Heaney, Marie. The Names Upon The Harp: Irish Myths And Legends. Arthur A. Levine, 2000. ISBN 978-0590680523 96 pp. $
This volume of nine tales has superb design and layout; unfortunately, the content falls a bit flat. Celtic designs decorate the endpapers and the text has an illuminated character at the start of each story, giving an ancient flavor to the book. This design should have been carried over to frame the illustrations. The paintings themselves range from muted to vibrant, and some seem similar to a Magic playing card.
Heaney gives the reader tales from each of the three cycles of early Irish literature. The stories progress very fluidly, in three sets of three, but in spite of their romance and adventure, they come off as one dimensional, perhaps because Heaney lacks a true storyteller’s voice, and her words fail to engage the reader. Names are difficult, and all pronunciations are at the end of the text. Sources are cited, and Heaney’s source notes indicate she did her research carefully, but in spite of careful execution, something is disappointingly lacking. The cover may draw readers in, although the title is hard to read, and teachers needing such materials may find the volume useful. Purchase where there is a need, or to beef up your Irish folklore collection.