Saint Kevin was a Hippie!
Sine Quinn and I met a few years back and quickly bonded over our mutual love of picture books. We worked together on the award-winning Pigin of Howth series and discovering that we had similar creative visions, decided to collaborate on another project. That project became Holy Shocking Saints which is being published by Veritas (who use paper made from managed forests!).
When Sine told me some of the strange and scandalous things she had found through her research, I was intrigued. I think we were both attracted to the story of Saint Kevin because of his affinity with animals and nature. Sine and I are both animal lovers. St Kevin seemed to go a few steps further than the average animal-lover, and actually let blackbirds nest in his hand!
For the drawing, I had this vision of St Kevin being a kind of crotchety old hippy with a magnificent beard. He seemed to be more comfortable with animals than people, so my early drawings show the birds nesting in his beard while he leaps around the grounds in Glendalough. When I revisited the idea though, I thought Kevin might be too old to be leaping (he lived to be around 120 years old!), so instead I showed him settling down on a tree stump with the birds- as if maybe he had become their tree.