Packy Jim

Folklore and Worldview on the Irish Border

Ray Cashman
Publication Date
2017
Website
View publication information

Winner, Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture, American Conference for Irish Studies

A Donegal storyteller engages with this world and the next

Growing up on a secluded smuggling route along the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic, Packy Jim McGrath regularly heard the news, songs, and stories of men and women who stopped to pass the time until cover of darkness. In his early years, he says, he was all ears—but now it is his turn to talk.

Ray Cashman, who has been interviewing McGrath for more than fifteen years, demonstrates how Packy Jim embellishes daily conversation with stories of ghosts and fairies, heroic outlaws and hateful landlords. Such folklore is a boundless resource that he uses to come to grips with the past and present, this world and the next. His stories reveal an intricate worldview that is both idiosyncratic and shared—a testament to individual intelligence and talent, and a window into Irish vernacular culture.