The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea

The Hounds of the Morrigan: Pat O'Shea (Oxford University Press, 1985)The Hounds of the Morrigan: Pat O’Shea (Oxford University Press, 1985)

It was with a little trepidation that I started to re-read this book. I first read it aged 12 (my copy is a Puffin paperback, dated 1987) and I’ve lived more than three times longer than when I first read it. Re-reading childhood favourites is a bit hit-and-miss, many of the picture books have been wonderful, but I re-read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen last year and found it too derivative of Lord of the Rings in its magic ring bracelet and quest, that I just didn’t enjoy it enough to want to read The Moon of Gomrath or contemplate Boneland.

I then started re-reading Over Sea, Under Stone but my memory of The Dark is Rising sequence starts with Will and I got confused that the book wasn’t about him. I do still want to re-read those, now I’m prepared for a different story than the one I expected. I am not the me who read and loved these fantasy novels in the late 1980’s aged between ten and fourteen. I am an approaching-forty me with two children and around a quarter century more life experience. It’s a different me who reads my childhood favourites, and I’m approaching them more warily as I don’t want to lose the love I hold for them.

In the case of The Hounds of the Morrigan, I needn’t have worried. Pat O’Shea wove a wonderful tale based in myths and legends and set in the land of my ancestors. Pidge and Brigit are wonderful child characters, both having important parts to play in the narrative. I was surprised at how funny the dialogue is, I hadn’t remembered that. The police sergeant’s experiences especially. Perhaps that’s an adult view of the dialogue, or perhaps I just forgot it was funny too.

I love all the mythology behind The Hounds of the Morrigan, and when I originally read it I think I then read books of Celtic myths and legends. Although I did always love myths and legends as a child, and one of my early memories is of my dad telling me the tale of Cuchulainn and asking me to re-write it. I’m therefore pleased that I still loved this book on re-reading.

For anyone who loves fantasy, myths and legends, and Ireland. Ages approx 9+.

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