Gabriel Fitzmaurice on the launch of Lucinda Sly!


Quick-fire interview with Gabriel Fitzmaurice, author—translator of Lucinda Sly, A Woman Hanged.

How influential was your teaching background on your writing?

Hugely influential. I learned many things through and with the children that I wouldn't have, had I been in another profession. I was academically inclined but I had to learn all about nature study, flora and fauna in order to teach it. I retired from teaching (at age 55!) five years ago. People ask me do I miss it. The answer is yes and no, a Kerryman's answer! I don't miss the endless form filling, I don't miss the thought police, inspectors et al; but I do miss the children – their inspiration and challenges.

What inspired you to translate the story of Lucinda Sly from Irish?

Some years ago I translated Maidhc Dainín's A Thig Ná Tit Orm, his memoir, as House Don't Fall on Me. It was very well received. Mike was anxious that I translate Lucinda Sly, his historical novel and I was delighted to when Liberties Press expressed an interest in publishing it.

The Irish version of The Story of Lucinda Sly won at Oireachtas na Gaeilge, 2008. Did you feel under more pressure than usual to make the translation an equally important literary work?

Yes. It is vitally important to preserve the integrity of the original while at the same time making it work in translation. A slavish, literal rendering isn't always the best way to go about translation and Maidhc and I both realised that. By the way, Maidhc was a great help to me when I was having trouble with English-ing some of his very rich phrases in Irish.

What, if anything, can get lost in translation from Irish into English?

I think that very little gets lost in translation. Maybe an allusive phrase in Irish can't be translated literally into English so a compromise has to be reached. But, remember, Irish was spoken in my part of Kerry up to the early 1900s. The English I heard spoken by the people of Moyvane (I grew up before television came to Ireland) in the 1950s and 60s was as close in phrase and syntax as the English can get to Irish. All I had to do was make a literary language of that.

Do you have different personas when writing in English or Irish, or is it one and the same?

One and the same!

Do you feel that the Irish language has a role in Irish society today?

Yes, definitely. It is part of our soul, part of our culture. And it is a beautiful language.

You've written poetry for both adults and children. Which do you find more challenging or stimulating?

They're both challenging and stimulating. When I write for children, I enter a child's mind; when I write for adults, I get to know my own.

You've been involved in Listowel Writers' Week in the past. What do you feel are the main benefits of this and other writing and literary festivals?

They give writers a forum; they give writers a chance to meet; they bring different cultures together; they give young and aspiring writers a chance to show their wares or to learn their trade (through workshops, etc.). They give 'ordinary' people a chance to meet and hear writers and they give writers a chance to meet some of their audience.

You will be participating in a walking tour of Carlow on Thursday 4 April. Tell us more about that! 

I understand that we will be visiting the places associated with the trial and execution of Lucinda Sly. That's all I know! [For more details, click here.]

Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on for the future?

I have a selected and new sonnets being published by Liberties Press this June. I am currently working on another book of poetry for children entitled Will You Be My Friend? and I am writing poems for adults all the time. I also have an offer to translate a major book on the Blasket Islands from the Irish. So, I'm quite busy! 


Don't forget that Lucinda Sly is being launched this evening at Carlow Shopping Centre at 8pm as part of the International Pan Celtic Festival. 

Kathryn Thomas and Daithí Ó Sé will also be attending. 

Hope to see you all there!