Cork storytelling club adapts to pandemic keeping people connected through online sessions

Cork storytelling club adapts to pandemic keeping people connected through online sessions
Maria Gillen is keeping storytellers in Cork connected during Covid-19.

A Cork storytelling club has adapted to the current restrictions surrounding the spread of Covid-19 taking its storytelling sessions online.

Cork Yarnspinners is a local story telling club who are members of Storytellers Ireland.

The club set up a YouTube page in order to continue with its storytelling during the current pandemic. The sessions usually take place in the Crawford & Co in the city centre.

Member of the Cork Yarnspinners, storyteller Maria Gillen, ran an online storytelling session on St Patrick’s Day in a mission to keep the club’s monthly sessions going online.

The session lasted four and a half hours and saw people from other European countries, the UK, America and Canada dialing in to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with stories and singsongs.

Ms Gillen said that members of the club were so inspired by the response that a YouTube page was set up where the recording of goodwill towards the country’s national day was uploaded.

 

Local filmmaker Max Le Cain of Close Watch Films edited the four and a half hour footage into individual performances that were uploaded to the Storytelling Ireland YouTube page and Irish storyteller Liz Weir spread the word.

After the success of St Patrick’s Day, Ms Gillen ran another session in March.

Speaking to The Echo, she said: “We were particularly touched with the contributions from Valentina Zocca, an Italian storyteller. She spoke of the relief that the storytelling community and storytelling itself gave at such a dark time in history. This was when the death toll in Italy was at its highest.

“Again, we had contributions from all over the world and we caught a lot of these performances for the Storytellers of Ireland YouTube channel. It was at this time that Cork Yarnspinners decided to share a story a day from this archive on our Facebook and Twitter and from that we got inquiries about hosting our own monthly sessions online.” 

 

She said that with help from Cork Toastmasters, she got set up on Zoom in preparation for the monthly sessions which have become very popular with no shortage of talent in the Cork storytelling scene.

Storytelling groups from Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Cork city will take part in a dedicated online session on May 1 in celebration of Bealtaine.

Ms Gillen is an Integrative Psychotherapist and a Dramatherapist who believes in story medicine and said that storytelling is something that will never die.

“We are natural storytellers. Even before language, mankind mimed stories around the fire about the days hunting.

“Right now it has come into its own as a great connector between nations, as a fantastic uplifter, as a vehicle for national and county pride and sharing wisdoms, and as a holder of historical coping mechanisms.”

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