08/11/2013 – Minister Deenihan opens the 2nd Sneem International Storytelling and Folklore Festival
Friday, 8th November—Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will be in the Sneem Hotel, Sneem, Co. Kerry, this evening at 8pm to officially open the Second Sneem International Storytelling and Folklore Festival.
This year’s festival, which is supported once again under Fáilte Ireland’s Regional Festival Fund, has taken on a Gathering element, making particular effort to attract even more overseas visitors to the Sneem area. A specially designed genealogy session has been included in the programme to allow attendees to trace their roots.
Approximately 55% of overseas visitors to Ireland engage in cultural pursuits such as festivals, as do 40% of Irish adults. Research indicates that the total combined value of the economic activity generated by festivals in Ireland in 2010 was €448 million.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Deenihan said: “Events like the Sneem Storytelling Festival are a key element in Ireland’s tourism product. Having launched the revamped www.irishgenealogy.ie portal earlier this year, I am delighted at the inclusion of a genealogy session in this year’s festival to add to the experience of visitors from Ireland and abroad. I note also that the festival has a Facebook presence; it is great to see that this most traditional of skills—the art of storytelling—has embraced the digital age.”
The festival is the brainchild of Batt Burns, a primary school principal from Sneem whose career as a seanchaí began after he won the All-Ireland Teachers’ Talent Competition in 1983. In 1994 he gave up teaching to become a full-time entertainer in the USA, and he has since appeared at all of the major storytelling festivals in the States.
This year’s festival includes American storyteller Jay Stailey, as well as Irish favourites Batt Burns, Seán Ó Sé, Liz Weir, Sonny Egan and Jack Lynch. The festival proper runs from 8th to 10th November, but overseas visitors to Sneem can enjoy Irish tours with local storytellers and story lovers up until 12th November.