Keep hold of the old tales by Annmarie Miles

Growing up in Ireland, we often heard about the 'SeanchaĆ­' (pronounced shan-a-key). They were storytellers, but more than that, they were guardians and communicators of history. The were the holders of folklore, in a time where there was not much written down; at least not for or by the common man. Of course, the role was not confined to the Irish. Many cultures had their minstrels and troubadours. Encyclopaedic knowledge passed from generation to generation. 

Here in Wales, my husband's late great Aunty Olive was one such font of history. She was our own personal Google search. What ever subject you brought up, Aunty Olive had a family saga about it, which would lead her to another vaguely connected story and so on. 

I wanted to make a family board game called, "Aunty Olive's Tenuous Links." You would move forward if you could connect some family history to random words on cards. The first person who could connect their last story to Aunty Olive's most famous one, would be the winner. Her well-told tale was about the time a bus route she took to her nephew's farm had been changed, but the driver didn't tell her. She ended up miles from her intended destinations, and her nephew had to come and collect her. 

We could be talking about a chicken dinner, a warm day, a scarf, or a hole in the ground, it didn't matter, eventually Aunty Olive would say, "weeeeell, it's like that time I got on the bus to Nantgaredig and I ended up in Llandeilo. Hours late for dinner I was."

And you know what? I'd give anything to hear her tell that one again. 

My brother found some old cassette recordings of my dad singing and telling stories. He managed to put them on his computer and send them to others in the family. It's so amazing to hear my dad's voice again after all these years. I could recite his stories from memory, but no one tells them like he does. 

Are there stories in your family that you should capture? Record them, write them down, find some way of preserving them. Tell those old stories to the younger people in your family. Pass them on, pass them around and keep the storytelling alive. 

We live in a world of fake news and drama-obsessed media, let's make sure we keep a hold of the classic stories within our reach. As the people who tell them leave us, let their stories reman with us. 

Have you any family tales, preserved through the generations? 

Annmarie Miles is from Dublin, Ireland.
She lives with her husband Richard who is a pastor in the Eastern Valley of Gwent, in South Wales.
She writes short stories, magazine articles and devotional pieces for Christian radio. She is a lover of all things social media and offers help, in the guise of Sunflower Tech Wales to beginners who want to get started. You can find out about her fiction and her podcast, Words, Wobbles and Wisdom, here. You'll find her on social media @amowriting

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