Enduring popularity of Cape Clear’s international festival tells its own story

Some 400 visitors stepped off the Cape Clear ferry for the island’s 19th international storytelling festival over the weekend.

Enduring popularity of Cape Clear’s international festival tells its own story

Numbers were down slightly on last year’s bumper crowd, but new events such as an ‘Emerging Storytellers’ concert made for wider choice.

The five ‘emerging tellers’ have established links to the island through its storytelling workshops or as festival volunteers.

“These are five individuals we’ve seen to be contributing to the profile of storytelling nationally or in their own countries,” said festival co-director Gerry Clancy.

Highlights this year included Pat Speight’s ‘Story Swap’ event, where volunteers tested their skills on a discerning audience, and Saturday night’s Grand Concert featuring the full line-up of star attractions performing to a packed house.

On his popular annual heritage walk, Cork storyteller Diarmuid Ó Drisceoil pointed out the old telegraph station that served as the island’s communications hub, now operating as Tír na nÓg hostel, where a quarter of the festival visitors stayed for the weekend.

“The event is unique because it’s a confined location, it begins once you step off the ferry,” said Mr Ó Drisceoil. “Storytellers love coming here because they are treated so well; it’s one of the top storytelling festivals in the world.”

Texan Tim Tingle shared folk stories from his native American-Indian Choctaw tribe. Italian teller Paola Balbi, the UK’s Ursula Holden-Gill, Kerry native Batt Burns, and musician Ger Wolfe were among a diverse line-up delivering tales on topics from haggis to confession.

Poet and islander Chuck Kruger said the festival puts Cape Clear to “perfect use”.

He set up the festival because of his belief in the power of spoken word stories.

“People get to experience the peace and nature of the island. It’s a perfect backdrop to storytelling.”

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