Bird of the Golden Land

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

I had been thinking I wanted to draw something hopeful and bright (what with the US election) and thanks to one of my Patrons (hello Trevor!) who sent me this link to Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. edited and selected by W.B. Yeats, I was reminded of one of my favourite books as a kid, The Bird of the Golden Land by Robert Nye, 1980 illustrated by Krystyna Turksa. A golden magical musical bird sounded uplifting.


After a short search through my bookshelves, I found it but as is the way of many childhood things I remember the book being a lot BIGGER. This story is set in Erin (Ireland) and Prince Barefoot (Cormac) the Hero... is helped by a small golden horse to find the Bird of the Golden land for his father the King (who can't sleep without its sweet singing). Needless to say, it gets more complicated as there are dastardly brothers, tasks to complete and golden seas to race over!


If the bird of the Golden Land comes in at the window and is pleased by your songs and your stories and poems then she will sing also. - The Bird of the Golden Land by Robert Nye.


The story was collected by American folklorist Jeremiah Curtin (1835-1906) and published by the Folklore of Ireland Society, in 1943 (probably earlier too but I haven't found it yet).

I can't find a copy to read online but from the one-page extract I did read Robert Nye seems to have stuck quite closely to the Curtin text but just added a little humour.




I sorted through the abstract papers I printed on a Friday afternoon, the colour palette of the book cover certainly made that decision easier, those blues and golds are perfect



I mixed some yellow ink with some copper pixie dust, which gave the bird some iridescent glimmers. With so much ink leftover I doodled a host of golden birds which winged their way by post to my Patreon supporters.






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