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A Treasure Revealed — The Books of Soinbhe Lally

It has always been the custom for "A Home Page with an Irish Flavour" to eschew commercial promotions. Numerous attempts have been made by purveyors of all manner of goods and services to secure links to this site, in anticipation of gain or profit. As readers are aware, the material found on this Home Page is offered for enjoyment, possible enlightenment, and for encouragement of further research into topics that they find of interest.

Recently, however, a discovery was made of a treasure hitherto unknown to me, the books of Irish author Soinbhe Lally. Soinbhe’s name has appeared here on a number of occasions, but without the knowledge that she is an author of rare distinction. That omission is now belatedly recognised. Some weeks ago two of her early books, "The Hungry Wind" and "Song of the River", arrived in the post, and brought to me and members of my family hours of reading enjoyment.

The first describes the travails of two young sisters living on the Donegal sea coast when the Irish Famine strikes, losing their home and widowed mother, forcing them into a workhouse, and eventually being transported to Australia. It tugs at the heart, and ends with the promise of clouds with silver linings.

"Song of the River" is a gem. It is a book for all ages. The young will love it, their elders will love it even more. Seldom has a book given me such pleasure. It would be wicked to spoil the delight it gives by telling the story in a brief review. Suffice it to say that the central figures are Gaffer and Fingal, two salmon, whose odyssey from river to ocean and return to river is vividly described in chapter after riveting chapter. They have lots of friends, among them Silverfin, Bubble, Coral Bud, a baby seal, and a crotchety otter with a heart of gold.

Buy it. Read it. And tell your friends.

You don’t have to rely on my judgment. The "Sunday Tribune" review bluntly describes it as "A book to reach for…An unusual and mystical adventure."

"The Irish Times" review declared: "What Watership Down has done for rabbits and the Run Wild Books have done for foxes, Ms Lally now does for life below the waves."

A third Soinbhe Lally book, "A Hive for the Honey Bee", described as a ‘girls’ book, is the author’s own favourite to date. Whether read as a beautifully written nature book, or allegory which readers may interpret at several levels, its impact is compelling, leaving one to wonder where the author will lead us next.

"The Hungry Wind", "Song of the River" and "A Hive for the Honey Bee" are published by Poolbeg Press, Dublin, Ireland. "A Hive for the Honey Bee" is available in the USA through Scholastic, and has also been translated into Italian.



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