The History to date
Bard Mythologies starts by taking myth seriously. This means moving beyond the meaning of the word myth, as lie, an untruth. The other meaning of myth is wisdom, deep timeless cultural wisdom. So along with myth we start with the archetypes in those myths, which portray exemplary figures, the culture’s heroes. We also start with the folklore, symbols and stories of the culture. Together, these elements comprise a culture’s mythographics, those familiar with this body of material are the culture’s mythographers. We believe these elements; myth, archetype, folklore, symbol and story are the best ways to understand a culture. They are a route to understanding, insight and inspiration.
Bard Mythologies grew out of a recovered practice of telling the traditional stories to the people, in the oral form by a skilled storyteller, the Bard, we have now done this in Ireland for some twenty years. At the very start in August 1995 in the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham, Dublin, was Sandy Dunlop, his wife, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop and Bill Felton, the creative talent who created all the wonderful images.
Since then, Clare Island, Co. Mayo has been the location for the Bard Summer School week in July. Mairin Ni Nualain, Karina Tynan, Aoife Diamond and Elena Keany have been central and invaluable. Daithi O’hOgain UCD’s Professor of Folklore, John Moriarty and John O’Donoghue, the writer, philosopher, mystic were invariably part of the team. More recently were events in Belvedere House (near Uisneach) and the Pearse Museum, with Camille Donegan and her network of writers and actors. Beulah Croker, Sorcha Hegarty and Declan Brennan have been the professional storytellers. Each location has a particular mythic significance.
What we have come to realise from what is essentially the recovery of the Bardic tradition – the telling of the traditional myths of the culture to the culture is certain key learnings. This might seem obvious but when a group hear a story from times past, they care for what it is telling them about their world today. They are little interested in the archaic, and very interested in the now.
More recently a new Bard Mythologies team has come together to extend the project beyond the annual Summer School. Now Emma Mulquerns, Joni Spring, Emmet Driver and Chaobang Ai and Cathal O’Neill have been running Bard Projects with the Civic Theatre, with the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham and recently The Nine Waves Immersion Series on Zoom which started in April 2020. The 2020 Summer School “Myths of the Civil War” was also run on Zoom and was very successful.
And what becomes evident in the now is that myth reveals that which is usually hidden, that lies beneath the surface, but that can, with help be perceived. Indeed, the great gift of the sea god Manannán mac Lir, was not a ‘tablet of stone’ as with Yahweh but rather Silver Branch perception. To develop this perception this way of seeing deeply, seeing beneath the surface is what has emerged from this journey of mythic storytelling.
The Bard Mythologies website makes this journey available on-line – the Bardic tradition has gone digital!