Ballywire Media, headed up by Tipp native Paul Collins, has announced a multimedia project focussing on ancient Irish warrior queen Maeve of Connacht. Featuring original Irish music, poetry and a re-imagining of the famous woman from the west it will be showcased in the spring of 2023.

Historians differ on whether Maeve actually existed, but stories of her bravery and character actually made it to the White House prompting then President Theodore Roosevelt to commission the first ever colour depiction of the fabled queen of Connacht in 1907.

President Theodore Roosevelt via Wikimedia Commmons.

So many Irish fled their homeland due to the famine, stories of Ireland’s great myths and legends went with them and the US President got wind of the tales, prompting him to write  an article in Century magazine at the time celebrating the stories and Maeve herself . “The famous warrior-queen, Meave, tall and beautiful, with her white face and yellow hair, terrible in her battle chariot when she drove at full speed into the press of fighting men, and “fought over the ears of the horses.” The president commissioned this illustration, the first ever colour depiction of Queen Maeve, to accompany the article.

Maeve of Connacht by Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 – 1951) – via Wikimedia Commons

The decision by Ballywire to create content featuring one of Ireland’s most famous women wasn’t an overnight one according to company founder Paul Collins. “I was hearing about Queen Maeve since I was a ladeen, due to the fact that my late mother Moira was reared at the base of Knocknarea mountain in Sligo. Maeve is said to be buried at the summit and we visited Sligo over the decades for easter and summer holidays never giving the great Queen much consideration!

However I visited Knocknarea once the first covid lockdown was lifted and while not a great believer in the universe’s forces or anything like that, I did get an urge to look more deeply into stories of the bould Maeve’.

Maeve of Connacht as visualised by Ballywire.

Fast forward to now and three original songs are in the works along with a graphic novel re-imagining the world of Maeve! Below is our take on the ancient warrior queen. Screenwriter and Connacht woman Susanne Stapleton has written the first episode in Ballywire’s telling of Maeve’s life while Thurles illustrator Jennifer Ryan Kelly is putting the finishing touches to the pictures to accompany the story.

We are also introducing her to the world this weekend to get a sense of how people feel about her. The story of Maeve will be shared at the Kansas city Irish festival. You can find out more at Booth 23 where artist John Knell will be in attendance. You can find out more about Maeve here. And don’t forget to follow her on social media and pre-register for her musings and up coming book!

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