Ireland has a long and rich oral tradition that survives to this day. Seanchai are still around telling the tales that have been passed down through the generations. Overtime, these stories have gone from being told exclusively orally to now being shared in many different formats. There are many books that share Irish folklore, recordings of story performances, festivals where storytellers gather to share Irish lore, storytelling tours and pub crawls, and television shows and movies that share these tales. While there are now many ways to share these Irish folktales, there is a special magic that is created in an actual live performance. Hearing a story told in person creates a suspension of belief that allows us to believe all the most fantastic elements that we loved as children. Listening to a story when gathered around a fire brings the fairies, banshees, mythic kings and warriors to life in a way that a book or movie cannot quite capture. Preserving this magic is why seanchai work so hard to keep the old stories alive, why people like Eddie Lenihan fight to preserve haunted and magic places in Ireland and why we still listen and care about the art of storytelling.
I learned a lot while writing and researching this blog. I loved all the stories I got to read and listen to as part of this assignment. There were several stories and heroes I had heard of before and many new stories as well. I earned my bachelor’s degree in history, so learning about the history of Irish folktales and how they were collected and preserved over the years was particularly interesting. The work done by the Irish folklore commission has an enduring impact to this day and it was fascinating to the see the work they have collected and archived at the National University of Ireland in Dublin in the Irish Folklore Collection. I spent a lot of time looking at the resources they have available online. Overall though I must say my favorite discovery was learning about Eddie Lenihan. It is now one of my life goals to hear one of his storytelling performances in person. I have a lot of respect for his work in preserving both the stories and magical places of Ireland.
Complete Works Cited