In my upcoming novel ANNIE'S STORIES, Annie is mourning the loss of her father,
Marty Gallagher, who was a well-respected seanchaí. A seanchaí is an Irish
storyteller. My favorite historical resource on Ireland is A Smaller Social
History of Ancient Ireland by P.W. Joyce, a second edition published in
1908. Here is what Joyce had to say about storytellers:
"There were professional shanachies and poets whose duty it was to know by heart
numerous old tales, poems, and historical pieces, and to recite them, at festive
gatherings, for the entertainment of the chiefs and their guests...for though
few could read, the knowledge and recitation of poetry and stories reached the
whole body of the people. This ancient institution of story-telling held its
ground both in Ireland and Scotland down to a period within living memory."
All cultures have storytellers for the same reason: literacy was not always
common. What better way to convey information than with a story? You may have
read about this tradition in books such as Frank Delaney’s Ireland. The
tradition of Irish storytelling was still very strong into the late nineteenth
century, so I decided to make that a part of my novel ANNIE'S
Annie’s father wrote down some of his stories for her, which she treasures. A
man who made his living telling stories certainly would have been important in
Oral storytelling is not a lost art. There are organizations and even whole
festivals dedicated to the art. Teachers of young children and children's
librarians are storytellers. I found out firsthand that just entering a pub in
Ireland increases your chances of hearing some good tales.
Of course we need stories in print, too, but hearing a story told well is a
unique and satisfying experience. I hope readers will enjoy hearing about Annie
and why stories are so important to her. The actual stories her father told her
are referred to in the novel, but they do not appear within the pages. Readers
do have the opportunity to read them, however, if they sign up for my newsletter
at my website. I even
have a special treat coming where subscribers can actually hear one of those
stories being told. I hope you’ll come visit me online and swap a few tales!
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