Monday, 10 March 2008

Kevin McFadden

…de BC Local News:

It’s a book written in the gentle, lilting accents of Ireland – with a warm heart and a definite twinkle in the eye.

The voice is that of former White Rock resident Kevin McFadden; a voice stilled on this earth when he succumbed to cancer in 2004, but yet still alive in the imagination of anyone who reads his captivating Tales from the Hearth.

The slim volume, which bears the title he chose – even though he never lived to see it in print – will have its formal Canadian launch this Wednesday at White Rock’s Elk’s Club, featuring readings, traditional music and a chance to share more stories.

It’s an appropriate venue, as home of the White Rock Irish Club, which grew out of a local branch McFadden founded of the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, an organization originally formed in Ireland in 1951 to encourage the preservation and growth of Irish culture.

Born in Carrigart, County Donegal in 1937, and raised as a Gaelic speaker, McFadden had in his later years re-embraced his roots, including the music and literature of Ireland – and particularly as a teacher of the Gaelic language, at which he excelled. McFadden’s stories, collected by his widow, Helen, and edited by his brother, Patrick, are by turns touching, tragic, quirky, sympathetic to human frailty – and above all, comical. They evoke the sights and sounds of McFadden’s own childhood, a time in the late ‘40s and ‘50s when the traditions of village life on the north-west coast of Donegal were the same as they had been for hundreds of years before; when memories of the ‘Troubles,’ the Easter Rising of 1916 and the infamous British auxiliary force, the ‘Black and Tans’ were still fresh in mind….

…Campbell, while raised in Scotland, used to spend three months of the year in Donegal.

“The character that Kevin was, he brought back a lot of memories. I felt we were almost back in Donegal again,” he said.

McFadden’s skills as a storyteller also made him a natural teacher of the Gaelic language, O’Reilly said, remembering statements the author had made years ago at the Vancouver Word On The Street festival.

“He said ‘you can’t have a country without its language – and a country without a language is a country without a soul.’

“You didn’t realize how much you were learning from him – it still dings in my head: in Irish the verb comes first.”…

…His most lasting legacy, however, is as a writer and teacher.

There is hope for a second and maybe even a third collection – Campbell and O’Reilly still have a large collection of stories McFadden wrote in Gaelic for his students, to be used as translation exercises.

“We’ve got to preserve them – they’re just so special, “ Helen said.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I remember Kevin in Carrigart , although he was about 10 years older than me . Would love to get hold of a copy of his book :)