The Seanchaí

A seanchaí (pronounced SHAN-e-khee) was a traditional Irish storyteller, travelling the length and breadth of rural Ireland, entertaining the locals with their tales of history and legends. Before the Irish language reforms of 1948, their title was spelled seanchaithe and anglicised to seanachie.  The stories were not written down, but passed orally from generation to generation from earliest times. Of course, with vastly improved literacy and the ready availability of books, newspapers, radio, television, and the internet, the function of a seanchaí became redundant. Today, one will only come across a seanchaí in an occasional stage performance.

Frank Delaney (1942-2017) wrote an informative and entertaining book called ‘Ireland’, published in 2008, in which he weaved the tale of a young man’s search for an itinerant story-teller (a seanchaí) from his childhood, together with snapshots of Irish history from the Ice Age to 1916.

Frank Delaney

I read the book not long after its publication, and I found myself inspired to take a fresh approach to my own efforts at documenting my family history and some of my own experiences.  I had spent a lot of time on research and writing, but I was not comfortable with the result to date. It was frankly boring.

It was a good friend, Lain Burgos-Lovece, who suggested that I try writing my history as a blog. It seemed to be a good idea at the time, and after a couple of stumbling attempts, ‘The Irish Rover’ was launched. And to date, I have written 173 articles and there have been viewers in 98 countries!

But like a seanchaí, when I have written my last blog and gone on my last journey, I hope that one of my four sons will pick up the baton and enlighten the next generation.

No pressure guys! 

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