Writer turns to the past to conjure up children’s tales

Author and historian Mike Hackett with fans Mary-Ann Smyth and Maura Mulcahy at the launch of his book 'Stories For Children About Youghal',   at the town's library.Pictures: Gerry O'Mahony

An east Cork author and historian has delved into the world of children’s stories with a first collection based on local history and folklore.

The publication Stories for Children about Youghal came about after Mike Hackett exhausted his supply of conventional bedtime stories for his five grandchildren.

The writer of 12 historical books turned to the past, drawing on “stories about local people and places from my own or even my parents’ childhood or that I discovered during research”.

The children “loved the yarns,” and Mike decided to self-publish a collection, partly to preserve them but also that other children can enjoy them too.

Spanning 17 stories, the 58-page assortment is brightly illustrated by visual designer Robert Hanly, a graduate of Dún Laoghaire College Art and Design, now living in New York.

A former postmaster, the 70-year-old writer spent two years on the project during which he learned to “avoid big words and use simple English coupled with short sentences”.

Part of the book’s intrigue is that the readers — or listeners — may be familiar with the setting, giving them a very vivid image, or they can visit the setting next day.

The tales record a leprechaun’s crock of gold at Quarry Road, a children’s sweet shop on Mill Road and a dog saving a little girl at Ferry Slip.

Youghal’s famous Clock Gate features in ‘A Funeral of Ghosts’, a true story set in the early 1900s about a young Wexford boy named Liam who holiday at his gran’s sweet and & toy shop adjacent to the monument. “The boy’s name was Liam O’Leary and he grew up to become Ireland’s film censor during the 1930s and 40s” reveals Mike, who is considering a follow-up collection for next year.

Printed by Flanagan Print, Stories for Children about Youghal is available locally, or from Mike Hackett on 024-92630. Price €10.


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