Sneem will be all talk as storytelling festival opens

In the age of Twitter, texting and instant communications it seems that people still love to sit down and listen to others tell stories in the old-fashioned way.

A man, or woman, with the gift of crafting and delivering a good yarn can still hold audiences spellbound in intimate settings such as pubs, kitchen firesides and small halls.

Last year, an inaugural storytelling festival proved successful in Sneem, Co Kerry, which is all set for its second festival at the weekend.

The event will have an international dimension with 16 Americans, who have mastered the timeless art of the seanchaí, in attendance.

The US visitors will spend four days in the picturesque village and former Tidy Towns winner, where they will join well-known Irish storytellers, including local man Batt Burns, in providing entertainment.

“We hope to build on the international tradition of storytelling,’’ said Mr Burns, a retired primary teacher who is an established storyteller at home and overseas.

“This is one of the oldest means of communication by people all over the world and there are still plenty of good practitioners around keeping alive a rich oral tradition that goes back to ancient times.

“We also want to pass on the tradition to a new generation of storytellers who can learn a lot during the festival,’’ he added.

The varied festival programme gets underway tomorrow with a workshop for adults conducted by American Jay Stailey and one for children by Liz Weir, Northern Ireland.

A geological tour will led by Dr Michael Smith, chartered engineer. There will also be storytelling in local pubs, walks and music and song, with Seán Ó Sé, Joe Thoma and others.

The festival will be officially opened by Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

Genealogist Ger Greaney will be on hand to help people trace their relations.

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