Listen to Auld Nonsense
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There are storytelling circles meeting regularly all over Ireland these days. There, people listen to each other singing, telling stories, and reciting verses. Just like people did before we had electronics delivering entertainment to suit all tastes into every home. Why could that be? By pressing a button on a remote we can choose a chat show, a world class comedian, a great movie, or a fascinating insight into the the insects of the Amazon jungle. Yet people come out of their houses on wet windy evenings to attend storytelling circles.
Let’s be honest. It’s not that the stories are all gems, more polished than anything you will find on the Web or the TV. That’s not it. And while some of the music singing that is part of the fare in some circles, can be impressive, some is not. In fact, thanks to the story telling circles I’ve finally come to understand my grandmother’s phrase, ‘the tune (chewin’) the old cow died of’. But that doesn’t matter either. It still beats the most professional production you can hear on an iPod.
So what exactly is it that brings people out to sit for hours in church halls listening to ráméis, ‘rattrick’ and assorted ‘auld nonsense’?
My suggestion: it is that the storytelling circles fill a need that is not met by any of the modern media. It connects us with each other. It connects us with our ancestors. Through the story voice we hear echoes of people long gone. When we listen and when we contribute we are doing what people before us did for tens of thousands of years, sitting around a fire or on a river bank. We are absorbing and adding to the story of our existence. we are finding our belonging. We are rediscovering a part of being human that is not catered for on the web or TV.