Barbie is an amazing lady, she been around since 1959. While we usually think of Barbie as someone who has fallen into a vat of hot pink bejewelled accessories and hyper-glitter, not all Barbies are of this ilk.
Nicole Buckler reports.
Did you know that there are a series of Barbies called the Legends of Ireland Collection? They roll all the stereotypes of Irish women up with a smack of legend and a bit of Celtic design. And now, they are all collector’s items gaining value on the collector’s market. Yep they are becoming quite the valuable commodity. Sell your gold and shares in oil companies people, your investment cash needs to follow Barbie.
Let me introduce you to some of these Barbies. You won’t find any pink here.
Spellbound Lover Barbie Doll
“Spellbound Lover” is probably not a term you’d like to explain to your 6-year-old-daughter. I mean, no one wants their daughter to aspire to being horribly heartbroken, awfully tragic and then ultimately dying pointlessly. But here it is, a Barbie named after tragic 12th Century figure Iseult.
A legendary lady of the Emerald Isle, she was the star of the tale Tristan and Iseult, a Celtic tale which became wildly popular during the 12th century all over Europe. It has become an influential romance, retold in many different sources with many variations.
The tragic story tells of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Iseult. The Irish princess was promised to a king, but she ran off with Tristan instead into the forest for some camping. Long story short, they died in each other’s arms after much heartache, separation and some killing of dragons.
This story had a lot of influence in Europe in strange ways. The Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere was probably based on Tristan and Iseult. But also, with the rise of such stories came the idea of romantic love. Marriages before this were largely arranged, based on keeping wealth, land and family ties intact. Romantic art was also a spin-off, a new idea at the time.
Obviously, if you buy this Barbie for your child, you can’t explain adultery to them, that isn’t going to be a fun conversation. But you can see why Mattel, Barbie’s parent company, would choose Iseult to base a Barbie on. The princess factor is high. The Spellbound Lover Barbie doll wears a green gown with golden foil print, adorned with a golden belt, and a golden circlet upon her head. She looks like a princess through and through. She really should be living in Dublin Castle. I say we move everyone else out and let Spellbound Lover Barbie Doll move the hell in.
The Bard Barbie Doll
This is the archetypal Celtic legend Barbie. What little girl wouldn’t want this doll? Apparently, this doll lived in ancient Ireland. She was a red-headed beauty that “kept the legends of yore,” implying that she was a well-respected brehon. And after all, brehons remembered laws as poetry, and recited them when families had disputes over sheep. And explaining the role of a brehon to a 6-year-old is much more fun than explaining tragic adultery.
This Barbie is marketed as being a poet and possessing a repertoire of hundreds of stories. Sounds like an average night down the local to me. And she likes a bit of travel too, traversing the lush green countryside, taking her tales and special magic with her, weaving yarns of mythic exploits.
All young boys should aim to grow up and marry this Barbie. She sounds awesome. What boy would not want to marry this Barbie? As she recites her lilting lyrics, she plays a golden harp, its sweet music intriguing and alluring — captivating all who are near. Well I have to say I’m captivated. Now to sell all of my gold bullion and invest in the Bard Barbie. Because she’s worth it.
Faerie Queen Barbie Doll
Now this is an interesting Barbie. She is called The Faerie Queen, a mythical monarch of the natural world. What I think they are getting at here is this Barbie is based on the “faery folk”, who Irish people genuinely believed in up until about twenty ago. In fact, some people today still believe they exist. But faery folk were a double-edged sword. On the one hand if you pleased them, they would make your crops grow into a bountiful harvest that could feed your entire village and make you into a tribal legend. Or they could also cause dreadful mischief, and even take souls away. And let’s not forget about changelings, the worst kind of fairy. They are a type of bad fairy, troll, or elf that has been left in the place of a human child in its crib.
Again it might be a dicey move to explain this to your now-terrified 6-year-old. This is the same child who is trying to put the Faerie Queen into the fireplace and light its peridot-coloured, iridescent chiffon gown with an organic glitter pattern taffeta underdress. Let’s just market this Barbie as a regal and beautiful faerie queen from a land of myth and legend. Because no 6-year-old needs to know that sometime faeries can go very, very bad.
Deirdre of Ulster Barbie Doll
From Northern Ireland, we introduce to you Deirdre of Ulster. This Barbie is based on a magnificent beauty whose tragic story made her a legendary heroine of Irish folklore. Yet again though, Deirdre is a beautiful, ill-fated heroine. Why must there be so much tragic love in Irish myth? Wasn’t anyone married to who they wanted to be married to, back then?
Conchubor, the aging High King of Ulster, came across a beautiful child called Deirdre. Creepily, he decided to raise the child as his queen, and he planned to marry her when she came of age (ew). The king put some dude called Lavarcham in charge of raising the child. Lavarcham raised her only to discover that Deirdre is a wilful young woman, who had zero interest in marrying some old man.
But Conchubor wasn’t taking no for an answer, and he summoned Deirdre to his palace. However a younger man, Naoise and his brothers (the sons of Usna) hear Deirdre’s plea to remove herself from this hellscape. Deirdre was aware of a prophecy that she will be the doom of the sons of Usna; nonetheless she asks Naoise to take her away from Ulster. He agreed, and they wed in an impromptu ceremony.
Deirdre and the sons of Usna lived happily on a remote island for seven years. But the happiness was short-lived: Conchobar got his wicked revenge. Naoise was killed, and Deirdre, who is also sometimes referred to as Deirdre of the Sorrows, later died from grief.
So to celebrate this god-awful tragedy, the doll has cascading red hair and a Celtic-inspired gown. The moral of the story for a 6-year-old is probably something along the lines of… resist marrying some old dude when you come of age. Go clubbing instead.
Irish Dance Barbie Doll
Finally an Irish doll who isn’t inspired by some wild heartache or slight magical wickedness. This red-headed cailín is all dressed up and ready to dance her little plastic butt off at the feiseanna. We hope she wins and at least get some buns at the end of it all. Described as wearing an outfit that represents “Celtic –chic” we are reminded in the small print that this Barbie can’t actually, err, dance. Well nor can I but I’m still very interested in buying her.
Princess of Ireland Barbie Doll
Now this Barbie is getting into very good educational territory. She is a Celtic princess and not a tragic and needy figure from long ago. Before people knew better, the Celts were largely thought of as barbaric, living in a violent society. But a 2,600-year-old grave found in in 2010, containing the remains of a Celtic princess, has turned this assumption on its head. Archaeologists have realised that the ancient Celts were much more sophisticated than previously thought.
Celtic people were interested in culture and comfort. And they travelled widely. The princess who was unearthed was sporting elaborate pearl earrings, solid gold clasps, an amber necklace and a bronze belt. She was a fashionista and probably educated and wise to the ways of the world. Now this is a Barbie we can like.
Want to start a rare Barbie collection? Here is a good place to start shopping. It is a fascinating glimpse into the world of barbie Collectors. I don’t know about you, but I’m off to bid for every single Barbie here.