Please make welcome to the Tavern the phenomenal Micheál Cladáin! We're celebrating his new historical novel, After Gáirech. I'm eager to find out more, so grab a cup of mead and let's take a peek into Micheál's intriguing story...
A Message from Micheál Cladáin
The period of my story, After Gáirech, is just before the birth of Christ. A school of thought places the battle of Gáirech around 50 BCE up to the birth of Christ. At that time the Romans, under Julius Caesar, had recently suppressed the Gauls on Mainland Europe and shown their aspirations for the subjugation of Britain (55 and 54 BCE).
A theme in my novels is the threat of “the plague from the east”.
The Romans not making it to Ireland remained an unquestioned belief until a settlement was found north of Dublin, where the digs unearthed multiple Roman artefacts. Some argue the remains are not evidence of Roman intentions to invade but merely an indication of strong trade links between Ireland and Romano Britain. I am no scholar, but for me, that does not make much sense. When Rome invaded Britain, they were an imperialist state who believed in conquest and subjugation. It has been argued that when Augustus was declared emperor in 27 BCE, there was no need for further conquests. Or, specifically, there was no longer a political element driving them to conquer in search of plebiscitary approval and riches: the wealth stolen in the name of the emperor belonged to him. This theory is somewhat borne out by Caesar’s The Gallic Wars, which were obviously written to garner popular support, hence his distancing from the commentaries by writing in the third person. If written in the first person they would have been seen as braggadocio, and not as historical record. He also amassed enormous wealth from his conquests.
However, it is important to note that the invasion of Britain began in 43 CE, and Rome had been an Imperialist state for around seventy years, showing the mindset of the conqueror continued. There is another reason: defence. During that period, Irish raiders into Romano Britain were prolific, which an invasion would stop. A mainstay of the Irish economy was trading in slaves. Slaves were taken during an internal raid, a Táin, but also when invading the neighbouring coastline. St Patrick was a Romano Britain taken by just such a raid. There is some evidence to suggest the Romans did intend invading Ireland, even if they never got further than a trading settlement on the coast. A Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote that Agricola (governor of Britain) sailed west and conquered unknown tribes. He also wrote of a deposed Irish King arriving in Rome seeking military assistance to reclaim his throne.
There is also evidence the Romans felt threatened by the Druids. Gaius Suetonius Paulinus invaded the island of Anglesey in 60 – 61 CE with the express intention of crushing the Druidic centre. This, of course, is made famous because it allowed Boudicca to attack the Romans in what is now England. He built a fort in Caer Gybi (Holyhead) overlooking the Irish Sea to protect the coast from Irish raiders. The Druids were also in Ireland, so if his intentions were to crush them, he would need to continue across the sea. I suspect he would have, except Boudicca’s rebellion meant he had to return and that his legions were needed in England thereafter.
Whatever the historical reality, there must have been a perceived threat from the east. The Celts of Ireland must have seen themselves as “next on the list”. As such, I have used it as a common theme throughout my Milesian stories.
Eddard Stark’s premonition “winter is coming” is replaced by Cathbadh’s (one of the main protagonists in my books), “the Romans are coming”.
The battle of Gáirech is over; the armies of Connachta, Lagin, and Mumu are destroyed! Survivors are ravaging The Five Kingdoms of Ireland!
While working to resolve the Kingdoms’ issues and bring peace, Cathbadh is murdered, dying in his son Genonn’s arms. Genonn vows to avenge the death of his father.
For his revenge to work, he needs Conall Cernach and the Red Branch warriors of Ulster. But Conall is gone, searching for the head of Cú Chulainn. Genonn sets out to find him, aided by the beautiful Fedelm, the capricious Lee Fliath and the stalwart Bradán.
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Meet the Author
Micheál Cladáin studied the classics and developed a love of ancient civilizations during those studies. Learning about ancient Roman and Greek cultures was augmented by a combined sixteen years living in those societies, albeit the modern versions, in Cyprus and Italy. As such, Micheál decided to write historical fiction, trying to follow in the footsteps of such greats as Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden. Because of his Irish roots, he chose pre-Christian Ireland as his setting, rather than ancient Italy or Greece.
Micheál is a full-time writer, who lives in the wilds of Wexford with his wife and their border terriers, Ruby and Maisy.
Connect with Micheál here