Irish Folktales Introduction


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This series of blog posts was written for INFO 281, a storytelling class at San Jose State University. I was in part inspired to take this class by memories of my father’s storytelling ability. He passed away when I was nine years old and one of the things people comment on most when reminiscing about my father are the stories he told. His side of the family is Irish, so many have commented on how this storytelling ability must be in his blood. The Irish have a great history of storytelling. Throughout history, seanchaí (alternatively spelled shanachie and spelled as seanchaidhe prior to the Irish language spelling reform of 1948) means bearer of old lore. These storytellers have operated as historians as well, passing on history through the stories they tell.

Historically, seanchaí have been the keepers of the oral tradition of storytelling. These stories were often passed down generation to generation with seanchaí being a family position. They were held in high regards and places of honor by the leaders of their clan. Other seanchaí were travelers who offered their services as storytellers in exchange for food and shelter. Historically, seanchaí are primarily associated with the Irish speaking part of Ireland, but they were also found in the English speaking parts of the country as well. In modern times, many of their stories have been recorded both by writing down the stories and recording performances of these stories which captures the inflection and movement that are part of the traditional stories. There are also groups that still preform traditional seanchaí stories and even festivals where modern seanchaí can meet and compete in storytelling performances.

Storytelling remains an important part of Ireland’s history and attracts great audiences. This form of entertainment is popular with both locals and tourists who visit Ireland. People can hear stories told in libraries, pubs, and even on special storytelling tours. In this blog, I will explore this rich history of storytelling, highlighting some of the traditional stories, Irish folktale characters, famous historical storytellers, and the modern performers who are carrying on the tradition today. Each blog post will feature the works cited in that section, the link to the next blog post, and the link to the complete works cited page for the entire project. The complete works cited page also contains the links to each blog post for the project so that readers can navigate through the entire project.

Works Cited in this Section

Seanchaí. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2015, fromí

History of Irish Folk Lore

Complete Works Cited

Irish Folktales Introduction