Word magicians return to the literary capital for the fourth Listowel International Storytelling Festival

FEW activities are as powerful as a good read. And when a story is told by an experienced storyteller, the experience only becomes more powerful.

Take it from one of the greats of the field himself, John B Keane: “The storyteller can take a word or a phrase and swing it before you like a hypnotist’s pendulum so that it captivates you. . It’s the art of a magician.”

It was the fitting summary on which the fourth year of the Listowel International Storytelling Festival was launched this week, as it returns for another dynamic program – between September 15 and 18 next.

Rambling sessions with storytellers, stories told by his son, workshops in everything from storytelling to songwriting and more are set to kick off in the county’s literary capital in days from now.

“Our fourth Listowel International Storytelling Festival will feature a packed program of events including storytelling sessions and workshops, story swapping, story walk, film screening, music sessions and storytelling for children,” director of the Kerry Writers’ Museum — the location of much of the proceedings — Cara Trant said.

“We are particularly delighted to welcome back storyteller Maria Gillen as artistic director of the festival.

Highlights from this year’s festival include:

• Walking sessions with winning storytellers from all over Ireland Sonny Egan and Rian Gleeson

•History Through Song with Paddy Regan, Mickey McConnell, Ger Wolfe, Cormac O Caoimh, Hank Wedel and Lorraine Nash.

• Storytelling workshop with Liz Weir

• Songwriting workshop with Cormac O Caoimh

• Story Walk directed by Owen McMahon, with storyteller Joe Brennan

• Storytelling Gala Concert with Maria Gillen, Liz Weir, Joe Brennan, Maria Credali, Frances Kennedy, Ger Wolfe, Mickey McConnell and Lorraine Nash

• Exchange of stories in Teach Siamsa, Finuge

Meanwhile, storytellers of all skill levels can learn even more about the art through a few workshops held during the festival.

The workshops take place on September 17 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. under the supervision of the festival’s guest artists.

They are:

• Storytelling workshop led by Liz Weir

With her long years of experience and vast knowledge of storytelling on the international stage, Liz Weir MBE will offer a storytelling workshop building on her life’s work in storytelling.

• Songwriting workshop led by Cormac Ó Caoimh

Cormac will explore the different methods and approaches to writing a song with advice on lyric writing and music composition (even if you can’t play an instrument).

The two workshops take place in parallel.

Admission is €25 with a maximum of 15 participants per workshop.

Visit www.kerrywritersmuseum.com to reserve seats or simply find out more about the festival.

Brian L. Hartfield