Review of Darby O'Gill and the Good People
Darby O’Gill and the Good People is a series of Irish stories about Darby’s adventures with the fairy folk of Ireland. After Darby’s cow is stolen by the fairies, he sets out to retrieve her. In the process, he becomes stuck inside the mountain Sleive-na-mon for six months with the fairies. In this time he forms a friendship with the King of the Fairies, Brian Conners. This cements Darby’s reputation of being knowledgeable about supernatural goings on. This is really useful, as Darby encounters different supernatural beings at regular intervals. With all the fairies, the leprechaun, the banshee, and the headless coachman, Darby O’Gill is a very good introduction to Irish lore.
Herminie Templeton Kavanagh wrote a lot of words phonetically, and includes Irish words here and there. The advantage of this method is a very real Irish accent and speaking style. It’s a very charming, down-to-earth style of story telling that stays true to its cultural roots. While some of the stories are a bit scary, Darby isn’t in mortal danger, and Bridget and the children are always kept safe and provided for, no matter how long it takes Darby to complete his escapade.
This is the sort of book that will set a room laughing. It’s a down to earth telling of the unearthly. My favorite story is The Banshee’s Comb, in which poor Darby is sent, on “All Sowls' night” (“whin the spirits of the dayparted dead visit once again their homes”), in the rain, to deliver tea to a banshee-visited house. My mom read this to me and my siblings when I was young, and I went back and reread it multiple times. It’s a good book. There are six fairy tales, and they build on each other, but each would make sense if read alone.
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