Breathing new life into Allenwood storytelling

'Invisible Stories' festival

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh


Breathing new life into Allenwood storytelling

Actors Stephen Brennan and Eamonn Morrissey on the set of the 'Eat the Peach' film

Aunique storytelling festival will take place in Allenwood from October 20 to 22.

Called ‘Invisible Stories’, it is an investigation into local folklore and the landscape around Allenwood.

The aims is to bring stories of fairies, banshees, superstitions and folktales to life.

The mini festival is the initiative of curator Sheena Malone, and is derived from research in the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin, where a large body of ethnological material collected from schoolchildren back in the 1930s is housed.

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Last year, an earlier version of this project was exhibited as part of the Curator Lab at Konstfack University, in Stockholm, Sweden.

The mini festival will consist of a variety of events which reach out to various sections of the community by using a number of differen sites in the locality — including the local pub, the Gaelic sports hall, the school, ruined vernacular architecture and the 19th century canal. These locations map different time periods in Allenwood’s history.

The aim is that the project will use the stories from the area to allow for more insight than a mere recitation of historical facts.

The project will include an exhibition with contemporary artists Vanessa Daws, Pamela de Brí and Sheena Malone, music with Ken O’Brien and local trad musicians, a bus tour of local sites, a series of talks with experts from the disciplines of folklore, local history and the environment, a film screening, and a primary school folklore project which will be displayed to the public. The artists will explore themes of place, mapping, memory, landscape, and aspects of culture and heritage.

Furthermore, a series of informal talks will contextualise and define some of the implicit themes. Through a series of workshops, the children of 5th and 6th classes in Allenwood will become junior folklorists in a digital age, negotiating paths through centuries of established tradition and recent decades of newer developments.

According to Ms Malone, ‘Invisible Stories’ aims to foster discussion regarding the appreciation and preservation of local history and local idiosyncrasies.

The official opening of the festival and exhibition will take place on Friday evening, October 22, at Glennon’s in Allenwood at 7pm. The exhibition, which will also open then, will feature work by Vanessa Daws, Pamela de Brí and Sheena Malone and there will be music by Ken O’ Brien at 10pm.

On Saturday, October 21, the exhibition will remain open in Glennon’s all day and there will be a bus tour of the Hill of Allen and Ballyteague Castle.

Departure time is 10.30am from Allenwood Church Car Park, and it will last approximately two hours. Due to restricted seating on the bus, the tour must be booked in advance by phone or at

A series of informal talks will take place in Glennon’s from 2pm to 5.30pm. Kicking it off at 2pm will be Ms Malone, the curator of the festival, followed at 2.30pm by Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh,archivist, National Folklore Collection, UCD, and at 3pm by Tristram Whyte, conservation and policy officer, Bog of Allen Nature Centre.

After a short break, at 3.45pm Tony McKenna, of Bord na Móna Heartland will speak, followed at 4.15pm by Harry Price, local historian and expert on local ‘bean feasa’ or wise woman Moll Anthony.

An aspect of the festival that will bring back many memories will be the screening at 8pm of the movie Eat the Peach, which was shot in the locality. It will be shown in: Glennon’s at 8pm. Local traditional musicians will perform from 10pm onwards.

On Sunday, October 22, as well as the exhibition from the artists, there will be an exhibition of the work of the 5th and 6th class pupils from Allenwood Primary School from 2pm to 5pm.

Finally, in Glennon’s from 8pm, there will be a gathering, to simply sit around and swap stories.