Spiddal Author, Fearghas Mac Lochlainn nominated for Book Award

Spiddal Author, Fearghas Mac Lochlainn nominated for Book Award

Spiddal Author, Fearghas Mac Lochlainn nominated for Book Award

An Slipéar Gloine, an Irish story based on Cinderella and told in rhyme, is on the KPMG Irish Children Book Award shortlist for 2023. Fearghas Mac Lochlainn, the Spiddal author of this scintillating book, is delighted. He says: "I'm chuffed. It is fantastic that a book written in the Irish language has been shortlisted. Paddy Donnelly, the brilliant artist who illustrated the book, deserves much of the credit here! I am also much indebted to Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin and Futa Fata who asked me to write the book in the first place and then put An Slipéar Gloine into the hat for the Reics Carló award (which it won ), and for the KPMG award."

An Slipéar Gloine is a retelling of the age old classic, Cinderella. Though Mac Lochlainn has a number of Futa Fata translations under his belt (An Rás Chuig an Mol Thuaidh, Eachtra Dlúthchara ) this is his first self-penned book. Told in humorous rhyme, An Slipéar Gloine’s Luaithrín and her evil sisters Straoisín and Smaoisín have enthralled young readers since it was published in 2022. Elaborating on the book, Fearghas says: "It's simply the original story of Cinderella, but with my own slant on it and my own sense of humour. The sisters Straoisín (Grimace ) and Smaoisín (Snotty ) and the stepmother (Camilla ) are terribly nasty and way over the top, which adds to the fun. It's not that their appearances are 'ugly', but rather, their personalities are. They are lazy, selfish and they treat poor Cinderalla like dirt. In contrast, Cinderella is good, hardworking and helpful, and the prince is gentle and kind. He is unimpressed with the mean sisters and is immediately taken by Cinderella. I suppose the message is - it's good to be good."

The decision to write the book in rhyme was quite a natural one for Fearghas. "I've had many years of experience in rhyming because of my participation in agallaimh bheirte and lúibíní at Oireachtas na Gaeilge every year. Irish is a very poetic language, and the tradition of writing in verse and story-telling in verse goes back for many centuries. The Irish language definitely lends itself to this style of writing."

Does Fearghas think there are enough children's books written in Irish? He says: "There's been a good revival in recent years and publishers like Futa Fata and Cló Iar Chonnacht deserve a lot of credit for this. But of course, we do need more Irish books for children. The more the merrier. We need a wide variety of books in different genres for all ages."

For illustrator Paddy Donnelly of Ballycastle, Antrim (who now lives in Belgium ), it is his third time being nominated for a KPMG Irish Children Book of the Year Award, having previously been nominated alongside Muireann Ní Chíobháin for Scúnc agus Smúirín in 2020 and with Máire Zepf for Míp in 2021.

Founded in 1990 and sponsored since 2020 by KPMG Ireland, the KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards are recognised as the most prestigious awards for children's books in Ireland, celebrating the best of Irish writing and illustration for young people.

National charity and arts organisation Children's Books Ireland administer the awards and also assemble an independent panel of expert judges.

'Year after year, we are blown away by the incredible talent in Irish children’s writing and illustration, and this year’s shortlist raises the bar yet again. The shortlisted books represent voices from across the island of Ireland, drawing on some of our most ancient myths and legends and the diverse experiences of children and young people today. We’re delighted that our Junior Juries will have such a rich tapestry of Irish writing and illustration to dig into!' Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children's Books Ireland

The winners will be announced on May 24. The best of luck to Fearghas and Paddy!


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