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The Pooka and Tim Dorney, An Irish Fairy Tale

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

Illustrations for The Pooka and Tim Dorney

Illustrations for The Pooka and Tim Dorney

Fairy Tales and Folk Tales From Around the World

Last year, I finished a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales and folk tales from around the world as the theme. I had some trouble with Amazon saying they wouldn’t carry my book because of the illustrations, so I went to Lulu and got my first alphabet book published: The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World. Recently, I discovered that Amazon does have the paperback listed after all but not the digital version ebook. That is still available on Lulu though.

After I danced the happy dance at my success, I noticed that there were a lot more fairy tales out there that I didn’t use, enough to make a whole series using global fairy tales and folk tales. Thus the conception of my second alphabet book began. I have only been working on it since February and so I haven’t finished very many of the illustrations. Here is the sixteenth letter in the new book for the letter P.

“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

— Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Thumbnail Roughs for The Pooka

Thumbnail Roughs for The Pooka

The Pooka and Tim Dorney, An Irish Fairy Tale

In the old country of Ireland, there is said to be a mischievous being called a Pooka. He is said to look much like a pony with shaggy hair. If the Pooka should chance to find a traveler at night, he would play many tricks on the traveler like hiding the path and then running between the traveler's legs and lifting him up, run away with him. Sometimes the Pooka would run at stonewalls with the unhappy rider and stop suddenly to cause him to fly into the stonewall or into hedges.

In the county of Kerry, there was a marsh owned by Tim Dorney, whose parents had died and left him the farm. His ancestors had owned that farm for many generations and so the stories of the Pooka had been passed down. Tim Dorney’s ancestors had been smart enough not to disturb the goblin Pooka or travel at night in the marshes but Tim didn’t believe in such things. So Tim had started the habit of checking the borders of his farm to be sure none of his cows had gotten out, even at night. One night returning home from checking his borders, he happened to see a dark-haired long-tailed pony lying across the path in front of him. He tried to step over the pony, but immediately the Pooka (for it was he) jumped up and with Tim on his back, ran whirlwind away with him, brushing him against hedges and walls and trees along the way. Try as he might, Tim could not throw himself off the terrible beast as some invisible force held him there. Finally, it appeared that the Pooka would run him off a steep cliff. The nearer they got the more Tim prayed for deliverance and by some miracle, the Pooka turned away from the cliff and disappeared into the night.

Dragging himself home with scrapes and cuts and having feared his life was over, Tim Dorney became very angry. He decided right then he would have his revenge on this fiendish magical creature. He had a pair of spurs made for him so sharp that he could goad a rhinoceros to death with them. Then he made a whip with several strands of rawhide tipped with sharp lead barbs on each one. Thus equipped, he walked the paths and borders of his farm each night hoping to encounter the dread Pooka again.

It was a moonless night in August when again Tim Dorney felt the Pooka dart between his legs and carry him off down the path at breakneck speeds. This time he was not frightened for his life. He thrashed the Pooka about the head and ears with his whip while thrusting his spurs into the sides of the creature. Although the Pooka twisted and turned trying to throw the farmer off, Tim hung on and continued his punishment until the Pooka groaned and laid down in the pathway allowing Tim to jump off and walk merrily home. It is said the Pooka still plays tricks on hapless travelers but not on the family of Tim Dorney.

Thumbnail drawing for The Pooka

Thumbnail drawing for The Pooka

Collage Illustrations

I looked through several photo references of ponies and boys. In the end, I used a good stock photo I had found in Pixabay of a pony along with one of a young boy. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress on the collage. Sometimes after finishing the collage, I need to make a background layer using Photoshop. This one needed a dark background with stars in the sky because the Pooka attack was at night.

Value Sketch

Value Sketch

“O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales.”

— Leo Rosten

Will Be Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find the story as The Pooka and Tim Dorney or just The Pooka. I just may be finished with the whole book and ready to publish by the end of this year.

Hidden Pictures

In my collages, I use paper from magazines, old wall calendars, catalogs, and circulars. Often I will add things into a collage you can't see unless you are looking for it like hidden pictures. This collage contains a drawing of a face, a horse’s head, a wolf’s head, a woman in a long dress, an alphabet, and an oven mitt.

Color Composition

Color Composition

I love fairy tales because I think that behind fairy tales, there is always a meaning.

— Monica Bellucci

Final Thoughts

Did you like this story’s ending? The story actually is much longer with the Pooka getting revenge and then Tim Dorney doing the same but this seemed like a good place to end it for my purposes.

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. If you are interested you can purchase the first one alphabet book on Lulu or Amazon. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

The finished illustration

The finished illustration

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 05, 2020:

Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

I'm not sure I would say he controlled the Pooka but he did best him and got some respect. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 05, 2020:

DreamerMeg,

Oh, that is quite some distance. Around here we think in terms of how many hours drive would it be and anything over an hour or two is quite some distance. This one was new to me too but I would have thought someone from Ireland would have heard of it. That's interesting. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 05, 2020:

Marie Flint,

I'll have to check out that movie, because the Pooka was new to me. I could only go with what I read from a very difficult Irish text. The wording was so foreign to me I did a lot of "translating" for this story. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 05, 2020:

Devika Primić,

I'm glad you think these are informative. Fairy tales have great morals and insights. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 02, 2020:

Linda Crampton,

How interesting. Did you hear the word as a child or in reference to something mischievous? I never ever heard of him before I did my research for a fairy tale to go with the letter P. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 02, 2020:

Peggy Woods,

In the extended fairy tale, the Pooka gets Tim Dorney back and then Tim bests the Pooka again and it goes on for quite a while. It's a funny story if you ever wanted to get into it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 02, 2020:

Ann Carr,

I'm so happy you like my art and the sharing of these fairy tales. It means so much to me. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 02, 2020:

Ankita B,

You make me so happy. I love that people are enjoying these stories. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 02, 2020:

Bill Holland,

Thank YOU for appreciating beauty. Where would I be without an audience? I'm enjoying sharing this series as well. It makes me feel that all the (usually unseen) background work is worth the time and sharing it may actually help some novice children's book writer/illustrator get started. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

Binoy,

I am glad you liked this one. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

Lorna Lamon,

You are the first I have ever met who actually heard of the Pooka before this. It was new to me but I found it very fascinating. Yes, I wanted to give Tim Dorney that "I'll fix you" look trying to figure out how to overcome the Pooka's tricks. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

Rosina S Khan,

I'm glad you like my illustrations. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 31, 2020:

Nice story. Interesting that Tim could finally control the pooka.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 30, 2020:

MG Singh emge,

I have had to do some research to find these but I find it interesting that all countries and cultures have fairy tales and folk tales that have similar morals and lessons to learn. Many have similar themes, involving step-parents or evil vs good. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on October 29, 2020:

Great story, I live in Ireland but hadn't heard that one before, though County Kerry is quite some distance from where I live - 300 miles or so. (Quite some distance over here, maybe not in the US!)

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on October 29, 2020:

I've heard the Pooka legend described as a black stallion. My knowledge comes from a movie called BEHIND THE WATERFALL by Feature Films for Families. I had never heard of the Tim Dorney story.

I think I would have liked an ending about Tim Dorney somehow taming the Pooka so that it never kidnapped anyone again.

Thank you for working with this wonderful stories and sharing them!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 29, 2020:

Denise beautiful story and illustrations are great. Your work is interesting, informative and most valuable in all your titles.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 28, 2020:

I love the first quote! The illustrations are lovely, too, as always. I enjoyed learning about the Pooka. I've heard the word before, but I didn't know much about the creature until I read your article.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 28, 2020:

Ivana Divac,

I liked it because it was so different. I never heard of a magical pony before either. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2020:

Like Ann, I really enjoyed the quote by Leo Rosten. Thanks for introducing this Irish fairy tale to me and others. Tim Dorney was obviously an inventive guy who bested the Pooka. You already know how much I enjoy viewing your collages.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 28, 2020:

You have such a talent with your collages. I love the hidden pictures - all children (even old ones!) like to search for such things. I also like your inclusion of quotes, especially the Rosten one. This is typical Irish mischievousness!

Thanks for the entertainment and the expert art this afternoon, Denise!

Ann

Ankita B on October 28, 2020:

I liked this. It was interesting to read how Tim got the better of Pooka. Wonderful storytelling as always.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on October 28, 2020:

Liz Westwood,

I'm happy you like this one. It is different, isn't it? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 28, 2020:

There is so much to like about this series, Denise. I can't choose. I just know it's one of my favorite series on HP, and for that I thank you. Thank you for sharing your love of writing and art. Thank you for adding to the beauty of this world we live in.

Thank you!

Blessings always

bill

Binoy from Delhi on October 28, 2020:

I like The Pooka and Tim Dorney, An Irish Fairy Tale. Remarkably fascinating and suspense-filled story. It ended positively. Thanks for sharing the fairy tale. Keep up the good work.

Lorna Lamon on October 28, 2020:

I grew up on the tales of Celtic Folklore and the Pooka is an ancient fairy creature who can bring good and bad fortune. I loved this tale Denise which brought back memories of childhood. Obviously Tim Dorney got the better of the Pooka, and love the way you have captured his thoughtful expression in the collage. As usual you bring the tale to life with your wonderful artwork.

Rosina S Khan on October 27, 2020:

I liked the story of Pooka and its ending also along with the wonderful illustration. Thanks for sharing, Denise.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 27, 2020:

As usual, you have the gift of relating a wonderful story. You have opened a wonderful world of fairytales from different parts of the world.I have read many fairytales but not the one you have related.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on October 27, 2020:

This is an interesting one. It's a story I've just heard for the first time. I really enjoyed it. You did an amazing job, and think you were right: a shorter version still served its purpose and conveyed the message.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 27, 2020:

This is a tale that I have not heard before. You have done a good job at collecting all these tales and producing a set of great illustrations to go with them.