Wednesday, 15 September 2010
The Egg of a Seabird..lovely, perfect and laid this very morning.
So says EM Forster in the foreword to a delightful book I am reading.
The Blasket Islands lie off the Atlantic coast of Ireland, a short ferry ride from The Dingle Peninsula. They have been uninhabited since 1953 when the last few residents left for the mainland and better health care.
Maurice O'Sullivan was born in 1904 and he wrote this book as a series of stories for his children to read when they were older. The original is written in the Irish language. But the book has such universal appeal - it tells the story of his childhood and adolescence on these islands, the story of a way of life that has gone for ever.
It was a way of life which was very harsh. The diet was poor and was heavily supplemented with puffins, seagulls eggs - anything they could scavenge from the wild. Often they were shoeless and often they were penniless, but the enjoyment of life, the mischief they got up to, the cameraderie of the villagers - it all shines through in this absolutely delightful book.
A friend has lent it to me to read. She had a copy many years ago and lent it to someone and lost it. Last week, in Barter Books in Alnwick, she says it jumped out of the shelf and into her hands as she went through the door. I am so glad it did because I have loved it. Do try to find a copy.