Darby O'Gill and the Good People
This book is a newly edition edition of six stories written by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh in the early 1900s, produced by children’s literature scholar Brian McManus.
Herminie Templeton Kavanagh had an Irish father and English mother but lived in the US from the age of eleven and began writing after her marriage ended. McManus found her original stories and felt the Disney adaptation from 1959 had done a disservice to her writing. He decided to bring her work to a whole new generation of readers.
McManus has annotated some of the stories to make them more accessible to modern readers but they are still steeped in 19th century Ireland, a supernatural place where fairies, leprechauns and banshees abound. The book begins with Tipperary farmer Darby O’Gill discovering the fairies have stolen his favourite cow, Rosie. He goes to retrieve her from the fairies’ home in the Slievenamon mountains and the adventures begin. Sworn enemies become friends, the heathen fairies help the devout parish priest, and Darby discovers the banshee is merely a misunderstood messenger from the other world.
Younger readers might struggle with some archaic language, but the dialogue sparkles with mischief and whimsy. The stories really come to life if they are read aloud. McManus has done Herminie Templeton Kavanagh a great service by sharing her stories and introducing her name to a wider audience.