Friday, February 3, 2012

Big Tree of Bunlahy: Stories of My Own Countryside, by Padraic Colum

Another fabulously fun book of tales by Padraic Colum! This time, the tales in the book are from the author's own small village in Ireland, and are a mixture of Irish folklore, and the stories of the men who lived in the village. The book gets its name from the large tree in the center of town that served as a sort of town square- visitors would go there to learn about the area, and the townspeople would go there to talk and to work outdoors.

Some of the stories are simple tales of the community and the people who live (or lived) in it, and others are more elaborate tales with magic, witches, and mythological creatures similar in some ways to Grimm tales. There are also hints of religious tension in the book (no doubt unavoidable then, as now) but Colum doesn't presume to tell you which side he favors (although you can probably guess). Wikipedia confirms my suspicion!

The author must have had an exciting life; he came to the US to participate in the gold rush, returned back to Ireland and lived an activist's life, eventually returned stateside, and died in Enfield, Connecticut, so he's almost local! In any case, a very enjoyable book.

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