The origin of Fear Dubh is a literary one, though possibly an obscure one for anyone outside of Ireland. It is based on a story called, in English, The Keening Woman, by Padraic Pearse, writer and Irish Patriot. The story is about a woman at the time of the so-called ‘Land Wars’ of the late 19th century in Ireland whose son was wrongly accused of the murder of the local land agent and dies in prison before any kind of appeal can be arranged. The story is hard going because the translation is very idiomatic, but it used to be required reading in Irish schools until a more modern literature curriculum supplanted it. The names of the young man, Coilin, was taken from The Keening Woman. So was the name O'Niadh, but not in the same context, and the references to O’Greelis whose wife was with child when they were evicted comes directly from the story. Marcas O’ Murchu, the Irish time agent is the name of a friend who wanted a heroic role in one of these stories. He got it.

The Tuam Herald, by sheer luck, IS a newspaper that has been around since the time period mentioned. called Uachtar Ard is a town in county Galway, not far from Tuam. The story is set in an unnamed village, however. Uachtar Ard was a more substantial town than the place depicted even in 1882. Nineteenth Century Irish villages DO tend to be built on a common plan, however, and it wasn’t necessary to be more specific.

The Keening Woman