How much do local legends shape a place? If Gort in South Galway is anything to go by, a lot. The legacy of King Guaire lives on in both the magazine named after the 7th century ruler of Connaught and the minds of his young Gort descendants.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, Guaire magazine is running a children’s creative writing competition. www.guaire.org At a workshop for potential entrants on Saturday, imaginations got on their bikes and did wheelies down the ancient streets. We had stories of Spiderman’s jealous younger sister trying to outdo her superbro; sharks dressing up as witches for Halloween, and a fairy godmother with bad breath living in the fridge.
If you think those are nutty, wait till you hear the stories by which generous King Guaire is remembered. There’s the one about his arms being different lengths because one grew longer from all its giving. And a wonderful legend in the Menology (church festival calendar) of Aengus takes the nutty biscuit. After fasting for Lent, King Guaire’s cousin St Colman prayed on Easter Day for a hearty meal. Miles away, the king was sitting down to a feast. As soon as the dishes were served, they vanished from the table. The hungry king and his retinue jumped on their horses and chased the food, which had reappeared in front of St Colman and his servant.
Poppycock? You’re welcome to think so. But I’ve decided to believe every word of it, not just because a nearby stretch of limestone pavement is called the Road of Dishes but also because, without a few nuts, our world would be one boring biscuit, as Gort’s wonder weavers know well.