Skip to content

25 November, 2021: What’s the Scéal? Annual Storytelling Festival

Len Graham
What’s the Scéal? is a series of storytelling events that celebrates this ancient tradition and seeks to highlight the role of storytellers in Ireland today. To this end the National Museum of Ireland and Poetry Ireland are delighted to once again partner up with some of Ireland’s renowned and talented storytellers to host a programme of events for adults and children alike.
Ireland has long had a tradition of storytelling. From the deep well of Celtic folklore dating back into our ancient past, the seanachaí brought forth tales of fairies, fiends, friendships and adventures. In more recent times they performed tales at the fireside of a visiting house, to the merriment and often terror of their fixated audiences. Today that tradition still thrives, and storytellers all over Ireland continue to tell the tales of old and add their own voice to the ever growing treasury of stories.
For younger audiences, we have teamed up with storytellers Nuala Hayes, Jack Lynch and Pat Ryan to deliver a three day series of storytelling events for primary and post primary schools across Ireland on 23rd, 24th & 25th November. Schools participating come from counties Dublin, Donegal, Kerry, Laoise, Mayo, Wicklow and Wexford. The programme has proven so popular that all sessions are now booked out. This series will use some of the objects found in the NMI - Country Life collections as inspiration for the stories.
For those with an interest in a more in-depth look at storytelling in Ireland today, we are hosting a symposium entitled Storytelling in Ireland Today on Friday 26th November. We are delighted to be joined by storyteller and Chief Executive of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) Donald Smith, renowned Irish storyteller and artist Nuala Hayes and Irish writer, poet and dramatist Terry McDonagh. This hour and a half event will explore the life of storytellers in Ireland and how institutions like museums, libraries and galleries can provide, not just a venue but also a resource for storytellers in the modern world of storytelling.
For the older audiences, we have invited Jack Lynch and Len Graham for an hour and a half of storytelling on Saturday 27th November. Don’t miss this great opportunity to see two legendary storytellers performing some great stories and songs from Ireland’s deep folklore tradition. This event will be streamed live across the country and the world.
For more information on the above events, or to check out the National Museum of Ireland’s other programmes, visit
Lorraine Comer, Head of Education National Museum of Ireland.
“We are delighted to be building on the strong partnership we have with Poetry Ireland over the years through What’s the Scéal? This week of storytelling at the Museum brings some of Ireland’s renowned and creative storytellers together to engage school children and adults in stories that inspire their imagination and provide personal connections between Museum objects and people’s own stories and experiences. The symposium also provides a critical space to reflect on storytelling in Ireland today.” 
Jane O’Hanlon, Poetry Ireland.
“Poetry Ireland is delighted to once again be working with the National Museum of Ireland and building on our long established relationship and common objectives through What’s the Scéal? The role of Museums and of Storytelling has never been more important, as people seek to find meaning, understanding and purchase during these troubled and confusing times. The best way to understand ourselves is to understand our past, by coming into contact with the objects and the stories that help us to connect with that heritage. It is a pleasure to be working with the Museum of County Life and some of our finest storytellers who will help us to listen, to speak, to think and to learn!”
Pat Ryan, Storyteller and performer.
“Scientists say that narrative--story--is the fundamental instrument of human thought, and that the human brain is, indeed, a narrative brain. So isn't it great to see Ireland's National Museum of Country Life having a storytelling festival and mini-symposium? The first, we hope, of many!  Museums are full of objects evoking memories, and memories combine to make stories, so what better place to celebrate storytelling and hear stories told? Hearing stories makes us feel better, and helps time pass pleasurably. Through a year of tough times, we've kept telling stories, and learned that distance doesn't stop us. Whether you're in Ireland and able to come to the live events, or joining us online like loads of school children across the country and listeners around the globe are going to do, What's the Sceál? is sure to provide plenty of tales for the cold dark days ahead.”
Further media queries to: Ann Daly, Head of Marketing, National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin DO7 XKV4, T: +353 1 6486457 / +353 87 2368067,
Notes to Editors:
What’s the Scéal? Is an Education Department initiative, and is being delivered in collaboration with Poetry Ireland. The event will be livestreamed through the National Museums’ YouTube and Facebook Live pages.
About Turlough Park House
Turlough Park House was formally the home of the Fitzgerald family, who were granted a large estate at Turlough, Co. Mayo, under the Cromwellian land settlements in the mid-17th century. The Fitzgeralds built the current house in 1865. Thomas Newenham Deane, a noted Victorian architect, designed the house and it is described as Victorian Gothic in style.
Mayo County Council purchased the house and gardens in 1991 and it was selected in 1995 as the site for a new National Museum of Ireland to display Ireland’s National Folklife Collection.
The OPW developed modern, award-winning exhibition galleries next to Turlough Park House and the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, housing and displaying Ireland’s National Folklife Collection, opened to the public in 2001.
About the National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland has four public sites, and a Collections Repository:
  • National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology (Kildare Street, Dublin 2)
  • National Museum of Ireland - Natural History (Merrion Street,  Dublin 2)
  • National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks, Dublin 7)
  • National Museum of Ireland - Country Life (Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo)
  • Collections Resource Centre (Swords) (Not open to the public)
Admission to the National Museum of Ireland and its exhibitions is free. Museum Shop & Café on site.
See for more.
Instagram:  @nationalmuseumofireland
Useful Links
To book your place on the events
Eventbrite - Mini-symposium Friday 26th November 2021:
Eventbrite - Adult storytelling Saturday 27th November 2021:
For more Information go to the National Museum of Ireland Website at the links below
NMI Website - Mini-symposium
NMI Website - Adult storytelling

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date

Receive updates on the latest exhibitions