Storytelling ( Day 29 )
The Challenge for Day 29
The challenge for today is “Write about anything you know well that you don’t have to research.” A free reign, I like that idea. The topic I’ve chosen is storytelling because it’s something I’m passionate about for many different reasons.
Storytelling has always been part of human culture. I like to imagine a group of early cave dwellers, sitting around a crackling fire, sharing stories with others. Maybe a small family group, the grandmother passing on stories of their ancestors and how they came to live in that particular place. The father recounting the day he landed his biggest fish ever and how he managed such a feat. Maybe the children get restless and their mother scolds them with tales of what happens to naughty bear cubs when they stray from their lair. Tales she herself heard as a child, now weaving their way into future generations.
Ireland has a strong tradition of storytelling, dating back thousands of years. from ancient poets ( filí ) through to wandering storytellers ( seanchaí ). These were the people entrusted with carrying on the folklore, myths and legends of the past. Tales of those like Fionn mac Cumhaill, a mythical warrior-hunter, or Queen Maeve of Connacht, who was said to have had five husbands. There were also stories of real-life characters, like King Brian Boru, a legend in his own lifetime.
But what about every day Ireland? The seanchaí could not be everywhere at once, so people built up their own storytelling traditions. Sometimes they retold the ancient legends, but often they were stories of a more recent, shared history. Like heart-wrenching stories of Famine times, American wakes or soldiers lost in battle. All told around the kitchen table, by candle or oil light, almost like a memoriam.
Sometimes they might sing songs, like ” Follow me up to Carlow”, celebrating Fiach MacHugh’s defeat of 3,000 English soldiers in the 16th century. I remember the first time I heard the Planxty version of the song, back in my college days. It gave me goosebumps.
We all have our family stories to share, don’t we? Sometimes we underestimate their importance. They can help us to understand who we are and how we fit into the world, thus grounding us.
I remember the stories each of my grandmothers told me.
My German granny was never one to hold back and I learned so much from her. She lived through two world wars and grieved the loss of humanity involved. There were personal stories too, like her fiance dying in the First World War. She was a tough cookie, but she had no choice.
From my Irish Granny, I heard stories of the desolate poverty of a woman widowed with five children, all under the age of ten. This at a time when there was no widow’s pension in Ireland. Another tough cookie. Maybe there’s a pattern here?
I salute both of these women, they are part of who I am.
One thing I’ve learned from my years involved in teaching, not to mention raising three amazing humans myself, is that children love stories. They don’t care if it’s real or makebelieve, their eyes light up just the same. It stirs their imagination, makes the ordinary magical, enables them to connect with other people, other worlds.
One of my favourite things to do with my Infant Class was News Time. They’d share their own stories, the things that mattered, like maybe they got a new goldfish. Then I’d share my news too, something equally mundane, perhaps how much trouble I’d had picking out my new shoes.
There would be absolute silence in the room, I could have been describing a secret encounter with the Tooth Fairy. I still can’t really explain it, but there’s a lesson in there for all of us.
Tell the stories, they matter more than you realize.
Day 29 of My 500 Words 31 Day Challenge, hosted by Jeff Goins…Storytelling. keeping with the Ireland theme.
The photograph is my own, shot near Spiddal, Co. Galway. See on Flickr.
Loved this Bernie and well done on your consistent writing. I am loving the easy to read style . Storytelling is at the heart of everything, even in business now ,the story is vital to promote a brand..service.. or product. Keep up the great work 😁
Thank you so much, Evelyn, that means a lot.
Yes, storytelling is key, it makes both fact and fiction magical 🙂
I’m hoping to be more consistent with my posts from now on!
“Tell the stories, they matter more than you realize.” This is something so incredibly dear to my heart…. I was spending a lot of time writing and some time ago realized that the most important stories I could be telling were to the children at my own knees, from our own family history. Just as my mother and dad did for me, and their parents for them… great post Bernie. I remember hearing about the seanchaí (is it pronounced something like “shawnakee”?) on a podcast once, and it truly hit home.
Hi Nadine…Delighted you liked this post, it’s something I’m quite passionate about, easier to write than some of the others.
My pronunciation of seanchai would be closer to ” shanakee”, but dialects vary from one part of Ireland to another.
Thanks a million for commenting, you’re a star 🙂
Aw thanks Bernie. Funny I don’t get notified of your replies (even though I’ve checked the little box under this comment form) and sometimes I don’t remember to check back, nor on which posts I’ve commented on. Nor can I comment from inside WordPress Reader for some reason… if it were easier I’d be commenting far more often. :)) xoxo
Aww, Nadine, I don’t know why that is?? Maybe it’s because I have a self-hosted.org site instead of the standard .com site? All I know is, if someone likes a post, I have no way of knowing what person or which post. It’s quite frustrating.
Kudos to you for checking back, I know it’s not ideal.
Oh yes that must be it then! Self-hosted vs WordPress.com hosted. Interesting! Also yes that really is too bad that you can’t see who liked the posts! (…I have been liking most of them :))…) If you’re wondering why some people seem to have a lot of likes, it’s likely partly because they’re on wp.com like me and there is this really cool background community, we can see who likes our posts and of course that gets us interested in looking at theirs and so on. Sort of like on Medium (except on WP.com we’re theoretically on our own platform, if we pay for at least the most basic hosting, as I do).
One thing for sure is there is something not working with the form on your site here because I am checking the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” yet I am not getting notified. I did check my junk mail folder just now and notification for your reply above was not there either…
Not saying you need to fix, just FYI since it might be why people don’t seem to interact as much. 😘
I will have to check out that form, I’m not sure what the problem is. I’ll have a look at some widgets, see if installing one will make a difference.
I’m replying to you through the WordPress notifications, rather than directly on the site, so let me know if this pops up in your mentions!!
Thanks for the likes, at least I know who’s been sending them 🙂