The Verbal Arts Centre teamed up with Art Take Part to celebrate ‘the Big Draw’ during the Halloween celebrations this year. Halloween means MONSTERS and we invited…
Frances Quinn, who wrote the book, was approached by the History Press Ireland who are doing a series, by storytellers, of tales from different counties in Ireland. From age-old legends and fantastical myths to amusing anecdotes and cautionary tales, this collection is a heady mix of bloodthirsty, funny, passionate and moving stories.
Frances, although now based in Belfast, hails from Armagh. She is the youngest of a family that has lived in County Armagh for at least six generations. Her parents started a drapery business in the town in the1930’s and her late brother, Pat took over and extended to Belfast as John Patrick in the 1960’s until he retired 1998. Her brother Michael’s memoir “An Armagh Childhood”, has proved very popular since it was first published last year.
Frances Quinn is a professional actress and storyteller, and given this background she was the ideal choice to undertake “Armagh Folk Tales” for History Press Ireland. Her acting work ranges from acting on the London Fringe to touring and working with repertory companies in both Ireland and England, including the English National Theatre. She has also performed on radio, television and film.
As a storyteller she made a CD The Cúchulainn Saga and toured ten states in the USA performing the stories. However, much of her storytelling work has been in educational projects in schools and community projects, including work in hospitals, with people with disability, brain injury, mental health issues and with the elderly.
“I was very keen to take this on,” Frances says, “because so many of my brothers’ and sisters’ children are scattered throughout various parts of England, Europe and America and I realised that their children in turn might never know of their Armagh heritage, unless I did something about it and handed something on.”
“The more research I did, the more respect I gained for two great County Armagh folklorists: Michael J Murphy from Dromantee in South Armagh and TGF Paterson from Aghory outside Portadown, who was for many years curator of Armagh County Museum, and I made liberal use of their work,” she said.
County Armagh, the Orchard County, abounds in folk tales and a selection of the best, drawn from historical sources and newly recorded local reminiscences, have been brought to life in the book. It’s the place where, legend has it, the warrior king Conor Mac Nessa once ruled and where Deirdre of the Sorrows met her lover Naoise, where St Mochua’s Well was said by some to curse as well as cure, and where evidence of St Patrick’s disagreement with a bull can still be seen! And it’s where Mrs Lister was rudely awakened in her grave. It is also said to be the home of a plethora of strange and magical creatures and stories abound of encounters with fairies, ghosts, dragons, witches and even a giant pig!
Frances Quinn’s new book, will take you into a remarkable world where you can let your imagination run wild. This new collection of stories is sure to attract much attention not only in Co Armagh but also throughout Ireland both North and South and among the diaspora abroad.