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Storytelling for Actors and Monsters
Aspiring actress Janet Gleason, the teenage heroine of my young adult books, Glancing Through the Glimmer and Autumn Glimmer, has lived in Dublin since her grandfather became the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. At first, she hated Dublin. (She really hated being kidnapped by the King of the Fairies, but that’s the first book.) In Autumn Glimmer, Janet has settled into her new Irish school. She loves the Drama Club, and she’s learned a lot about acting. She’ll soon pick up some fabulous new techniques.
To celebrate Halloween, Janet and her grandparents visit Ireland’s royal family (hint - she likes Prince Liam). Cousin Fintan, an elderly shanachie, is also visiting to entertain everyone.
A shanachie (from the Irish seanchaí) is a traditional Irish storyteller. The ancient Celts wrote nothing down. They entrusted their laws and legends to the minds of brehons, poets, and shanachies. The shanachies told hundreds of tales from memory. And, as Janet is going to learn, some of those tales were inspired by real events.
Janet’s theatrical eye noted the arrangement of chairs before the hearth. The rough half-circle they formed gave everyone an unobstructed view of Cousin Fintan, perched on a stool beside the fireplace. His right hand held his blackthorn stick like a pole in a subway train.
He laid the blackthorn across his knees. Like a safecracker coaxing a bank vault open, he ran the tips of his long white fingers over the knobby wood. Twisting the stick toward him, he deftly reeled his audience into the story world he summoned.
“I’ll tell ye a story to shorten the night. Ye’ll scarcely believe a word I say, for I’m going back on old times, to the days when the Good People made the rounds more than they do now.”
Fintan had no idea that the Good People were making the rounds that night. In fact, two were outside the open window, listening. Janet listened too, fascinated by Fintan’s tales. He painted pictures in her head no stage set could ever match.
“Long before the great ice came, giant creatures lived in Ireland. They foraged and fought and ate each other, and no man ever saw them. The ice killed all but the swimmers among them, monsters who slumbered in caves beneath the lakes until the glaciers disappeared.
“New animals came to Ireland. Men came too, and the hungry monsters leapt from the lakes and devoured them all. The heroes among the men fought back.”
Fintan told the story of Gann of the Glen, a hero who helped the fairies in the lake get rid of a hungry monster.
“Gann drew his weapons. The battle fury rose in him.” The blackthorn whooshed through the air as Fintan, shouting now, mimicked Gann’s swordsmanship. “With a mighty cry, he raised his sword and cut off the Crogall’s head. This he hurled away, spattering the shore with its blood. To this day, the rocks on the shores of the pond are red, and the Crogall’s bones became the jagged stones on the northern bank.”
The fairies outside the window recalled a different version. The correct version. One that Janet is going to find out all about…
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Pat’s Website: http://patmcdermott.net/
Glancing Through the Glimmer - Available Now in Print!