11 May 2022
By Mary Bermingham
Darby O’Gill and the Good People, six brilliant and enthralling tales of genuine Irish folklore will delight children of all ages. Nineteenth-century Ireland is steeped in the supernatural, a place where both humans and fairies collide, both refusing to be defeated in their quest for the freedom to govern their own lives.
We witness the friendship between Tipperary farmer Darby O’Gill and King Brian Connors of the Good People grow. These two, who first thought that the differences between them meant that they were forever mortal enemies, later realise that circumstances unite rather than divide them. The stories also celebrate the most powerful fairy of them all, the Banshee, who is not really the scary villain that people sometimes imagine, but rather a career-minded, kind-hearted messenger from the Otherworld.
Irish-American children’s author Herminie Templeton Kavanagh (1861-1933, the original Hermione, perhaps) wrote proto-feminist and often rebellious children’s stories that featured fairies from Irish folk tradition in a hilarious adventure series. As well as unleashing mayhem to the delight of her young readers, the message imparted by Kavanagh’s stories is one of women stepping out into the world and positioning themselves as equal to men. Equality issues that still resonate today.
The 1959 Walt Disney film version, Darby O’ Gill and the Little People (starring Sean Connery) ignored the proto-feminist angles of the original stories written in 1901 that celebrated the loyalty, bravery and intelligence of their female characters.
Brian McManus has made some changes to the original stories to present them to modern readers at their absolute best, while still remaining true to the spirit and intention of Herminie Templeton Kavanagh. These delightful tales of genuine Irish folklore, full of charm, wittiness, and poignancy, will appeal to children of all ages
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