MEET OUR 2021 GUEST ARTISTS

Maria Gillen

Maria Gillen

Artistic Director

Kerry Writers’ Museum are delighted to welcome Maria as our Storyteller in Residence in 2021, and Artistic Director of our Festival.

In 2018 and 2019 Maria featured as an emerging storyteller in the annual Cape Clear Storytelling festival with ‘ Maria headlined our festival in 2020 and has been a Featured Teller in the States, Oloumouc, The UK, Scotland and at a number of festivals in Ireland. Maria has brought the famous Listowel Rambling House online during the Covid Pandemic, founding an expanding play list of excellent Rambling House nights which you can find on https://tinyurl.com/KWM-Playlists.

Maria has been exploring the Medicinal Story through her work as a Dramatherapist and Storyteller with the Cork Yarnspinners. She has collected many delightful tales and wisdoms from Cork based Community work.

Colum Sands

Colum Sands

Colum is a universal storyteller who draws on a long Irish tradition of humour and poetic musicality to weave songs for the world. Colum has performed solo and as a member of ‘The Sands Family’ in over thirty countries, he has presented countless radio programmes over 22 years with BBC and produced around one hundred albums, working with young musicians and with veterans like Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. He has received a Living Tradition Award and was shortlisted for three nominations for the 2009 Grammy Awards.

His tenth solo album “Song Bridge”, almost released in Australia last year (but postponed due to COVID restrictions) will be released in a series of concerts this autumn and Colum is delighted that one of the first venues for its Irish release will be Listowel International Storytelling Festival!

Órla McGovern

Órla McGovern

Órla is an award-winning Storyteller, Improvisor, Performer and Writer based in the West of Ireland. She tells stories, performs and teaches at venues small and large throughout the world. In Ireland she runs Moth & Butterfly, an innovative arts collective that combines the art forms of Storytelling and Improvisation.

Her plays have been produced globally and she has written two books of stories, ‘Dublin Folk Tales for Children’ and Wild Waves and Wishing Wells’ (The History Press). She also works as an actor for stage and screen, a clown doctor, and a voice talent. Órla can be found dipping in the Wild Atlantic, rain or shine, most weeks.

Colin Urwin

Colin Urwin

Colin Urwin is a professional singer, songwriter, and storyteller. He hails from the Glens of Antrim in the northeast of Ireland and has been mainly influenced by traditional Irish and Scottish music. He has been playing and singing folk songs for over four decades and for the last twenty years he has been the caller and singer in ‘Haste to the Wedding’ ceilidh band, who are always in great demand at functions all over Ireland.

Colin also performs solo and with other musicians and storytellers. In recent years he has been working closely with the world-renowned storyteller Liz Weir MBE on a variety of exciting live, virtual and recording projects. Colin is regularly invited to sing and tell at local storytelling venues, schools and community groups and has also performed at the Glens Storytelling Festival.

Frances Kennedy

Frances Kennedy

Even though Frances now lives in Listowel, Co. Kerry she is quick to point out that she is very much a Cork woman. The youngest of a family of eleven, songs and stories were always part of her home life. Neighbours called at night and her father would fill them up with all sorts of stories. Her mother, a great believer in ghosts would tell of strange lights seen and things going bump in the night, so it was easy for Frances to fall into singing and telling the odd story. But it was in Listowel that Frances first started singing in public and everyone in Kerry had a story to tell, so she just joined in.

It was in Listowel, of course, that Frances met John B. Keane, one of her idols and there were many great singing nights in his pub. John B. encouraged Frances to tell a recitation or a yarn and before she knew it she was entertaining often.

Mickey MacConnell

Mickey MacConnell

Mickey is the youngest member of a musical family from Bellanaleck, Co. Fermanagh. He spent most of his working life as a journalist in Dublin with the Irish Press Group and later The Irish Times. Despite the fact that he has been writing songs all his life – Only Our Rivers Run Free’ was written in 1965 – it was only when he moved to Kerry about 30 years ago that he seriously devoted himself to his music.

His first album ‘Peter Pan and Me’ was released in 1992 to critical acclaim and since then many of his songs have been recorded internationally by such artists as Christy Moore, The Wolfe Tones, Mary Black and The James Last Orchestra. His album ‘Joined Up Writing’ features many new songs and takes a wry look at life and politics, not just in Ireland but worldwide.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Deeply rooted in the literary tradition of North Kerry, Gabriel Fitzmaurice is a poet, broadcaster, writer, translator, singer and raconteur. He was born in 1952, in the village of Moyvane, Co Kerry where he still lives. For more than three decades, he taught and later served as principal at his local national school but is now happily retired. He has been called “poetry’s answer to John B Keane” (Books Ireland) and his poems have been described as “comparable to Burns for their insight and lyricism” (The Irish Times ). He is the author of more than forty books, including collections of poetry in English and Irish as well as several collections of verse for children.
Godfrey Coppinger

Godfrey Coppinger

Godfrey is a five-year-old cleverly disguised as a little old lady! She is a life-long doodler, scribbler, and storyteller. She loves to sing songs. make music, and dance. Godfrey looks funny when she dances, but she doesn’t care.

Originally from California, Godfrey now lives in Listowel, with a leprechaun, a fancy dog, and a retired pirate. She tells stories regularly at the Kerry County Library and works with Fighting Words, a creative writing program that helps students of all ages develop their writing skills and explore their love of writing.

Paddy Regan

Paddy Regan

Paddy Regan has been telling stories for over thirty years and classes himself as a “Contemporary Seanachaí and Raconteur”. As he says himself, he merely comments on the foibles, idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes that afflict the modern human condition. With a gift for accents and a talent for characterisation, his sessions are usually fun, uproarious events that will have you in fits of laughter as you recognise people you know in the “characters” that populate his stories. Over the years Paddy has appeared at the Cork Opera House, Everyman Palace, Jurys Summer Cabaret.
Sonny Egan

Sonny Egan

Sonny Egan is a storyteller, singer, musician and impromptu dancer who hails from North Kerry. He comes to us fresh from his recent All-Ireland win in the Scéalaíocht competition at the Sligo Fleadh Fest. For years, Sonny’s home in Abbeydorney was open to locals and strangers dropping in for tea and a chat and soon developed into a rambling house. Sonny won the All-Ireland storytelling competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in 2019 and is the proud recipient of a Kerry’s Eye/Radio Kerry Local Hero Award.
Niceol Blue

Niceol Blue

Niceol is a storyteller in song and spoken word. A singer, songwriter, writer, improviser and storyteller, Niceol grew up in Pacific Northwest of the US, an environment that shaped her song and performance styles. A published songwriter, poet and writer, Niceol has performed to audience acclaim all around the world. Her music has been described as “exceptional songs sung with powerful vocals”. Niceol released her first original album, entitled ‘Rise’ to critical acclaim, and is currently working on a series of further albums, to be released in the coming months. Niceol performs regularly as a solo artist, and also fronts several bands and music projects in and around Galway.
Colum Sanson-Regan

Colum Sanson-Regan

Born and raised in Blarney, Colum’s first experience at storytelling was to tourists visiting the castle, improvising local legends to coax a few dollars from their pockets. And he has been entertaining, singing, and writing and telling stories ever since. With an MPhil in Creative and Professional Writing, Colum now works as lecturer, teacher, author, singer-songwriter, and musician. As a musician he has worked with award winning musicians, travelled extensively, and has written and recorded two solo albums and two band albums. Prior to Covid he was consistently in demand as a solo artist and with his band “Goose”. He also completed “Song and Story” seasons with renowned Welsh storyteller Michael Harvey.
Supported by:
Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media under the Small Scale Festivals Scheme 2021
Kerry County Council