Celebrating what makes us different and similar

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Ireland’s multi-cultural society was celebrated in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop on Saturday with an event that also marked the Chinese New Year.

It was a reading by a photographer and children’s author Shelley Corcoran from her latest book, The Most Irish Person. Illustrated by Polish-born Angelika Sowul, the book is for children aged 4-8 years.

Shelley, who was reared in Longford and has lived in countries including America, Australia and Spain, was delighted to be reading in Galway as her late father Michael Corcoran, hailed from Kylebrack, near Loughrea. She has fond memories of visiting Galway for childhood holidays and is still in touch with relations here, she says, mentioning Martin Corcoran in Kilnadeema, Mary Connor in Loughrea and Bernie Dolan in Galway City.

The Most Irish Person centres on Anna and Lucy, young friends who embark on a journey across Ireland to find the most Irish person in the country. Along the way, they meet 17 different children with different heritages, from Lithuanian to Indian, who have made Ireland their home.

They include Lei, who lives in Galway with her Chinese parents, and Daniela, who was born in Spain and now lives in Sligo. And there’s Maya, who was born in India and lives in Leitrim where she’s a natural at hurling and rounders. All 17 children are accomplished in various Irish traditional arts, from Irish dancing to mythology, Shelley explains. Meanwhile, the stories they tell about their ancestral places show the similarities between Ireland’s traditions and those of other countries.

Angelika Sowul’s illustrations capture the places in Ireland where the children live – with the Spanish Arch representing Lei’s home town.

Pictured: Author Shelley Corcoran with Rowan Chadwirk, Thomas McDonnell, Otis Fennell and Ari Marquez Keenan

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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