altar.