IT’S a quote from Peig Sayers that was more than familiar to young students across Ireland for decades as it featured on the Leaving Cert curriculum: Seanabhean is ea mise anois go bhfuil cos léi insan uaigh is an chos eile ar a bruach.
Peig’s autobiography was part of the compulsory Leaving Certificate Irish syllabus until 1995 and now a new documentary from TG4 will revisit Peig, her personality and her art as a storyteller, reclaiming her and portraying her as she has never been before.
Presented by broadcaster Sinéad Ní Uallacháin, the rebranding mission will give Peig what is described as “the mother of all makeovers” that will change her memory in people’s minds forever.
Sinéad will take the viewer on a fascinating journey to find out about the real Peig, listening to recordings of her, dipping into some comedy sketches about the Great Blasket Island resident, meeting those who loved and loathed her writing, debunking myths and, finally, uncovering who the real Peig is and a legacy to be proud of.
“I wonder what Peig would have said if she knew that we’d still be talking about her, at length, in the year 2021?” Sinéad said.
“This woman generously shared not only her life story but many other stories that she had collected over the years. I don’t believe the abuse she continuously receives is warranted.
“There are many layers to Peig, as I found out whilst making this programme,”she added.
Sinéad reveals that Peig was, in fact, one of the greatest Irish storytellers, a born performer and entertainer.
Máire Ní Dhálaigh, of the OPW’s Blasket Centre, described Peig Sayers as the Netflix of the time.”
She was a woman full of fun and craic who loved to entertain and drew people to her and archive recordings revealed in the programme from the National Folklore Collection in UCD reveal a theatrical performer.
Some say she was associated with the old world of piety and sainthood, an image which was inflicted upon her by the newly formed Irish state of the 1920s and 30s and that the book was carefully edited to reflect one version of Peig’s life.
Sinéad will meet people who want to reclaim Peig as an icon and hero, including Sharon Granahan who has a tattoo of Peig while renowned poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill features reading a newly composed poem for her Peig.
On a more serious note, the documentary will question how our relationship with Peig (1873-1958) reflects our complex relationship with our heritage, our language and who we are.
PEIG will be broadcast on TG4 on Wednesday, 10 March at 9.30pm and it will also be available on the TG4 player.