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Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature by Manchán Magan

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Non Fiction

By Grace O’Reilly

Published last year, 2021 by Gill Books this book is both in the Irish and the English language.  This educational, arty and fun book not only teaches us about nature, it also educates us with the odd ‘cúpla focal’ at the same time.  The author of this book is Manchán Magan, also renowned for his book entitled Thirty-Two Words for Field, which was also published by Gill.  There are many detailed drawings within and all of the beautiful illustrations are done by the talented Steve Doogan, in a tasteful and classy black and gold.  The cover design is by www.grahamthew.com

The blurb at the back of the book reads,

“When you look at the world through the Irish language, you see a world more magical.

*See a squirrel as a ‘tree dog’ (MADRA CRAINN) and you’ll never see it differently.

*Imagine a banshee’s fingers) MEIRINI NA MBAN SÍ) and the poisonous foxglove comes to life.

*Discover five words to describe the STAGES OF DAEN and change your experience of sunrises forever.

Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature explores the ways the Irish language describes our world with the curiosity and devilment of a child and the wisdom and insights of our ancestors.  Get ready to rediscover the flora and fauna of the land, sea and air and the otherworldly dimensions of this, our magical island home.”

At the back of the book you can see how to pronounce the Irish words, as they are written beside it phonetically.  At the front there is an introduction about the book as a whole, and then the book is split into sections, ‘Wild Animals’, ‘In the Air’, ‘Under the Water’, and ‘Little Creatures’.

My two children Olivia, who is almost 11 and Ben who is 8, love this book.  It is not so much of a book that you would read and pass on, rather a book to keep and dip in and out of whenever takes your fancy and can be read from start to back, back to start, section by section or all muddled up.  Endless choices, and the choice is the readers. While it is aimed at children, the charm of this book is that it is education for people of all ages, after all we are continuously learning, and “You learn something new, everyday”, or so they say.

(c) Grace O’Reilly

Order your copy online here.

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