Katie Ní Loingsigh discusses the new edition of Séanna, some hundred years after its original publication 25 February 2016 – Posted in: Uncategorised

Katie Ní Loingsigh (Research editorial assistant, Fiontar) shares some thoughts on Séanna’s story, on the occasion of Caoilfhionn Nic Pháidín’s new edition, some hundred years after its first publication.

‘Bíodh ina mhargadh,’ arsa Séanna.
‘Gan teip?’ arsa an Fear Dubh.
‘Gan teip,’ arsa Séanna.
‘Dar bhrí na mionn?’ arsa an Fear Dubh.
‘Dar bhrí na mionn,’ arsa Séanna.

What lies in store for someone who strikes a deal with the devil? This new modernised edition of Séanna gives an insight into the ill effects that such a deal has on Séanna, the central character of this story, and on his temperament and kin. The reader is introduced to Séanna, a generous and contented cobbler at the beginning of the book, whose disposition takes a change for the worse after an encounter with the devil. One of the primary highlights of this edition are the appealing illustrations which are fused together with the text itself. The reader not only becomes acquainted with Peadar Ó Laoghaire’s characters through his prose but Olivia Golden’s illustrations add to the reader’s overall understanding of Séanna’s plight.

One of Ó Laoghaire’s primary merits as an author was his faculty for description and this aspect of his writing shines through in Séanna. Ó Laoghaire focuses on the central importance of community through describing Séanna’s home district, the community’s enduring spirit as well as its varied characters. The reader’s attention is drawn towards central themes throughout the book – the battle between good and evil, the relationships between various characters, the rejection of temptation and the trickery of the devil in this international folk tale. The results of striking a deal with the devil are clearly revealed to the reader. Séanna’s journey comes to its close and the author reuses the infamous bargain to demonstrate the triumph of good over evil. Séanna, along with the reader, has learnt a valuable lesson and each must take more care in future decisions. Particular vigilance must be observed in any dealings with the devil or when any tempting riches are being offered by the fear fada caol dubh!


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