In the lead-up to the upcoming Ballinasloe Horse Fair, Roscommon-based children’s author/illustrator Lucy Kelly-Desmond will be reading from her book, ‘The Horse, the Stars and the Road’, in Salmons Store, Ballinasloe, at 3 pm on Saturday, September 23rd.
In addition to the reading, children will also receive illustrated activity sheets, where they can design their own barrel top wagons and learn some tips about star navigation! The event is completely free to attend.
Lucy Kelly-Desmond is an artist/illustrator who is based in Dysart, Co. Roscommon. ‘The Horse, the Stars and the Road’, published by Little Island, is her debut picture book, which she both wrote and illustrated.
The book follows the character of Sunny, a young Irish Traveller, who, after being asked to contribute to ‘show and tell’ at school and feeling unsure about having anything interesting to contribute, begins to realise the wealth of traditions within his community: from ancestral tin-smithing knowledge, to beautiful stories shared around the fire camp while looking at constellations.
Describing ‘The Horse, the Stars and the Road’, Victoire Lemaire, reviewer for Children’s Books Ireland, said, “Lucy Kelly-Desmond’s illustrations beautifully accompany this heart-warming tale about identity: realistic and detailed, the pencil drawings also convey a sense of magic and wonder, which particularly shines in the fire-lit camp scenes.
“Through Sonny’s embracing of his Irish Traveller background, this picture book offers a powerful message about the importance of roots, tradition and community, and deals in an accessible way with complex topics such as identity”.
Lucy lives near Ballinasloe and the October Horse Fair has been a great source of inspiration for her work. Although not a Traveller herself, Lucy has had a lifelong love of Traveller culture, which began in childhood when a Traveller family joined her school and became her friends. Her book celebrates some of the elements of Traveller heritage that are becoming rare and not being seen as much at horse fairs nowadays.
More information about ‘The Horse, the Stars and the Road’ can be found at littleisland.ie/collections/lucy-kelly-desmond/products/the-horse-the-stars-and-the-road, where the book is also available for purchase.