Story Archaeology combines the breadth of knowledge and skills of the storyteller with academic exploration of ancient texts. We focus on the Irish tradition, peeling back the layers of modern folklore to unearth the potsherds and treasuries of our heritage. At https://storyarchaeology.com, you will find regular podcasts and articles about Irish Mythology by the Story Archaeologists; Chris Thompson and Isolde Carmody.
More Questions answered from the Story Archaeologists
Join the Story archaeologists as they attempt to catch up and answer some of the questions that you have been asking. This Q&A session covers the topic of fír flathemon , 'The truth of the king' and delves into the complexities of the text, Lebor Gabála Érenn, the 'Book of the Taking of Ireland'. We also return to the strange phenomenon of the Morrigan's Mono-horse.
Stories and Activities with Children 5: The Two Poet Pig-keepers
This audio story is one of the many stories that circle around the great Táin Bó Cúailnge , The cattle raid of Cooley. It is not a well known story but it is important as it is really the 'origin' story for the whole cycle. It is also a great tale and explains a lot!
The story has been included because it emphasises the importance of the storyteller-poets and can be enjoyed in conjunction with the become an Irish Hero Poet activity sheets. Have fun together.
Or go to the podcast episode about the Two Poet Pig keepers, The Quarrel of the Two Swineherds.
Return to the 'Stories at Home' project hub
Stories and Activities for Children 1: Bricriu’s Feast
It has been a while since Isolde and I have been able to work on the podcast but I have continued working with the stories in schools around Ireland, This year, as part of the 2020 Tain March Festival, in May, I had planned to set up a children's Óenach in Roscommon. Like so much else, this has been postponed for the foreseeable future
But this very postponement offers new possibilities. , As a teacher, I am only too aware of the need for fun and interactive 'things to do' at home at present.. Those of you who value the old Irish stories as much as I do might welcome stories and projects based on marvel-ous Irish hero stories,
So I am going ahead in releasing my schools' Irish story telling programmes "Warriors, Heroes and Poets". There will be videoed stories and full project pack suitable for use by siblings or as a whole family if you like.
I will also be uploading some audio readings of stories of the stories from my, as yet, uncompleted book. This post contains just one of these stories. This is Bricriu's Feast. We covered the story for adults in a previous series. This version is a 'family' version.
Watch the animation, part of this story, The Cats of Cruachan.
Return to the 'Stories at Home' project hub
The Cats of Cruachan ~ an short animated film
This time last year, I was struggling with what felt like an impossible task. I was asked to come up with a scripted screenplay for the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Roscommon. This short animation was commissioned by Nollaig Feeney, the Roscommon Heritage Officer and was a direct outcome of the Schools workshops undertaken in the county in support of the annual Tain March event. (I will be writing about this event in a subsequent post.)
I was keen to tell part of the Fled Bricrenn story. There was a problem in that Bricriu's Feast is a long and complex text full of convolutions and duplication. It took Story Archaeology four full episodes to tell the story. I had created a telling adapting it for a modern audience and much loved by Primary aged children but it would be a huge challenge to condense it to under tn minutes. Eventually, I settled for telling only the section of the story that concerned Medb and Rathcroghan.
As I am sure you are aware, and we soon discovered, animation is costly to produce and basic flash was all that the budget allowed for simple 2D graphics. I think that Pink Kong did a great job and we are pleased with the results. We had hope to make some of the children's poetry integral to the story telling but the script had to be kept tight. We managed to include a short selection along with the credits. The film was completed last October but was released this May at the culmination of the 2019 Tain March event.
Our regular listeners will recognise that Medh is played by our own Isolde. We had fun getting the wheelchair into the recording booth but all went well eventually. I have now produced a full written and audio version of Bricriu's Feast for a family audience and this will be published shortly.
Medb: Conquests and Consequences
Medb, Queen of Connacht, is rightly renowned in Irish legend and mythology, as a strong and influential woman leader. Her centre of power, Cruachan Ai, is still recognised as one of the most important Iron-age sites in Ireland. Medb lead her people in her own name and by her own right. She was a strong woman in a society largely dominated by strong men. She fought hard to maintain the high status of her rule throughout her long life but the choices she made, as always happens, had consequences.
This audio-article endeavours to discover some something of Medb the woman, as she can be found in the old Irish texts? What choices did she have to make to protect her land and people and how did she come to terms with the consequences of those choices? It is an interesting story.
This audio article is based on a presentation given for an on-line conference hosted by Vyvianne Armstrong. This conference is entitled Medb, Intoxication and Initiation. This is one of a series of upcoming conferences. If you would like to find out more, contact Vyviane at firstname.lastname@example.org
Music: A Trip to Emain by Gian Costello
Telling Stories : Continuing the Oral Tradition
Join Chris Thompson as she takes a story-teller's view of the old Irish stories. Who told the and why were they so memorable. In this audio article, Chris celebrates the old stories and explores the challenges in telling them today.
For those who have asked me for ideas and advice on story telling generally, I am going to be devoting a section of my upcoming Patreon site 'Sinann's Well' to this subject.
References and Links
Oral Tradition Theory
While there are a great many experts who can illuminate this eclectic discipline. I have found the writing of John Miles Foley comprehensive and enjoyably helpful. I also appreciate the manner in which he takes account of the revitalizing effect of the internet on oral story telling. Professor Foley was the founder of the academic journal Oral Tradition and the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri, where he was Curators' Professor of Classical Studies and English .
I have added a link to the UK Amazon page listing a few a selection of his works but they tend to be somewhat difficult to find. Our American listeners, I suspect, would have less of a problem. His books do offer a comprehensive and modern approach to Oral Tradition Theory.
For those of you who enjoy audio books.I would highly recommend, The Modern Scholar: Singers and Tales: Oral Tradition and the Roots of Literature By: Professor Michael D. C. Drout.
Miichael Drout, who studied under Professor Foley, Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval at . He is an author and specialising in Anglo Saxon, medieval literature, fantasy and science fiction.
This is an enjoyable and easy-to-follow introduction to the history and development of Oral Tradition Theory and offers a fascinating insight into how story telling functions within diverse societies. I listen to the book over and over again, just because I enjoy it. It is not too long, either.
The Ark before Noah by Irving Finkel
Nothing to do with Oral Tradition theory, or, indeed, with the early Irish tales, I am still going to recommend this book in connection with the current topic. This tells how a story, now known, only from the careful translation of long-lost Cuneiform clay tablets, has continued to retain so much information,. Irving Finkel, does not just plot the meandering, ever changing and adapting, course of a story, still known and loved today, but he throws a fascinating light on the world where this story may have been first told. He even identifies performative elements, still recognisable.
I love this book.
Music: The Wandering Harper by Gian Costello
Brilliant storytelling looking at where these stories came from. An excellent source for anyone interested in Irish myths and ledgands.
A hidden gem
This podcast deserves to be better known among those interested in Irish Mythology.
I'm not sure how I missed this podcast until now. Two of my most favourite subjects, Irish mythology and archaeology, what more could you want!