• West Cork Literary Festival 2021

Inní by Réaltán Ní Leannáin

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Inni

By Réaltán Ní Leannáin

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Inní is not a normal word. It comes from Mrs. Banny, a name I got called in a school where I used to work. The Principal (a nun) insisted on calling me Bean (Mrs.) Uí Leannáin. The kids struggled with that and shortened it, first to Banny Lanny, then to Banny, and finally I would get a knock on the staffroom door asking for Mrs. Banny. I borrowed that experience and changed it, changing the Mrs. (Banny) to Miss (Inní). It fits well into that particular story. All my stories are a mixture of tiny, tiny nuggets from real life stirred through a mix of fictionalisation. I think this pinch of reality helps me bring the characters to life. But please don’t come up to me and ask, did X, Y or Z really happen. It. Is. Fiction. My characters are totally fictional by the time I release them into the world.

Inní is my second short story collection, urban stories, firmly situated in the towns and cities of Ireland. My first collection, Dílis, was much lauded for bringing the female voice to the forefront of contemporary Irish language prose. This one is no different. The protagonists are unflinchingly female. I write of assault, of intimidation, of deception, mixed through with joy, love and humour.

It’s what I know. My work is based around the human experience, my own and all the women I have known over the years. The people in these stories would frequently be omitted from history, but their stories were valid, their lives were important. Some of these stories are based in the fairly recent historical past and offer a glimpse into other ways of looking at, for instance, the Belfast pogroms in 1921, or the 1931 Relief Act riots in the North.

I admire Séamus Ó Grianna and Pádraig Ó Conaire in this respect. They wrote engrossing, well-crafted short stories with strong women characters. I re-read them often. Their storytelling has a simplicity and directness that I work towards in my own writing. Before sitting down to edit a draft I like to read good quality material that I personally enjoy in the genre that I am working in at the time. If we read enough, some of it is bound to rub off in our own writing, I hope. For the story, Rún, for instance, the main character is a little girl. So I explored the stories of Katherine Mansfield and how she dealt with children and voice, for that story. For Ceann don Phota, how Alice Munro deals with domesticity and relationships was in the back of my mind.

I also like to attend courses from time to time, to help me jump start into action. Other writers, other genres, they all have something to offer that I can take away with me. This pandemic has left my battery very flat, to be honest. So, I recently completed a course in the Irish Writers Centre with writer Bernie McGill, who reminded me of all the bases I have to cover when I sit down to my next novel plotting session. I love listening to how other writers approach their own writing, and I always learn something from every one.

I last published in 2019, Cití na gCártaí, a novel. But these short stories in this new collection are hardly young and freshly written since then. Some of these stories have been simmering for years. I like to take my time with stories, and review and re-edit as many times as possible. Especially if I have historical data in the work, as is the case in some of the stories here. I tend to have a lot of material at various stages of development. At present I’m transferring material from old notebooks to the computer, an editing process in itself. I read, I discard, I cut, I rephrase as I go. I read material out loud. If it doesn’t read well, it’s out.  I wrote sixty pages of a wanted-to-be-a-novel several years ago. I’ve cut that to five pages. I might be able to use it in my next novel, I might not. If I don’t, I’ll leave it to wait, to be looked at again. Sometime. Maybe.

Inní is published by Éabhlóid publishing house, and can be ordered direct or from An Siopa Leabhar (Dublin) or An Ceathrú Póilí (Belfast)

Cover design: Caomhán Ó Scolaí

(c) Réaltán Ní Leannáin

About Inní by Réaltán Ní Leannáin:

These stories grab our attention from the first few words, as the author steers us skillfully through deceit, trickery and duplicity. Classes clash and come under the microscope, hypocrisy is revealed and inequalities laid bare. Credible characters are presented in engrossing stories that leave us wanting more in this new short story collection by Ní Leannáin

“Cnuasach eile dea-scríofa soléite é seo ó pheann Réaltán Ní Leannáin. Faoi mar is dual di, tá guth na mban chun cinn sna scéalta seo a chíorann an mion agus an mór araon: cultúr an éignithe agus na náire, foréigean agus teannas polaitiúil, ach chomh maith leis sin, dlúithe teaghlaigh agus soineantacht na hóige. Tá bua faoi leith ag Ní Leannáin maidir le caint bheo a chur i mbéal a cuid carachtar, go háirithe páistí óga. Bua é sin a shéideann greann agus bríomhaireacht isteach sna scéalta fiú agus ábhair thromchúiseacha á spíonadh.”
An Dr. Caitlín Nic Íomhair

Order your copy online here.

Irish Language Version

Is focal le ciall nuachumtha é Inní. Tig sé ó Mrs. Banny, leasainm a cuireadh orm i scoil ina mbínn ag teagasc, tráth. D’ordaigh an príomhoide sa scoil (clochar) go nglaofaí Bean Uí Leannáin orm. Bhí na páistí ag streachailt leis sin agus rinne siad á ghiorrú, go Banny Lanny ar dtús, agus ansin go Banny, go dtí sa deireadh, bhíodh cnag ar dhoras an tseomra foirne agus d’iarrtaí Missus Banny. Thóg mé síol an taithí sin agus d’athchruthaigh mé é, ag athrú Banny go hInní. Suíonn sé isteach sa scéal go maith. Is meascán iad mo chuid scéalta de smidiríní ón saol  measctha leis an samhlaíocht. Creidim go gcuidíonn pinse den fhíorshaol liom beocht a chur sna carachtair. Ach ná cuir ceist orm ar tharla X, Y nó Z. Ficsean. Atá. Ann. Is daoine  ficseanúil iad na carachtair seo faoin am a scaoilim amach ar an domhan mhór iad.

Is é  Inní an dara cnuasach gearrscéalta gam, scéalta uirbeacha, lonnaithe go daingean i mbailte móra agus i gcathracha na hÉireann. Ghnothaigh mo chéad chnuasach, Dílis, ardmholadh as an ghuth baineann a thabhairt chun cinn i bprós comhaimseartha na Gaeilge. Mar an gcéanna, an ceann seo. Is mná go smior iad na príomhcharactair sna scéalta. Scríobhaim fá ionsaithe, fá chur i gcéill, fá leatroim, agus iad meascaithe le lúchair, le grá agus le greann.

Is iad seo na gnéithe a bhfuil cur amach agam orthu. Scríobhaim faoin taithí daonna, mo thaithí féin agus taithí na mban ar fad a bhfuil aithne agam orthu thar na blianta. Ní áirítear na daoine seo sna leabhair staire go minic, ach bhí siad ann, tá siad ann, suntasach ach gan taifead. Roinnt de na scéalta, baineann siad le haimsir atá úr-imithe, mar shampla, Pograim Bhéal Feirste i 1921, nó na círéibeanna a tharla mar gheall ar an Acht um Fhóirithint Bhaile i 1931.

Is breá liom saothar Shéamuis Uí Ghrianna agus Phádraig Uí Chonaire sa traidisiún seo. Chum siad dea-ghearrscéalta insuime le príomhcharachtair láidre ban, scéalta iad a léim in athuair go minic. Tá simplíocht agus macántacht ina gcuid scéalta a mbím gafa leo. Sula gcuirim fúm eagar a chur ar dhréacht de mo chuid féin is mian liom tabhairt faoi ábhar taitneamhach a léamh, scríofa ag duine eile sa seánra sin a bhfuil mé ag obair ann. Má léimid go leor, rachaidh roinnt den léitheoireacht I bhfeidhm orainn, is dócha. Mar shampla, an scéal Rún, ar girseach bheag í an príomhcharactar – rinne mé póirseáil trí scéalta Katherine Mansfield agus scrúdaigh mé mar a léirigh sí páistí agus a nguth siúd. I gcás Ceann don Phota, bhí an dóigh a laimhseálann Alice Munro saol teaghlaigh ar chúl mo chinn.

Rud eile gur maith liom ná cúrsa i gceird na scríbhneoireachta a dhéanamh ó am go ham, le mo ghríosadh chun gnímh. Scríbhneoirí eile, seánraí eile – bíonn gaois le fáil uathu uilig. D’fhág an phandéim seo in ísle aicsin mé, le bheith fírinneach. Mar sin, thug mé faoi chúrsa ar na mallaibh san Irish Writers Centre leis an scríbhneoir Bernie McGill, agus chuir sí cúpla pointe i gcuimhne dom don uair a shuím chun pinn leis an chéad shaothar eile. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil sé tábhachtach éisteacht le scríbhneoirí eile ag caint faoin dóigh a dtugann siad faoina gceird, agus foghlaimím rud ínteacht ó achan uile scríbhneoir acu.

Foilsíodh an saothar déireanach liom i 2019, úrscéal, Cití na gCártaí. Ar ndóigh, beag an baol gur ábhar nuascríofa ar fad é seo ó shin. Tá roinnt de na scéalta seo ar bogfhiuchadh le blianta. Is maith liom an-chuid ama a thógáil le scéalta – le hathdhréachtú agus atheagar – an oiread agus is féidir, go háirithe má tá ábhar stairiúil faoi chaibidil, mar a tharlaíonn le roinnt de na scéalta anseo. Bíonn go leor dréachtanna ar an deasc agam ag tréimhsí éagsúla forbartha. Faoi láthair tá mé ag aistriú ábhair ó leabhair nótaí go dtí an ríomhaire, próiseas eagarthóireachta ann féin. Léim, caithim amach, gearraim, athscríobhaim de réir mar a oireann. Léim ábhar ós ard. Muna bhfuil sé tarrantach go leor, amach leis. Scríobh mé seasca leathanach de úrscéal-le-bheith roinnt blianta ó shin. Gearrtha anois go cúig leathanach. Seans go n-úsáidfainn é amach anseo in úrscéal nua atá á bheartú agam. Ach muna dtiteann rudaí amach mar sin, fagfaidh mé ar leataobh é le hamharc air i gcionn roinnt blianta eile. Am ínteacht. B’fhéidir.

Foilsítear Inní ag Éabhlóid, le hordú díreach uathu siúd  nó ó An Siopa Leabhar (BÁC) nó An Ceathrú Póilí (Béal Feirste)

Dearadh clúdaigh: Caomhán Ó Scolaí

About the author

Réaltán Ní Leannáin is 2019 Irish Language Writer-in-Residence in Dublin City University. In print, she has a poetry collection TURAS AILSE, a short story collection DÍLIS and an upcoming novel CITÍ NA GCÁRTAÍ. Details of where to buy them and other online work are on her blog http://turasailse.blogspot.com/
She is also on Twitter https://twitter.com/RealtanNiL
and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Realtan2/

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