Eddie Lenihan &
Carolyn Eve Green,
Meeting the Other Crowd:
The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland

(J.P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2003)

Eddie Lenihan is a national treasure of Ireland.

The folklorist is obsessed with the collection and sharing of Ireland's old stories. Realizing that the old ways -- sharing stories over a peat fire or a pint -- are in danger of extinction in modern Ireland, Lenihan moves mountains to find tales before they're lost and forgotten in the wake of television and technology. Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland is Lenihan's latest effort to share and preserve those tales.

Worth the cover price alone is Lenihan's lengthy introduction, which discusses Ireland's vanishing oral tradition, as well as ancient and modern perceptions of fairy stories. Ireland may be a player in the international field of the 21st century, but that doesn't mean the people there -- even the younger generation -- discount entirely the lore that forms the bedrock of their society. And maybe, just maybe, there is still good reason to believe....

Certainly the stories collected here -- filled with fey and ghostly encounters of all sorts -- are a convincing argument. Following in the footsteps of Yeats and Gregory, Lenihan collects tales in the old fashion -- by talking to those who knew and loved them, by listening while there are still voices to share this rich cultural heritage. Carolyn Eve Green, an American radio producer, ensures that nothing is lost in translation, capturing the nuances and flair of Irish speech, giving the book a readability that's one step shy of sitting at Lenihan's knee and hearing the stories firsthand.

Meeting the Other Crowd is about as close to being there as you can be without being there. And many a skeptic may find themselves wondering if maybe, just maybe....

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 10 January 2004

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