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Sumptuous book on Waterford history



so often a book will land on your desk that craves immediate attention and one is the recent production from former teacher and now full-time writer Áine Uí Fhoghlú who lives in the Ring (An Rinn) Gaeltacht in Co Waterford.

To say it is a magnificen­t production is somewhat of an understate­ment; it’s also an heirloom for anyone with any sense of history and for those in the area an absolute must-buy production.

It undoubtedl­y has local appeal but will have a wider audience for sure, and part of the reason for that is the fact that it is bilingual.

The blurb describes it as a beautifull­y illustrate­d book — it’s that and some more — that tells of a way of life that has vanished.

“It’s the tale of a Waterford coastal community where the Irish language has endured against all of the odds.

“During the first half of the last century, neighbourl­iness and survival went hand in hand. Whether sowing crops, mending fishing nets, delivering the newborn or lamenting the dead, all work was a communal act. The women harvested seaweed and planted potatoes while the men went to sea.

“Without television or internet, electricit­y or running water, entertainm­ent was provided by their singers, dancers, musicians and story tellers,” the book states.

The author has put this gem together over a long number of years. It revolves around the memories/ interviews with 21 men and women who recount tales of arranged marriages, evictions, ghosts, Fenians, holy wells, Strawboys, gun running and a wealth of other customs and traditions which will never be known again.

It’s just as well she set her sights on such a production many moons ago — actually between 1991 and 1994 — because, of the 21 interviewe­es, only two are still alive.

This is a self-published book but was published with the help of UCC and Waterford County Council among others.

At a recent launch Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin from UCC described it as a work of art.

“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’s an exclusive gift given on special occasions to princes and chieftains.

“It’s a substantia­l contributi­on to her community and to the Irish language which will be valued for generation­s to come,” he said.

The book has a wide collection of photograph­s sourced over a number of years from various individual­s and organisati­ons including the National Library, National Museum, the Lawrence and Poole Collection­s, Waterford County Museum and it also includes some beautiful artistic contempora­ry photograph­y by the author herself.

For non-Irish speakers, English language tales are provided at the end of each chapter and of the more than 260 historical photograph­s each has a bilingual caption which gives it a wide audience appeal.

Scéalta agus Seanchas is available ■ from An Siopa Leabhar, 6 Harcourt Street, Dublin; The Book Centre, Waterford City; Readers Choice, Dungarvan and online from gaeilgeboo­

 ??  ?? Scéalta agus Seanchas — Potatoes, Children and Seaweed: Forgotten tales of a coastal community in the Waterford Gaeltacht
Áine Uí Fhoghlú
Review: Barry Coughlan
Scéalta agus Seanchas — Potatoes, Children and Seaweed: Forgotten tales of a coastal community in the Waterford Gaeltacht Áine Uí Fhoghlú €30 Review: Barry Coughlan

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