Rírá is a comic, completely “as Gaeilge” aimed at pupils in the 8-14 year old age range which I only recently became aware of. It’s a fledgling production published by a small part-time operation made up of comic artists and cartoonists around Ireland, with just three issues published so far. Set up by Aidan Courtney, who works as a freelance cartoonist, Rírá also serves as a platform for other Irish cartoonists to show off their work while combining this with our native language. Since its inception, Rírá has been nominated for Best New Comic (up against Batman and Doctor Who) and Best European Comic in the Eagles Awards (like the BAFTAs of the comic world).
Supported by Foras na Gaeilge, the publication is admirable, given the paucity of modern and suitable material demonstrating the use of Gaeilge in an age-appropriate setting. There are numerous cartoons in each issue, of varying lengths. Some have been translated from cartoons from other European countries. The amount of Gaeilge used in the cartoons varies, with some cartoons having none of very little language, while others have quite a bit of Gaeilge. The level of difficulty of Gaeilge used also varies. The comics are aimed at pupils in the 8-14 year old age group – they are suitable for both Gaelscoileanna and non-Gaelscoileanna as well as pupils in 1st/2nd year secondary school. In ordinary primary schools, some of the cartoons would only be suitable for senior class pupils.
Back issues are available for purchase and each comic costs €2.50 + 50c p&p purchased from the Coimicí Gael website, but there are discounts for bulk purchases and for schools so make contact directly with Aidan through the website.
I could see two possible uses for these comics in schools: (1) schools purchase a number of copies of the comics and have them available in the school or class library for pupils to take out as a book loan; (2) schools purchase a class set of the comics and use the comic as part of a Gaeilge lesson with each pupil having a copy of the comic in front of them. The comics could be held onto by the school and used from year to year in senior classes, as the content in the cartoons is not time-specific. In the sample copies that I have, two of the comics are 36 pages long and the other is 28 pages long. They are printed on good quality glossy paper and the production values are first-class.
Aidan and the team have great plans for the future development of Rírá. They hope to eventually publish a comic four times a year, with the next issue expected in September. They also have a series for younger pupils in production and they’re hoping to develop a web-based comic. The presentation below gives a flavour of some of the comicstrips from the latest edition: