From the beginning Bard Mythologies has worked with an assumption of the enduring relevance of the ancient myths to modernity. Every time we have run an event we have felt this starting point was validated. The Bard grew out of a recovered practice of telling the traditional stories to the people, in the oral form by a skilled storyteller, the Bard. And what we have learned from the anthropologists is that an oral telling is always heard in terms of today. We are typically less interested in history or archaeology than insight and relevance
The first Bard Mythologies event was in August 1995. It took place in the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham, Dublin. The original team was Sandy Dunlop, his wife, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop and Bill Felton, the creative talent who created all the wonderful images we use at the Bard Events. We had been advised by Professor Dáithi Ó hÓgáin from the Folklore Department to approach the Pearse Museum and the Curator of the Museum, Pat Cooke, was happy to support the initiative. Over 30 participants from all over Ireland joined the first event.
Since then, Clare Island, Co. Mayo has been the location for the Bard Summer School week in July. The Bay View Hotel and Granuaile House were the principle venues supporting the Bard with the Island School and the Community Centre also playing vital roles over the years. Mairin Ni Nualain, Karina Tynan, Aoife Diamond and Elena Keany have been central and invaluable. We were also hugely supported by the Island Community and the Island Storytelling (Dancing and Singing) was coordinated for many years by the late Mairtin Moran and more recently Mary Agnes O’Malley to whom we are extremely grateful.
More recently were events in the Pearse Museum, with Camille Donegan and her network of writers and actors. This led to a successful performance of a Myth Show in the Gardens of the Museum. We also worked for a couple of years in Belvedere House (near Uisneach). This led to a six month exhibition of Bill Felton’s Poster and the showing of the “Wonders of Ireland” Video intitiated by Bartle D’Arcy who ran Belvedere at the time.
The Bard ran two successful projects in collaboration with the Civic Theatre in Tallaght This was supported by the Creative Director of the Civic, Michael Barker-Caven. In 2018 we ran a Program, The Civic Bard Quest built around the four Cycles of Myth and including days on Analysing Culture, on running a Brehon Law Court, on Building Community Building Tribe and on Re Imagining Politics. The ancient wisdom was being applied to local Sporting Communities – Rugby Clubs with some considerable success!
In 2019 we ran Myths of Tallaght which was to explore the rich mythic history of this Dublin suburb. In the Mythological Cycle the Partholonians were said to be buried in Tallaght, In Irish támhleacht, means a plague burial place and the five thousand men and four thousand women that were wiped out in an ancient Covid 19 came to their end in this part of Ireland. The Fionn legends also have a strong association with the area. Glenasmole is where Fionn and the Fenians were said to hunt and Oisin on his return from Tir na Nog was to touch the ground here before turning in to an old man.
One of the unexpected benefits of Covid 19 was that while we were unable to meet face to face during 2020/21 we were able to run a very successful series of Programs right through Covid and this included an On-Line Summer School in 2020 on Myths of the Civil War.. The technology of Zoom lent itself very well to Bard. There was an intimacy to the storytelling and the breakout facility meant we were able to have to post story discussions in the breakout rooms.
There were three 12 week Programs run during Covid, and then three 8 Week Programs. which have now been completed The team was Emma Mulquerns, Joni Spring, Emmet Driver and Chaobang Ai and then Fiona Doris and Tom Fitzgerald. Karina Tynan also played a major role in the Ulster Cycle immersion where we heard re-tellings/readings of all the major female characters in the Tain. She also played a major role in the Women and Power Immersion. Grace O’Malley and Emma Mulquerns at different times ran the Children’s Bard which was a great mix of island children and visitors.
In 2022 we managed to offer a face to Face Summer School The Return of the Goddess. It was very well received and filled in 3 days, However, unfortunately Covid was to have the last laugh and we were reduced from 43 people to 24 in spite of taking all the necessary precautions and running the event outside as much as was possible. The Island went out of their way to make sure it was a success and the Island Storytelling night was outstanding.
Over the years we have been delighted to have had talent and gifts of many poets who would be a key part of the Bard Feasta on the Island. These have included:
They all in very different ways added greatly to the Bard Journey.
We also had regular input from three mighty characters and legends: Professor Dáithi Ó hÓgáin, the UCD Folklorist, Poet and Writer, John Moriarty, Philosopher, Mythologist and Mystic and John O’Donoghue Philosopher, Poet and Author. They are all sadly no longer with us. They made a huge contribution to Irish life in different ways and are missed.
We also have had in Author Ann Chambers whose work on the legendary Pirate Queen Granuaile Grace O’Malley has done so much to bring back a powerful heroine who had been written out of history.
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