A ninth century bridge over the Shannon near the monastery
of Clonmacnoise has caught the attention of an archaeology
professor. He believes something special, ahead of its Dark
Ages time, may have been constructed in CLONMAC'S BRIDGE.
Griffin Clonmac has invested five years of research in this
project and now has the location for a dig. At first I
thought he was based in Ireland, but then he started
worrying about the cost of travelling to Ireland; I thought
he must be in America. Later he wonders if he should ask
the BBC for funds; so he might be in Britain. Eventually
Clonmac identifies himself as being from the University of
Another professor, Daley Garvin, is an Irishman and
colleague of Clonmac's but they are not friendly. Garvin
has arranged for help towards the dig, as neither man could
do it alone, but the priestly authorities disapprove. The
Clonmacnoise monastery, founded in 545 AD, was raided by
various parties over the centuries and is a major heritage
site today. A younger man, Conor MacKenna, is looking for a
research project and this dig in the Shannon will do.
Unfortunately during a trial dive, Clonmac is knocked
unconscious - saved by fishermen - and Conor vanishes in
the muddy water. Does someone intend to hinder the
Mari Quispe is a practical archaeologist who is half
Peruvian, educated in England. She needs a new dig, and
she's got a backlog of trouble from her last dig. Clonmac
gives her that chance and together the two dive, to find
carved wood perhaps 1200 years old, sitting underwater
without decaying... impossible?
I felt that the story takes a long time to get moving with
permits, officials, funds and unexplained hindrances. We
follow a trail around many universities and archives,
rather than excavating; the action is continually stuck in
arguments and personality clashes. We go back in time to
see the architect, a monk called Riordan, reading folios on
Spanish and Roman bridges and getting building started,
which I enjoyed. I wanted to like CLONMAC'S BRIDGE more
did like it, but the concept is good and characters
interesting - I would prefer if it was more tightly
edited. CLONMAC'S BRIDGE gives a fascinating look at
medieval Ireland and the author Jeffrey Perren has
highlighted some of the headaches and dangers associated
with archaeology, with a gradually strengthening romance.
A maritime archaeologist raises a medieval monastery span
from the mud of the River Shannon, sunken for 1,200 years...
and finds it perfectly preserved.
What could account for this astounding longevity? Why are
his colleagues and the Church so desperate to prevent him
learning the secret? And why is his consummate lover his
Griffin Clonmac will go through hell to find out.
He won’t go alone. Inspired by a real discovery, Clonmac’s
Bridge shifts between contemporary times and 9th century
Ireland. It tells the story of two men who struggle against
envy and mediocrity — a millennium apart — aided only by a
loyal helpmate and an unconquerable will.
An archaeological thriller, a love story, and a pensée on
society then and now, Jeffrey Perren fans are sure to find
this latest novel his best yet.