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'Flirtatious' tales shatter old image of Irish icon Peig


Love island: Peig Sayers

Love island: Peig Sayers

Love island: Peig Sayers

As if there wasn't enough sadness in Kerry with Fungie's disappearance, along comes Peig Sayers...

Except that a newly published collection of stories by one of Great Blasket's best-known residents suggests she'd be a match for any of the contestants on Love Island.

It shows her "grámhar, or more flirtatious, side", Dr Pádraig Ó Héalaí says of Níl Deireadh Ráite/Not the Final Word, published by New Island Books.

The new dual-language publication, which includes recordings of Sayers's voice on two audio CDs, was collated by Mr Ó Héalaí, of the National University of Ireland Galway, initially with the late Professor Bo Almqvist of University College Dublin.

A woman who liked a sup of whiskey and was a feminist of her time, Sayers is synonymous with nightmares among past generations of secondary school students who studied her autobiography, Peig.

"The image created by the text on the Leaving Certificate didn't give a good indication of the woman she really was," Mr Ó Héalaí said.

A tale of a woman who had a child with a merman, and other stories which show a more open, complex and often defiant character, are among the accounts gathered.

Mr Ó Héalaí and Prof Almqvist drew on remastered recordings by the Irish Folklore Commission, which were taped in 1952 when Sayers was treated for cancer in a Dublin hospital.

Sayers, who died in 1958, knew much poverty and hardship, but she was well able to have a laugh, was "interested in lads", had an emerging sexuality, a gift for language and could utter a "good curse", Mr Ó Héalaí added.

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