Broadcaster Vincent Browne has been an influential figure in Irish political life for many years, but he isn’t exactly associated with children’s entertainment.
However, Spiddal based author Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin has just written a new book for young people that was inspired by Mr Browne – and anything further from the cut-and-thrust world of Leinster House would be hard to imagine.
‘As a children’s writer and publisher [of children’s company Futa Fata], I spend a lot of my time working on stories featuring lovable characters,” explains Tadhg. “One day I’ll be thinking about a hen who has lost her egg, the next I’ll spend in the company of a mouse who dreams of being a concert pianist. Fun and all as my job is, recently, I’ve been trying recently to connect more with the world of adults, so that I’m not a complete social outcast.”
So Tadhg decided to check out TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, hoping the world of politics would help him get in touch with his inner grown-up.
Alas, it didn’t work out. Although he engaged by Browne’s rigorous interview technique, the writer was out of his comfort zone and he nodded off to sleep.
He then found himself dreaming about a big brown bear – a big, brown, decidedly combative bear at that. Even more bizarrely, the bear spoke Irish and answered to the name of Uinseann Donn.
When Tadhg woke up, Vincent Browne had retired for the night, but the grumpy brown bear he had inspired just wouldn’t go away.
So the children’s writer decided to discover why this big brown character was so grumpy and then see if the bear could become more peaceful and sociable.
The fruits of Tadhg’s labour have been published in the form of a striking children’s picture book. Illustrated in beautiful water colours by Hungarian artist Írisz Agócs, Uinseann Donn is available in bookshops now.