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Ardgour-based singer/musician Mary Ann Kennedy has been using time during lockdown to explore the Celtic background of writer CS Lewis and one of his most famous works, the children’s classic The Chronicles of Narnia.
The result is a new radio programme entitled An Leòmhann an Tìr na h-Òige, which roughly translates as The Lion in the Land of Youth, to be broadcast on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal tomorrow (Friday) at 1pm with a repeat on Sunday April 4.
Having returned in search of solace during lockdown to the book, one of her own personal childhood literary favourites, Mary Ann uses an audio fantasy-world of words and music to trace the path of Lewis’ childhood and upbringing that gave him a lifelong attachment to the land of his birth and an understanding of and solidarity with young people and loss.
Connecting the dislocation of young people in the current pandemic and that of children caught up in the Second World War, when the Narnia stories were created, and in tracing the roots of the stories of Celtic legend into which he escaped himself as a child, Mary Ann builds a picture of Lewis that takes him from the traditional image of Oxford don and brings the author and his work back into a context that makes a natural step of the work she and her mother, Kenna Campbell, carried out in translating ‘The Lion’ into Gaelic and sharing it with a new generation of young Gaels.
Mary Ann told the Lochaber Times: ‘It was really hard to be creative at the beginning of lockdown and I’m so happy that telling this story – that was such an icon of my childhood – in my own language was able to make connections with other people.’
The programme also has contributions in Irish Gaelic and English. There’s music, readings, contributions, song and folklore.
And it’s all tied into lockdown and how Mary Ann found the books again and, alongside her mother, translated them into Gaelic with permission from the CS Lewis Foundation.
Mary Ann Kennedy with a copy of CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
NO F14 MAK Narnia Radio Promo Cosmic