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Weekend Recs: Irish Media

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Happy St. Patty’s Day, Wildcats! In the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every March 17 and has become a catch-all day to celebrate all things Irish or vaguely Irish-adjacent, including redheads, Shamrock Shakes, and leprechauns. It is also, despite its strong Catholic origins, an excuse to party with a pint of Guinness, wearing some shade of green, of course. While these tried-and-true (and albeit stereotypical) ways of celebrating the holiday are great, there’s more than one way to celebrate.

In celebration of St. Patty’s Day, this weekend’s recs will share some Irish recs that will (hopefully) allow you to broaden your celebration of all-things Irish.

If you have 5 minutes and 6 seconds…and want to listen to one of the most popular Irish songs in modern America, listen to “Zombie” by The Cranberries. Although you might be tempted to get lost in Dolores O’Riordan’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, the lyrics of this song are packed with a powerful narrative.

If you have 8 minutes and 38 seconds…and don’t know anything about the divisive history of Ireland, watch this video about “The Troubles.” If you were raised in the U.S. education system, you’ve likely heard something about the Irish potato famine, but more modern Irish history, including the decades-long conflict dubbed The Troubles, is sometimes overlooked or forgotten.

Bonus: if you don’t know anything about Irish history, watch this video for more background.

If you have 15 minutes…and want to pick up a new language, try an Irish (Standard) lesson on Mango, available through Falvey. All you have to do is use the link to create an account with your Villanova email.

If you have 20 minutes…and want to explore Irish mythology, read this article that shares some of the most popular stories in Irish mythology.

Bonus: if you want to read more about Irish myths and legends, read this Celtic mythology book, available at Falvey.

If you have 1 hour and 35 minutes…and want to watch the first Oscar-nominated Irish-language film, see The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin) in theaters at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (with subtitles). This coming-of-age film follows Cáit, a 9-year-old Irish girl who is sent to rural Ireland to live with distant relatives. Just be sure to bring your Villanova Student ID for a discounted ticket.

Photo by Anna Church on Unsplash

If you have 1 hour and 51 minutes…and are a fan of period-piece romances, watch Brooklyn, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. Starring the truly amazing Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn is the love story of an newly immigrated Irish girl falling in love with a Brooklyn native.

If you have 1 hour and 54 minutes…and want to watch a festive Oscar-nominated film, watch The Banshees of Inisherin. Starring Irish actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, this film is a heart-achy tragicomedy about the suddenly rocky relationship of lifelong best friends Pádraic and Colm.

If you have 6 hours…and enjoy classic literature, read The Picture of Dorian Gray (or any other work) by Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, available at Falvey.

If you have 8 hours and 4 minutes…and need a new sitcom to bingewatch, watch Derry Girls. Following a group of 4 teenage girls (and 1 perpetually confused English boy) living in Northern Ireland in the 90s, this Netflix original weaves the political turbulence (to put it incredibly lightly) occurring on both sides of the Irish border with lighthearted humor and nostalgia.

Interested in learning more Irish history? Swing by Speakers’ Corner this Monday at 4 p.m. for Dr. Robin Adam’s presentation, Shadow of a Taxman: Who Funded the Irish Revolution (1919-21)? More details here

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.


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The Printed Image: The Wonder Smith and His Son

For this installment of the The Printed Image I’ll be highlighting The Wonder Smith and His Son: A Tale from the Golden Childhood of the World, written by Ella Young and illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff. Published in 1927, the book received a Newbery Honor in 1928, and is part of the Joseph McGarrity collection in Distinctive Collections. The book also entered the public domain earlier this year.

In fourteen interconnected tales, Young recounts the mythic stories of the Gubbaun Saor, an archetypal builder figure within Celtic mythology similar to Greek mythology’s Daedalus, and the Gubbaun’s children; his natural born daughter Aunya and his adopted son Lugh (though he is simply referred to as ‘Son’ in the stories themselves). The stories are filled with strange word games and customs, and encounters with deities, elves, djinn, and other supernatural beings. Young was active within the Gaelic and Celtic revival movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, and so the book acts as a way to preserve these stories which were passed down through an oral tradition. As she she writes in the preface of the book,

People have forgotten about these things now, but in the thatched cottages in Gaelic-speaking Ireland and Scotland, they talk about him and his son Lugh and his daughter Aunya… They are glad when they find some one who does not know how Aunya tricked Balor’s messenger and how she got the better of the Gubbaun himself, because they want to have the pleasure of hearing a new person laugh at these stories.

“My blessing to you, Brother of mine;
White Love of Running Water.”
Page 35 from The Wonder Smith and His Son.

Boris Artzybasheff’s illustrations capture the timeless and fantastical nature of these stories. The black-and-white drawings are reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations, which served as an early influence on Artzybasheff, and bring both an archetypal and surreal tone to the stories. Celtic influences can be detected in the clothing and foliage patterns, but these are also merged with Russian and Byzantine influences, with sharp angles in the figures and costumes, a flat perspective to the scenes, and in the design of the Gubbaun’s towers and “dunes.” This influence can be traced back to Artzybasheff’s birthplace in Kharkiv and to his studies in St. Petersburg, before he fled his homeland during the Russian civil war and emigrated to the United States.

“I am Hrut of the Many Shapes,
the Son of Sruth, the Son of Sru.”
Page 77 from The Wonder Smith and His Son.

“A dune with courts and passages and secret chambers.”
Page 103 from The Wonder Smith and His Son.

Detail from page 123 of The Wonder Smith and His Son.

Surreal elements are also a key visual trait in the creatures that the Gubbaun and his children encounter. Many of these seem to be a conglomeration of shapes and animal-parts that are constructed into their own unique beings. In one illustration, a goblin with the arms of a praying mantis stands next to a beast with tusks, horns, and three pairs of ears. In another, the neck of a horse-like creature morphs and merges into the snout of its own rider. These stylistic inventions help bring Young’s stories into a space out of time, that “golden childhood of the world,” while also serving as a precursor to Artzybasheff’s later work, when he would anthropomorphize technology, merging human and machine in the modern world.

“Our King bespeaks your help.
Behold the gifts and tokens of Balor!”
Page 65 from The Wonder Smith and His Son.

The Wonder Smith and His Son: A Tale from the Golden Childhood of the World is available in Falvey’s Digital Library, and can be viewed in the Rare Book Room during walk-in hours or by appointment. You can read more about Ella Young in the Digital Library, and see more of Boris Artzybasheff’s work in ArtStor and the Internet Archive.




Last Modified: February 23, 2023

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