Ireland’s Master Storyteller
Seanchai is Irish for “storyteller” or “old talker” to get closer to the actual meaning. In Ireland, a seanchai wasn’t just something someone did, it was something someone was. Eamonn Kelly was perhaps the last authentic seanchai.
Known in Ireland as “the seanchai” in the 1950s and 1960s for his RTE broadcasted stories, Eamon Kelly brought a tradition of storytelling to the masses both in his published works and for years in Galway where he ran a one-man show telling stories to enthusiastic, receptive crowds. Born in 1914, the man himself died in 2001, having traveled the world, been nominated for a Tony on Broadway and shared countless hours of stories with his Irish audience back home.
Thank goodness this book was printed in 1998, collecting his published works. Rife with stories of Ireland gone by, this is a collection of almost 80 short stories that bring an Ireland long since gone back to life. Peppered with Irish phrases (there’s a translation index in the back) and tidbits of people following lost traditions and ways of life, this book had me retelling some of the things I’d read to friends in the pub for great laughs.
I can only imagine how it must have been to hear these stories from the man himself.
Well worth a read, especially to those who have a desire to know the Ireland of days gone by, Ireland’s Master Storyteller is a fantastic glimpse of something that otherwise would have been lost.
You should really click here to read an emotional testimony to Eamon Kelly.
There’s an extremely rare recording of Eamonn reading his stories (only available on cassette) available here.