The Hounds of the Morrigan

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The Hounds of the Morrigan
Hounds of the Morrigan.jpg
Cover of the original 1985 edition, as well as the 1999 reprint by HarperTrophy
Author Pat O'Shea
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Fantasy novel, Celtic Mythology
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 688 pp
ISBN 0-06-447205-1
OCLC 39875090
LC Class PZ7.O83 Ho 1999

The Hounds of the Morrigan is a children's novel by the Irish writer Pat O'Shea. It was published in 1985, after taking thirteen years to complete. The novel recounts the adventures of 10-year-old Pidge and his younger sister, Brigit, battling with characters from Celtic mythology.


In a Galway bookshop, Pidge buys a book called A Book of Patrick's Writing and accidentally frees an evil serpent, Olc-Glas, from inside it. Pidge and his five-year-old sister, Brigit, are then caught up in a battle between good (the Dagda) and evil (the Morrigan). Talking animals and other figures from Celtic mythology help them, and they travel to Tír na nÓg.[1][2]


The Irish Times wrote that "the unspoilt countryside around Lough Corrib provided the inspiration" for the book.[3]

Links to Celtic mythology[edit]

Critical responses[edit]

‘’The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books’’ at the University of Chicago said that "The prose is rather relentlessly ornamented, but the images are always concrete and, like the narrative, have vigorous strength."[6]

Imogen Russell Williams, writing in The Guardian nearly 30 years after the book's publication, described it as "a bravura feat of writing ... Its impossibly delicate balance of surreal humour and evoked beauty, knowledge, fearfulness, joy, and courage have never been bettered".[5]

Joanne Hall, in Fantasy Faction, identified "a level of darkness in the book that would be surprising in a contemporary children’s novel ... one of the most unsettling sequences in the book occurs when the fleeing children are trapped inside the Morrigan’s giant thumbprint, a maze lined with nauseating blisters of sweat where nothing can live".[7]

Influence on other writers[edit]

Several writers have given The Hounds of the Morrigan as one of their favourite books or noted that it influenced them:


O'Shea was working on a sequel at the time of her death. In an obituary, David Fickling wrote; "The few brilliant chapters of the unfinished sequel are almost worth publishing alone: a Christmas card scene, candelit shop windows, carol singers and a robin... and into this cheerful scene rides the great Irish witch the Morrigan with her wild sisters, bringing mayhem and magic and mischief".[19]


  1. ^ "The Hounds of the Morrigan". TV Tropes. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  2. ^ Hall, Joanne (9 March 2013). "The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea". Fantasy Faction. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Writer who created a novel for children to marvel". The Irish Times. 19 May 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hurley, Maureen (5 December 2000). "The Hounds of the Mórrígan by Pat O'Shea". Literrata. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Williams, Imogen Russell (23 July 2013). "Summer voyages: The Hounds of the Morrigan". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  6. ^ Sutherland, Zena; Betsy Hearne; Roger Sutton (1991). The Best in Children's Books, 1985-1990. University of Chicago Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-226-78064-3. 
  7. ^ Hall, Joanne (9 March 2013). "The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea". Fantasy Faction. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Ren Suma, Nova (27 October 2012). "What Scares Sarah Rees Brennan?". Distraction No.99. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  9. ^ "Project Spotlight: The Star-Touched Queen". Acro Collective. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Author Interview: Barry Hutchison". Big Book Little Book. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  11. ^ "Author Interview: Kieran Larwood". The Book Base. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  12. ^ Bourke, Liz (29 September 2015). "Ruth Frances Long Answers Six Questions". Tor. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  13. ^ "Countdown to 5th June: Interview with Katy Moran author of The Hidden Princess". Readaraptor. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  14. ^ Castle, Anthony N (30 September 2016). "Interview with Emmet O'Cuana". Australian Comics Journal. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  15. ^ "Sinéad O'Hart". The Greenhouse Literary Agency. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  16. ^ Khanduja, Jaideep (16 September 2016). "Laura Perry: An Interview With A Pagan, Writer and Artist". Pebble In The Still Waters. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  17. ^ "IndieView with Taya Okerlund, author of Hurricane Coltrane". The Indie View. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  18. ^ "Interview: Robyn Young, author". The Scotsman. 8 October 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  19. ^ Fickling, David (23 June 2007). "Pat O'Shea". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fimi, Dimitra. (2017) "Otherworldly Ireland: Pat O’Shea’s The Hounds of the Mórrígan and Kate Thompson’s The New Policeman", in Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-55281-5.