Local Creative - Lucy Kelly Desmond’s first book “The Horse, the Stars and the Road” is a beautifully written and illustrated children’s book with a ‘Traveller Centric’ theme.
Born in London to an Irish family, she moved back to Ireland at a young age. While her family isn’t from a travelling background, cultural identity has heavily influenced her artwork. For her graduate degree she focused on her own conflicting London-Irish identity and reflected on the positive impact that her friendship with travellers had on her childhood. Lucy credits her friendship with traveller twins for instilling a deep love of their culture and heritage.
“Being accepted and welcomed by them made me feel extremely determined to focus on work that could help traveller children see their rich and wonderful heritage reflected in literature. I learned from my traveller friends how to defend myself and my identity in a respectful and dignified way”, she states.
While working at a family resource centre in Athlone she worked on a ‘traveller centric’ project, where charcoal portraits based on photographs of traveller men and women were created.
Lucy exhibited these and other art pieces based on scenes from Ballinasloe Horse Fair as part of the Traveller Pride event in Roscommon in 2016.
After graduating in textile design, she decided to become an illustrator because she wanted to use her art as a form of storytelling. She particularly wanted to write a story that celebrated the dying art of tin smithing.
The author debuted her book at Ballinasloe Library’s Storytime on October 25th where she enthralled her young audience from Scoil an Chroí Naofa with her story about Sonny’s journey in a barrel top wagon with his tinsmith uncle, Jim. Sonny learns to love his rich cultural history and traditions of the Irish Travelling community.
The artist took part in the Great Dublin Castle Draw Along on the 12th of November, inviting children to listen to her story and draw motifs from the night-time scenes in her book, there is significant interest in the publishing rights over seas through her publishers – Little Island Books.
The Horse, The Stars and the Road is available for loan from Ballinasloe Library.
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