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Strangers at the Fair

Author: Patricia Lynch. Illustrated by Eileen Coghlan
Other Names: Coghlan, Eileen.
Published: Harmondsworth
Physical Description: 173p. : ill.
Notes: Ms note: To Teresa/ From Mummy. Ms name: Teresa Barnett, 22, Carlisle Avenue, Littletown, Derby.
Strangers at the Fair is a collection of short stories, many of which contain characters familiar from elsewhere in Lynch’s work, such as Seamus and Eileen from The Turf Cutter’s Donkey. It is the second title by Patricia Lynch to appear in the Puffin Story Book series, at number 55 (PS 55). Its inclusion at a relatively early stage in the series (1949 – eight years after publication of first book in the series) is of further importance in that its content centres on issues, folklore, and communities specific to rural Irish life. Such a focus is perhaps suggestive of the series’ interest in a certain kind of ‘Irishness’, particularly a rural, and occasionally romanticised way of life, sometimes thought to be found in Patricia Lynch’s work.The fair is central in many of the stories collected here, and the presence of the fair in Irish children’s literature or in children’s literature about Ireland remained for decades to come. In ‘Seamus Sells the Pig’, Seamus’s movement towards adulthood is suggested when he is allowed to sell the pig at the market himself. Though he sells the pig for a magic bottle, he is celebrated rather than punished when the bottle turns out to be valuable, defying other such didactic tales where the child must make their own choices. Though the excitement and peculiarities of the fair is present in most of Lynch’s stories where it is a feature, in some of Lynch’s stories here, the fair is associated with feelings of exclusion or being without a home. In ‘The Fiddler Boy of Ardnaglas’, Peadar is a lonely boy without a family and under the charge of his ‘master’, ‘Black Rory’. His escape to the fair leads to the creation of a new, alternative family for Peadar, a feature that is evident elsewhere in Lynch’s work. The title story, ‘Strangers at the Fair’, is not strictly about the typically conceived fair that appears in Lynch’s work, but concerns the meeting points of rural lives that features in a number of other tales in the volume. The beginning of the story sees a man, a local Garda, scornful of his town, and particularly its commercialisation of Christmas. However, his faith in the magic that can happen in his own town is restored through his meeting with a local boy and his realisation that he has met the real Father Christmas.
[Ciara Gallagher].
Subject: Ireland, Folklore, Gender, Modernity, Edition of Interest, Illustrator, Fair, Travelling Community, Market, Home,
Genre: Ireland
Folklore
Gender
Modernity and the Modern
Publishing Histories
Editions
Illustrator
Language: English
Original price: One shilling and sixpence.
Library: Church of Ireland College of Education
Collection: Bartlett Puffin Collection - CICE