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 of birth: Near Tuam, County Galway, in 1985.
Education: St Jarlath’s College, in Tuam; NUI Galway, Psychology.
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 Ni 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.”
The Debut: Why the moon travels. Skein Press. Illustrated by Leanne McDonagh. €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.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 17th October.
© Suejleonard. 2020.