Cé hí Marion King?

Agus mé ar saoire thar an Samhradh i gCorca Dhuibhne, tháinig mé ar an leabhar álainn seo – Peigín, le Marion King, sa Chaifé Liteartha. Thaitin an ealaín liom an nóiméad a chonaic mé san fhuinneog é agus cheannaigh mé é ar €5, ar an bpointe.

Peigín Marion King

Ghlac mé leis ag an am gur ath-chló ar shean-leabhar a bhí ann agus bhí gliondar croí orm go raibh ‘an t-athchló’ ag teacht leis an sean-stíl a bheadh ar leabhair mar seo. Ach, nuair a bhreathnaigh mé arís, thug mé faoi ndeara go raibh a leanas ar chúl ar fad:

An Chéad Chló: 1939

An Dara Chló: 1943

Ath-Chló: 1948

… agus níl dáta ar bith eile luaite. Ansin thug mé faoi ndeara go bhfuil meirg ar na stáplaí ata á cheangailt le chéile…

Mar sin, is dócha gur cóip é atá fós ag crochadh thart (n’fheadar cá háit?!) ó 1948!

Marion King

Pic ó shuíomh RTÉ

Spreag an tuiscint seo mé le beagán tochailt a dhéanamh agus thosaigh mé le cuardach a dhéanamh ar ainm an údair. Níor chualas riamh trácht ar Marion King roimhe seo, agus leis an fhírinne a rá – níl mórán eolas fúithi ar líne le tuilleadh a fhoghlaim  – ach thaitin an méid a d’fhoghlaim mé liom go mór.

Ba chartúnaí, maisitheoir agus péintéir í Marion King (1897 – 13 Iúil 1963). Rugadh i mBaile Átha Throim í ach tógadh i Leeds í, áit a dhéan sí staidéir i Leeds College of Art. D’fhill sí ar Éireann i 1922 agus lonnaigh sí í féin i mBaile na Manach, BÁC. Bhíodh taispeántaisí ealaíne aici go rialta agus scríobh sí agus mhaisigh sí sraith leabhair do pháistí le téacs Gaeilge. (N’fheadar an raibh Gaeilge aici í féin?) Bhíodh clár raidió aici freisin ar RTÉ  – Drawing and Painting with Marion King, a thosnaigh i 1943.

Ceann de na caractéirí is cáiliúla a bhí aici ná Seán Bunny, a raibh stiallghreannán aige ‘The Adventures of Seán Bunny’ san Irish Times ó 1953 go dtí gur éag King i 1963. Tá coinín d’arbh ainm Seán le feiscint sa leabhar beag a fuair mise, agus is í Peigín a dheirfiúir – is dócha gurb ionann an Seán seo agus Seán Bunny san Irish Times, ach nach deas go bhfuil an spot-sholas ar Pheigín sa leabhar beag seo?!Peigín Marion King

Ba léir go raibh an-ghrá ag páistí na tíre do King. Tríd a seó raidió Drawing and Painting with Marion King agus clár eile ‘Art Adventures’ bhunaigh sí taispeántas ealaíne blianitúil d’obair ealaíne páistí. Sheol Erskine Childers é féin an chéad ceann agus is léir go raibh an tóir air agus gur thaisteal an taispeántas thart timpeall na tíre.

Tá alt iontach san Irish Times (<brú an nasc ansin) ina bhfuil cur síos deas ar King agus ar a cuid oibre. Seo sliocht as:

One of Roddy’s “finds” in the 1940s was Marion King, one of the first and longest-enduring personalities in Irish children’s radio. King’s slight speech impediment made her a rather unlikely presenter, and it is quite possible that she would have failed an audition today, but she had such a talent for communicating with young people that she remained in the often transient world of children’s broadcasting for 20 years.

In 1943, King suggested a radio programme for children interested in learning to draw. The late Seamus Kavanagh, who would later take over from Roddy as head of children’s programmes, recalled that the reaction at Radio Eireann was understandably negative.

“The idea did seem ridiculous, but Miss Marion King enthusiastically pooh-poohed objections and set to work. She announced flatly that she did not intend to “teach”, at least not in the school sense of the word, but that her objective was to awaken the imagination of the children and to encourage them to draw,” he said.

Drawing and Painting was born. King invented a character called Sean Bunny, a dungaree-wearing rabbit and, after relating Sean’s adventures on the radio, she invited her young listeners to draw pictures of him. Although originally aimed at very young children, the age limit for King’s drawing competitions was raised to accommodate young people up to the age of 17. When King first introduced another character, Cushaboo, a Pinnochio-style doll with a feather in his cap, a number of photographers appeared at the Henry Street studio to capture his image for the newspapers. Maev Conway Piskorski, then assistant to Seamus Kavanagh, recalls being cajoled into the photograph when King refused to have her picture taken: “I was in my mid-20s, trying to impress the fellas, and to be seen in the papers with this big doll. The embarrassment!”

On another occasion, King was horrified to learn that Cushaboo had been put into a cupboard when she had gone out to do her shopping; she thought he should have been out in the fresh air. King, possibly unintentionally, introduced a basic but effective method of audience research. When requesting children to send in their drawings and paintings, she would tell them to put a special mark on the paper – a star or cat, perhaps. If that mark was not on the drawing, then the child was not included in the competition. In that way, the programme makers were able to determine how many children were listening, and how many were sending pictures in automatically in the hope of obtaining a prize. According to Conway Piskorski, “there were hundreds of paintings coming in. It was the biggest part of our mail by far. Absolutely huge.”

Is breá liom go raibh sí chomh tiomanta páistí a spreagadh le bheith cruthaitheach!

Peigín Marion King

Ní hiad scéalta faoi coiníní an t-aon rud a scríobh sí, áfach. Cúpla teidil eile uaithi a tháinig mé orthu ná: Gug, Baba, Cáit agus Cól (Scéilín Nodlag) ach níl aon clú agam cén saghas scéalta iad. Chonaic mé go raibh cúpla ceann ar fáil ó  deBúrca Rare Books ar €275 an ceann! N’fheadar an bhfuil luach níos mó ná an €5 a d’íoc mé ar mo ‘Pheigín’, más ea?!

Braithim daimh éigin le Marion King, caithfidh mé a rá. Is breá liom an chruthaitheacht a spreagadh i bpáistí, táim ag obair i saol na craoltóireachta agus freisin táim ag scríobh do pháistí – dá mbeadh bua na péintéireachta agam freisin bheadh ‘pacáiste iomlán’ Marion agam, ach faraoir níl – mar sin beidh sí agam mar bhé as seo amach.

Marion King is my Bé

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