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Donegal Tales June 3, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


A while ago I took this out of the Central Library. It’s a compendium of stories written (and originally illustrated) by Anne Casserley in the 1920s and after. As the blurb notes:

Here are twenty delightful Irish tales for children, written seventy years ago by Anne Casserley, writer and teacher, who spent her childhood summers in County Donegal, the mountainous northwest coast of Ireland. There she learned first-hand the rural life and folklore of the County and became in time the talented and inventive storyteller of the world of Donegal.

Her stories recall rural Ireland in a timeless time before cars, radios and electricity. On the wild mountainsides above the fertile valley farms, stray animals, domestic and wild, and a few odd folks lived together in a world of their own where the Leprechaun and the Fairies were everyday neighbors. This is down-to-earth fantasy where animals and people talk, not in dialect, but in unmistakable Irish accents; gregarious, hospitable, full of “human” faults and virtues.

Donegal Tales are read-aloud stories for children six to nine and wise, funny and beguiling reading for readers of all ages. They are truly literature, rich in language and depiction of character, not Dick and Jane prose nor aimless whimsy. Meet Brian, the orphan from the valley who lives with the black pig Roseen and Katty the turkey-hen, his boisterous friend the Young Donkey, the Kerry Cow and Kerry Calf, Rogureena Rua the fox, the miserly scheming Leprechaun, the tender-hearted Clogmaker’s Wife, the intrepid but tactless Little Black Lamb, and many other charming, eccentric creatures and folks.

I like the the blunt, almost contemporary, style of the stories. Animals are downright rude, selfish and bold. I don’t know how traditional these are, or whether she made them up herself, but it’s great stuff. I managed to get online one the books from which the collection is drawn, The Whins on Knockattan.

There’s a few bits and bobs online.

A review here from the Chicago Tribune of 1929.

Has anyone any information on Casserley? I’ve read a lot of adaptations of Irish tales, both old and new(isn) in the last few years, and I think this may be the most entertaining.


1. An Cathaoirleach - June 4, 2017

I remember my late father had copies of some of her books, which he has retained since childhood. He thought her stories were very good, and compared well to Irish writers covering the same time, without the romanticism which went with say Walter Macken

May I refer you to a US academic Shane Riorden, who has been working on her writing. He had a letter in the Irish Times many years ago looking for information about her (using an Irish address). I gather he may have published his research subsequently.


(The address should read Poll a’Mhuilinn, Comhola, Bantry Co Cork.

My understanding is that she was a second generation US citizen who had money and travelled much of the Irish west coast.

Her publishers were the New York firm, Harper Brothers, now part of Harper Collins.


WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2017

Very much appreciated An Cathaoirleach. I’ve managed to get a few of her titles second hand. That’s fascinating about her being second generation. Some of the language is oddly contemporary even at this remove (and witty too).


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