The meaning of the word Samhain comes from Old Irish meaning “summer’s end,” from summer, samh and end, fuin. The modern Irish word for summer is samhradh, and Samhain is still the name for the month of November in Ireland. Celts considered sundown as the start of the day, which is why, though Samhain actually falls on November 1st, it would have been celebrated starting at sundown the night before, on October 31st. It is one of the four main festivals in Celtic tradition, making up the “quarter days,” the days between the equinoxes and solstices.
With Samhain comes a wide variety of supernatural creatures.
No matter where the watch hands turn, she’d rather remain home. But with every time-traveling trekker’s life at stake, can she stop a deadly clock?
Wilda Firestone survives off black coffee and white-hot sarcasm. And despite the colorful slew of characters filing through her time tourism costume shop, the retired First Nations Temporal Agent would prefer a quiet, more linear existence. So she’s less than impressed when a dying explorer crashes into her store, unleashing a plague that sends countless travelers to an early doom…
Knowing her own lengthy history of chronological excursions grants her some immunity, Wilda vows to jump back in the saddle and seek out answers. But as she retraces the dead man’s steps from 14th century Mali and into 12th century Scotland and beyond, she’s dumbfounded by whatever force reduced an entire village to blood.
Can Wilda stamp out the root of the sickness before she too succumbs?
Time Tourist Outfitters, Ltd. is the intriguing first book in the Toronto Time Agents science fiction series. If you like feisty heroines, beautiful landscapes, and astounding adventures, then you’ll love Christy Nicholas’s explosive tale.
Review from the Judge, 8th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards:
“What a fun and intriguing story. Once I started Time Tourist Outfitters, Ltd., I couldn’t put it down! I absolutely love Wilda and watching her navigate society in a variety of times and places was wonderful. When Wilda looked into Baheera’s eyes and described it as “Bryonie’s eyes gazed into mine,” I smiled widely (93). The way the story’s twists came together was rewarding and I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed watching a “Lady Prissy-Pants” get her comeuppance as much as I did in this novel. The history and cultures presented in the tale were incredible and it was both clever and engaging for the reader to read about these details. The diversity of the characters and history also added to the richness of the story and was wonderfully representative of the world at large. The way that everything from the beginning tied together in the end was well crafted and I will absolutely be looking forward to any future sequels. The characters were well developed and the plot was well researched and crafted. The tone of the story was sarcastic but clever and made me laugh quite a bit…”
When the light of the sun of this day shines into the inner chamber of Sliabh na Calli (The Cailleach’s mound). By solar reckoning, the year is exactly half. Half day, half night. At one exact moment, the world balanced on a pin head. Everything in equal measure, fifty-fifty, resting in perfect balance, a pause. A breath. Exhale. The cry of the cuckoo calls out. Release. We move on to the lighter times. The spring equinox La na Cailleach is here.
I’ve been enjoying what is loosely termed ‘Celtic Music’ since I was a child. It all began with The Unicorn album by the Irish Rovers. My mom had a copy… I think I was 4? 5? Regardless, I’ve always loved Irish and Scottish music. I’ve since branched off from ‘traditional’ Celtic music to embrace more aspects of this genre. Below are some bands I’ve enjoyed. Feel free to let me know of any I’ve missed!
Afro Celt Sound System – I have several of their albums, including Seed and Sound Magic, and love them all. This is Celtic and Senegalese music mixed. Very funky and upbeat.
Aine Minogue – lovely Irish Harpist with a bit of New Age
Albannach – drums and pipes and LOTS of energy
Altan – the lead singer, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, has a wonderful voice!
Anuna – New Age music with a Celtic feel, uses nonsense words to convey dreamy music
Bear McCreary – American composer who has done music for Outlander, The Walking Dead, and Battlestar Galactica
Black ‘47 – sometimes silly, always passionate, fun and energetic
Blackmore’s Night – Ritchie Blackmore used to play guitar for Deep Purple, and then went mystical with his girlfriend singing – neat stuff
Bohola – a Chicago-based duo, really, consisting of Jimmy Keane on piano
Bothy Band – traditional Irish trad group from the 1970sBoys of the Lough – they combine Irish and Scottish influences, but include in their number Cathal McConnell, one of the great Irish song-collectors
Brobdingnanian Bards – Traditional ren band, very good, very nice! I also see them at Dragoncon every year.
Caladh – a local pub group we saw in Kilkenny – they were great! (and the lead singer is cute!)
Capercaillie – This band features wonderful vocals by Karen Matheson, and a haunting feel.
Cara Dillon – Irish folk singer with clear, sweet vocals
Celtic Thunder – Irish American group done with polish and talent, a bit like a male version of Celtic Woman.
Celtic Woman – all-female Irish vocal ensemble which has high production value, and has launched many careers. Chloe Agnew, Orla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Hayley Westenra, Mairead Nesbitt and many others.
Cernunnos Rising – New Age, Druidic and Celtic music
Cherish the Ladies – New York based group with lovely vocals, traditional/ceili
Chieftains – Another 40 year old band, well respected and making music.
Christy Moore – the Granddad of Irish Folk music
Claire Roche – Irish harpist who loves Yeats’ Poetry
Clanadonia – drums and pipes and tribal energy
Clann An Drumma – tribal band from Scotland, drums and pipes
Clannad – Enya’s family, very talented. They do a lot of trad, but also do many ethereal original pieces.
Coda – male a capella traditional band in Ireland, great harmonies. I got to see them live in Westport a couple of years ago.
Crannog – Traditional Ren Faire musicians
Culann’s Hounds – great traditional Irish folk band from San Francisco
Damh the Bard – Wonderful pagan music, traditional sounds
Danú – a fantastic trad-based band hailing mostly from Co Waterford.
Davy Spillane – hands down, the best Uillean pipe player
De Dannan – Top Irish trad group from the 1970s
Déanta – Lovely young vocal Irish groupDervish – teetering a little close to more modern style songs
Dolores Keane – Classic singer with a fantastic voice
Donovan – Scottish singer with an eclectic blended style, mainstream in the 60s and 70s.
Dougie MacLean – Scottish folk singer, best known for his song Caledonia, which still makes me tear up every time I hear it.
Dropkick Murphys – Celtic Punk Rock band
Dubliners – legendary band from Dublin
Emerald Rose – This is a wonderful live band, not as magical on their CDs though. I see them at Dragoncon every year – they combine Irish traditional with rocking pagan music.
Empty Hats – the prior incarnation was Double Indemnity, and are now Empty Hats. They are one of the BEST ren bands I have ever heard, full of energy, humor, and talent.
Enter the Haggis – Celtic Rock band from America, lots of fun and energy
Enya – Who hasn’t heard of Enya? Her haunting singing and mythical music got her the gig to do the Elves music in Lord of the Rings. Who better? Was part of Clannad (her family) at one point.
Erin’s Guild – Trad Rock band out of New England
Flogging Molly – Celtic Punk band
Gaelic Storm – This is the band that played below decks in the Titanic movie – lots of energy, lots of fun!
Grainne Hambly – traditional Irish harp music
Great Big Sea – they sing a lot of traditional songs, as do most Plastic Paddy bands, but with modern energy and beat (from Newfoundland)
Heather Alexander – Californian singer and fiddler
Hollie Smith – A beautiful haunting, smooth voice, sometimes in duet with Steve McDonald
Horslips – Irish Celtic rock band inspired by traditional musicIrish Rovers – I grew up listening to ‘The Unicorn’ and other fun songs by this very folk group
Iona – progressive Celtic rock band from the UK
Jethro Tull – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull released (2000) a wonderful flute album called The Secret Language of the Birds that is enchanting.
Julie Fowlis – fantastic Scottish Gaelic singer, on the soundtrack from Brave
Kate Rusby – throaty singer of traditional songsKelliana – Pagan singer extraordinaire
Liadan – lovely group of female vocalists out of Ireland
Loreena McKennitt – She has an incredible range for her voice, and tends to do original songs based on legends and myths in Celtic culture, such as Arthurian legends.
Lothlorien – this New Zealand band takes traditional music and enchants it with mystical music. Theirs is one of my favorite Celtic CDs of all time.
Luke Kelly – Irish singer and folk musician from Dublin, founding member of the DublinersLúnasa – Irish folk band with great energy
Maire Brennan (Moya Brennan) – lead singer of Clannad, she has fantastic music as solo as well
Mary Black – Irish singer of both folk and modern material
Makem Brothers – Sons of Tommy Makem reviving the trad
Mary Black – Beautiful Irish vocalist
Mediaeval Baebes – wonderful a capella harmonies
Mike Freeman/Tania Opland – I first discovered this duo because they produced a wonderful CD based on Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders of Pern books, and I was hooked. They are a wonderful studio band, and my special favorite is Cut to Rhythms. I have all of their albums.
Morrigu – Celtic Trad and Irish punk, mix thoroughly
Narada – This is actually a collection of music, and each CD has a theme. One, Celtic Mysteries, is a mix of Celtic and Indian (Asian) music. There is Celtic Odyssey, Celtic Dance, etc. You get the idea.
Natalie MacMaster – fantastic fiddling
Noel McLoughlin – traditional singer with throaty, powerful vocals
Off Kilter – We saw them first at EPCOT in the Canada exhibition – rock music to bagpipes, what a combo!
Old Blind Dogs – Great harmonies and rhythm (Scottish)
Omnia – Neoceltic pagan folk band based in the Netherlands
Paddy Reilly – best known for Fields of Athenry, a traditional Irish folk singer and balladeer
Pandora Celtica – Delightful a capella band with a great deal of sea shanties and beautiful harmonies
Peatbog Fairies – Scottish rock and house music fusion
Planxty – Irish folk music band from the 1970s, included Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn. Helped popularize Irish music.
Prodigals – Another group of great energy, combined with wicked humor. Their CD ‘Dreaming in Hell’s Kitchen’ is just very happy and fun.
Runrig – Great Scottish folk/rock band
Sarah McLachlan – Canadian singer best known for songs that make you cry
Seven Nations – American Celtic rock group with lots of power
Sharon Shannon – Accordion player extraordinaire
Shooglenifty – Celtic/rock Scotland group that does a bit of house style music
Sileas – traditional Scottish harp musicSilly Wizard – One of the forerunners of modern traditional music – no, that’s not a contradiction. They started out in the 1970s playing traditional music to huge crowds, and were one of the reasons for the current resurgence in Celtic interests. The lead singer, Andy M. Stewart, wrote many well known modern songs such as Queen of Argyle and Ramblin’ Rover.
Sinead O’Connor – Irish pop and trad singer. Her vocals in Foggy Dew, for instance, are incredibly powerful
Smoky Finish – They are probably the least Celtic of these, but still have some traditional music in their CDs. Again, modern take and energy on old songs.
Solas – American Irish trad music group
Stan Rogers – Canadian folk and traditional singer known for his sea songs
Steeleye Span – English folk-rock band from the 1970s, still active today
Steve McDonald – Ethereal bagpipes with a story – what else could you want? His CDs Sons of Somerled and Stone of Destiny are among the best I’ve heard.
Teada – another really, really great trad band, whose leader Oisin Mac Diarmada is one of my favorite fiddlers, and who along with flute-player Damien Stinson is from Sligo.
The Clancy Brothers – This group practically defines Irish folk music – they’ve been around over 40 years, singing the folk music to us beautifully.
The Corries – Scottish folk duo, traditional
The Corrs – Pop Irish Trad family, Irish. Andrea Corr had an incredible voice.
The Cranberries – Powerful vocals and lyricsThe Gothard Sisters – Lovely true sisters with beautiful vocals. I just saw them live in November
The High Kings – sort of a male version of Celtic Women, great voices and high production value in concertThe Irish Rovers – Traditional Irish Band that was actually my first exposure to Irish music. My mom had The Unicorn album.
The Irish Rovers – Traditional, high energy, classic.
The Pogues – short for ‘Pogue mo Thoin’, or Kiss my Ass, this punk Irish band exploded on the scene
The Proclaimers – best known for their song ‘500 miles’, this Scottish rock band has many other hits
The Rankin Family – Cape Breton traditional Celtic/American Country band
The Saw Doctors – Irish folk/rock group with lots of powerThe Young Dubliners – American Celtic Rock band
The Waterboys – Traditional band, mainly musicians from Scotland, England and Ireland
Tommy Makem – A founder of the irish folk/traditional revival, father of the Makem brothers
Tommy Sands – Singer and Songwriter from northern Ireland, best known for his sacrifice during the hunger strikes
Turlogh O’Carolan – not a modern composer, but one from the 18th century. The last true Bard, credited with many of the classic tunes.
U2 – The most famous Irish band, enough said.
Van Morrison – Van the Man. Northern Irish singer, mainstream in the 60s.
William Jackson – traditional Scottish harp music
Wolfe Tones – Known for their strong political songs, this is another folk group
When the magical secrets of The Emerald Isle beckon, will she survive answering the call?
Pittsburgh, 1846. Valentia McDowell wishes she could rest. Plagued by nightmares of her grandmother’s mysterious brooch lost in Ireland, the well-off woman grows more troubled when a fire ravages her family’s business. But as she buries herself in the rebuilding efforts, she can’t shake the sense that a powerful inheritance awaits her across the ocean… if she can weather the treacherous journey.
Horrified when the voyage claims her brother’s life and afflicts her with malaria, Valentia believes her grief will be for nothing if she returns from the famine-struck island empty-handed. But as she nears her gran’s birthplace and the last known location of the heirloom, the determined woman draws ever closer to a force beyond her imagination… and a battalion of deadly danger.
Can Valentia uphold a destiny she doesn’t yet understand without losing everyone she loves?
Legacy of Hunger is the sweeping first book in The Druid’s Brooch historical fantasy series. If you like compelling female characters, immersive authenticity, and a dash of magic, then you’ll love Christy Nicholas’s transatlantic quest.
He gave her a gift. Using it could bring her to madness.
Ireland, 1795. Esme Doherty believes the best of everyone. Despite a drunken father, a bullying twin sister, and a failing farm, the impoverished girl refuses to allow her sunny demeanor to dim. But when her grandfather gives her a magical brooch that enables her to detect lies, she finds her idealism crashing towards a pit of despair.
Wanting only for a family amid the newfound darkness in the world, Esme flees with a trader to seek normalcy in a small village. But after her new neighbors accuse her of witchcraft and she suffers multiple miscarriages, she feels helpless to stand against her fiendish sibling’s designs on her magic…
Can Esme recover from life’s vicious blows before a selfish, jealous woman claims her power?
Legacy of Truth is the bewitching second book in The Druid’s Brooch historical fantasy series. If you like determined heroines, emotional intrigue, and fairy enchantments, then you’ll love Christy Nicholas’s moving struggle.
Irish Traveler Éamonn loves gambling, women, and drinking, not necessarily in that order. But he’s entangled in a true mess when he falls for fiery redhead, Katie. When she’s married to a Scottish Traveler, Éamonn travels to Scotland to find her, with the help of Katie’s sister and cousin, and the magical brooch gifted by his father. Their quest takes them across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Skye, encountering war, betrayal, death. In the end, Éamonn must make his own luck.
In 12th century Ireland, Orlagh has been Seer to her king for forty years. He doesn’t want to hear her prophecies of war and destruction, and dismisses her efforts to warn him. Therefore, she is determined to fulfill her own quest: to find a worthy heir for her magical brooch.
In the course of events, she must pass judgment on a thief, escape a Norman war camp, and battle wits with a Fae lord. She receives some prophecy of her own and enlists the help of a grizzled old warrior, who happens to be a long–time friend.
In 12th century Ireland, all Maelan wants is to do his duty to his Chief and maintain his family’s good name. However, his granddaughter Orlagh, is hell bent on wreaking havoc, with no care for the consequences.
When Orlagh falls in love with an itinerant bard, Maelan must rule with an iron fist to keep her from running away. However, her rebellion against his strictures results in disaster and he almost loses her in the same way he lost his beloved wife.
Maelan must make some difficult decisions and bargains with the Fae to save his granddaughter’s life and future. Can he save her happiness as well?
In 11th century Ireland, Étaín must hide her pagan magic from her pious Christian priest husband, Airtre. She wants to escape his physical abuse, but she must stay to protect their grandson, Maelan. Over many lifetimes, she has learned how to endure her own pain, but Maelan is young and vulnerable.
When Airtre’s paranoia and jealousy spiral out of control, Étaín has no choice but to escape in the night with little more than the clothing on her back, leaving a trusted friend to protect Maelan.
This is not the first lifetime Étaín has fled, and she knows how to survive. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she must make decisions that may result in disaster for her, her grandson, and everyone she loves.
Finalist for Best Historical Fiction in the 2019 Rone Awards at InD’Tale Magazine
A daring escape, a brother’s duty, and a tragic mistake.
When Conall’s father died, he made his son promise always to take care of his little sister, Lainn.
Lainn could sing the bees from their hives, and make the morning sun sparkle in the winter with her laughter. Conall loved his sister with all his heart, and would do anything to protect her, even without a promise to his father.
Between an abusive step-father, a powerful Faerie Queen, and a maddened Fae Lord, every decision Conall made seemed to be the wrong one. Starvation, imprisonment, madness, and disfigurement plagued them. Even when he tried to follow his heart, it turned to disaster.
Can Conall correct his mistakes and save Lainn’s life and soul? Would it cost him his own?
Fingin had no drive in his life until he finds a half-drowned dog who becomes his best friend. That friend leads him to a cottage where a powerful woman sends him on a quest to find his grandmother. With his dog, Bran, and a donkey, Sean, they embark upon their journey. The problem is, his grandmother no longer seems to exist in this world.
Between falling in with a band of Fianna, nearly drowning in a river, and climbing to the rocky top of Skellig Michael, Fingin had just about had enough of this quest when some magical creatures sent him in the correct direction.
Once he finds his grandmother, he realizes nothing works out as it should have. She is far from what he remembers and even further from what he’d expected. And she entangled in a power struggle of her own and has little time to attend her wayward grandson.
Soon, a battle ensues, and Fingin is caught in the middle. He decisions will have long-term consequences for himself and those he loves.
Clíodhna has three children and a missing husband, and now finds herself in the middle of growing quarrels with the new church.
When she encounters a strange man in the woods near her house, she discovers a kindred soul, someone to teach her to harness her own innate talents and powers.
At the new church, she develops a friendship with one of the monks, and shares many conversations with him about life, philosophy, and theology. For once, it seems her life is becoming a thing to be savored rather than a thing to simply survive.
Her new teacher, however, clashes with the ideals of the church. Her relationship with the monk is another source of conflict when a new church leader arrives.
A few rash decisions means she must now change her own fate. That means choosing between her happiness—perhaps even her life—and her family. It might be better for all involved if she leaves her children with a trusted friend and disappears into another world.
Can she flee a bad situation, leaving her children to the mercies of fate? Or does she have the power and ability to face the danger herself?
Finalist for Best Historical Fiction in the 2021 Rone Awards at InD’Tale Magazine
After his wife dies in childbirth, Turlough decides his children will be better off with their aunt. He leaves in the middle of the night, with only his son, Ruari. Turlough and Ruari travel west to find music, the other true love in Turlough’s life. Unwittingly sleeping under an ancient Faerie stone, they wake up in Faerie. Amidst enchanting music, they almost lose their souls before they escape with their lives. When they return, Turlough finds two years have passed, though he’s only been gone two weeks. His mother is waiting for him with the gift of a magical brooch.