ABOUT CELTIC READER
Celtic Reader was born of my love for Irish literature and Celtic myths, as well as my Irish heritage (my family came to America in the 1880's from Roscommon. We still have the sea trunk from the journey they took so long ago). When I was ten, I discovered the marvelous Prydain Chronicles for children written by Lloyd Alexander - these are based on the Mabinogion, the myths of ancient Wales. Out of this grew an enthusiasm for Arthurian legend, King Arthur and Merlin and all of those strong women like Morgan Le Fay. I took to pirate adventures and Errol Flynn movies. It was a good diet of adventure and creativity for a youngster, and one encouraged wholeheartedly by my parents, who loved to read themselves. We took summer trips to Cape Cod which were reading fests on wind-swept back porches.
As I grew older I discovered James Joyce - with what joy did I perambulate around Dublin with Stephen Daedalus! And what horror did I feel at the depradations of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, as his picture grew to look more evil and disolute, hidden away behind its curtain. Then I discovered Yeats' love for Maud Gonne and I began to understand the man behind the nation "changed, changed utterly". When I found the beautiful, lyric writing of James Stephens - the passionately funny words and plots of Flann O'Brien - the strong yet sensitive poetry of Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney - I knew that the Irish had taken a "foreign" language (English!) and danced circles around their conquerors by creating miracles with it. After all, it took an Irishman (the aforementioned Seamus Heaney) to translate Beowulf properly.
In college, I had the pleasure of studying a semester at Maynooth College in Kildare. There I took an Abbey Theatre course with the world-renowned Tomas MacAnna, who had worked closely with Brendan Behan. We went to numerous plays with Tomas, saw private video tapes of Abbey Theatre productions, heard interesting stories of Ireland's artists from one who had known them personally. It was an experience I still think of with great joy. He is a fascinating man and an excellent teacher.
One day I took a look at my overcrowded bookshelves and decided I wanted to share these books with others. Ever since I was a child I have had a respect and passion for books, and a dream, always, of having my own bookstore. In this modern age, the best way to share your passions with others is via the internet. I came up with the name "Celtic Reader" - secured the domain name - and so was born celticreader.com.
After the web site was born, we branched out locally to meet the readers. I also started to carry Irish products of the non-shamrock variety - gifts that were more historical or cultural in their Irish theme. Celtic Reader sets up shop about a dozen times over the course of the summer at Irish and Celtic festivals in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The festival dates and locations are posted in early spring. Come see us and browse our bookshelves in the fresh summer air, with the strains of pipe and harp in the background.
I'd like to thank you personally for spending this time with us. Should you be looking for anything you do not find in these "pages" - please e-mail me at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
Janet McGrane Bennett