A Gaelic speaking Irishwoman, Peig spent was one of the last inhabitants of the remote Blasket islands. She spent her last days on a hospital bed (circa 1950) relating her life experiences to a scholar.

The resulting book, "Peig", was studied by generations of Irish students becoming a staple of the Gaelic language syllabus. The book contains elements of ancient superstitions and fatalism. Several sons fall off cliffs or drown at sea. Peig's marriage is an arranged one. The hardships endured by the dwindling number of people on the Blaskets is captured for posterity.

Currently, there are two Peig editions available - one called Peig - Tuairisc a thug Peig Sayers ar imeachtaí a beatha féin and Peig - A Scéal Féin. The first one is the school edition, which has been somewhat abridged (not very extensively) and standardised (again, not very extensively - the Munster flavour is easily recognisably). The second one was issued only recently, towards the end of the nineteen nineties, and it is both unabridged and dialectally unadulterated. Those interested can compare the two and make their own conclusions.

From purely linguistic point of view, Peig does have its advantages as school reading matter in Irish: it describes concrete, tangible situations, which are much less easy to find words for in foreign language than abstract things.. However, the situations described bear little relation to contemporary urban life in Ireland. Consequently, while aspiring writers in Irish should indeed continue reading Peig, there are better books for school kids today - for example, A Thig ná Tit orm by Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé.

There have been some attempts to rewrite Peig as a feminist. While it is clear that feminist readers in Ireland should make themselves familiar with Peig, her automatic, instinctive resignation is not something modern girls would, or should, want to emulate. Especially the way she takes her arranged marriage feels upsetting: for her as a young girl, male supremacy is not just the natural order of things, but something to revel in, and a man is almost a God.

Peig Sayers's other book, Machnamh Seanmhná/An Old Woman's Reflections is more about the folklore stories she heard and the people she met; as such, it is probably more interesting than Peig.

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