MamanBrigitte_CvrPDFI’m promoting the publication of my newest story, ‘Maman Brigitte’, just published by Forbidden Fiction Publishing. It is a dark story with a seam of menace running through it. It has non-consensual scenes, violence, and scenes with blood and branding. So, if you like your erotica with a ‘Happy Ever After’ ending it’s probably not for you! But it you like something that’s dark and challenging it should appeal.

The central figure in the story is the Haitian Voodoo spirit, Maman Brigitte, who has an interesting history, which takes us right back to a largely hidden aspect of the slave trade – slavery of the Irish.

Story blurb

Piloting the slave ship Le Saphir, captained by the cruel Captain Dugarry, is to be Gerard’s final job before retirement. He does not realize his journey will draw him into the world of Maman Brigitte, a spirit worshiped by the Hatian slaves, who controls the way to the spirit world. There, Gerard is forced to choose between his life among the living and eternal submission to a cruel goddess.

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Maman Brigitte and the forgotten history of Irish slavery

 

white slave tradeMy latest release is a story featuring a Haitian voodoo Goddess called Maman Brigitte. She was a Guede, an intermediary between this world and the spirit world. Her origins were as a descendent of the Celtic Goddess Brigid, who in turn morphed into the Catholic Saint, Bridget.

So, how did this figure from legend with Irish roots end up in the Caribbean?

Well, the answer to this question takes us to a much ignored fact about the history of slavery, which is that the Irish were transported to the West Indies as slaves in huge numbers. In fact, in the 17th century, more Irish were put into slavery than black Africans.

This may come as a shock to some people as it’s one of those inconvenient aspects of the history of slavery that’s got swept under the carpet. It’s easier to see slavery solely in terms of race rather than confront the uncomfortable fact that whites enslaved whites and, indeed, black Africans enslaved black Africans.

The Irish slave trade began when James I sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves for the New World colonies. His proclamation of 1625 required Irish prisoners to be sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid-1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat, 70% of the population of the latter consisted of Irish slaves.

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

The pace of Irish slavery accelerated in the Civil War and Commonwealth era. In the period between 1641 and 1652, 300,000 Irish were sold as slaves (and a further 550,000 killed), as a result of Cromwell’s campaigns to subdue Ireland. In 1640, a few months after the massacre at Drogheda, 25,000 Irish were sold to planters in St Kitts. During the 1650s over 100,000 Irish children were taken from their parents and sold as slaves.

Irish slaves were treated most inhumanely because they were considered to be worthless, and also hated because they were Catholic. African slaves had a greater financial value; they were expensive in the late 1600s (a black slave costing £50 compared to an Irish slave at £5) and consequently were usually treated better than the Irish slaves.

The English settlers bred the Irish for profit and to increase the workforce. Indeed, settlers bred Irish women and girls with African men, as these ‘mulatto’ slaves fetched a higher price.

And this brings me back neatly to the character in my story, Maman Brigitte, the Guede or intermediary with the spirit world, who was a descendent of this inter-breeding between Irish slaves, African slaves and the native population.

The Irish brought their own myths and legends with them to the Caribbean, including those of Goddess Brigid and St Bridget and these got intermingled with native Voodoo beliefs to create the unique figure of Maman Brigitte.

It’s a pretty sordid episode in the history of slavery and largely ignored, but I think people should be more aware of it.

Story extract

I cursed the day I met Captain Bernard Dugarry. What a fateful decision, made over too many cognacs in a tavern in La Rochelle, though it seemed the right one at the time. I had been discharged from the French Navy for long service after the American War of Independence, and my life was going nowhere. I thought I’d had enough; that I wanted to turn my back on the sea, but it was in my blood. In my depressed and drunken state I could see no reason to turn down Captain Dugarry’s offer. He was persuasive and charismatic. He was young for a captain of a vessel, yet supremely confident and ambitious. The money was good, very good, better than anything offered by the French Navy, and I had been offered a cut from the sale of the slaves when we reached the Indies as a bonus.

It seemed a good match. On his own admission, Captain Dugarry was not concerned with the fineries of sailing; he was a leader and disciplinarian, a businessman as well. He saw profit and wanted somebody to steer his cargo safely across hazardous waters to make it. He needed a skilled seaman, and I was that man; decades of service harrying the British navy down the coast of West Africa, across the Atlantic, and in the Indies gave me experience of these waters. One last job, I thought. One last payday to see me into my retirement, and perhaps then I would be able to turn away from the sea.

I did not know then the journey I was about to embark on was not only a voyage across a sea, but also one into the darkness of my soul.

 

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