Uprooted from city life by the death of his father, Dark is beckoned into a rath as he wanders the fields near his new home. There, he meets people big and small whose magnificent stories of warriors, monsters and the fairy people provide an escape from his crumbling school and home life and take him deep into the world of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna.
O’Neill’s powerful new tales of adventure, heroism, treachery, weakness and redemption entwine with ancient Irish folklore as Dark realises that he, like his eccentric uncle Connie, belongs to two very different worlds.
PRAISE FOR OLD FRIENDS
‘Wonderfully irreverent, engrossing … a tour-de-force of storytelling’ Gemma Hussey, former Minister for Education
‘Gripping and gory and vivid’ Máire Uí Mhaicin, academic and folklore specialist
‘[O’Neill] takes his young teen readers time-travelling with protagonist Dark through tales that straddle the knowable and the imaginary. There is nothing implausible about the emotions that course through these latter-day folktales that bring LED lighting to fairy raths; no false notes dim their sense of loss and betrayal or, indeed, O’Neill’s idiomatic style. This is a book straight from the oral tradition – it would sparkle if read aloud’ Mary Shine Thompson, The Irish Times
‘Tom O’ Neill manages to bring new twists and new ideas into the tales in this book. You get really engrossed in the characters’ lives and they seem real, not just myth and legend anymore. Tom O’Neill really brings the characters, and the stories themselves, to life. I really liked this book and was absorbed in the story from the very beginning’Bríd, age 14, Leitrim
‘… rich with the colour, depth and atmosphere of tales embellished over many retellings … This is a book to be savoured and read again and again by all who … appreciate a good story …’ Inis magazine
Tom O’Neill is one of a very close knit family of eleven brought up on a farm in County Carlow. His working life started in science teacher training in impoverished schools in South Africa and he is currently involved in computer based education as well as running a farm in Kilkenny.Restoring the ancient Killahara castle in Tipperary and helping his father publish a social history reconnected him to stories and beliefs that were still vibrant in his own childhood and prompted him to pull together the Fionn Mac Cumhaill tales he had made up to entertain his own children en route to school. These stories can be found in Tom\'s first children\'s book, Old Friends: The Lost Tales of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, published in 2010 by Little Island. Tom has also written a related book, Fionn and the Legend of the Blood Emeralds, which is available online. See www.irishfables.com for more from Tom O\'Neill, Dark and several characters from the books or read about them on Wikipedia.