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The Names Upon the Harp: Irish Myth and Legend

Written by Marie Heaney

Illustrated by P. J. Lynch

An eye- and heart-catching collection of Ireland’s eight great tales by two of her prized talents. 

Heaney and Lynch: It sounds like the kind of dream-pairing one would make when fantasizing about who the ideal people would be to create a passionate, definitive volume of Irish legend. And here they are together in a book that both feel is among the most important contributions of their careers.

Marie Heaney’s doctoral work - indeed her life - has been devoted to the study and capture of the tales that form the backbone of Ireland’s great literary tradition. And she is a true storyteller herself, writing with a spare, clean style that allows the heroes and heroines to step forward and claim center stage. (And yes, Marie’s Nobel laureate husband Seamus Heaney is indeed present here, contributing a poem to one of the legends.) King Lir and his treacherous wife Aiofe; Finn McCumhaill and the hounds Bran and Sceolan; handsome young Oisin and his thousand-year journey to the land of the ever-young - these and many other unforgettable characters leap off these pages to claim a permanent place in readers’ imaginations.

P. J. Lynch took years to finish the illustrations, which represent for him a lifelong ambition. And readers will see in these pages an enormous range of emotion - from the pathos of “Deirdre and the Sorrows,” to the fury of battle on the plains of Moytura, to the tenderness of “The Enchanted Deer.”

These are powerful tales - not for the faint of heart! Tales that have nurtured and inspired not only these two matchless artists, but a renowned tradition of storytelling.

Reviews and Awards

CBC Not Just for Children Anymore

⋆“The stories retain a sense of the language and sensibility of oral traditions arising out of a mysterious and often violent past. Lynch’s dramatic and atmospheric watercolor and gouache illustrations alone are intriguing enough to lure readers to the stories…Beautifully produced, with gold lettering on the cover and Celtic designs throughout, this is a special book for families to share.” - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“That these eight stories seem to tell themselves is a tribute both to their ancient power and to the skills of Heaney…The themes of bravery and treachery, love lost and won, names earned and erased, are as familiar as our own hearts. Illustrations by P. J. Lynch are exquisite, both in their beauty, which rises from the page like faerie mist, and in their full-blooded horror, with severed giants' heads and great snarling beasts. Full-and double-page spreads, small vignettes, and powerful pendant pieces illuminate the tales wonderfully.” - Booklist

“The quality of Heaney's retellings and the systematic organization make this volume worthy of consideration. Lynch augments the power of each tale with watercolor-and-gouache illustrations that are appropriately beautiful or horrifying, depending on the theme at hand. He expertly executes both setting and characters, and there is a misty quality to his paintings that gives a true sense of the long ago and faraway.” - School Library Journal

“Marie Heaney makes these characters come alive, in authentic, powerful and touching ways. You believe these were real people, never mind they enjoyed a magic power or two.” - Irish Edition

Purchase Options
Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Fall 2000
ISBN: 0-590-68052-8
Price: $19.95/NCR
Trim Size: 8 1/2" x 11"
Page Count: 96
Foreign Rights: Faber & Faber
Translation Rights: Faber & Faber
Rights Available? yes