The Wind Fairies
This is quite a rare book, and only one other copy of the book can be found in the participating NCCB libraries: the NLI holds a copy which it dates . Elizabeth Brennan was an author of children’s books, including Crazy Nursery Rhymes, published in Dublin, and which can also be found in the Junior Special Collection at SPCD. Like Crazy Nursery Rhymes, this work is also illustrated by Naomi Heather (1911-1989), a well-known book illustrator who lived in Co. Waterford for many years. The book contains eight full colour plates and fifty-two pen sketches by Heather (‘Publisher’s Note’). The book is comprised of poems and short stories, which are alternated throughout. The poem often establishes a tone or theme that is connected in some way with the story that follows. Many of the stories and poems are without specific cultural markers, and the only specifically ‘Irish’ indicators or content are in the poems and stories about Liam Lepracaun [sic]. In the poem ‘The Lepracaun’ [sic], the fairies torment and tease the leprechaun. Much of the poem is written in the leprechaun’s dialect, with a heavy emphasis on an Irish ‘brogue’, which includes some words in Irish. The story that follows, ‘The North Wind Fairies help the Leprechaun’, tells of how Liam Lepracaun plans to lead travellers astray over the bog when stones are thrown at him, and the Wind Fairies help him by freezing the stone-throwing pixie spirits. Liam is thankful to the fairies but bids farewell with a mocking of the wind’s authority: ‘“As for you, Mr. Wonderful Windy Windiness, the next time ye go to the Wind Cavern Barber, ask him to clip yer long tongue as well as yer scraggy beard. Slan libh, fairies! Until we meet again!”’ Another story of interest is ‘The Little Brown Fox’, which appears to intervene into debates about fox hunting. In this story, the West Wind fairies help the little brown fox who is looking for food for his sick father by distracting the hunters and their horses. The horses proclaim their innocence: ‘ “we are only animals and must do as our masters tell us”’, (24) but they go on to suggest that the wind fairies blow away the scent that the hounds are to follow, reasserting some agency. The narrative shies away from asserting a specific position on the issue, favouring a middle-ground, where the animal is not killed while the hunt continues: ‘ “Hurrah!” they cried, “now those men, who really don’t mean any harm, will have their day’s sport, but the little Brown Fox will not be killed!”’(25).
Elizabeth Brennan. Illustrated by Naomi Heather
Place of Publication:
Dublin and London
Metropolitan Publishing Company
Date of Publication:
86p,p of plates : ill., col.plates ; 25 cm.
Ireland, Form, Illustrator, Illustrations, Leprechauns, Fairies, Animals, Animal Cruelty, Hunting
Junior Special Collection - SPD