15 Oct 2021
Call up a seanchaí and hear the likes of acclaimed Irish writer Kevin Barry and radio presenter Ruth Smith tell you a story.
Ireland’s long, rich history of oral storytelling and song is being given a modern twist this October.
For one month only (1 October to 1 November), people will be able to ‘dial a seanchaí’ and hear Irish folklore stories and songs performed by some of the island’s leading modern voices.
A seanchaí is a traditional Gaelic storyteller, musician and historian. For centuries they were the custodians of Ireland’s history and lore, preserving the past for future generations and held in high esteem in the community.
Their stories and songs carry a deep understanding of the human condition, be it temptation, humour, loss, death, joy, or longing and so their role was not only to entertain but to teach and to help communities understand their heritage, culture, and traditions.
Dial a Seanchaí, curated and produced by artist John Lillis from County Clare on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, will allow members of the public to listen to brilliantly performed Irish folklore stories and songs by simply making a phone call.
Callers will be invited to choose from a list of short recordings which are a mix of story and song, with themes universal to mythology the world over – widows, witches, lost islands, sun gods, drunkards, and devils.
Six acclaimed Irish artists have reinterpreted the tales for a contemporary audience. They are author Kevin Barry, who has won multiple literary awards for his short stories and novels; singer-songwriter Lisa O'Neill; actor, musician and one of a new generation of Irish storytellers Aindrias De Staic; vocalist and visual artist Ceara Conway; singer and musician Ian Lynch; and musician and radio presenter Ruth Smith.
Among the stories are Halloween favourites. Kevin Barry will tell the tale of ‘Stingy Jack’, which is said to have inspired the tradition of the jack-o’-lantern, while Lisa O’Neill will recount ‘The Horned Women’, a story of witches, curses and vengeance.
Ireland continues to revere its storytellers and the oral tradition remains strong, while the island’s literary credentials are among the best in the world and include four Nobel laureates.
You may dial a seanchaí as often as you like to hear all the stories for the cost of a local call.
From the UK, please dial 0044 2080503206, from the US, 001 833 4630651.
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