Bhiithin and the Islandman: The Blaskets Translated
'" Say your farewell to Ireland', cries one of the rowers, and I turn and bid farewell, not only to Ireland, but to England and Europe and all the tangled world of today" (Flower 6). So wrote Robin Flower of his lifechanging first journey into the Great Blasket Island, off the Kerry coast in the west of Ireland, where he would one day be given the honorary title of which he was most proud: BIGithin. It was a title that signified so much: the Irish word for "Flower". It offered a translation of his name, its diminutive form a linguistic sign of the Islanders' deep affection for him. The fact that they gave him a nick-name at all was a clear sign that he had an Island life of his own, a sign that he was regarded with fondness as a member of the Island community. It might also be read as a mark of the translated identity of this Englishman who translated An tOileanach, (0 Criomhthain) the first of the Blasket Island autobiographies into English as The Islandman (O'Crohan). His words above express his impression, soon and forever confirmed, that his journey was taking him into an entirely other world.
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