The most beautiful twin books came through my door last Saturday from O’Brien Press. Caitriona Sweeney’s dreamy watercolours swirl around a modern fairytale firmly orientated in Galway and available in Gaelic too.
A Galway Fairytale or Síscéal Ó Ghaillimh tells the tale of Séan and Gráinne’s journey into Galway market to buy their mother a claddagh ring as a birthday gift Caitriona weaves the history of Galway into beautiful reinterpretation of Hansel and Gretel.
From the Spanish Arch to the Salmon Weir Bridge, the boat sculpture by Eyre Square on the way to the market, the physical space and heritage of Galway is evoked, honoured and personified with a guardian figure at each point; a Spanish trader, an Arran wearing fisherman and Granuaile the pirate Queen alongside the tradition of the claddagh ring. The weight and wonder of history is captured and made special within the seemingly ordinary adventure of two young children and captured especially in one of my favourite illustrations where the guardians dash to the market and the wall and landscape behind them evokes a physical map of the city with roads and landmarks upon it.
I can imagine young readers wishing to follow Séan and Gráinne’s path hoping to discover these characters themselves at the places, for those from Galway places once simply part of the background of daily life. I really hope that a book walk doing just that may be created!!!
Whether reminding of the richness of history in their hometown, longing for home or reminding of roots overseas, and for others as book inspired tourism (or vice versa when you get home) this is a beautiful celebration of Galway.
I was also delighted to receive the Gaelic version alongside the English!! Especially considering my children and I have ancestral links from different lines to the West coast of Ireland and this language is part of our history, (or more so herstory!) and I would love to know more.
However, and more importantly, I have always been a firm believer and supporter of the retention and flourishing of the ‘old’ languages of these isles and love to see that young children can enjoy beautiful books in Gaelic whether it be the language around them or of their heritage just as much as books in English.
A Galway Fairytale by Caitriona Sweeney and Síscéal Ó Ghaillimh by Caitriona Sweeney translated by Marcus Mac Conghail are published by O’Brien Press.
Thank you so much for my copies. 💜