When I close my eyes, I envision an elderly man (smoking a pipe) or woman (knitting something), sitting in a rocker by a hearth fire, on a cold winter's night, with a captive audience of family and friends listening to a story heard countless times. A speech, of sorts, filled with dramatic pauses, eloquent wording, changing pitch & volume of voice, accentuated with the pop of the logs on the grate. Perhaps that's too sterotypical,....but I love the imagining!!!

In time, storytelling became a written word,....of that same eloquence and as captivating,...however, more personal (unless being read to a group like "The Night Before Christmas", as a yearly tradition). Poems (non-musical lyrics), fantasies, histories, comedies, etc. have allowed their readers to slip away to "somewhere else".

Today's storytellers rely on a variety of venues to relate their "Tellings", some of which may cause the question: Is this really the same as storytellers of long ago? I'm talking about modern writers and film makers. Some books ("The Dubliners"/James Joyce; "The Princes of Ireland" & "The Rebels of Ireland"/Edward Rutherfurd; "Angela's Ashes"/Frank McCourt; to name just a few) have taken fiction intermingled with "real life" or historic facts, to make notable literature with an impact on their readers. Also, some films ("Shake Hands With The Devil", 1959, starring James Cagney; "Young Cassidy", 1965, a Bio-Pic of playwright Sean O'Casey; "The Wind That Shakes The Barley", 2007, directed by Ken Loach; "The Rising of the Moon", 1957, & "The Quiet Man", 1952, both directed by John Ford; "The Secret of Roan Innish", 1993, directed by John Sayles; "Waking Ned Devine", 1998; "Darby O'Gill & The Little People", 1959, starring Albert Sharpe;....I could go on but I'll stop here) have provided education (of sorts,...at least an awareness) and entertainment to more people than the books would. The telling of these stories have become Traditional to many (at least here in the States,...especially around St. Patrick's Day) when folks look to "Get Their Irish On", taking Irish Pride to a level of shared vicarious stimuli: I AM THAT,...THAT IS ME. Are they REALLY??? What are your thoughts??? Does this discussion have merit here where Storytelling is what binds us??? Is this a modern, viable Tradition??? Or WHAT????

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An interviewer asked Billy, " Is it a dying tradition ?" He replied "No, it's a tradition to die for." Meaning, stories can be as pertinent or not to whoever finds them so. We do all sorts, original, modern and traditional. There is a wonderfully charismatic young man called Sam Lee, a folk beacon, who does a great deal to encourage new interest in folk. Paraphrasing something he says is, I would rather fan the flames than worship the ashes.

Bravo Sam Lee's paraphrase!!! I know there would be many who would argue the point of whether something is traditional or not. The truth is that for many things traditional, the only thing constant is Change. Here, in the states, commercialism has had an impact on traditions and changes have been placed in the lives of many. I remember how my family's Thanksgiving Day changed from eating a fresh ham to eating a turkey. My grandmother, being very reluctant to change, was persuaded to purchase a turkey instead of pernil (fresh ham). She went to the store, having never before gotten a turkey, and instead purchased a duck. Not speaking or reading English very well, she just didn't know the difference. Big mistake. Well, duck has a tendancy to be more greasy and having a very different taste than turkey. That Thanksgiving was a tremendous disappointmnet to everyone. My grandfather, after the first mouthful of the duck, spit it out into his napkin, rose from the table, took the plated duck and threw it into the garbage. Granddad and grandmom were old school and did not want to adopt the American "tradition" of turkey for Thanksgiving. Since then, our family's younger generation now MUST have turkey or it just isn't Thanksgiving.

But I digress. Growing up, many things and concepts were incorporated into our lives. The reading of "The Night Before Christmas", watching the "Wizard of OZ" on TV during the holidays, watching a multitude of Christmas cartoons, watching the "YULE LOG" (hours of Christmas music with a fireplace burning a fire,....that's it,... just the fireplace on a Black & white TV), watching "The Quiet Man" and/or "Darby O'Gill & the Little People" and wearing green on St. Patrick's Day,....all these things and others, have each become an annual "tradition".

Getting back to the discussion at hand in regard to Traditional Irish storytelling, I feel these books and films (some of which are listed above) have allowed newer generations a more acceptable way (for them) of hearing/telling alot of the heritage and  uniqueness of the Irish tradition and way of life,.....as long as they can, at some point, differentiate between what are "Hollywood" liberties and what's really the truth. Many filmmakers will take certain liberties in telling a story (adding drama, action, love interests, etc., that may not have anything to d0 with the real story,...only enhance it's telling), after all they have a target audience and want their film to reach and hold the attentions of viewers,....many viewers. Some may have a more independent approach and feel that accuracy of what's portrayed is more important than numbers. Either way, are these modern day storytellers any different than one story told by different "old style" Tellers of Tales? You have to admit (if you've ever had the pleasure of listening to different "old style storytellers") that each has his/her own particular way of telling that story.

Or maybe it's just the venue itself. Sitting in a movie theatre is alot more impersonal than sitting in a parlour, of kitchen or anywhere there's an individual right there in front of you.

So maybe I'm just fanning the flames where worshipping the ashes might be more appealing.

You have such great and evocative reflections. Lovely to read. We are guessing and hoping they are shared verbally also.
Agreed stories are tweaked and contrived for mass connection in various media. But then we have seen youngsters contriving the 'aul' lad' telling stories and that kind of put hairs on our teeth as well.
We are passionate about EVERYONE experiencing the joy of human communication/connection. We are great admirers of those who innovate to help us remember the potency of the spoken word. The wonderful Gerry Driver with his speech project,
"incorporating recordings of the spoken word of seminal Irish folk musicians including Christy Moore, Paddy Moloney of The Chieftans, Joe Cooley, Danny Meehan and more."
(I was lucky enough the interview Danny Meehan a few years ago for a 'Return to Camden Town' publication. He is as fine an exponent of storytelling and poetry as fiddle playing. He told me about how, as a child, he met the great Donegal storyteller, Seumus McManus).
The Irish music scene is so full of authentic storytellers and stand out voices, like yourself, capable of conveying places, times, beliefs, traditions. The pared down tellers are still out there. It's all good.

Most Clans, or Families are loosing our story tellers. We all get to busy to listen to our elders, over and over again.

If we want our name, our clan, our family, our traditions to stay alive we must first listen. 

I take the title of Family Story Teller seriously and every family should have one. I want to convey the things that make us smile, laugh, angry, sad, and cry to the very best of my ability. I would not have been able to do any of this is I had not first listened. Listen when the story becomes old. Listen to the story for the hundredth time. Listen for the subtle things that others might miss. Listen for things that can be added for greater enjoyment. Listen for details that provide connectivity. Listen one more time for the joy of the story.

Then tell your story, add to it, make it bigger, make it better. Make the people feel your mouth water. Make others burst with laughter. Watch for them to gently stroke their cheek when they think no one is watching to brush away the tear. Watch the eyes light up as lovers glance at each other remembering the best times. Draw in fantasy, draw in reality, draw the people in. Draw them in until your last breath,

with stories

with song

with rhythm

with rhyme

with volume

with whisper

Good night

Hey Roger. My sentiments exactly. How about a story from you? Would love to hear/read it and would love for you to share with our members, of Storytellers & of TradConnect. Cheers,


there is something missing, when we tell stories by letter and by screen. I admit that the "Waking Ned Devine" had me rolling on the floor, especially at the demise of the town prude, but story telling requires things that are not easily recreated. Story telling, although meaningful one on one; is much better in a group. It is the continuing of life from one generation to the next, it is the imagination that cannot be recreated, but some how we put together the pieces to bring it back. It's what I see in my mind, and not necessarily the thing that you see when you listen. It quite well may be the dimming of the lights, the flicker of a candle or a fire, the coolness night, the loosening of tongue by drink drink, the smell of a pungent tobacco, the faces of concern and interest, or laughter and smiles. All these things and more, I prefer to tell my stories and listen to those being told, let my hair stand on end, feel the goosebumps, hear the burst of laughter, see the tear start. 

I may not be the best story teller, But I will be the best at the moment.


Hiya Roger. Good to be reading your written word again. I truly believe in the energy exchange that is created and exists with a group audience. As a musician, or for that matter, as a storyteller, I've relied on the "spirit" of an audience to aide and guide my performance. Lots of what you cited in your posting ARE important in a successful delivery. When you engage your audience in a telling, they develop an invested interest in the tale,.....at least ideally. They are travelling with you along a path that will bring them to a final destination and a satisfying conclusion.

I'm still waiting for a story from YOU. That would be fun!!! LOL. So, whaddaya say, Roger?? You up for it??? };^)



                                                                               The Christmas Toy!

The first thing I would like for you to notice in the room we are going to visit is the distinct wall paper, and although this is the house of a Swedish and German connection the living room was adorned with vivid green bamboo and palms on a white background. I would have to dissmiss this unusual wallpaper for a colonial, Midwest, Iowa house; to the fun loving Swedish Grandmother.
Grandfather Carl was a staunch, serious, hardworking, German who would often seem annoyed with trivial things that would interfere with you daily chores. He found a Swedish wife just at the beginning of the Great Depression and found a decent job driving truck for Coryell Oil Company which carried him through the hard times while others were forced to deal with loss of property, jobs, and family. 

One Christmas after the arrival of grandchildren, during the celebration of the coming of our Lord and Savior, the house was decorated with the Christmas Pine, lights were lit, and presents were being unwrapped, with a snow filled yard. All against that God Awful Tropic Splendor wall paper! One of the toys unwrapped was a toy that would stick to a table or chair by suction, and a bobbley body of a clown that could be batted for hours by a toddler to keep them entertained, while the adults of the house went about their business.  Short moments of distraction are greatly appreciated by young mothers in the throws of keeping house and providing meals for the family. Yes; things were different then!

Grandpa Carl found out that this toy would also stick, by suction, to flat skin. He let his guard down, stuck the suction pad to his forehead and began to duck, bob, and weave as the grandchildren tried their best to acquire the toy. This show not only had the children laughing, but everyone in the room was smiling and laughing, and I'm quite sure my Swedish Grandmother, who loved the fun, was encouraging the efforts of Grandpa Carl. He entertained the Grand-kids for hours, and, had a great time most of the day with the children, behaving quite young himself, as he would flail the bobble up and down, side to side, swirling as the kids would laugh and swat. What a Grand Day to say the least.

Now,...Has anyone who is reading this ever attached something to your skin by suction? Say perhaps a vacuum cleaner?

Do you know what happens when the suction pulls all the blood in the area to the surface of your skin?


When all was done, and Grandpa Carl removed the toy, Grandpa Carl had a big purple dot in the middle of his forehead.  Kid-of-like Rudolph's red nose, or the failing result of a unicorn want-to-be.

The laughter returned just when everyone thought it was finished!

Now I'm sure my German Grandpa Carl tried everything known to get rid of the dot, but I don't think he went to church the next day!

Can anyone tell me how long the purple dot lasted?

That was fun. I especially like the "God Awful Tropic Splendor wallpaper". It begins the story with a strong visual that slyly introduces a beloved character of the story. It's a sweet slide into the main character, Grandpa Carl, and lays a strong foundation to this loving, long relationship.

We've all had those holiday gatherings when family embrace and entertain each other, and those others where it may have been best to stay at home, disconnect the phone, with the lights out, sitting alone in the dark. But the unpredictable course of events at a holiday family event is something ALL of us has had to contend with. Antics that are genuinely hysterically funny or one of those, "ye had to be there" or "ye had to know the man" type of things, that falls flat in the retelling.

This story has a charm that drew me in and held me to the lasting purple dot. Well done, Roger. 

Well, now that you've started, don't stop. Anxious to see more. Slan go foil,



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