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Irish tale entertains and educates


March 10, 2010

Irish Country Girl

An Irish Country Girl

By Patrick Taylor

($24.99, Forge)

"And it is what it was" signals the start of an Irish tale. When Mrs. Maureen Kincaid ("Kinky" to her friends) says those words, we know we're in for a treat, as she's a gifted storyteller.

Kinky is the housekeeper for Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly of Ballybucklebo in County Down, Northern Ireland. Those who have read the first three books of Patrick Taylor's "Irish Country" series will delight in learning about her youth and absorbing the engaging story she tells.


Kinky was from County Cork and learned the ways of the Bean Sidhe (banshee) and Dubhe Sidhe (doov shee) - faeries and spirits -- from her mother. The reader has the advantage of the opening Author's Note, pronunciation cues and a glossary in the back of the book. Because she's telling this story not just to us, but to a group of youngsters who have stopped at the doctor's house in Ballybucklebo, she explains about the faery spirits and the Other World as she begins with the beginning, with Connor MacTaggert chopping down a blackthorn tree. The Irish know the Dubhe Sidhe (doov shee) make their homes under the blackthorn; but not everyone is a believer, and Connor was stubborn enough to think he could have that tree for firewood. And it is what it was...

The book's glossary is worth a read by itself, and you'd further your enjoyment of the novel if you'd skip to it straightaway. In addition to clarifying some of the words and phrases you'll encounter, you'll be amused by some: "worser" is "as bad as it is possible to get; much more so than worse" and "stiffener" is "whiskey." One could hardly be more descriptive.

Mary Burns is the owner of The BookWORKS, located at 1510 Third Street, downtown Marysville, 360.659.4997. Comments or requests are welcome at


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