"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

19 March 2018

Vast online resource for Irish folklore, customs, and superstitions

A new online resource is now available that anyone interested in Irish folklore, customs, and superstitions will be eager to peruse. It can be found at https://www.duchas.ie/en/tpc/cbes.

The National (Irish) Folklore Collection has digitized more than 100,000 pages of material known as the Schools' Collection, collected by more than 100,000 children between the years of 1937 and 1939. Children were tasked with finding the oldest person in their communities to discover the "darkest, oddest and weirdest traditional beliefs, secrets and customs". There are stories and recollections here covering every conceivable belief from fairies and leprechauns to witches and banshees and more. There are more than 3000 entries referring to butter and churns, more than 12,000 on folk medicine, and references to such individuals as the Hag of Beara, Fionn MacCumhaill, Brigid, and Myles the Slasher.

Searching the archive is helped by the division of the material into topics or categories such as "activities", "agents", "events", "genre", and "objects" among others. Look up "shoes", for example, and you'll find more than a 1000 results. Each entry consists of a digitized copy of the original handwritten account as well as the author, his or her age, and their home county.

The Schools' Collection is an ongoing project with a team of volunteers continuing to scan and digitize more than 700,000 pages of material.

In reporting on this treasure trove, the Irish Times suggests that on this St Patrick's Day, instead of waving a shamrock or downing a pint of Guinness or two, why not "consider delving into this vast online knowledge bank of national consciousness from a time when ambiguity still played a key role in life and when the unbroken connection back to Pagan times was still strong and clear." I couldn't agree more. In fact, I may do both.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Discover the Schools' Collection of Irish folklore, customs, and superstitions at https://www.duchas.ie/en/tpc/cbes


"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
Check out my weekly storytelling radio show, The Teller and the Tale on bluesandrootsradio.com.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.