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Children’s Books in Irish by Gwyneth Wynn: References, Links, and Vocabulary (pt. 1) Posted by on Apr 22, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Crann agus cailleach agus broc, báisteach ar lá atá “breá” in intinn carachtar amháin, agus eachtraí Mhicí ar lorg an leoin agus sa bportach.  These are some of the keywords describing Gwyneth Wynn’s children’s books.  Our last two blogposts looked specifically at the two books about Micí (an madra) agus Teidí (an béar).  I haven’t actually read the other five (An Crann Beag, Lá Breá Báistí, Clíona Cailleach, Beartla Broc agus na Focail Draíochta, and Bon Voyage, Beartla Broc) but they are on my to-do list, if I can get a hold of them.  I imagine some readers of this blog might like to check them out also. Nó b’fhéidir go bhfuil siad léite agaibh cheana féin?

After starting to write this blog about Wynn’s books, I finally found a little biographical information about her, thanks to her Amazon authors page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gwyneth-Wynn/e/B0034ODO34

So we’ll start with some of the basics about her life, then we’ll look briefly at her “broc” character (Beartla, love that alliteration), and then at some blurbs describing three of the books she wrote after the Micí and Teidí pair.  Part One (an bhlagmhír seo) will include An Crann Beag and Part Two, maybe a Part Three, will cover Lá Breá Báistí and Clíona Cailleach.

Beathaisnéis Gwyneth Wynn: Is as an mBreatain Bheag í agus labhraíonn sí Breatnais.  Tháinig sí go hÉirinn sa bhliain 1992 chun Gaeilge a fhoghlaim.  Deir sí gur “minority language nerd” í.  Is ealaíontóir agus scríbhneoir í.  Thosaigh an chéad leabhar a scríobh sí mar scéal a d’inis sí dá hiníonacha agus iad ag dul a luí.

Na Leabhartha faoi Bheartla Broc: As a heads-up, I’ll simply say that I can’t even find blurbs for the “Beartla Broc” books, let alone the books themselves, so I’ll just note here that “broc” is an interesting pan-Celtic word for “badger,” and that it also shows up in some rural English dialects.  You might recognize it from the late Brian Jacques’ Lord Brocktree in his Redwall series or from the Irish word “brocaire,” a terrier, literally a “badger-dog,” or, even more literally, “*badgerer,” as it were, since “brocaire” as such doesn’t incorporate any of the Irish words for “dog” or “hound” (madra/madadh, gadhar, cú).  By the way, “Dachshund” literally means “badger-hound” in German, so apparently hunting badgers was an important function for dogs in various areas.   I shudder to think of it, on behalf of both the badger and the dog!

Although I can’t find much on Beartla Broc, there is a great image of Wynn with a person in a “broc” costume here: https://twitter.com/plearaca/status/343334818773348353 and another image of Beartla reading to kids here: https://twitter.com/Plearaca/status/520886567951687681.  The only image I can find of the Beartla book cover is much too small to fit into the collage above, so I just added some boxes for the titles to the graphics above.  If anyone knows how these books can be obtained, I’d appreciate finding out.

Blurbaí na bhFoilsitheoirí: Here are some publishers’ blurbs written for her books, in Irish and English.  I’ve added a few vocabulary notes for learners.   As noted above, Lá Breá Báistí and Clíona Cailleach will be held for the future.

1) An Crann Beag (An Gúm, 2001):

“Thuas ar thaobh an chnoic, bhí coill lán de chrainn bhreátha mhóra….. cé is moite de cheann beag amháin. Bhíodh na crainn eile ag magadh faoin gcrann beag agus ag glaoch ainmneacha air. Ach tháinig a lá.

“Up on the side of the hill the forest was full of big trees. There was one small tree that the big trees made fun of, but as it happens his day came.” (http://udar.ie/An-Crann-Beag)


a)) de chrainn bhreátha mhóra, of fine big trees: not only do we have the plural forms of the adjectives (breá, breátha and mór, móra) but they’re lenited here. Why? Because “crann” has become “crainn,” with the inserted “i,” making the ending slender, and that triggers lenition for the following adjectives.  A more familiar example might be “fir bhreátha mhóra” (fine big men) where the lenition occurs for the same basic reason — a slenderized plural form created by adding or inserting the letter “i.”

b))  cé is moite de: except for

c)) The Irish doesn’t really include “as it happens,” which appears in the English version, but the flow still works.

Sounds like a similar theme to “Rudolph an Réinfhia” (“… used to laugh and call him names”) and “An Lacha Bheag Ghránna” (The Ugly Duckling).  Ar léigh duine ar bith agaibh An Crann Beag?

Bhuel, sin tús an tsuirbhé bhig seo.  Déanfaidh muid Lá Breá Báistí agus Clíona Cailleach roimh i bhfad. SGF — Róislín

PS: For An Crann Beag, there is apparently a recorded version, referred to at http://www.mairebreatnach.com/childrens.htm.  It sounds great, but it’s not very apparent from the website how to order it.  … <beagáinín níos moille>  … Oh, but wait, it looks like they are available on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/sc%C3%A9alta-an-g%C3%BAm-2/id1001199197?mt=10).  Well, whaddya know!  The miracles of modern technology — even if I am still working on getting them to play!

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