Erin go bragh, or else

If you know what’s good for you, you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s day and saying Erin go bragh  (yes that’s the correct saying) which means “Ireland to the end of time.”

According to the all-knowing and quasi divine Internet, that phrase was first heard during the “Irish Rebellion of 1798 when a group of Irish rebels staged an uprising to protest British rule.” It didn’t work out. Nonetheless, as you know, I’ll always side with anyone trying to break free of British rule, so I can be counted on to raise a glass or two of Knappogue Castle 12 Year Single Malt to celebrate the man who converted the Irish to Christrianity. Seriously, why did he do that? Their old-time Celtic beliefs were just fine.

Okay, we won’t worry about the details except to say that today we support the Irish with or without the saint or the U.K.


P.S. Sorry, Ireland,  but I wore my green shirt yesterday. Oops.

Review: ‘The Last Days of Magic’

Mark Tompkins’ The Last Days of Magic is a mixture of the historical record of the 1300s and an imagined prospective history based on legends. The history focuses on Richard II’s designs on Ireland and on the Catholic Church’s designs on unifying Christianity by driving out magic, pagans, and others who did not follow the dictates of Rome.

The book contains a wealth of history about the real power players of the era. It also contains a wealth of myth and legends about the opposing magical forces in Ireland. If you’re interested in the history of the times, this is not “alternative history” because–by the end of the novel–what happens is what history gave us. If you’re interested in the wealth of magical beings that opposed the English and the power of the Catholic church, the author has taken great pains to remain true to the stories about the Morrigna, Nephlim, Sidhe, witches and others who were presumed to be active in Ireland at the time.

Here’s the problem: The book is confined by history, so there is little suspense here because we know–or can Google–the historical outcome: Ireland is lost to Richard II. While it’s interesting to imagine what the Morrigna, Sidhe and others were doing to keep Ireland as it was, we know they will fail. This kills the suspense.

The book is not cohesive because there were so many players involved. This adds multiple characters and points of view. As Brown did in The Da Vinci Code, Tompkins has included a modern day prologue/epilogue that suggests that the magical bloodline continues into the modern era. While this is hopeful if you like magic more than the organized church, it lends nothing real to the story line. Interesting, yes, but otherwise it has little active association with the events of the 1300s.

The book is interesting for those of us who believe in magic. Otherwise, it’s standard history with a “what if” approach to what the opposition in Ireland might have been doing when the English and the Vatican invaded.


Malcolm R. Campbell is he author of novels filled with magic including Sarabande, Conjure Woman’s Cat, and Eulalie and Washerwoman