Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


Clans of Ireland Beyond the Pale

Ever heard that expression ‘beyond the pale’? Someone behaves dreadfully and someone else says, ‘tsk, tsk, that’s beyond the pale’. The English administration in Ireland coined that phrase about the ‘wild’ Irish. Wild? Why and what was the Pale? 

Ireland has clans too, not just Scotland. Clan comes from clann, the Gaelic word for children or descendants. The Gaels of Scotland and Ireland shared not only a language but also culture and law. What you know about Gaelic Scotland (the Highlands), may also be true about Gaelic Ireland. 

The land was sacred to the Gaels. The Gaels believed that every bump and dip in the landscape had a story to explain its existence. Fionn, a giant, picked up a clod of earth to throw at his enemy. The hole left in the earth filled with water and is now called Lough (Lake) Neagh. Fionn was likely a pagan god in origin.

Between 1400 and 1700 Ireland changed from a Gaelic land to one conquered by the English. Your readers want a great story, but often they will expect to learn something about the country or period in which your novel is set. You will learn what you require from this course. 

What you will learn:

  • Major historical events, wonderful or deadly, which provide the background for your novels
  • How to create characters with motivations and conflicts based in Irish history
  • The difference between a Gaelic clan and an Anglo-Irish family as well as their names and locations
  • Daily life in Gaelic Ireland 
  • Marriage customs of the clans – very different from customs in England
  • How to avoid exposition ‘dumps’ & thread in details which enhance your story
  • How to make readers want more after the first five pages of your novel

The meanings of place names, named for the activities of the ancient gods

A basic timeline will be provided for the Late Medieval period (1150-1600)

Who should take the course:

  • Writers wanting to write a novel set in Ireland
  • Writers who have little or no knowledge of Irish history – the ‘big picture’ will be given
  • Writers who have some knowledge of British or Scottish history – the contrasts and similarities will be explained

Course Overview:

Lesson One: The Ancient Stones of Ireland

  1. Megaliths
  2. Raths - Ráthanna
  3. Crannogs – Crannóga
  4. Castles
  5. The Big Houses
  6. Inside an Anglo-Norman Castle
  7. Furniture & Furnishings
  8. The Calendar

Lesson Two: The Native Irish, the Gaels

  1. Language
  2. Place Names – Dinnsheanchas
  3. Surnames
  4. Clothing
  5. Gaelic Kings
  6. The King's Men

Lesson Three: The Invaders

  1. Vikings 
  2. Normans
  3. Food & Feasting
  4. Hunting & Pastimes
  5. Marriage
  6. Clothing & Armour of the Anglo-Normans
  7. Battle of Clontarf
  8. The Pale in the 16th Century

Lesson Four: Beyond the Pale

  1. The ‘Wild Irish’
  2. Women & Marriage 
  3. Clothing & Armour of the Irish Gaels
  4. Food & Feasting
  5. The Clever Fitzpatrick
  6. Gráine Ní Mháille / Grace O' Malley-- The ‘Pirate Queen’

Lesson Five: The Long Wars

  1. The Tudor Conquest
  2. The Nine Years War
  3. The Flight of the Earls
  4. The Plantation of Ulster
  5. The Rising of 1641
  6. The Confederates of Kilkenny
  7. The Wars of the Three Kingdoms

Lesson Six: Cromwellian Settlement

  1. Cromwell of Evil Memory
  2. Restoration of Charles II, the Merry Monarch                                                                              
  3. The Williamite/Jacobite Wars
  4. The Wild Geese
  5. Life in Seventeenth-Century Ireland 
  6. Women & War
  7. Novels set in Ireland


Sharron Gunn writing as Sheila Currie

Sheila Currie lives in a world of thousands of books, fiction and non-fiction. Visiting friends worry about avalanches.

She was born on the east coast of Canada where there are many other people whose families came from Scotland and Ireland. Her love of those countries led her to study in Nova Scotia, Canada and then in Scotland where she obtained an M.A. in Scottish History and Celtic Studies from the University of Glasgow. She was fortunate enough to have a summer job selling Gaelic books door-to-door in the West Highlands and Islands. She went from one cup of tea to the next–a wonderful opportunity to talk to local people and hear their stories. 

She has taught history and Gaelic at university and for Hearts Through History Romance Writers. At long last she has published The Banshee of Castle Muirn, the first book of a trilogy–set in magic and historical Scotland.




There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.

Submit a Review


© 2024 Margie Lawson, all rights reserved.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram