The Golden Apple; A Play for Kiltartan Children
This appears to be a first edition of Lady Gregory’s play for children, which was first published in 1916. It contains numerous full-page, full-colour illustrations by Margaret Gregory, daughter-in-law of Lady Gregory, who studied in London at the Slade School of Art and illustrated three of Lady Gregory’s works. Some of the original drawings for this work are held in the National Library of Ireland. The play is a fable written for a young audience and tells the story of Rury, son of the dying King of Ireland, who travels through various dangers to retrieve the golden apple from the garden of the witch. The scenes are set in a small number of places, including the Witch’s Garden, the King’s Bedroom, the Wood of Wonder’s, the Giant’s House, and the Roadside, some of which are revisited during the course of the play. Other characters include Pamogue, the Witch’s daughter who wants to marry and to see the world outside the walls of the Witch’s residence; Muireann, daughter of the King of Spain who has been placed under the power of the witch, along with her five brothers who have been turned into ‘five little red-mouthed trouts’ (1) by the witch. The King’s steward, Simon, accompanies Rury on his journey, and the King’s doctor also features, as he tries to outdo Rury and win the King’s favour by bringing him the golden apple. There is an ironic undertone to some elements of the play, seen for example in the giant who wears stilts in order to maintain his reputation and featured in one of the illustrations lacking many of the fearsome features associated with the figure of a giant. There is a hint of comedy in another illustration where the doctor examining the giant climbs a step ladder to look into his mouth. Though the play is based in Irish mythology and folklore and traverses much that is magical, its characters have distinctly human weaknesses and ailments. Combined with the ironic and comedic elements, these features make the work an unusual one when situated in its contemporary moment.
Lady Gregory. Illustrated by Margaret Gregory
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Date of Publication:
vii,,107,p., ill.,, music, 22cm
Form, Ireland, Edition of Interest, Myth and Legend, Folklore, Illustrator, Comedy, Irony.
Children’s Book Collection – DCLA, Pearse Street