Friday, March 6, 2009

Úna Bhán, Flaxen-Haired Rebel

Pat Devaney, a native of Co Roscommon, who now lives in Virginia Co Cavan has just published a second historical novel called "Úna Bhán, Flaxen-Haired Rebel". Pat is a member of the Meath/Cavan Arts Offices LitLab project and recently had a poem highly commended in the Cavan Caomhnú Competition. He has written four novels for teenagers: "Rua the Red Grouse", "The Stranger and the Pooka", "The Psychic Edge" and "Tribal Scars" and has had two collections of his poetry published, "Searching for Updraughts" and "Swan Pendant".

His first historical novel "Through the Gate of Ivory" was published in 2003 by Lilliput Press.

Many will have heard the legendary tale of Úna Bhán MacDermot of Moylurg and her ill-fated love affair with Tomás Láidir Costello. Her father refused to allow them to marry and Úna died of a broken heart. Tomás used to swim to Trinity Island to keep vigil at her grave, resulting in his death from pneumonia. He was buried beside Úna and two trees grew over their graves, when entwined to form a lovers’ knot.

Using the novelist’s license Pat Devaney paints a very different picture of Úna. Far from being
a “garden rose” or a “gold candle on the queen’s table”, he depicts Úna as “a courageous but
troubled young woman who demands to be treated as an equal in the male dominated world of 17th century Ireland. She became a rebel committed to driving the foreigners out of Ireland. Textbook accounts of the defeat of the Irish at the Battle of Ballintober in 1642 tell of a soldier pulling a cap from the head of a fallen Irish fighter revealing the concealed long tresses of flaxen hair of a woman. In his account of the battle, Pat Devaney identifies this woman as the dying Úna Bhán.

The narrative combines fine story-telling, written in an easy, pacy manner with vividly described events and characters. The novel is available in bookshops in Cavan and Meath and online in a number of places including here and here.

A review of the novel in the Anglo-Celt newspaper is here.

No comments: