NEW BOOK OF FOLKLORE AND MEMOIRS FROM THE WATERFORD GAELTACHT
Speaking last Wednesday, 21st August 2019 to the hundreds who packed into the Community Hall the the tiny Gaeltacht of An Rinn in Co. Waterford for the launch of “Scéalta agus Seanchas – Potatoes, Children and Seaweed”, Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin of University College Cork stated: “We have never had a book of this kind in the Irish language before.”
This is the latest book from the pen of poet and author Áine Uí Fhoghlú and it is based on a series of interviews which she video-taped from twenty-one members of the older generation between the years 1991-1994. Each of the contributors describes life as they knew it before the coming of electricity or running water. In the various accounts we get descriptions of the making of St. Brigid’s Corsses, superstitions, women harvesting seaweed, holy wells, the local Fenian landing of 1867, fishing techniques, Black and Tan engagements, holy wells, Hallowe’en customs and much, much more. To facilitate a wider readership, Áine has provided English language summaries at the end of each chapter and with more than 260 photographs, each has a bilingual caption.
Commenting on the production, Ó Macháin stated that the book, which contains 320 pages of high quality silk finish paper, bound in hard back and dust jacket, is hardly adequately described by the word ‘book’. “It is a work of art,” he said. “This unique and beautiful publication combines top-quality design, top-quality printing and the in-depth knowledge of the author about her subject matter. It surely qualifies as a candidate for ‘Book of the Year’ in any language. This compares with what was called a ‘seod flaithe’ in ancient Ireland, that is an exclusive gift given on special occasions to princes and chieftains.”
The only two of the twenty-one contributors who survive to see their words in print, Máire Uí Chúnúin and Míchéul Seosamh de Paor, were present on the night.
The book contains a wide collection of photographs sourced from various individuals and organisations, including the National Library, National Museum, the Lawrence and Poole Collections, Waterford County Museum, the families of those interviewed as well as artistic contemporary photography by Áine herself.