Summer Storytelling Sessions!

Amber Connelly in Kirbuster Farm Museum

Amber Connelly in Kirbuster Farm Museum

Come and hear traditional tales in the Kirbuster or Corrigal farm museum, told by local storytellers.
  • 20th July: Corrigall
  • 3rd August: Kirbuster
  • 17th August: Corrigall
  • 31st August: Kirbuster

All sessions start at 2pm, with free

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Formidable forces : Women, fate and the Battle of Clontarf

Battle of Clontarf event posterA talk by Tom Muir & Marita Lück, 23rd April 2014. St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall, 7.30pm. The 23rd of April is the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, where Jarl Sigurd the Stout of Orkney was killed, wrapped up in his magic raven banner. The story is well known in the Nordic countries from the Icelandic Sagas, but there seems to be another side to the story that is little known. To commemorate the event the Orcadian Story Trust, who run the Orkney Storytelling Festival, are holding a special talk on the day of the anniversary called ‘Formidable Forces: Women, Fate and the Battle of Clontarf’. It will be given by two well-known local storytellers and folklorists, Tom Muir and Marita Lück. Tom will tell the story from the Icelandic Saga tradition; of how Jarl Sigurd was bribed to support King Sigtrygg Silk-beard of Dublin in his fight against King Brian Boru, High King of Ireland. He says: “This is a fantastic story, having elements of courage, betrayal, sorcery, curses and ghosts, all wrapped up within a real historical event that changed the political map of Ireland. Sigurd was the last pagan jarl of Orkney who put his trust in a magic banner depicting a raven; a bird associated with the god Odin. But Odin took the life of the standard bearer in return for success, until the lot fell upon Sigurd himself to carry it. Other elements in the story include magical battles, monstrous ravens with beaks and claws of iron, a lucky shoelace, one of the grizzliest deaths

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ever devised and a returning ghost army. It is one of the great saga stories and deserves to be remembered.” Marita Lück will talk about the lesser known Celtic elements within the story, and how women played such an important part in what might otherwise be seen as a male dominated tale. She says: “In my talk, I will investigate the formidable female forces that seemed to have shaped the fate of the men who fought at the Battle of Clontarf. One well known example from Orkney is Earl Sigurd’s mother. She created the infamous Raven Banner that proved to be fatal for Sigurd, and I wonder whether she had only the Norse Raven in mind when she embroidered Sigurd’s banner – or could we suspect something much more sinister? After all, she was a sorceress and the daughter of an Irish king, and my research led to possible connections between her and a powerful Celtic deity of many shapes and forms. Other examples are the Valkyries described in several Norse manuscripts, and also in a poem from North Ronaldsay. They are supernatural women using bloody intestines and severed heads to weave the future fate of those about to fight at Clontarf. But are these women really what they appear to be? Or could they just be threads in a much wider, and much older web, embedded deeply in the human psyche up to this day? I will look at these and other aspects of the Battle of Clontarf from the perspective of Norse and Celtic mythology as well as cultural psychology.” The event is being held to raise funds for the Orcadian Story Trust. The Trust’s Chair, Fran Flett Hollinrake, is heartened to see the rise in support for storytelling events within Orkney. She said: “It is not very often that anyone gets to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of anything, so this is a very special occasion. The Battle of Clontarf is such an amazing story and such an important part of Orkney’s Viking heritage that we could not let the event pass without having the story told and elements of it explored in greater depth. The admission is by donations and tea, coffee and cake will be available afterwards. Tom and Marita are giving their time and knowledge free of charge so all donations will go towards the Orkney Storytelling Festival.”   ‘Formidable Forces: Women, Fate and the Battle of Clontarf’ by Tom Muir and Marita Lück will be held at the St Magnus Centre at 7.30pm on the 23rd April. Admission is by donation.

Events in March

The Orcadian Trust presents….two events in March!

Slaves in a Savage Land – Orcadians in the Hudson’s Bay Company

Sunday 16 March at 7.30pm in Stromness Town Hall

Poster for the Johnsmas FoyThis one-off performance provides another chance to see an acclaimed production, first staged as the Johnsmas Foy during the 2013 St Magnus Festival.Robe de Mariée 2014

The hour-long show includes storytelling, song, original poetry and film, and through a variety of voices tells the story of the Orcadian experience of the famous “Nor’ Wast”.

The cast includes local storytellers Tom Muir and Fran Flett Hollinrake, artist and poet Sylvia Hays, and features film by Sean Lewis.
Robe de mariée de luxe
Tickets cost £6 for adults and £3 for children, available on the door. All proceeds will go towards the Orcadian Story Trust for the 2014 Orkney Storytelling Festival.


World Storytelling Day – Monsters and Dragons

Thursday 20 March at 7.00pm in Quoyloo Hall

Characters trying to control a dragonThe theme for 2014’s World Storytelling Day – Monsters and Dragons – is very close to the hearts of Tom Muir and Fran Flett Hollinrake! Come along to the old Quoyloo Hall for the best monster tales and some tea and cake. Suitable for all the family.

Entry to this event is by donation, and there will be a raffle, with all proceeds going to the Orcadian Story Trust.

Programme launch

The Orcadian Story Trust is pleased to unveil the programme for the 2013 Orkney Storytelling Festival!

Now in its fourth consecutive year, our little festival with the big heart is going from strength to strength, and we have a wonderful programme of events, featuring storytellers from near and far.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Orcadian hero and Arctic explorer, John Rae. To celebrate his life, there have been events all over Orkney this year, and our own festival programme highlights the strong links between our islands and northern Canada.

Storyteller Bob Pegg will once again be performing his wonderful one-man show on the life and times of John Rae. Bob first brought the show here in 2010, to great acclaim, and we are delighted that he is returning in this important year.

We are also thrilled to be welcoming Dale Jarvis from Newfoundland in Canada. Dale is a master storyteller, a writer and a folklorist, and he will be sharing tales of his native land, as well as exploring Canada’s shared heritage with Orkney.

Finally, we are also giving a huge warm welcome to an old friend; Shetland storyteller Lawrence Tulloch will be joining us to share stories suitable for old and young, along with our local storytellers.

Every year we try and take our festival

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events to different parts of Orkney, to new, interesting and atmospheric venues. For 2013, we will be holding events across the parishes; there will be storytelling in South Ronaldsay, in Rousay, in Orphir and in Rendall, as well as Stromness and Kirkwall.

We hope that there is something here to catch your eye; whether it be a children’s workshop with home-made instruments, ghost stories at Roeberry House, or traditional folk tales in Betty’s Reading Room… we look forward to seeing you during the 2013 Orkney Storytelling Festival!

Tickets can be pre-ordered using the booking form, and will also be available at Sinclair Office Supplies in Stromness, SAS Business Supplies in Kirkwall, and on the door at events.

Betty’s Reading Room – Another new venue for storytelling in Orkney

One of the hot tickets for the 2013 Festival will surely be for “Tales from Near and Far”, in Betty’s Reading Room at Tingwall. The event will be free, but ticketed – with tickets allocated (first come, first served!) by post from 1 October. Look out for the Programme and Booking Form leaflets, and watch the website to find out how to book.

The event will be Tales from Near and Far, and will feature Dale Jarvis (from Newfoundland), Bob Pegg (from Scotland) and Lawrence Tulloch (from Shetland), as well as some Orkney’s own storytellers. With the main theme of the Festival this year focussing on the 200th birthday of Orcadian arctic explorer, and discover of the last link in the North West Passage, John Rae, this is sure to be a wonderful afternoon of exciting and traditional stories from Canada, Scotland and elsewhere.

Don’t miss what will be a wonderful opporutunity to hear some the best storytellers from around the world, in an intimate setting, and one of the most charming and homely waiting rooms in any transport hub in the world!