Beginner's Pluck: Oein DeBhairduin 'felt a responsibility' to tell Traveller stories

Oein DeBhairduin's first book, Why the moon travels, is described as life affirming, luminous and lyrical
Beginner's Pluck: Oein DeBhairduin 'felt a responsibility' to tell Traveller stories

Oein DeBhairduin

A traveller, storytelling is part of Oein’s culture. He told his first, aged seven.

He’s a big reader too.

“In my childhood there were books everywhere,” he says. “When I moved to Dublin, I got a library card first thing.”

After graduating from university, Oein worked as a clerical officer until he moved to Dublin three years ago.

“I managed a holistic store and bookshop, and then took over as centre manager and employment director at Clondalkin Traveller’s Training. I was the first traveller to work in the Oireachtas, and now work with Senator Eileen Flynn on traveller issues.”

Always a scribbler, who kept diaries, Oein began the book a year ago.

“All these stories were coming up, and I wanted to tell them, in order to maintain the oral tradition, but to tell them in a real way, as part of my life. As a traveller, I felt a sense of responsibility.

“I spoke the words then listened back. They went from my mind and my heart onto paper.”

Who is Oein DeBhairduin?

Date/place of birth: Near Tuam, County Galway/1985.

Education: St Jarlath’s College, in Tuam; NUI Galway, Psychology.

Home: Clondalkin.

Family: “I’m the middle child of five. We’re a tight family.”

The day job: Manager, Education Centre in Clover Hill, Clondalkin.

In another life: “I think we all have a calling to do something, and mine is what I am doing now. My life is diverse. It’s always vibrant.”

Favourite writers: Doireann Ní Ghríofa; Deirdre O’Sullivan; Nigel G Pearson; WB Yeats; Sam Taylor.

Second novel: “I’ve started a collection of ghost stories.”

Top tip: “Have fun with your writing. Agony is the death of it all. When you’re frustrated, the work suffers. Books are things of pleasure and wonder.”

Twitter: @oeiny

The Debut

  • Why the moon travels
  • Illustrated by Leanne McDonagh; Skein Press, €12.95

These diverse tales show the cruelty and kindnesses of nature. The moon leaves the sky — falling for a man on earth. A hedgehog gathers food to save the starving during the famine; a fox saves a child whose mother is dying.

The verdict: Life affirming, luminous and lyrical, these vividly told stories of folklore, make the reader see nature — and the travelling community in a new light.

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