An Irish Summer 2: In Children’s Books

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When I Was Young…

It was my Irish father who introduced me to the books written by Patricia Lynch. She was a writer who wrote in my father’s time and mine. One of her best known books is ‘The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey.’

‘Patricia Lynch (1898-1972), children’s author, was born in Cork. The family moved to London following her father’s death and she was educated there, in Scotland and Belgium. Her first book won the Tailteann silver medal in 1932. ‘The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey’ was serialised in the Irish Press, and many of her stories were broadcast on Radio Eireann. She wrote over fifty books which were translated into many European languages.’

‘In this story of mystery and adventure we follow the exploits of Seamus and Eileen, who live in a whitewashed cottage at the end of the bog where their father works as a turf-cutter. One day they are befriended by a donkey, who leads them into a series of extraordinary adventures and encounters with strange people. An enchanted teapot, the leprechaun, the little dark man, the golden eagle, the salmon of Knowledge, and Finn and the ancient heroes all appear to share in the great adventure.’

Irish Books Out Now With A Summer Theme

Young Readers: 4-8

Let’s See Ireland by Sarah Bowie meanwhile does exactly what it says on the tin! Map out your own fun road-trip, as Molly, her parents and cat Mipsy set off around the country, with stop-offs at Dublin Zoo, the Cliffs of Moher and Newgrange.’

Children: 8-12

‘Inspired by his own adventures as a child on Achill meanwhile, comedian David O’Doherty’s The Summer I Robbed a Bank (8-12) is a hilarious, heart-warming tale that sees young Rex persuaded to rob the island’s travelling bank by his eccentric Uncle Derm.’

‘Rex is definitely NOT the sort of person to rob a bank. He’s a big worrier and his Mum still calls him Rexypoos – but when his parents split up and his Mum breaks her leg, he’s sent to stay with his brilliant Uncle Derm on a remote Irish island for the summer.

It’s not an easy start for Rex, who is soon facing sheep in his bedroom and very weird carrots for dinner. But before long, he and his new friend Kitty are wrapped up in Uncle Derm’s most outlandish plot yet…

With Uncle Derm having a very personal reason to save local assisted-living centre the Old Coastguard Station, will the gang be able to stop evil developer Mr Angley from demolishing it?

The Summer I Robbed a Bank is a fantastically funny adventure, packed with high jinks, close calls, delightful nonsense and larger-than-life characters. Expect everything from disgusting ice-cream to giant inflatables, basking sharks and one very daring heist.

In amongst all the silliness, it’s a joy to see Rex begin to relax and grow in confidence, and the story touches sensitively on issues of family separation and serious illness.’

Young Adults: 12-14

There are plenty of great Irish books for older children and teens to pack for that staycation, too. On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (12-14) is a sweet coming-of-age story that follows four friends during the summer a dolphin arrives at their local cove. ‘My YA novel with Faber&Faber, On Midnight Beach, came out in 2020. It is a reimagining of an Irish legend, The Táin, reset in the long hot summer of 1976. Cúchulainn and Maedhbh are teenagers in bellbottom jeans, and the bull is a wild but playful dolphin. Told through the voices of Emer and Gus, it is at once a love story and a dramatic coming-of-age tale.

It has been shortlisted for the 2021 Carnegie Medal, the Lancashire Book of the Year Award, the Irish Book Awards, and longlisted for the UKLAs and the KSC Book Awards.’

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