The Queen’s Fall: a Reading of ‘Nábla agus Paidí’, a short story by Seán ’Ac Fhionnlaoich

Lillis Ó Laoire


Contextualized within a brief overview of regional writing’s contribution to the revival of Irish language literature, this paper discusses a short story ‘Nábla agus Paidí’ by Séan ’Ac Fhionnlaoich (1910–1982). The paper explores ’Ac Fhionnlaoich’s work as a hybrid, combining elements of folkloric fairy belief with the style and narrative approach of the modern short story. The basic plot conforms closely to a fairy abduction legend but the influence of the modern short story manifests in the narrative style and structure. This allows the author to innovate the pattern of a traditional legend. The story dwells on the personality and life skills of the main female character and her relationship with her husband. A productive, happy relationship also reveals a slight disagreeable tension concerning her work as a shore harvester. By avoiding excessive local detail, the narrative proceeds swiftly like an arrow towards its target. By its end, irreversible change transmutes the characters and their relationship. The story links themes of place and gender with supernatural fairy belief, although the term sí is avoided. Similarities with certain marine stories by Liam Ó Flaithearta and Máirtín Ó Cadhain become briefly apparent, as well as with J.M. Synge’s tragic drama, Riders to the Sea. These suggest the value of more detailed comparisons. The story emerges as a small gem previously overlooked by the critical canon.

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© Comhar Teoranta, 2020.
ISSN: 2009-8626