The Inspiration Lola and Larch – a blog by Sinéad O'Hart - Nosy Crow Skip to content
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Posted on March 17, 2024

The Inspiration Lola and Larch – a blog by Sinéad O’Hart

This month we were absolutely delighted to have published Lola and Larch: Fix a Fairy Forest – a book filled heart-warming and funny celebrations of friendship, written by Sinead O’Hart & illustrated by Rachel Seago. Today we are very excited to be sharing a blog from Sinead, herself, about her inspiration behind the book and her Irish heritage that can be found throughout her work. 

I try to have some Irish ‘flavour’ in all my books, because I’m very proud of being from Ireland. I’m also proud of Ireland’s rich literary heritage, which is impressive considering how small an island we are! For hundreds of years, we’ve produced musicians, composers, artists, and authors, in English and also in our own language, Irish, which is one of the oldest languages in Europe.

In some of my books, I’ve dropped in Irish place-names, or places on the island of Ireland, like ‘the port of Belfast’ in my first book, The  Eye of the North, and the towns of Whiteharbour and Port Ross in The Time Tider, which are based on Wexford and New Ross, two towns in my home county. In The Star-Spun Web, I set the story in Dublin (Ireland’s capital city) and another ‘version’ of Dublin in an alternate universe, called Hurdleford. I used this name because the Irish for ‘Dublin’ is ‘Baile Átha Cliath’, which means ‘Town of the Hurdled Ford’. In Skyborn there is a character named Cornelius Crake, who is from ‘Hibernia’ – this is an old name for Ireland. And my book The Silver Road is set completely in Ireland, using Irish myths and legends as the basis of the story.

My newest book, Lola and Larch Fix a Fairy Forest, is the start of a brand-new series of stories about a girl named Lola Cleary, who lives with her family near a huge and beautiful forest. Lola’s mum is a Forest Ranger, which means it’s her job to care for the forest and everything that lives there, including plants, trees, and animals. Lola has been raised to care for the forest, and to enjoy spending time there – but this forest holds a brilliant secret! Deep inside it there’s a fairy village… One dark and stormy afternoon, a little fairy gets lost, after trying to fly all by herself through the wind and rain. She has an amazing power – she can change her shape to become a rabbit! – and it’s in this rabbit shape that she meets Lola and her family, who take her home to care for her. But the next day, Lola finds the ‘rabbit’ she met the previous evening is actually a very small, mossy-haired, sometimes rude, very argumentative and rather hilarious fairy named Larch Mudwort, who needs to find her way home, while also avoiding the clutches of the dreadful Euphorbia Spurge, the nastiest fairy in the forest.

I loved creating Larch! She’s not a ‘typical’ fairy – she eats snail slime, she likes to burp, she gets dirty, she loves to snack on buttercup petals and dandelion leaves, and she’s one hundred percent sure she’s in charge at all times – and I wrote her this way because, in Ireland, fairies are not the twinkly, sparkly, always-happy characters that you find in some other stories. Fairies, in our tradition, are all that remains of the once-mighty race of gods and goddesses known as the Tuatha Dé Danann (prounounced ‘Too-ah Day Dan-un’) who once ruled over Ireland. They were defeated in battle by humans called Milesians, who claimed the ‘upper world’, and told the Tuatha Dé Danann to live in the ‘lower world’, which meant they began to live underground, in mounds known as ‘sídhe’ (pronounced ‘shee’). It’s from this that they are called ‘people of the mounds’, or the ‘Aos Sídhe’ (pronounced ‘Ace Shee’), and the word ‘sídhe’ is used to mean ‘fairy’ in Ireland, too. Our fairies are clever, and tricky, and sometimes malicious, which means they like to try to catch humans out – and they are most definitely not to be trusted! Sometimes, too, they can be kind and do humans favours. In Ireland people still believe it’s bad luck to name the fairies – they’re referred to as ‘the Good Folk’ or ‘the Others’ or ‘the Fair Folk’, just in case they might be eavesdropping! And if there’s a tree growing from a mound in the middle of a field, you must never cut it down; that’s where fairies live. What sort of fairy traditions do you have?

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Larch and her fairy clan – but remember: be on the lookout for Euphorbia Spurge!

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