RUTH Blindell, a teacher at the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh in St John’s, has published her first book in celebration of the Manx language, culture and mythical legends.
Finlo and the Fairy Kings follows the Little People (fairies) as they battle to save the beautiful Dhoon Glen from the destructive plans of Mr Pratt, a cliff full of seagulls and a squadron of ruthless rodents.
Mr Cowin and his son, Finlo, with the help of fairy magic, embark on a magical bi-lingual, musical adventure, culminating in mayhem and mischief at a Tynwald sitting where the proposals to develop the glen for tourism are presented for approval or dismissal.
‘As a child my grandmother led me to believe that there were fairies all over the Isle of Man,’ explained Ruth, 42. ‘Later, as an adult, after walking in the Dhoon Glen for a number of years I began to make notes and plot out a basic storyline based on traditional stories from England, Ireland and the Isle of Man inventing flower fairies of my own making, remembering the magic of my youth.’
The Peel resident said: ‘I think the story would appeal to readers because it is set in a real place, but also in an imaginary world involving fairies, fairy kings, ghosts, goodies and baddies with a winding plot that functions on two levels – the world of giants (humans) and that of the fairies. It’s a little escapism for our daily lives but deals with the same kind of crisis we find in our own world.’
Readers will enjoy the new fairy story which is interlaced with English traditional stories such as The Owl and the Pussy Cat along with Manx traditional stories like the mythical Mannanan, The Moddey Dhoo, The Buggane of St Trinian’s, Jinny the Witch, The White Lady of Castle Rushen and the Irish traditional character Finn McCooil.’
As well as a fairy story, the book also incorporates song, music, local culture and Gaelic language, which is no surprise as Ruth plays the flute in a traditional style, danced with local dance team Perree Bane for 11 years, sings with Gaelic choir Cliogaree Twoaie and is a speaker of Manx Gaelic.
She grew up in the island from the age of seven, when she came to live with her grandmother, the late Edna Dale. She went to Castle Rushen High School, Isle of Man College and then studyied social sciences at Leicester University. She qualified as a teacher in the Lake District before returning to the island.
‘I’ve also watched the island become more and more built up over the years since my childhood and can see both the good and bad in development schemes like the one presented in my story,’ she said.
Since launching her book last week, Ruth has given 20 books to schools and public libraries to use with transition materials (from primary to high school) and also with the Gow Arrane song book for schools.
The art work included in the book was completed by Katie Quine who is now an A Level student at Castle Rushen. Ruth thanked bi-lingual Stewart Bennett, of Peel, who edited the book for free. And Lawrence Skelly who added the book to the NAMA website, leading it to hit a abest sellers list in the USA via the New York Times New Books list.
It costs £11.50, and is available from island bookshops, the Manx Museum and via Amazon Kindle for £2.50.