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O’Sullivan Stew

O’Sullivan Stew

  • Author: Pattertravelers
  • Date Posted: Apr 28, 2015
  • Category:
  • Address: County Cork, Ireland

O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott is a tall tale in the Irish tradition and very enjoyable blarney.  Set in the town of Crookhaven, County Cork, it tells of the adventures of Kate O’Sullivan who manages to rescue the town from its misfortune and her family from the hangman’s noose by spinning tales and convincing the King that they’d been in worse spots before.

As the story opens, Kate is on the coast, harvesting periwinkles for the evening stew.  Coastline foraging is still fairly common, you can learn more about how to do it at Slow Food Ireland and there are a number of recipes on Georgina Campbell’s Ireland website.  Lost in her daydreams, she hears a shout as the tax collectors try to take the village witch’s horse.  Kate runs to the village to get help only to be told that the witch is “not one of us.”  Furious, the witch goes into a snit and things changed in the village. “The fishnets came up empty.  The cows stopped giving milk.  Gardens died.  Trees fell on houses with remarkable accuracy.  And the rain was heavier than usual….”  Not one to be stopped, Kate convinces her family that they should steal the horse back from the king in order to appease the witch, arguing it’s better to die trying than slowly of starvation.  Needless to say, the attempt fails (with a surprising twist, the expressions in the illustrations are priceless).   Cast in front of the king, the king states “[d]o you realize the trouble you’re in? Have you ever been in a worse spot in your life?”  Kate pops up with “I have” and promises to tell her tale if the king will release them.  One story for each member of the family, she spins tales and you can almost hear her voice as you read the stories.  She manages to free herself and her two brothers, but when she tells the tale of her father’s worst fix, the King expresses disbelief, that is until the queen mother appears on the scene…

O’Sullivan Stew is a great tale of strong willed women, kings, witches, fairies, selkies, sea dragons, talking animals, and giants.  It is set in County Cork  on Ireland’s southwest coast.  County Cork is full of things to do for everyone, from visiting tiny villages like Crookhaven, which was the last port of call for ships sailing to America, to the sights and sounds of Cork City, the third largest city in Ireland, and of course there’s always a stop at Blarney Castle!

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