For World Book Day I created a shared story that would be read out over the day at the high school I work at. The background information would be read in tutor time and the story in five parts during the lessons that day. I got the idea from another school librarian at a librarian meeting I attended. The other librarians were so knowledgeable and interesting; they had some excellent tips to encourage reading. I am looking forward to the next time we meet up and sharing other ideas.
I wanted to choose a short story that had a connection to our school and after some research I found out that a famous writer did attend the school in the past.
Edward Bradley 1827 –1889
He was the second son of Thomas Bradley, surgeon of Kidderminster, who came from an ancient Worcestershire family.
After education at the Kidderminster grammar school, which is now called King Charles I School, Bradley went to University College, Durham in 1845.
He took the pen name Cuthbert Bede and published many popular works. One of the first ever attempts at a newspaper comic strip was “The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green,” by Cuthbert Bede in December 1851.
He died, greatly regretted by ‘all who came into contact with his kindly personality.’ His obituary said ‘We knew him as an ardent student of antiquities, a diligent collector of folk-lore, and a bright narrator of shrewd observations and varied experiences. ‘
Edward Bradley was very interested in folklore and legend. This story, Connamarra’s Wooing, is selected from, ‘The White Wife,’ published in 1868. It re-tells an old Gaelic legend. I chose it because it was short enough to not take up too much lesson time but full of romance and thrills. You can read the whole book HERE
It was in the olden days when the beautiful maiden Connamarra was beloved by the two youths Lergan and Fengal.
In her heart of hearts she favoured Fengal; but it became necessary that she should bring both of them to an open trial for her hand; and it was agreed, that whomever of them won the day, should be allowed to marry the maiden in peace, without incurring further enmity from his rival.
The trial that was chosen for them by Connamarra was this.
At the mouth of the loch was a rock over which the sea dashed in white foam.Starting from the shore, Lergan and Fengal were to take their currachs (boats) round the rock, and whoever of them, on their return, touched the shore first with his hand, should win Connamarra for his bride.
On a day they came to the trial. They stripped for the contest, that the currachs being lightened might fly the swifter over the waves.But Fengal took with him his heavy battle-axe; and, when Connamarra saw this she feared that its burden should weigh against the stroke of Fengal’s oars.
Then she watched them from the beach, and marked how their light currachs danced over the waters, springing foward with rapid bounds as the oars lashed the spray.
Fengal was the first to round the rock; but Lergan drew close upon him.
Fengal strained every nerve; but, though he laboured excessively, Lergan’s currach passed by him, and led the way to the shore.
Connamarra’s heart sank within her at the thought of soon being claimed as Lergan’s bride.
Then Fengal seized his battle-axe, and with one blow, cut off his left hand at the wrist; and, seizing the severed hand, he hurled it over Lergan’s head.
Then, just as Lergan was about to spring onto the shore, he saw the hand fall before him on the beach; and the voice of Fengal was heard saying, “Connamarra is mine; for it is my hand that has first touched the shore!”
And Lergan yielded the maiden, and strode away, heavy at heart.
But Connamarra went to her lover; and, with her own robe, she staunched his blood, and bound up his limb.
And Fengal said, “’Twere better that the hand should bleed, and not the heart.”
And thus he won his Connamarra.