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MAP - The Making of Liam Whelan's Irish Lullaby. A Cartography of a Heritage.

Updated: Jul 22, 2022

Minerva was born directly out of Jupiter's brain. My husband, the fantastic Federico Ramos, argues that Brook and Liam, the protagonists of my novel in relentless progress, sprouted from my brain exactly as Athena did from Zeus. I like my husband's musings, but the truth is that I am editing and revising for what it seems forever. At times, the writer's life is like Sisyphus' doom, and re-writing might entail a long process up the hill. But I'll thrive because I am always inspired by other artists, as I share this story with you, below and my deep emotion. After all, Liam's Lullaby, inspired by a scene from my manuscript, was featured in many Irish radios. Furthermore, the project expanded beyond the page, and it is already breathing and journeying into its own heart.

In early 2000, I was expecting my daughter Magaluna with a high-risk pregnancy requiring a cervical cerclage to avoid a late miscarriage or preterm birth. So I bed-rested through the spring, read, wrote, and obsessively played Celtic songs when I wondered if she was safe inside my womb, and she’d respond foot-tapping to the songs, almost dancing. Then, a few years ago, I played the cd, and she asked why the music was profoundly familiar. So I told her, pero she knew.

I wrote the first draft of my novel in early 2019, and in the fall, I met the Irish musician Paul Bushnell. We hit it off, talking about bass players, riffs, and grooves. Since one of my protagonists is an Irishman obsessed with Celtic folktales, I asked him to read some of my pages. He gave me terrific advice, which I heeded blindfolded. My character’s name sounded “too British,” but now, Liam Cillian Whelan feels true to his identity. I asked Paul if he’d like to arrange the song that Liam sings in the story to alleviate a profound sorrow—The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby. So, he did.

As a Latinx, I want my identity to transpire, however subtlety in my writing. Federico García Lorca’s Theory of Play and Duende informs my work. My friend, the Mexican-American singer Gabriela Martínez, is obsessed with Lorca, Flamenco and Cante Jondo. She read a draft of my manuscript in the summer of 2020—I needed to see if she’d find Duende in it and empathy. I asked Gabi to sing the old Irish lullaby because I knew her voice would express flairs of the Andalusian profound song and the Galician Gaiteros’ style rooted in Celtic traditions. Thus, she did.

From last fall to this spring, we cross-pollinated via epic zooming. Indeed, super fun sessions that drew as closer, even virtually.

Paul arranged the tune; Gabi sang a demo in her closet. We met at Paul’s studio, masked, six-feet apart and drenched in Purell.

We hired Celtic Earth’s Uileann pipes player, Ger Fahy. Paul mastered the tune flawlessly. A Dubliner asked to play the song on the radio. I designed the cover, and Paul and Gabi formed a duet, Chroí Voyage, pronounced cree, which means heart in Gaelic, concocting Celtic tunes in the cauldron, into the depths of a heart’s journey and in search of Duende.

Pero esta Canción de Cuna es por Cielito Celeste Ramos, the baby girl I lost on my 32nd birthday, un 14 de febrero de 1998. But now I sing to her, the lullaby I couldn’t sing then. And so do you while listening to Liam’s Lullaby, available worldwide. Link below to all the platforms from where you stream and purchase your music.



Apple Music



Amazon Music


“Liam’s Lullaby”

Performed by Chroí Voyage

Vocal interpretation by Gabriela Martínez.

All instruments, arrangement and production by Paul Bushnell except Uileann Pipes and Irish Flute played by Ger Fahy.

Executive production - Cecilia Martínez-Gil.

Recorded and Mastered in Los Angeles, CA at Papa’s Place. c2021

©Liam’s Lullaby is based upon The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby, originally written and composed by Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil & Herbert Hughes, and from a scene in Chapter Four, The Sorceress’ Gift, from the manuscript written by Cecilia Martinez-Gil ©Sunshower [Lluvia con Sol].


Excerpt from ©Sunshower [Lluvia con Sol]

Chapter Four: The Sorceress' Gift

a [n eternal] work in progress

Liam came into his apartment with a still dripping umbrella. He placed it in a receptacle by the entrance where he would drop everything, and from where his hiking gear dangled—a cluttered, open locker while the rest of the flat was sophisticated, tidy, minimalistic, and with sober, elegant Autumn’s nuances.

“Alas! ‘Tis raining stair rods but the rain is glossing everything! And I come home, and

the sun is inside. Lucky me!!”

Brook mocked: “Sugar Daddy’s home! Would you like a Martini Mr. Bond. Shaken not


Liam laughed. He walked over to Brook who was sitting on a tall chair. He kissed them on their mouth.

“Hey, lass! I swung by Sullivan Street Bakery to bring some tasty pastries for us to enjoy

at breakfast before you head to NYU tomorrow. I’ve got your favorite! The Uovo Brioche with soft cooked Eggs. With the Vegan Prosciutto di Parma on the roll that you like so much. We’ll warm it up tomorrow?” His mouth watered so he swallowed hard.

Gracias amor. Yummy! How was your afternoon.”

“Too slow. Wanted to come home to you.” Liam pointed at Brook. He winked at them. Brook put together their fingers shaping a heart.

Liam ran his fingers down his black hair, nervously. He hooked rebellious hair strands behind his ears. He glanced at Brook’s laptop opened with cropped images from Cassandra’s photograph. Many sheets spread over the sturdy tall dinner table with sketches of faces and bodies of girls, some closeups or full-bodied in black & white, except for the red Jordans painted with a red Sharpie, and the gray denim baseball cap, filled with smoothed pencil lead. The inscription on the cap read, however blurred: A Little Tupac & Little Deepak in gray and purple.

Brook! Beautiful, fine, and precise drawings!”

“It’s been a while since I last illustrated anything! I’d just doodled in class, but ever since I received the box, I've been sketching. Katie and Romeo gifted me a pocket sketchbook for my birthday. Crazy coincidence. I love this one because of the loose leaves. It was a graduation gift from my high school friends. Pero, I gotta thank Sister Agnes for my renewed inspiration. I’ve drawn a lot lately! I’m using Cassandra’s pencils!”

I’ll Find a Way” by Rachael Yamagata’s Happenstance played low from Brook’s laptop.

“Christ! B! You’re the gift. And the inspiration comes from Cassandra, not from that wretched Agnes!!”

“Who do you think could be my mother.” asked Brook, looking up to Liam who mesmerized, kept bringing the pages up close to his nose.

“Uhm Brook, I dunno, and these crops are from the girls in the picture. What ‘bout the boys? This one has lips as full as…”

Brook broke down in tears—their body was a Salvador Dali’s melted clock. They dropped on the floor like autumn leaves with their skinny legs folded to their side.

“Brook, Brook, wait!!” screamed Liam. He lowered himself down. His arms hinged to the side of the tall table, peaking to where Brook had landed. Brook was wailing. Liam pushed the heavy stool aside, which fell backward onto the wooden floor with a loud thump. He crawled under the table toward Brook. He put his legs around Brook’s folded legs, and his arms around their waist.

“My love! Cry all you want. I meant no harm. What did I say to make you break like this Brook! Damnit!”

“It isn’t you!” cried Brook amidst groans and squeals, “It’s me! I’m so fucking blind! Oh my god! I feel so bad! Why does this hurt so fucking much!?!”

Liam cried quietly, sniveling and kissing the back of Brook’s hair, their neck. He started to sing a Celtic lullaby; his Irish’s accent was pure. Liam’s body rocked, cradling Brook’s. Their body trembled and shivered without hiatus. But Brook’s sobs dwindled in a descending gradient, as they tried to hear the song against Yamagata’s “Reason Why” playing in the background, sounding as woefully:

Sleep, O babe, for the red bee hums The silent twilight’s fall: Aibheall from the Grey Rock comes To wrap the world in thrall. A leanbhan O, my child, my joy, My love and heart’s desire, The crickets sing you lullaby Beside the dying fire.

Brook and Liam remained quiet under the table, while the rain dashed against the windows.

“What’s lean-bhan. Abeal” asked Brook, stammering, stumbling with words.

“It’s typically spelled Aoibheall, but pronounced ee-val, and it means the beautiful. It’s the Queen of the Northern Fairies. Leanbh is Irish for child, and leanbhán, is little child. It’s the ‘Gartan Mother’s Lullaby.’ The poet’s name was Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil, but he’s known as Joseph Campbell.” snickered Liam, timidly, shaking his head.


Brook turned around to face Liam—two pairs of long legs switching places clumsily, heads bumping against the table— a makeshift wood ceiling. Brook put their arms and legs around Liam, nodding.

“From now on. Cassandra, or Casey. They, them.” said Brook.

Liam nodded. They both sniffed in vain—both their noses were clogged. Brook and Liam looked at each other and laughed looking like children with dripping runny noses.

Liam unbuttoned his gray vest and his black shirt. His Celtic engraved cufflinks dropped arbitrarily on their laps, prancing to the wooden floor like dice. With his shirt Liam wiped Brook’s face, he made them blow their nose, and after, he blew his. He tossed the crumpled shirt aside. He held their face between his hands. Liam kissed Brook’ s eyelids, their mouth. “I love you.” he said with a scratchy voice.

Brook said "Me too" with no sound, between kisses, juxtaposing Liam’s voice. Brook held the black tie with pink peonies that Liam had loosened but not removed. Liam rested his forehead on Brook’s forehead. They looked at each other like Cyclops.

“Dude! I’m crying every day lately! You must think I’m a sissy.”

Liam snorted, “Me too! We are both sissies. At least, I’ve been told I am.”

“Do you think that I scared the neighbors?!”

“No. Soundproof walls. But if anyone heard anything, I don’t give a fuck.”

“Do you remember when we were having sex against the wall in my apartment, and the neighbors started pounding, telling us to shut up.”

“Yes. That was funny! But I trusted you.” Liam whispered.

“I trust you Liam. You don’t even know! But now. I’m hungry. I’m gonna cook for you!”

Brook crawled out, rose, and offered their hand to Liam. They pulled him up from under the table, delicately.

“What will you cook?” asked Liam, clearing his voice.

“That’s a surprise! I started it already! Hey. When I go to the kitchen, you can’t come.”

“Grand. But I’ll leave. I need to go for a run.”

“But it’s raining!”

“Just a drizzle. Grand soft. I’ll be back soon.”

“It isn’t drizzling. It’s pouring.” said Brook pointing out to the terrace.

“Nah! Only spitting.” Liam shrugged his shoulders. He put on his rain windbreaker jacket and pants right by the entrance. He walked toward the main door but paused at the doorway to look at Brook.

Brook said, “May the soft rain fall upon you, Liam Cillian Whelan.” He winked at Brook and opened the door briskly.

Brook began singing the bridge of Queen’s “Love of my Life,” its last chorus mixed with Yamagata’s “Even So” sounding from their laptop.

Liam closed the door slowly just when Brook began singing the outro. "

God help me." he whispered under his breath.

Brook put their hands over their ears. Outside, Manhattan’s buildings were blurred behind a silver veil of rain. Liam ran through it knowing that he was permeable notwithstanding the gear. He suddenly remembered the very first time that his grand-mother, Máthair Chríona sang The Gartan Mother's Lullaby for him when he was a little child. And an old, almost forgotten ache resurfaced twisting his gut.


Video created on March 14, 2021.

The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby

Sleep, O babe, for the red bee hums The silent twilight’s fall: Aibheall from the Grey Rock comes To wrap the world in thrall. A leanbhan O, my child, my joy, My love and heart’s desire, The crickets sing you lullaby Beside the dying fire.