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The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween

Ruth Sawyer's lyrical Christmas story, originally published in 1941, and now hauntingly illustrated by Max Grafe, will melt readers' hearts and make them long for a white and magical Christmas.

A hundred years ago and more, on a stretch of road that runs from the town of Donegal to Killybegs and the sea, a drove of tinkers went their way of mending pots and thieving lambs. Having a child too many for the caravan, they left it, new-born, upon a cabin doorstill in Carn-na-ween.

So begins the life of Oona Hegarty, who grows up to be beautiful, kind, talented and clever — but doomed , as a tinker's child, never to marry or have a home of her own. She spends her life wandering from cabin to cabin, nurturing others' children or tending the sick and the old, only to be turned out again when her usefulness has passed. Then comes the snowy Christmas Eve when Oona, an old woman now, finds herself homeless, hoisting a bundle of donated treasures almost too heavy to lift. With a famine turning human hearts to stone and not a soul who is willing to take her in, it seems Oona will end her days with no place to rest her head or warm her bones. But what of the Gentle People said to live in the boglands near Carn-na-ween — will they let an old woman's lifelong kindness go unrewarded, especially on a white Christmas?

Important places

Carn (1)
Donegal (12)

Regions

Cavan (14)
Donegal (15)

Countries

Ireland (2,156)