Having read the novel 'Lion of Ireland ' some fifteen years ago I have been fascinated by the legend that was Brian Boru. My one wish in all that time was to try to put his life story to music. The difficulty that I had found was one of finding a new angle from which to approach such an idea. In that time many outstanding works have been written on famous figures in Irish history. What we are doing here is something that to my knowledge has never been tried. The concept of a traditional / rock musical. The results have been more than I had hoped. My sincere thanks to all those involved.
In a time before written history the Nemec rested in Ireland. Life was more than difficult. It was cruel and hard. They were attacked by a fierce warrior race of sea pirates from Africa. Some of these Nemedians escaped to Greece where they were enslaved. They were re-named Firbolgs by the Greeks. Named after the leather, earthen filled bags they were forced to carry from the Greek hillsides. They escaped their captors and returned to Ireland to devastate the Fomordians. The victorious Firbolgs partitioned the land into those five sections we know today as Ulster, Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Meath. They were a doomed race, ignorantly thinking themselves supreme. The next invaders came from a distant place, some say the islands to the north. A bright and magical people known as the Tuatha de Danann, the people of the Goddess Dana. Highly skilled in the arts of Druidery they could call the wind and rain and make fruitful things that were barren. They brought with them mystical objects as the Stone of Fal, which shrieks aloud and the Spear of Lugh, which ensures victory in battle. From the city of Murias they brought Dagda's Cauldron and out of the city of Findias came the sword of Nuada, the most deadly and irresistible of weapons, it belonged to their king. Nuada 'The Perfect' and Eochae of the Firbolgs met on the Plain of Moytura where they fought in skilled silence. Nuada killed Eochae as only the whisper of their breathe filled the air.
Now in Brian's time, a time of chaos, Ireland was ruled by a savage brutality brought on by constant invasion. Her land and her people ravaged. Their spirits erupting with blood and violence so often that sheet terror consumed their threadbare existence.
Remarkably radiant, Brian Boru rides high through our minds eye catapulting us into another age. From a small lad, mischievous and carefree... He loved the stories and legends, the myths of the Druids. As he minded a small flock of geese for his mother he would pretend in the mist. Twirling his crooked stick as a shinning sword. He would imagine protecting his people as he did his flock. After his victory in this invisible battle he would raise his sword high and flutter his cloak, as an eagle flutters his wing and shout into the emptiness. "I Am The King". "King Brian".
Our hearts are splintered into pieces as his world falls apart when his village is all but annihilated after The Northmen brutally attack his tribes village. They leave Brian's mother, two brothers and his beloved Shanahy dead. "Brian squatted, staring. Fiacaid lay with one cheek against the earth, and his brain spilling from his shattered head. All the stories, all the wisdom of a lifetime, wasted and soaking into the soil." "Lost to him forever. The Tuatha de Danann, the Firbolgs, Nuada the Perfect. Gone. He began to rock back and forth, curled in on himself making a gentle sound of grief that did not carry over the crackle of the flames and the groans of the wounded. Mahon found him there, at last." As the critical wounds of his father must heal Brian is sent away, along with his brother, both being the youngest, to the ancient monastery at the foot of Lough Deep. "The red stains of Boruma's dying had been a signal that reached even to Killaloe."
* Quotations here are from Morgan Llwelyn's book 'Lion of Ireland'
An Ancient time of violence and invasion. A time of treachery and betrayal. A time of murderers and robbers. The mortifying fear of simply living as an ordinary man has been overcome. The people of Ireland have now been unified under one king. Under the protection of King Brian they no longer hunger and walk in terror. We meet an extraordinary man who against all odds has given his beloved people peace and prosperity. As he gallops through his many villages his subjects rush to meet him. Running after him singing songs of his greatness, they praise him for their abundant lives. He rides, as no other, gallant, astride his black steed. He would do anything to ensure their protection and that of his true love, Ireland. He has become The Lion of Ireland.
Brian sneaks out after dark once again to be with his big brother, Mahon. It is Mahon's night to guard the herd, with a few of the other lads, out in the west fields. They hear a faint commotion in the distance of their village. They notice as they get closer the lights they see are flames. Huge flames rising into the black sky, filling it with smoke and consuming their homes. Their distance is too far as they reach a place too late they no longer know. Everything is frantic. People are rushing to extinguish the fires and to find loved ones. The heat is overwhelming and the screams ring in their ears. Mahon's fights the Norseman off his mother's dishevelled lifeless body and knows she is gone. His father lay too covered in blood fighting for the life he has left. By some miracle only two of his brothers lay dead but this did not console anyone. Brian only felt pain. Their village is destroyed.
Part 1 They came from across the south of Ireland. In ragged groups or alone, at speed and eager. Bringing what little they had left of cattle, horses and weapons. Unkempt an wrought faces, searching one another. Brian paused, he looked over the valley, hundreds of men re-united with their sons and brothers, their cousins and friends. It had been almost five years since the burning of their village. They had been scattered. their sons had been sent away to monasteries, like Brian, and they now returned as strapping young men ready and willing for battle.
Part2 Their training must be swift and efficient. The sound was deafening as the swords clashed at the weight of the blades as they struck. The axes whirled and smashed as they were lifted and brought crashing down. Powerful arms were needed as the javelins were thrust forward and hurled. The cold steele singing in harmony as they darted in dance with each other. The new Dalcassian armies were ready. Horses were brought forward and the men leaped astride them. Decisive and committed they rode swiftly into this new day. A warrior, Brian thought , must learn to explore every possibility, if he is to stay alive and realises with a sense of wonder that he felt no fear at all.
Soul mates from before time began. Brian and Fiona are woven together in a mystical way never to be fathomed by Brian. As Fiona's grandfather sees the purity of Brian's heart he allows his only heir access of time to seal a future only he has foreseen. Pledged by his forefathers to train her in the ancient ways of the Druids. She and Brian fulfil their love in a searing bond that is shared only once as first love. She shares with Brian mystical secrets and spells. Teaches him to talk with the woods and animals. She cast powerful charms over him for his prosperous future and protection against harm. She is allowed to keep his horse lame for one more day so she may lay with him for the last time. They both know he must go now to face his destiny. She swears an oath of allegiance to him as they hold one another tightly. As the sun dawn's he leaves his love, giving her the only possession of earthly value, an ancient brooch which his mother had used to pin together a blanket to hold her new-born baby son. Passed down through her family which, unknown to Brian, was of Druid origin. He had worn it his entire life. He removed it now from his cape and placed it to the breast of this remarkable kindred spirit he had somehow found,even if for such a short time.
It was Market Day in Cashel. Music is in the air. People come from all over Munster to buy and sell their wares. The festivities underway and excitement is everywhere. Brian became fascinated by the hammering sound of the Master Goldsmith at work. The craftsmanship he displays is impeccable. The wealth of his talents are enormous. He thought to himself - my uncle will be "establishing an ollamh of each of the professions at court, their stipend, decreed by Brehan Law" - perhaps this is the man.
Being a very spiritual man, the significance of the ceremony he was about to experience was not lost on him. In 976 A.D.Brian - the self proclaimed Emperor of the Irish-became The King of the DalCais and King of Munster, at the base of St.Patrick's Cross..
Brian is crowned at The Rock of Cashel in 1002. This is a piece of music in celebration of such a great event and the festivities that follow.
Brian sings to his one love, true forever only to her. Beseeching her to keep her spirit alive and awake for him through his life long struggle for Ireland to become one.
This classic melody, arranged by Maurice and Donal, seems to describe perfectly the courage of Brian and his people, uncertain in the heat of battle of who would live and who would die. Legend has it that this tune was first played as Brians men carried his body to it's final rest.
Blood lie all around. The dead as far as the eye could see. The battle had been victorious. But at what cost? Brian's insides were wrenched. He walked slowly up the hill to survey the damage. He saw his men gathering and bandaging the wounded. They had fought bravely. The wind rustled in the leaves above him and he saw that he was standing under the most magnificent oak. He thought of the visions of long past that this oak would hold. He wonder if he still could. He placed his palms to the tree, the way she has taught him so long ago. He opened his mind to the nature of the oak and spoke with it. It was truly a witness all. Suddenly he felt her. She had been here, watching offering her prayers to the gods for his armies. His strong desire for her was never far. To have been so close. The blood from his tattered hands melted with his grief and dissolved into this Tree of Sorrows.
Brian is eighty-nine years of age when he leads his armies into battle against the Norsemen at the Battle of Clontarf. His men are victorious but Brian is killed after the battle in his tent. Brian's son and grandson also lay dead. For the first time Brian's fate was not in his own hands, it was in the hands of someone else. His final thoughts .....
There's a special supprise at the end of all the music, so keep that CD running you don't want to miss this.
Contact Maurice directly at MauriceLennon@hotmail.com
Booking Information for Maurice Lennon, Calico, Kincora and Stockton's Wing
Contact Kincora Management at BoruProject@hotmail.com
Out on Tara Records http://www.taramusic.com
The Recently re-released Stocktons Wing Live - Take One.
This album will
without doubt bring back many memories of their youth, to many now forty something's. The
album, which has been digitally remastered for this release, also includes 3 bonus studio
recordings of the band from the same period.
To Order Morgan's Book 'Lion of Ireland' go to
To order Martin Breen's book on the O'Brien Clan go to http://homepage.eircom.net/~asdfgh/obriens/book.html
Maurice Lennon & Kincora Management