Modern storytellers keep the oral history of Ireland alive today through several different ways. This includes storytellers who are part of groups dedicated to continuing the tradition and who may even compete in contests for who gives the best story performance. There are also people who perform as part of the tourism of Ireland working on storytelling tours or performing in pubs for tourists and locals alike. Some of today’s modern storytellers also write books to help preserve the stories they tell.
Eddie Lenihan is a great example of a modern storyteller. He does many performances of stories and records the stories he tells both by having his performances recorded and by writing books to record his stories. He was born in 1950 and resides in Crusheen in County Clare, though he is a native of Brosna in County Kerry. His research and storytelling have taken him all over the world, including forty states in the United States, all over Europe and even to Dubai and China. In Ireland he is known for frequent performances at schools, libraries, prisons, and literary festivals. The following is one of his performances captured on video.
When looking at his written stories, he has amassed quite the body of work as the author of seventeen books and a dozen recordings. Most recently, he has published a trilogy of Fionn MacCumhail adventure stories for young readers, though he has published works for readers of all ages. He continuously preforms at both public and private events and is regarded as Ireland’s greatest living storyteller. In addition to preforming and recording Irish folklore, he also works as a preservationist. As rural parts of Ireland become more industrialized, Eddie Lenihan works to save places that are important to folklore traditions. His preservation efforts have saved a hawthorn bush where fairies gather, as well as hill forts and rural dwellings. He uses his storytelling and the rich tradition of folklore to inspire people to preserve these cultural areas. Eddie Lenihan also researches the fairies and other magical creatures of Ireland. He travels to haunted places, explores fairy paths and other magical landscapes and incorporates this research into his work as a storyteller and preservationist. The following video shows him discussing a fairy bush near his home.
Eddie Lenihan is a great example of a modern seanchai. He not only gives many great performances, but also works to preserve the culture and history of folklore traditions. His works have inspired many other modern Irish storytellers and he has traveled the globe to share the folktales and magic of Ireland.
While Eddie Lenihan may be the best known modern Irish storyteller, there are many others who work to continue the tradition of Irish storytelling. The following video shows highlights from the 2013 Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival.
This festival takes place every September and brings together storytellers from around the globe and allows the greatest storytellers from the Irish tradition a chance to share their work with a larger audience. The 2015 artists included the Irish performers Clare Muireann Murphy and Colum Sands, who is both a storyteller and musical performer. In addition to storytelling festivals held in Ireland, there are other festivals around the globe where Irish storytellers perform and even festivals designed to honor Irish storytellers like the North Texas Irish Festivals which features Irish Folklore performances. For those who wish to see a traditional Irish storytelling performance in Ireland, there are a variety of tours and pub crawls where tourists and locals are able to hear storytellers share their work in a more traditional setting. Finally, due to the popularity of Irish folktales, there are many published books and recordings allowing people the ability to enjoy and share these stories in their own home.
Works Cited in this Section
Eddie Lenihan. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from https://www.facebook.com/eddielenihanstoryteller/
Eddie Lenihan Storyteller. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://eddielenihan.weebly.com/
Welcome – Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from http://capeclearstorytelling.com/
Complete Works Cited