Irish Folklore Treasure: A Traditional Treasure Collected by Children and Made to Life by John Creedon

John Creedon certainly performed some state service. Not only through his unrelentingly excellent RTÉ Radio 1 programming, but also with his contribution to restoring, documenting and celebrating Irish culture, traditions and history.

a lot has been achieved through the medium of television: Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way, Epic East and Shannon is travel game with something of a culture. His love for the Irish language, also heard on the radio, was expressed in Creedon’s Atlas of Irelandexplored the Gaelic origin and transition to English of our landmarks. National Treasure set of items of interest from the past in a work of social history.

Irish Folklore Treasure, the new book by the man Genial Cork, closely follows the path of the last two. It’s subtitled A selection of old stories, ways and wisdom from the school’s collectionpart of the National Folklore Collection, stored in the UCD archives.

The College’s collection came into existence after the Irish Folklore Commission was established in 1935, with a mandate to research and collect oral and written records of disappearing cultures and traditions. . This initiative involved more than 50,000 children collecting stories and recollections from older families and neighbors in their area. Under the supervision of the teacher, the children wrote these oral histories in manuscripts, about 20,000 of which have survived.

For our purposes, the result is this engaging, enlightening and well-read book: scores of those essays, handpicked and assembled by Creedon with clear care and affection.

Irish Folklore Treasure divided by topic: we have chapters on ghosts, supernatural creatures (goblins, banshee, etc.), peasant life, professions of the year, myths and legends, food, folk medicine times, hard times, holidays and celebrations, family crafts, games and pastimes, and of course, the longstanding Irish staples, religion (not so much anymore now). ) and the weather (which continues the Hibernian fascination like never before).

Creedon introduces each section with a lovely essay, a wonderful blend of literary ingenuity, context and explanation, and fun humour. Here, for example, he’s writing about mermaids while developing ‘Supernatural Creatures’:”[They] occupies this space between water and land – and the nominal space that connects our world to another world (like Gaeilge, idir-eatharthù, meaning ‘betwixt and between’.) Here the imagination is roam freely. “

He then added, playfully but sincerely: “I love elves. There is always, always will be, the world has no end, amen. “

In any collection of this kind, it is inevitable that each reader will favor some pieces over others. I got a great kick from the stories of púca, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and the spirits from beyond the grave. Meanwhile, the chapter on games and pastimes is like a photograph of inseparably nostalgic memories of a childhood I never experienced; I suppose all childhoods are the same, in a way that doesn’t change across generations.

Sections in folk medicine have been eye-opening – some of these cures are so wild, you’ll wonder if they kill more than they save, which of course makes them even more interesting than reading. And the story – which may not be true – of the ex-soldier who vomited up a lizard after a cup of Guinness is as raw and wonderful as the one Roald Dahl would write. ““Two times the drinks fooled me,” he declared dispassionately afterward, “and “two drinks cured me.” We can all relate to that, for sure.

Perhaps surprisingly, the chapter that I found most interesting was about old professions – many of which are now extinct. We received accounts for tanning, kelp production, sugán chair making, painting, milling, basket weaving, lime firing, forging, cooperation, brick making and wool weaving; they’re colorful and evocative, and utterly fascinating.

This is clearly an attempt of love for Creedon, and that goes into all aspects of the book. Each story is accompanied, when available, with the name of the school involved, the teacher, the “collector” – the child who wrote the essay – and the informant – who told them the story.

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It also highlights text at certain points, cross-referencing to explain unusual words or terms, mainly Gaeilge but sometimes Hiberno-English. And here’s a very nice hardcover, beautifully illustrated by Brian Gallagher, that looks almost like an old-fashioned woodcut and complements the material perfectly.

“Revelation happens when you least expect it,” Creedon writes in the introduction. Well, readers can expect the reveal in Irish Folklore Treasureand many more besides that.


John Creedon’s Treasure of Irish Folklore

Nonfiction: John Creedon’s Treasures of Irish Folklore
Gill Book, 400 pages, hardcover € 24.99; eBooks £22.79

Books by Darragh McManus include ‘The Driving Force’ and ‘Pretend Our Dead’ Irish Folklore Treasure: A Traditional Treasure Collected by Children and Made to Life by John Creedon

Fry Electronics Team

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