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I Am Lewy


Author: Eoghan Ó Tuairisc
Translator: Mícheál Ó hAodha

This is the first appearance in English of six-year-old Lewy and his unique, impressionistic account of a tumultuous few months in the early 1920s.

At the fair with his demobbed, slightly shellshocked father, under his seamstress mother’s table while she measures the clients, minding his siblings on the Green across from the Workhouse, entangled with memories of ‘Brazenface’ Rosaleen McNally in the Enclosure by the Earl’s Wood, and the skeleton in the sandpit, he tries to get his head around it all.

A vivid, warm voice brought to us from the Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha in this translation of Eoghan Ó Tuairisc’s novella, An Lomnochtán (1977).

The original Irish text, An Lomnochtán, may be bought from Cló Iar-Chonnacht.

Cover design by Niall McCormack.

‘Eoghan Ó Tuairisc is an Irish writer of the highest importance in 20th century Irish literature, and this excellent and fascinating translation of An Lomnochtán … is a timely and important contribution to the maintenance of his reputation.’ Michael Harding

‘In language that manages to be flamboyant and yet completely controlled, Ó Tuairisc has taken us right into the mind of a child. Reminiscent of the early chapters of Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist, this sharply observed, funny and moving story is one of Ireland’s great overlooked classics.’ Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of Tatty, Dublin One City One Book 2020

‘Particularly in times of confusion, like today, writers of quality, like Eoghan Ó Tuairisc, can disappear through the cracks. He is such a good writer that his neglect makes you wonder about the way we evaluate art in our time.’ Thomas Kilroy

An Lomnochtán is one of those experimental but extremely readable novels of childhood but without the usual angst of growing up characteristic of the clichéd novel. It captures the wonder and puzzlement of a young child cast into the world but not quite knowing what it is about. It is humorous, quirky and all too understanding about a period in life which we have all experienced. One feels that Eoghan Ó Tuairisc had fun when writing it, and it must be that Mícheál Ó hAodha had too when working on this translation as it is entirely in the spirit of the original and brings across to us in playful and simple language the wonder of this world.’ Alan Titley, translator (The Dirty Dust; The Dregs of the Day by Máirtín Ó Cadhain)

An Lomnochtán is probably the most unusual – and perhaps the most interesting – of Eoghan Ó Tuairisc’s novels. Mícheál Ó hAodha’s translation captures perfectly Ó Tuairisc’s unique take on the voice of the young boy as he negotiates the world around him.’ Áine Ní Ghlinn, Laureate na nÓg

An Lomnochtán is rarely read today in the original Irish and its stylistic revolt against the accepted idiomatic use of native (or near-native) Irish idiom was a Modernistic step too far for most readers at the time. Ó hAodha’s translation will serve to introduce new readers to Ó Tuairisc and hopefully inspire translations of the rest of his remarkable oeuvre.’ Gabriel Rosenstock, poet

‘A unique portrayal of Irish provincial life as elucidated in one child’s hopes and fears in an Ireland on the cusp of new beginnings. Powerful, dreamlike – Ó Tuairisc’s An Lomnochtán is a fascinating exploration of one boy’s sexual and metaphysical awakening, the complexities of history and its legacy, and the tribal secrets frequently left unspoken.’ Adrian Duncan, novelist

HE WOKE UP, felt the hole in the day, there’d be no school. Back in his own bed he was in the warmth with them, Tomeen and Charlotteen lost in sleep soft lips wide-open, rosebuds in the ghostly light, he found the light strange, a sheet hung over the window.
  He hopped out onto the floor, he knew the silence, he knew what he had to do. Once he’d his trousers on and his jumper pulled down, he enticed his brother and sister out of bed, dressed them, combed out their mops of hair. The door to the old pair’s room was closed, he slipped past on his tippy-toes and brought them downstairs with him, the small girl on his back and holding Tomeen by the hand.
  A nice little fire going in the kitchen, fried bread, his father with the frying pan in his hand and a bit of an apron tied around his waist, he made a big thing of it, arranging them all around the table, making sure that they made the sign of the Cross on themselves and all. He made the children Tomeen and Charlotteen laugh with the way he poured the tea from a height into the mugs below, flipping big chunks of fried bread from the pan like a circus performer.
  Achtung, he says, have some of this Gurkhas. But it was obvious to anyone that this was an unusual day. All the time, the sewing machine could be heard, herself over near the window, running a skirt up in a hurry, a black skirt.
  It was the father who tied Effie the baby into the pram and him whistling the Dyshland Yuber Allies cheerily, he dipped the dumtit in the sugar bowl, shoved it into her mouth and ordered them military-style Gurkhas forward, out into Nomansland, hurried them all onto the street outside.
  Slates and bits of mortar beneath the wheels of the pram, he had to control Tomeen and Charlotteen with one hand and steer the pram with the other, it was too dangerous to walk over the broken glass along the length of the path at the end of the houses. Mrs Dowling was nailing boards over one of her windows, every thud of the hammer resounding from the Earl’s wall, on the other side of the road. A grey day, a gust of west wind across his naked calves. The bare house-fronts, big patches of mortar carved off them and the stones visible. The bones of the house, skeletons, he wiped the word and the image from his mind and crossed over the wheel-ruts in the road down by the Corner.

Original language: IrishISBN: 9781739842307Format: B-format Hardback, E-BookPages: 112Weight: 105 g