Skip to content

2pm, Friday, 26 November, Adults

MINI SYMPOSIUM: What’s the Scéal? Storytelling in Ireland Today

Admission free | Booking required

Storytelling at the NMI - Country Life

The National Museum of Ireland - Country Life is delivering a mini-symposium in collaboration with Poetry Ireland and storytellers from Ireland and abroad on Friday, 26 November.

Join us for this online event, giving an insight into the world of the storyteller in Ireland today. What are the challenges faced, the opportunities presented and how can they best be taken advantage of?

Our master of ceremonies and chair for the panel event is poet and author Terry McDonagh. He will be joined by special guests and professional storytellers Nuala Hayes and Donald Smith

This is a free event but booking is essential. The event will be livestreamed from 2:30pm on Friday, 26 November. 


Session I - Donald Smith
2.30pm - 2:45pm, Friday, 26 November

With one foot in Scotland and another in Ireland, Donald Smith will focus on the differences and similarities around storytelling today, its backgrounds, contexts and expressions. He will touch on recent Covid impacts, the digital realm, and why storytelling still matters on the human pulse.

Donald Smith, Chief Executive of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), tells mainly Scots and Irish folk tales, but is also interested in recovering oral stories from the literary manuscripts of a variety of cultures.  He has made a special study of the tales and legends of the Celtic Saints. He is a founding member of the Scottish Storytelling Forum, Edinburgh’s Guid Crack Club and is currently Chief Executive of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), which brings together Scotland’s traditional arts, as well as Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in the autumn.

Session II - Nuala Hayes
2.45pm - 3pm

Nuala Hayes will present her thoughts on oral storytelling in Ireland now, from the point of view of a practitioner, a performer, a lover of stories and an organiser of many storytelling projects and events over the past 30 years. She will also speak about the contexts in which contemporary storytelling flourishes; in Museums, Libraries, Art Centres, Schools under the Poetry Ireland Writers in School Scheme, and Festivals throughout Ireland.

Nuala Hayes, renowned Irish storyteller and artist. Nuala has devised programmes of stories and music for all ages, such as The Wilder Wisdom of Auld Ones, based on the stories of the Cailleach. She is convinced of the importance of oral storytelling in children's education and she has considerable experience in working with children of all ages. Nuala was the founder of Scéalta Shamhna, the first International Storytelling Festival in Dublin, which she ran for 10 years.

Panel discussion led by Terry McDonagh
3pm - 3.30pm

Terry McDonagh will lead a panel of discussion around the topic of where storytelling stands in Ireland today, where it has come from, the challenges the journey has faced and the potential for the future of this wonderful art form. Terry will chair the discussion panel and will also be MC of the questions and answers session that will follow.

Terry McDonagh, Irish writer, poet, dramatist and teacher. Terry’s literary life began to find expression in Hamburg in the early 1990s when he came into contact with Olaf Hille Verlag. Prior to that it was a patchwork of unfinished and occasionally published poems. The Road Out (1993) was published by Olaf Hille and it resonated beautifully around the ‘scene’ in Hamburg. He has gone on to publish many other books of poetry which have been translated into a number of languages. In 2001, Terry took up a post as artist-in-residence in Melbourne (thanks to Joachim Matschoss) and that wonderful experience resulted in a poetry collection: A Song for Joanna (Hamburg, Melbourne, A Journal in Verse (Blaupause books, 2002).

Question and answer session
3.30pm - 4pm

Time for the audience to get involved in the conversation by posting questions in the livestream chat. These questions will then be put to the panel members on your behalf.


MINI SYMPOSIUM: What’s the Scéal? Storytelling in Ireland Today is located at:
Turlough Park,
Co. Mayo
F23 HY31

An Online mini-symposium

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date

Receive updates on the latest exhibitions

Country Life

Turlough Park,
Co. Mayo,
F23 HY31

+353 94 903 1755