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Mystical stories in and about Ireland
About the stories in the stories

Sleeping small town

Asleep you lie
Small town,
as in grey times.
Your heroes
have never died,
they were born
a long time ago.

The courage of your ancestors
lies in their immutability.
Even the movements stand
frozen in the streets.

The shock wave of time
has rolled over you.
The third millennium
takes place elsewhere.

Only the time traveller
sees the deep sleep recede,
the swaying of the dream raft
in the storm of thunderstorm of times.

 

 

 

My time in Ireland
From 1993, the narrator lived in Kiltimagh, a small town in the west of Ireland, for about 10 years. This is also the period in which the stories in the book series are told. The book series consists of 2 volumes, which are available in German and English. It is not about the narrator's life in Ireland, even though some episodes are set in real places. As a rule, the stories have a fictional content, even if the reason for writing them has a real background. This period can be seen as a bridge between ancient and modern Ireland. Modern Ireland is not necessarily worse, in many ways even better than the old one. But above all it is different. The narrator got to know Ireland during this transitional period. He had heard a lot about the old Ireland. This old Ireland, characterised by poverty, is more likely to be reflected in Heinrich Böll's 'Irish Diary' from 1957 - from a German perspective - or from an Irish perspective in 'Angela's Ashes' by the Irish-American author Frank McCourt from 1996. At the time of the stories, the country was already a member of the EU and on its way to becoming the economic miracle country of the 1990s. The term 'Celtic Tiger' was coined and the idea of unlimited growth developed in people's minds. The first setback came with the crash of the Telekom share price in 2001, when many people sold their houses, land and property, which they had been selling like sour beer for years at dumping prices. A previously unknown construction boom caused the value of their property to explode and flushed money into the coffers of the formerly poor. Many sensed enormous potential returns in the purchase of telecoms shares. They sold their land for less than it was worth in order to cash in on their good fortune. Many fell back into the poverty from which they had come. Only they no longer even owned land. Families and friendships broke up. Unfortunately, the narrator also had to experience this. So he is far from romanticising this country. With the global economic and financial crisis in 2008, the experience of finiteness finally returned. He was no longer living in Ireland at the time, but of course he visits his old hometown of Kiltimagh from time to time. The dream of prosperity is over for many.
The narrator mixes reality and fiction in his stories. He is interested in the traditional storytelling of old times in this remarkable country. The stories he has written down were written during his time in Ireland, among other places. Originally, he had no intention of publishing them.  It was the sheer joy of storytelling that inspired him to write them down. The idea came about at a storytelling festival in his town, which at the time took place once a year. The time of storytellers was actually over, television had long since taken over the function of entertainment and smartphones had yet to be invented. But once a year, this tradition was revived. The storytellers travelled from place to place to present their art and demonstrate their skills. The storyteller regretted a little that he had not really experienced the storytelling tradition. But he had heard a lot from Irish friends who had grown up with this tradition. Especially on long winter evenings, people would meet in the pubs to listen to the storytellers, who could be found in almost every village. It was not unusual for the stories to go on for several evenings. Many could hardly wait for the next evening to listen to the continuation of a story from the previous evening by the crackling peat fire. The storytellers were the mediums of the past. The stories often began with "In my grandfather's day...". It was not uncommon for the stories to reach far back into the past and deal with events that had supposedly taken place generations ago. True and mysterious alternated. The 'true' stories almost always had a secret. Hardly anywhere was belief in the supernatural as alive as in Ireland. In conversations with friends, he often heard about ghostly apparitions, which were told with such seriousness that one could hardly doubt the truth of the experiences. Even though the storyteller often suspected that he was being taken for a ride when he heard less serious stories, he now believes that people in Ireland are not joking about such things. Perhaps this can be gauged from the fact that the inclusion of elfin areas was part of Irish road and building planning. People behaved in such a way as not to antagonise the elves. They were taken into consideration in Ireland, and even if you wanted to build in Ireland as a non-Irish person, it was advisable to do so. Belief in the supernatural was deeply rooted in Ireland. So it was only natural that it would be reflected in the stories of the Irish. So when you tell stories in or about Ireland, they should contain a more or less large portion of mysticism alongside the everyday.  It is best to be infected by the magic of the stories told in Ireland. Not everything in life can be grasped with logic, just as events cannot always be clearly explained in retrospect with so-called "common sense". An Irish story is best when it has both the natural and the mystical. It is then up to the reader to decide which interpretation to allow. For the storyteller personally, mystical interpretations of stories are more captivating and create more "tingles" than the banal reality of which one has enough in everyday life.
In his Irish days, there were still two pubs in the small town where this tradition of storytelling was cultivated - at least for a while. The stories of the storyteller himself sometimes took place in these pubs. He particularly remembers Joyce's Bar, where flickering peat fires were a constant source of storytelling. The unforgettable old country lady Anne Joe has a firm place in the narrator's memory; she is the protagonist in the stories several times. When she died, he was still able to say goodbye to her. She died with her typical smile and the words: 
"I'm going home now." 
About three years ago, someone remembered Joyce's Bar something like this:
"JOYCE'S was our "fairy fortress", there was always magic in the air, from dusk till dawn, soul food ... long stories and fairy tales, my vision of heaven...".
There is no better way to put it.

The stories in first volume begin with a poem about Kiltimagh. This is where he learnt to tell stories. I hope to convey to the gentle reader the atmosphere of sitting round a crackling peat fire with friends and someone telling one of those stories that Ireland has produced in such great numbers. 
The first story in this volume is set around a crackling peat fire in one of my two favourite pubs, Lil's Bar. Where else? As the only guest at that time of day, the narrator is allowed to write a story at the regulars' table. The title story is born. It is about a strange encounter with an old man who expresses an equally strange wish. The attentive reader will not fail to notice that the narrator meets himself.
By the time he has finished the story, the pub has filled up with guests and the regulars invite him to stay at the pub to tell the story he has written down. Afterwards, the men at the regulars' table discuss the story and quickly guess its meaning. As they liked the story, they ask the storyteller if he can tell more stories. He tells the second story about a strange firebird that carries the entire consciousness of the world within it at the beginning of time.
The idea for the next story was born in Joyce's Bar, on one of the days of a storytelling festival, the storyteller's first in this country. The story of Saóirse and Méabh also begins on a weekend during a storytelling competition. It tells the story of the nomad girl Saóirse, who has just turned sixteen. On the first day of the festival, she is allowed to gain unaccompanied experience in the small town of Kiltimagh for the first time. It is a time full of stories and Saóirse learns about love. Watching over all of this is the wise old Méabh, who advises the girl to listen only to her heart. This is not so easy and as a result, she ends up making a difficult and painful decision
The narrator speaks from the perspective of Saóirse, who is dressed by Méabh in such a way that she is not recognised as a nomad girl.
In Ireland, the nomads are called Tinkers or Travellers, the travelling people. The nomads themselves prefer the term Traveller and call themselves Pavee. The Pavee are ethnically Irish themselves and have historically been excluded from the majority population through socio-economic processes. In the days before modern media, they played an important role in the dissemination of news, stories and music. Irish folk can also largely be traced back to them. Without them, Irish culture would not be what it is today. 
The Pavee lived in large family groups, mostly in wagon castles. There was deep prejudice in Irish society against this part of their people. The little episode in a shop from Saóirse's point of view at the beginning of the story was also experienced by the author, except that he was on the other side, in this shop. 
Old Méabh is the big mum in her family and was also highly respected by the other Pavee families.  She was an absolute role model, and not just for Saóirse. She is known as the 'old Méabh', whereby 'old' refers less to her years and more to her wisdom. Her authority is not based on strictness, but on her kind wisdom.
In the fourth story, an overtired driver is travelling west towards Galway along the sometimes narrow roads. As he is about to fall asleep, he leaves the road to rest. In the darkness, someone knocks on the rear window and asks for a lift in accent-free German. During the journey, he recognises a former best friend from his youth in the person who got on the train, and a journey back in time to a repressed past begins.
Finally, the fifth and last story is about a storyteller who has forgotten how to tell stories.
He spends a night in the former Joyce's and suddenly finds himself forced into the role of an executioner. As if by magic, he regains his ability to tell stories. Let's wait and see how much mysticism and magic there really is.

In the second volume of the series, the author once again allows fictional narrators to have their say. The only thing that is real is the way the stories are told, how they were experienced and, to some extent, the background to the stories told. The author leaves it up to the attentive reader to judge which stories could have a real background. But beware, it is easy to be deceived.
In the first story, the narrator finds himself on death row. He is supposed to be a parricide.
In the title story, the narrator ventures up the legendary One Man's Pass on the cliffs of Slieve League one day despite his fear of heights.  At a particularly narrow point, of all places, where no two people can pass each other, he has a dangerous encounter with a stranger who is moving safely up here.
Nobody wants to back off, but does he have a choice? Then the stranger makes a surprising suggestion.
In the third story, the narrator takes an old hitchhiker to Moate in Kinnegad late at night in stormy weather and is drawn into a maelstrom of eerie stories dating back to the sixteenth century. Has he fallen into the night of the eternal judgement of blood, a curse from the past? On this night, the devil takes a traveller every 70 years at the hands of an old woman who joins him on the road.
The author then gives the floor to a storyteller from Donegal. He tells four stories:
How do you become a dream designer? The first story provides the answer. Here the author borrows a little from Novalis.
In the second story, he tells of a man who must have realised for a moment the vanity of his vanity.
The third story is about a ruler whose greed for power and vanity become his downfall.
The last story is about addiction, deceit and self-deception.
In the last story, the author really lets it rip. It is guaranteed to have no deeper meaning. As Albert Einstein so aptly put it:
Even the meaningless still has a loose meaning.

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