“The English Church, it was claimed, was Catholicism purified and reformed. And what was the nature of this reform? The truth was that nobody, least of all Henry himself, had much idea.”
“That was the trouble with being too highly born, Finbarr considered. The gods paid too much attention to you. It was ever thus in the Celtic world. Ravens would fly over the house to announce the death of a clan chief, swans would desert the lake. A king’s bad judgement could affect the weather. And if you were a prince, the druids made prophesies about you from before the day you were born; and after that, there was no escape.”
“The great festival of Lughnasa was held at Carmun once every three years. The site of Carmun was eerie. In a land of wild forest and bog, it was an open grassy space that stretched, green and empty, halfway to the horizon. Lying some distance west of the point where, if you were following it upstream, the Liffey’s course began to retreat eastwards on the way to its source in the Wicklow Mountains, the place was absolutely flat, except for some mounds in which ancestral chiefs were buried. The festival lasted a week. There were areas reserved for food and livestock markets, and another where fine clothes were sold; but the most important quarter was where a large racetrack was laid out on the bare turf.”
“In recent decades, Ireland in general and Dublin in particular, have been very fortunate in the quality of the historical attention they have received. During the extensive research required to write this book, I have been privileged to work with some of Ireland’s most distinguished scholars, who have generously shared their knowledge with me and corrected my texts. Their kind contributions are mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Thanks to the scholarly work of the last quarter century, there has been a reevaluation of certain aspects of Ireland’s history; and as a result, the story that follows may contain a number of surprises for many readers. I have provided a few additional notes in the Afterword at the end of this volume for those curious to know more.”
“In less than a month it would be the magical feast of Samhain. Some years this took place at the great ceremonial centre of Tara; other years it was held at other places. At Samhain the excess livestock would be slaughtered, the rest put out on the wasteland and later brought into pens, while the High King and his followers set off on their winter rounds. Until then, however, it was a slow and peaceful time. The harvest was in, the weather still warm. It should, for the High King, have been a time of contentment.”
“We, the heirs of Saint Patrick, we who kept alive the Christian faith and the writings of ancient Rome when most of the world had sunk under the barbarians, we who gave the Saxons their education are to be taught a lesson in Christianity by the English?”
“This Plantagenet king comes from the devil.”
“We have all been robbed of the land we have loved for a thousand years. Do you not see that, Welshman? Can you not imagine his rage? We were not even conquered. We were deceived.”
“The King ruled in consultation with his chief nobles, who fromed the nucleus of what was in effect a military aristocracy, whose power was centered on the castles they used to subdue and dominate the land.”
“Desperately she reached for his dark head, pulled him harder against her, and his tongue slipped over the aching bud of her sex. The silence of the room was punctuated by her gasping breaths, the suckling sounds he made, and the creak of the chair as she rocked forward, upward, straining to capture his tantalizing mouth. Just as she thought she could no longer bear the intimate torture, the tension exploded in a rapturous burst of fire. She cried out and shuddered, her legs jerking up against the upholstered chair arms, and the spasms went on and on until she finally begged him to stop.”
“Shall I add a man to my collection?”
“Sabrina shook off her surprise and together they took turns kicking the stranger.”
“Women want their love to be reciprocated in the same way they give it; they want their romantic lives to be as rewarding as they make them for their potential mates; they want the emotions that they turn on full blast to be met with the same intensity; and they expect the premium they put on commitment to be equally adhered to, valued, and respected.”
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