Peig Sayers, together with Tomás Ó Chriomhthain (The Islandman) and Robert J. Flaherty (Man of Aran) is one of the three towering figures that became celebrated by the late Gaelic Revival. Peig’s recollections were never written down but dictated to others, and in the process often edited or shortened. As a result they often became the object of satire—such as Flann O’Brien’s The Poor Mouth—or the cause of unhappy memories for students confronted with the school book version of her recollections.
It was only after Pádraig Ó Héalaí and Bo Almqvist’s authentic edition of her stories was published in 2008 by New Island, that her contribution to Irish literary history and culture enjoyed a better assessment and her tales found a new audience worldwide. In part two of this Peig Sayers revival, Pádraig Ó Héalaí has used remastered recordings of Peig made in 1952 by the Irish Folklore Commission to produce an accurate, lively and illuminating representation of Peig's unique style of oral storytelling.
These remastered recordings will be available in CD format along with the book. Ó Héalaí has edited these transcripts and translated them into English, and there is no doubt will they add to giving Peig her deserved and appropriate place in Irish culture.
Gratefully supported by the Arts Council of Ireland (Traditional Arts).
BO ALMQVIST was Emeritus Professor and a Former Head of the Department of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin. He specialised in Scandinavian and Irish folk literature and folk beliefs and published widely on these topics. He also carried out much collecting from Blasket Islanders, in particular Peig Sayers’ son, Micheál Ó Gaoithin, and other story tellers in Dún Chaoin, e.g. Bab Feiritéar, and he was a co-editor of the publication of her stories, Ó Bhéal an Bhab.
PÁDRAIG Ó HÉALAÍ is a recently retired Senior Lecturer in Modern Irish at NUI, Galway. His area of specialisation is Irish folklore and he has published on many aspects of this topic, including religious tradition, Blasket heritage, and beliefs and practices associated with the supernatural. He is a former editor of the journal Béaloideas and co-editor of a number of other works.