The Irish are well known around the world for their way with words, sometimes referred to as the Gift of the Gab. In reality, this is much more than being quick witted and having a talent for spinning entertaining yarns over a pint (although it’s true we are indeed quick witted and enjoy spinning yarns over pints); the Irish Gift of the Gab has stemmed from a population that has endured much hardship, including famine and recession and, being from a small Island, is prone to emigration. Despite living all over the world, either by choice or necessity, Irish people have retained a tangible identity which is kept alive through stories and songs. This identity is most evident on Saint Patrick’s Day when, the 100 million or so, Irish diaspora celebrate their Irish ancestry.
Be it through song, poetry or storytelling, the people of the Emerald Isle have contributed more than their fair share to the Arts, producing literary legends such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett as well as contemporary, popular authors such as Marion Keys and award winning newcomers like Sarah Baume. Irish bands, including the Cranberries, U2 and The Frames, have, of course, also made a significant impact internationally. Story telling is part of Irish culture and has been for centuries and shows no sign of decline. To witness the centuries old tradition through a modern medium, I would recommend spending some time familiarizing yourself with a few gems from the Irish Film Industry. As well as the absolute classics such as My Left Foot (1989), The Commitments (1991) and The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) to name just a few, my particular favorites include; Into the West (1992), Once (2016) and Calvary (2014).
If it’s more of a first-hand experience of storytelling that you’re interested in and you have a bit of time on your hands, then I suggest making a trip to a few Irish storytelling and literary festivals. Every September for the last 20 years, Cape Clear Island, in West Cork has hosted the now world renowned, International Storytelling Festival. Another such delight is the Sneem International Storytelling & Folklore Festival, held in November in the picturesque village of Sneem on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. In June 2016, Dublin will host the Bloomsday Festival – to celebrate all things James Joyce. If these festivals aren’t enough to ignite your inner Gift of the Gab then I suggest you try kissing the Blarney Stone!