Léirmheas Leabhair: Leathbhádóirí – Book Review: Leathbhádóirí

The cover of Leathbhádóirí. Leathbhádóirí can mean shipmates (or perhaps crewmates), but it can also mean partners, close friends, or comrades. ‘Leath’ means half, while ‘bádóir’ is a boatman. Copyright: Leabhair COMHAIR (2017). Artist: Frank Endersby.

10 February 2022

Le Greágóir Denieffe
By Gregory Denieffe

Cheannaigh Greágóir Denieffe bronntanas Nollag dó féin agus tá sé thar a bheith sásta leis.
Greg Denieffe bought himself a Christmas present and he is delighted with it.

Réamhrá le Gréagóir
Úrscéal gearr d’fhoghlaimeoirí fásta (na Gaeilge) is ea Leathbhádóirí le Marie Whelton. Tosaíonn an scéal sa bhliain 2016 sa trábhaile ficseanúil Cuan na Long in Iarthar Chorcaí.

Is sa chúlscéal a fhoghlaimímid go chaill Naoise, a bhí deich mbliana d’aois ag an am, a bheirt thuismitheoirí i dtimpiste bóthair sa bhlian 2000.

Glacann a sheanmháthair freagracht as a garmhac agus éiríonn siad an-ghar. Sa bhliain 2005, freastalaíonn Naoise agus a dhlúthcára, Rónan, ar an gcéad chruinniú do clúb rámhaíochta áitiúil, Club Rámhaíochta Chuan na Long, agus as an lá sin amach, athraíonna a shaol.

De réir mar a thagann an scéal chun cinn, fágann Naoise chun dul ar na hollscoile agus tar éis dó céim a bhaint amach, téann sé ar cuairt go dtí an Astráil, agus ansin, ar aghaidh go dtí an Meánoirthear le haghaidh oibre. Ar a thurais ghearra abhaile, tuigeann sé gur féidir leat taisteal ar fud an domhain ag lorg rud éigin, gan ach filleadh abhaile chun é a fháil.

Introduction by Greg
Leathbhádóirí is a short novel for adult learners (of Irish) by Marie Whelton. The story begins in 2016 and is set in the fictional West Cork coastal village of Cuan na Long.

In Naoise’s [pronounced KNEE-sha] backstory, we learn that he lost both of his parents in a road accident in 2000 when he was only ten years old.

Naoise’s grandmother takes on the responsibility of caring for him, and they become very close. In 2005, he and his best friend, Rónan, attend the inaugural meeting of the local rowing club, Cuan na Long Rowing Club, and that’s when his life changes.

As the story unfolds, Naoise leaves home for university and after graduating, travels to Australia and then to the Middle East for work. On his short trips home, he realises you can travel the world in search of something, only to find it once you return.

Cur síos ón gclúdach deiridh
Tar éis dó tréimhse a chaitheamh ar imirce, déanann Naoise cinneadh tapa filleadh, mar dhuine fásta, ar a shráidbhaile dúchais cois farraige. Tá sé de rún aige an chomaoin a chuir a sheanmháthair air agus é ina bhuachaill óg a chúiteamh.

Is mian leis, freisin, í a dhéanamh bródúil as, trí bhrionglóid rámhaíochta a fhíorú di. Diaidh ar ndiaidh, foghlaimíonn sé nach é an comórtas rámhaíochta is tábhachtaí di ach gurb é mian a croí a garmhac a fheiceáil sona.

Is scéal é seo faoin tslí a gcabhraíonn an dara seans le daoine an rud atá i ndán dóibh a bhaint amach, ach, is scéal é freisin faoin tslí a gcothaíonn paisean cómanta do sport traidisiúnta cairdeas idir óg agua aosta, agus, faoin tslí a dtéann an dá ghlúin i ngleic le timthriall na beatha agus na cailliúna.

Blurb from the back cover
Having worked abroad, Naoise makes a quick decision to return, as an adult, to his home seaside village. He intends to repay his grandmother for her kindness to him as a young boy.

He also wants to make her proud by fulfilling a rowing dream for her. Little by little, he learns that while the rowing competition, while important, is not the thing she values most and that her heart’s desire is to see her grandson happy.

This is a story about the way second chances help people become what they are meant to be, but it is also a story about the way a shared passion for a traditional sport nurtures friendship between young and old, and about the way both generations grapple with the cycle of life and loss.

Conclusion
Not surprisingly, with a timeline covering the 2016 Olympic Games, Naoise and his grandmother find themselves glued to the television watching Gary and Paul O’Donovan win their silver medal in the LM2X. Like the rest of Ireland, they too found themselves shouting encouragement at the lads – ach as Gaeilge (but in Irish).

Gary and Paul 2016. Not an image from the book, but one from “The Southern Star”, a weekly regional newspaper covering events in West Cork. In one humorous passage of the book, a newspaper called “Réalta an Deiscirt” (The Southern Star) carries an interview with a young lady, Grásaí Ní Mhaoláin, Chairperson of Dunmore Rowing Club.

Watching the O’Donovans race in Rio is an aside; after all, the plot is about coastal rowing, but Whelton cleverly weaves it into the story, and it’s not the last we hear of the lads from Skibb. By halfway, I had decided it would be my book of the year. By the end, my emotional investment was complete.

In rowing terms, I’m barely an intermediate at reading Gaeilge (Irish) but owing to the inclusion of a vocabulary section of nearly six hundred words, I managed fairly easily to follow the story.

It may be aimed at those aged closer to 16 than 60, but it matters not; a good book is a good book, especially when it can break your heart and mend it at the same time.

The book, a paperback, is a joy to hold, with a quality cover handsomely illustrated by Frank Endersby. I purchased my copy from siopa.ie and it is also available from siopagaeilge.ie. Shop around since I had to pay more for postage than the book.

Leathbhádóirí (2019), Marie Whelton
140 pages
12.5 cm x 19.5 cm
ISBN: 978-1-9998029-0-5
Price: €10

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