Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WG Lyttle's book covers - and Harry Creevy of Greyabbey

(NB: If you're reading this on Facebook, you can read this post in full on my blog). Wesley Greenhill Lyttle was a famous writer, performer and newspaper man in the late 1800s. There's a very good short biography of him here. He's probably best known for his books "Betsy Gray and the Hearts of Down" and "Daft Eddie and the Smugglers of Strangford Lough". Below are four covers from the paperbacks of some of his lesser-known (but in my own view, much better) writings - all have a good heavy dose of local Ulster-Scots dialogue. The illustrations and type on these are brilliant -

WG Lyttle Covers.jpg

He also wrote a local tourism booklet called "The Bangor Season - what's to be seen and how to see it" in 1885. It contains short descriptions of the main towns and villages of the area, and includes the following about Greyabbey:

"A remarkable personage, known as Harry Creevy, resides in Greyabbey. He is pretty much a hermit, no-one being allowed to enter the humble house in which he lives. Harry is quite a favourite with the population, who liberally supply him with food. He possesses a remarkable memory and seems to never weary of reciting - in loud and gutteral tones - headstone inscriptions and local legends. His appearance as he saunters through the graveyard is calculated to alarm a timid visitor, but Harry is exceedingly gentle in manner, and the visitor who can engage him in conversation is indeed fortunate..."

Nowadays, Harry Creevy would probably get an ASBO.


Philip Robinson said...

Joseph Long knows quite a bit about Harry Creevy. He had an enormous pair of boots which he displayed in the window of his house across the way from me (as he went about bare-foot). A pic of one of Harry Creevy's boots figured in the Chronicle about 50 years back.
He ground Scrabo stone down into powder and sold it as scouring powder for people to clean their pots with.
I love the way WGL records real people, events, language and folklore in his stories. A real ethnologist and Ulster-Scots field recorder!