|Posted by Sean O'Halloran on January 27, 2019 at 7:20 PM|
The Down Recorder - 5 December 2018
A CLOUGH woman has just published her third children’s book in a series cleverly written to capture the imagination of young readers.
Eighty six year-old Maureen Donnelly’a book, Five Famous Dogs of Ireland, which is illustrated by Ulster artist Susan Hughes, looks at the wealth of legends and rich folklore which has almost been forgotten today.
Mrs Donnelly, whose late husband, the Rev James Donnelly, was rector of Saul and Inch Parish Churches, says she got her inspiration from a picture of her great grandson, one year-old Rory Donnelly, holding on to a fluffy teddy bear in one hand and patting the family’s pet dog with the other.
She said: “It struck me when I saw the photo how well children and animals get along. Sadly, children are growing up in a society that is saturated with technology and it appears to be hindering their development in reading and understanding.”
Five Famous Dogs of Ireland brings to life the best loved of all the Irish hounds in history since Finn McCool and his favourite dog, Bran, strolled these parts.
They include the much loved best friend of Manus O’Kane, an ancient chieftain from the Glens. His wolfhound was called Bawn and was known to be the best jumping dog in all of Ireland and could scare off the meanest of enemies.
Mrs Donnelly said: “I had the privilege to grow up with stories such as Bran. I loved the story so much I wrote it down back then. And I’m really glad I did. I came to write all the ones I could recall back then too. These tales will be sure to ignite again the imaginations of every child who reads them.”
No book would be complete without the tale of Setanta, the young boy who grew up to be a brave warrior. He was renowned for tackling a fierce hound with his bare hands. But feeling so bad after killing the hound, he asked the dog’s owner for a pup and promised he would train him up to be as good as his father.
Setanta became known from that day on as Cu Chulainn — the Hound of Cullen.
Mrs Donnelly has been instrumental in setting up a number of historical societies around Co Down.
She adds: “The books are aids to help parents hand down our wealth of Irish folklore and the great legends of Ulster to another generation. So much of our heritage and culture is being lost on our young generation.
“This series of books is a way for me to rescue those stories. This generation is seeing a lot more children who are hyper active but a book in hand can be a slowing down tool to enjoy in a park or curled up on the sofa.”
Five Famous Dogs of Ireland would make a great Christmas gift for any child or adult. It can be purchased for £7.99 from a number of local outlets, including the St Patrick Centre, Down County Museum and Smyth’s Newsagents in Newcastle.