Thursday, October 1, 2020

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Why the Moon Travels is a beautifully turned out hardback which has between its covers twenty Travellers tales (literally.) It was written by Oein DeBhairduin.

Oein is an Irish Traveller. He is also a trained folk herbalist, syndicated astrologer and metal worker. As head of a Traveller community based education centre, he has for long time been a collector of elder tales and community customs. A practitioner of indigenous healing and celebratory practices are also under his belt. He is, of course, a philosopher. And why wouldn’t he? Didn’t his mother tell him that there were three things that no man understands, “ . . . the sharp edges of a broken heart, the mind of a woman and the value of the dandelion.”

Oein is from Galway, and has been living in Dublin for number of years. As a community employment supervisor with the Clondalkin Travellers Training he set many young Travellers on the road to a higher level of education, training and personal empowerment.

His own educational background was in developmental psychology and as a trained herbalist he set up an online herbal store called “The Irish Apothecary”. In which he sold urban harvested resins, oils and blends. Alongside this he also runs an online blog called “Barefoot Pavee” (which was shortlisted in last year’s Irish Blog Awards) in which he actively promotes traditional skills, craftsmanship, recipes, lore and many of the interesting and beautiful aspects of Traveller’s language and community.

Why the Moon Travels came as no surprise to readers of his columns in national magazines and regional newspapers . As a core member of the LGBT Pavee Support Group, he works to, “. . . cultivate safe places in which LGBT individuals can chat openly, seek and give peer based advice, influence policy development through identification of needs and provide a platform in which this aspect of our community can express their views publicly.”

Passionately proud of his own cultural background, he says “ I feel that pride should never be just a word or a statement but an act of will and manifestation that produces a positive and discernible presence within our lives.”

In the introduction Oein says, “Gammon . . .is used freely and openly in the stories as this collection is not only for reading, but for sharing out loud, an act that not only helps keep the stories alive but but also respect the ancient oral traditions of travellers.” Or somebody like me who spent decades learning bits and pieces of Gammon from members of the Travelling community the glossary of Gammon words is a welcome bonus. The title story was told to Oein by his father and his reason for including it in the collection is, “ . . . that Travellers are part of the world and the world is part of travellers.” He goes on to say, “Among other thing, this story reminds me of the fragility of trust and the innate desire to love in all people.” When you read the story you will see exactly what he means.

Leanne McDonagh, a Traveller, with an Honours degree in fine art and and a higher diploma in art and design education, who illustrated the book says,”I’ve alway seen Oein as a fellow artist, always knew he had an amazing way with words,”

Grainne O’Toole who, with Fionnuala Cloke, established Shein Press wrote, “I had known of Oein’s work and his interest in education and cultural development through my own background in community and human rights. I also became aware of his beautiful writing, and we reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in working on the collection.” That invitation has resulted in a masterpiece.

Stor Seanfhocal

Seanfhocal is the Irish word for proverb. In Ireland we are very proud of those simple, concrete, traditional saying that express a perceived truth based on common sense or experience. Everyone from Confucius the John B. Keane who uttered words of wisdom, is quoted by the populace. Now Ballaghaderreen man Tomás P. Moráin has now brought out a collection of the most common proverbs that he has collected over the years. He has written down each proverb in Irish, explained it in simple Irish and then goes on to elaborate its meaning in English. Every one of the 82 entries is accompanied by an appropriate illustration buy Marita O’ Hanlon.

We all know that there are proverbs that don’t hold water,” Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies” and many more that don’t stand up to scrutiny but fair play to the Balaghaderreen man he doesn’t use any of those in his collection.

Details from;

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They say that 70 is the new 50. Maybe it is but try telling that to a speed-camera. In the meantime have a read of this which was published 182 years ago. "Periods of Human Life," from the Wexford Conservative, 1 August 1838.

Decrepitude – From 71 to 77: The age of avarice, jealousy, and envy.

Caducity- (Senility) From 78 to 84. The age of distrust, vain-boasting, unfeelingness, suspicion.

Age of Favour – From 81 to 91. The age of insensibility, love of flattery, of attention and indulgence.

Age of Wonder- From 92 to 98. The age of indifference and love of praise.

Phenomenon – From 99 to 105. The age of insensibility, hope and the last sigh."

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My local town Blessington, four miles from Lacken, has been shortlisted as one of two finalists (the other one is Kinsale) in the Population 3 Category (4001-7000) in the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Awards. Final judging is now under way and the overall awards will be announced on October 06th.

Everybody in Lacken and the surrounding wishes them well and we hope they win.

See you in November.  


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