These bards helped maintain Celtic culture for more over 2,000 years.Wikimedia Commons

Ireland has one of the richest folklore traditions in the world. This is primarily due to the fact that the Celtic culture has been maintained for more than 2,000 years and the tradition of oral composition and performance has been strong throughout Irish history.

The Irish hold a great appreciation for the 'spoken word' and the use of language and have created a unique and beautifully poetic oral literature.

In ancient Celtic society bards held a position of esteem, second only to kings. Bards memorized vast amounts of poetry which they performed live, and their poems and songs were often the only historical record available. Some may consider them to be historians.

Bards evolved into storytellers called 'seanachies' who wandered from town to town. In this informal way, an ancient oral literary tradition continued into modern times. 

The seanachie is an important link in Celtic/Irish cultural heritage and continues to play a dominant role in the oral tradition, bringing old stories to life for modern day listeners. Marianne McShane is one such storyteller.

Raised in Bangor, County Down, an area steeped in history and rich in folklore, Marianne weaves a spell of Celtic legends, myths and wonder tales that she heard as a child.

She has been a featured storyteller at festivals in the U.S. and Ireland and has shared her stories at social events, schools and libraries. Click to visit her website.

* Originally published in September 2014.