I recently headed over to Cape Clear Island, the southernmost inhabited spot in Ireland, for the International Storytelling Festival. This wildly beautiful and unspoilt location formed the backdrop to a brilliant creative weekend.I was visiting my parents in Clonakilty when I heard about the festival and arrived by ferry from the village of Baltimore. The short voyage to Cape Clear was spectacular. We spotted sharks along the way and learnt that whales, leatherback turtles and dolphins all thrive in the area.
I received a warm welcome with tea and cake when I arrived at Cape Clear B&B. We were absolutely blessed with the weather on the first day and the initial events were held outdoors. Paddy O’Brien provided a crash course in the Irish language and many of the stories were told using a combination of Irish and English.
People came from all over the world to share their stories, including Turkey, Austria and the USA. Storytelling is an ancient spiritual art form involving the passing on of tales from generation to generation. Gifted New Zealand-based Irish traditional storyteller Niall de Búrca created the powerful illusion of sitting around a campfire a hundred years ago. Listening to him was a truly astonishing, uplifting experience.
Cape Clear is an Irish-speaking island with around 120 residents. It features harbours, cliffs, bogs and a lake, and its tiny but well stocked library is housed in a cabin beneath the hillside ruins of a 12th century church and graveyard.
Trekking back from the Grand Concert on Friday night, we had panoramic views of the island by moonlight. As a city dweller it was a rare treat to see so many stars in the sky.
What an amazing weekend!