Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Reader's Opinion: The Lore of Ireland by Dáithí Ó hÓgáin

The Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopaedia of Myth, Legend and RomanceThe Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopaedia of Myth, Legend and Romance by Dáithí Ó hÓgáin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book (Amazon blurb)
Ireland has one of the finest cultural heritages and a standard reference book combining the related subjects of folklore, myth, legend and romance is long overdue. There are 350 substantial entries, in alphabetical order from Abán, a 6th-century saint, to Weather, all with full references to sources, a synopsis of relevant stories, and discussion of their origin, nature and development. These are complimented by a genre-list of material under various headings, such as Mythical Lore, Fianna Cycle, Ulster Cycle, King Cycles, Peoples and Traditions, Religious Lore, and Folk Custom and Belief. There is also a wealth of genealogical detail, indicating how historical and social circumstances have influenced the growth and spread of Irish lore. DAITHI O HOGAIN, Associate Professor of Irish Folklore at University College Dublin, is an international authority on folklore and traditional literature.

A Reader's Opinion
I suppose I was first drawn to this book simply because the title drew me in and I'm often fascinated by, and willing to take a risk on books set in or around Ireland. This is one I use now strictly as reference. It's not a light afternoon read (549pp), nor would I recommend it to anyone as a casual weekend book. It is however, an excellent reference text, especially for writers who are incorporating Irish lore and legend into their own books. It reads like an encyclopedia (pictures not included) and it is also very thorough. This book sits proudly on the shelf next to my other research books, though the information is a bit more fun than what is in similar texts. I've even found myself picking it up just to read some new tidbit (I'm certain no one since Einstein could possibly read this and remember everything from memory-perhaps even Einstein himself). Highly recommend-just know what you're getting yourself into.

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