The book is published in both English and in Gaelic.
October 6, 2021
-by April MacDonald
The Gaels have always been known as storytellers.
Their stories are often bound with meaningful messages, humour, and a lesson learned.
Such is true for another great rendition of an old Scottish folktale that has been given new and colourful life as a children’s story called, Luran and the Mermaid.
The story has been told by Mickey MacNeil and speaking with illustrator Emily MacDonald on Tuesday morning she said that MacNeil is a life-long Gaelic speaker and grew up speaking the language.
“This is one of the stories that he heard when he was little and it’s told in his own words,” explained MacDonald.
She said MacNeil is in his 90s and that he “loves a good visit.”
“This book is sort of a taste of what you get when you take the time to visit with him,” said MacDonald.
The story goes a little something like this:
Long ago, the Gaels brought this folktale from the Isle of Barra, Scotland, to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. A favourite of Cape Breton Gaelic tradition bearer Michael “Mickey” MacNeil, this tale tells the story of Luran, a farmer and fisherman. Luran had cattle, sheep, and horses, and a good boat too. But one thing was bothering him: the fairies kept coming every night and stealing his animals. He didn’t know what to do. But one day when he was out fishing, a mermaid came to his boat…
It is printed in both English and Gaelic.
This is Emily’s second book that she illustrated, the first was also a children’s story from Scottish folklore, called Bodkin Beag and Bodkin Mòr.
She said that last winter we found ourselves in yet another lockdown so, naturally, another book came out of this time spent at home.
On Sunday, they launched the book at the church in Iona, MacNeil and the two MacDonalds were present for the launch at the all-ages event and Shelly Campbell provided fiddle tunes, in true Scottish fashion.
MacDonald spoke to the importance of telling these traditional Gaelic stories and bringing them to a wider audience.
“It even has a great message…to eat your porridge!” laughed Emily.
MacDonald says that she very much enjoys flexing her creative muscles through the fine art of illustration and is eager to see what the future holds.
“It’s a different way to access these stories and a great opportunity for those families who want to send these stories to their grandkids or family who may live out west and not have the opportunity to hear these stories like we do,” she explained.
“And it teaches us that we must be kind to mermaids,’ she closed.
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