Rónán and the Mermaid: A Tale of Old Ireland

By Marianne McShane

Illustrated by Jordi Solano

An Irish storyteller revisits the little-known legend of the Mermaid Saint in a haunting, beautifully illustrated tale of kindness, music and longing.

Long ago, on the eastern coast of Ireland, a monk from the Abbey of Bangor was collecting driftwood along the shore when he found a boy washed up amid a circle of seals. At first the boy could barely move or speak. But when he regained his strength, he recalled being brought ashore by a lady with long golden hair who sang him to safety and gave him a silver ring. The monks knew the legend of a mermaid who had wandered the coast for three hundred years. Could it possibly have been her? Inspired by a story told in medieval chronicles of Irish history, debut author Marianne McShane weaves a captivating tale, while Jordi Solano captures the legend’s spare but welcoming abbey on the rocky shore – setting that makes you believe that if you listen hard enough, you too can hear the mermaid’s song.

Categories: Picture Books

For readers aged: 3+

  • Publication details:
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781406394320
  • Published: 07 Apr 2022
  • Price: £7.99
  • Size: 280 x 210 mm
  • Pages: 32

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Customer reviews


'With the lyrical style of an expert storyteller, a picture is painted of long ago Ireland, its' legends, its' magic and its' wonder. The graceful language itself weaves a spell full of atmosphere, whisking the reader back in time. The gorgeous illustrations gracing the pages of this picture book give exacting imagery and a genuine sense of time and place, rich in detail, symbolism and a feel of the old; the magical. Evocative, exquisite and beautiful; this one truly brings the legend home. Simply wonderful.' Fallen Star Stories Blog

'Marianne read an extract and was interviewed on the BBC radio show Your Place and Mine.' Your Place and Mine

'A contemporary Irish seanchaí, or storyteller, uses a bit of historical text from 558 C.E.—the Annals of the Four Masters—to fashion a story about a wondrous creature from the sea. [...] With this ode to music and mermaids, McShane deftly uses old stories to create a lyrical, satisfying new one.' Kirkus review

'Featured in an interview with Marianne McShane in The Irish Echo.' The Irish Echo

'Featured in a piece by Marianne McShane in Books Ireland Magazine.' Books Ireland

'Featured in Books Make Things Better, CBI.' CBI

'This is my choice for pure escapism. An older age-range picture book, it is a stunningly beautiful reimagining of the lesser-known Irish myth of Li Ban the mermaid. Brimming full of monks, seals, harp music and a certain mysterious mermaid, it has bucket-loads of heart. The language itself has that soft lyrical quality that transports the reader and is perfect to read aloud. Meanwhile, the grey-green sea-swept palette of the illustrations will soothe your very soul.' The Belfast Telegraph

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