How many people said at the beginning of lockdown that they were going to write that novel or screenplay or volume of poems they’d been planning for years? And what did they do? They watched Netflix, like everyone else. Not Jim Landers — he wrote “Lardoolin.” It’s a book for children from about 6 to 11, and it’s hot off the digital presses this week.
Usually Landers, 51, is to be found in Nottingham, England, with his wife and son. He had been a project manager in healthcare for 18 years but was made redundant in April. However, the previous month, the newly-minted writer, whose mum emigrated from Bookeen, Co. Galway, found himself in his dad’s Clogheen, Co. Tipperary. And all alone, except, that is, for his bearded collie dog. “It’s amazing what long dog walks and quality reflection time can do with the imagination,” said Landers, who completed the book there in July.
It’s set during the Great Famine in 1840s Ireland. “Tirfothuinn, an ancient and mystical land ‘under the waves’ that protects the Emerald Isle, responds. Three special fairies are sent on a mission to save the dying Fairy tree in a small village which will in turn restore the people and their land to health. The fairies represent, hope, happiness and luck. “But there is an evil witch who haunts a local lough, and who will oppose their plan and, who is responsible for cursing the crops to fail. “The fairies will need the help of five children, but all of the children must believe in fairies if they are to break the evil curse of the witch, Petticoat Loose. “The fairies choose a boy called Lardoolin and a wonderful sheepdog called Reigh, to make the plan happen as well as the children from the orphanage outside the village. But only three children believe in fairies. Can the other children be convinced?” In addition to Lardoolin, his mother Ma’ and Reigh, as well as the fairies, the author added that there are also: “A magical pocket watch, special herbal dog treats made by Ma’, and a powerful magical poem, all of which will be important to defeating the witch.
“Will they succeed defeating the witch and restoring life to the fairy tree but moreover, can they restore happiness and health back to the people of the village?” Well, we have no intention of giving the story away here.
Landers said that Ma’ is based on his grandmother Margaret Landers, whereas Lardoolin was the name of his great-greatgrandfather, an undertaker during those tragic days in Ireland’s story. “Reigh cemetery was used there during the Famine for mass burial,” he said. “The history and landmarks of the town and the role of my relative spawned the initial ideas, which then grew whilst out walking the dog,” the author said. “During the night I’d wake up still getting a few more ideas.”
As for inspirations in life generally, John Paul II is a favorite, And added that he liked “honest, humble, cheerful and friendly folk. Knights of the road who still have pride and dignity. “One such man visited my auntie in Clogheen and asked her father if he would spare him any food? Her father asked him in,” Landers said, “and made him a boiled egg and placed it on the table. The man got on his knees, blessed himself and thanked God for his food, arose and then ate it, and went his way. I don’t know why but maybe his piety and humble disposition always moves me
when I think about him. A lesson in him for us all.”
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Lardoolin is sure to be the perfect stocking filler this Christmas for children of all ages. Available now on amazon.com for $10.99 paperback or $2.69 on Kindle.