Welcome to the inaugural Listowel International Storytelling & Folklore Festival which takes place from September 6th to 8th at Kerry Writers’ Museum. The festival will feature storytellers from Scotland, the USA and Ireland. Visitors can look forward to a packed programme of events including children’s performances, adult sessions, walks, talks and tours. As part of our inaugural festival we will remember the great Kerry writer Maurice Walsh, on the 140th anniversary of his birth. To many, including Ernest Hemingway, he was the greatest storyteller of his time.
A great storyteller will always be rooted in the people, primarily in a milieu of craftsmen.
Storytelling is as old as humanity itself. In fact, it’s the oldest form of entertainment, well before the written word and well before radio or television. It dates to the times of tribes gathering around the fire to listen to heroic tales and legends. The word seanchaí means a bearer of “old lore” (seanchas). In the ancient Celtic culture, the history and laws of the people were not written down but memorised in long lyric poems which were recited by bards (filí) in a tradition echoed by the seanchaithe. Because of their role as custodians of an indigenous oral tradition, the seanchaithe are widely acknowledged to have inherited – although informally – the function of the filí of pre-Christian Ireland.
Born in Sliabh Luachra, Co. Kerry in 1914, Eamon Kelly is considered Ireland’s greatest Seanchaí. Whilst teaching in Listowel, Eamon co-founded the Listowel Drama Group with Bryan MacMahon in 1944, where he developed his love for acting.
I only know what I heard, I only heard what was said and a lot of what was said was made up to pass the night away! So put a sod on the fire, give an apple to the child and pour a drink for the storyteller.