Review: Rí Rá (Coimicí Gael)
Rí Rá is a new Irish language comic for children. It is a bright glossy affair with lots of short punchy scripts with mainly manga-style characters providing the storylines. I must admit before I opened the comic in a café that I was not expecting much but by the time I had put down the first sample, my coffee had gone cold. I was deeply impressed with the quality and humour of the storyline. While my level of Irish would not be considered “go fluirseach” anymore, I had no problem grasping the stories. In fact, I would go as far as saying that even someone without Irish would have a good chance of enjoying the comics as the visuals are excellent.
The humour in the stories is the sort of child-friendly stuff you see in kids’ movies. My favourite is of the two main characters having a farting contest in a tent before both are carted away in an ambulance. However, there are other stories that might suit the more mature reader, such as the child detective story. There is great variety within the comics so if there’s a story that doesn’t interest the reader, there’s loads more to engage the reader.
Another feature of the comics is a fóclóir at the end of the comic, which translates some of the more complex vocabulary. Each comic costs €2.50 per issue so I’m not sure how cost effective this would be for schools but it is certainly a good options for houses where Gaeilge is spoken or encouraged. I’m sure a budding teacher could come up with some serious lesson plans to go with the comics, which would make them even more attractive to schools.
As with anything in the Irish language, the market is very small so it relies on support from Foras na Gaeilge. In order for it to succeed, I believe it will need the support of schools. Gaelscoileanna, I’m sure, will be delighted to have some new exciting content for their children to read but other schools should certainly have a look at ordering a few copies to see how they work in their classrooms. Rí Rá is a nice change from the stuffy, traditional myths and legends or clunky translations that often appear on the shelves. It’s good to see that there’s an attempt to keep the Irish language fresh.