One of Eoin Colfer’s most exciting legacy projects as Laureate na nÓg was Seanachaí, a storytelling project that took place as part of the 1916 commemorations. While Eoin’s Once upon a Place programme saw him and a group of storytellers travelling around Ireland bringing their own stories to audiences of children throughout the country, Seanachaí was designed to pass on the art of storytelling to the children themselves.
The idea behind the project was to explore ways that children could be encouraged to learn how the events of 1916 unfolded, not just in Dublin, but in their own communities and areas. These children would then learn the skills to gather those stories and to tell them in their own words and voices. The project was curated by experienced facilitator, Bernadette Larkin.
Five schools were selected to participate in the project from Dublin, Carlow, Galway, Cork and Derry. The participating schools were: Larkin Community College, Dublin, where children worked with storyteller Veronica Dyas; Gaelscoil Eoghan Uí Thuairisc, Carlow, where Seosamh O Maolalaí passed on his storytelling skills; Galway Educate Together, Newcastle, Galway, where poet Nell Regan was storyteller in residence; Blarney Street School, Cork City, where Veronica Coburn worked with the children; and St. Brigid’s College, Derry, where Joe Brennan was the resident storyteller.
In each school, a series of workshops were held, with children learning how to gather stories and to go into their local communities to explore their local history. For example, the children at Larkin College worked with residents at the Lourdes Day Care Centre, Sean MacDermott Street, to discover the many stories to be found in their own neighbourhood. They also looked through online archives such as the witness statements from participants of 1916 which are kept in the Military Archives.
Each project was documented and the videos for each project are below. The project tied in with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht aims to remember the past, reflect on the last hundred years and look to the future. You can read a detailed blog by each of the facilitators in the blog section of this website.