Story writer to launch folktales collection spanning Co Down

Steve Lally
Steve Lally

A story writer living in Banbridge has produced a collection of folktales connected to the area.

Entitled ‘Down Folk Tales’, the book is made up of folktales from County Down, which illustrates the rich heritage of myths and legends which are uniquely captured in this collection of tales gathered and re-told by local storyteller Steve Lally.

Some are older than others some of them filled with terror others with magic and mystery and delight but all of them equally enchanting.

Steve said: “The great thing about being a storyteller is that if you tell a good tale you are almost certain to hear another one, even better.”

These tales have been carefully and lovingly collected from local people from the county and a great level of research has been done to reproduce them as authentically as possible in Steve’s own unique style.

Talking about his interest in folk tales Steve who grew up listening to stories told to him by his Grandmother a great storyteller in the West of Ireland said: “I was first introduced to storytelling by my Grandmother, who was a great storyteller from Galway.

“Her stories were that good I chose to stay at home with her and listen to her tell wild and wondrous tales from the West of Ireland rather than accompany my parents to the fun-fair at the sea-side resort in ‘Salthill’.

“I have never stopped loving the satisfaction and enchantment that storytelling brings me to this day.”

He continued: “I see storytelling as a form of healing and connection with the soul.

“When you hear a good story you are taken out of yourself and find identification, compassion and all sorts of emotions that help make sense of the way we feel.

“Storytelling is such an ancient and important part of our culture and the Irish have brought stories to and from all around the world.

“It is vital that we keep this tradition alive as it keeps us in touch with who we are and where we came from,” explained Steve.

“When people had no access to the world wide web, mobile phones or even books and many a soul could not read or write anyway, storytelling was a way for people to communicate, see similarities in each other and break down the barriers that divide us,”

Even as a child Steve was always asked to tell stories to the younger children at his Primary school. He is an accomplished artist and has had exhibitions all over Northern Ireland.

He graduated from the University of Ulster in 2002 with a Fine Arts Degree and his final piece was an exhibition of storytelling.

Steve was the Northern Ireland representative for Storytellers of Ireland from 2009 - 2011.

The established writer has worked closely as a storyteller with various community groups, schools and organisations including Down County Museum, Elderly folk groups, Special Needs groups, young people and anyone else willing to listen to him.

He has continuous working relationships as a storyteller with Nursery groups and he has worked as a storyteller with the Co. Down Women’s Institute, Banbridge SRC, Banbridge Writers Circle and many primary and secondary schools.

Discover the territory were the outlaw Redmond O’Hanlon was said to once roam or the graveyard where you might come across the ghost of the fiendish Squire Hawkins, and the cliffs from which young Maggie once made a desperate and deathdefying leap.

These stories, illustrated with twenty-one line drawings by Steve, bring this beautiful County’s dramatic folklore to life, and are a fitting tribute to the wealth of history that has shaped County Down.

Steve has worked as both an artist and storyteller throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland for over fifteen years.

He writes his own material along with telling folk tales from Ireland and around the world, recitations, myths, legends, story songs, participation stories and arts based workshops.

He has worked as storyteller in Guernica and Bilbao in the Basque Country.

The father of one has performed in festivals all over the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Steve is also a storyteller with the ‘Poetry Ireland’ program ‘Writers in Schools’. Originally from Co. Kildare and has been living in Northern Ireland for over thirteen years now.

Steve has since received the contract to write the Folk Tales of Co. Kildare which will be published by the History Press next Year.

As an artist Steve attempts to capture the feeling, energy and essence of the emotion that come from a story. This can be a myth, legend, folktale, a general anecdote or a personal story from the artist himself.

Every picture tells a story and every story can create a picture.

Steve can stir these emotions not just by his imagery but also in his use of colour and at times no colour at all.

His compositions and themes cross over boundaries from the ridiculous to the sublime and from reality into fantasy at times the line is very blurred and ambiguous.

There will be an official Launch of ‘Down Folk Tales’ at ‘The Old Town Hall’ in Banbridge on Saturday July 27 from 7:30 pm – 9 pm and at Banbridge Library on Saturday August 10 from 11am to 12 noon.

The book is also available to buy from Amazon and all major bookseller websites including Waterstones, Easons, W.H. Smiths and The History Press.