(Original cover image by Steve J. Shaw)
I can finally reveal that my second collection, New Music For Old Rituals, will be released this November by the wonderful Black Shuck Books, home of the Great British Horror series of anthologies, and so much more.
This collection is inspired by the Irish folklore I grew up with; the strange stories, the sacred sites, the household rituals. For me, folklore is a living entity. It flows and continues; it reappears, reinvented and reinterpreted, over and over again.
This collection grew from images. I've always been inspired by fragments; half-glimpsed forms, and chance phrases.
It was the summer of 2015. I'd just finished my PhD viva, a tremendous but exhausting experience that left scars. For about a month afterwards my body was wracked by constant pain; my arms and back throbbed steadily, making it impossible to sit and write. So armed with a copy of Tarquin Blake's Haunted Ireland I started to make images based on the wonderful, eerie sites located around Limerick, Clare, Offaly and Kerry; all of them a short drive away from my home in the south-west of Ireland.
As I travelled around, tracking down unmarked places, down tiny rutted roads striped green with grass, I started to feel it; the insidious pull of the eerie. It was the sense of an ancient history, of something older than human span, something that comes up from below, filtering through the layers of civilization above. I photographed site after site, responding to the stillness and magic and strangeness that emanated from them. And slowly, oh so slowly, these tales started to unfold, framed through a contemporary lens like the images I was making; stories of legends reanimated, of a landscape soaked in the residue of the past, tales of ruins and of time gone adrift.
These nineteen stories of New Music For Old Rituals, in their different ways, explore the idea of legacy. They look at the shadows left by a past that is continually recurring in the present; a present that continued to be informed by the shades of na Sidhe, of ancient practices, of old, whispered stories.
You can hear it.
It's in the wind blowing over the rocks and trees and seashores.
It's in the breezes flowing over the portals of the Other world, over dolmens and fairy mounds, through whitethorns and stray sods.
New Music For Old Rituals.
Available for pre-order from Black Shuck Books