The Gaeilge word for storyteller is seanchaí. The pronunciation of this word varies across the island of Ireland.* These samples are in two of the three major dialects (click on a map to listen):
The earliest stories were told by shamans, whose elocution had the power to inspire hunters to feats of bravery and skill that would enable them to explore new territory, and bring down beasts in sufficient quantity to nourish themselves and supplement the gleanings of their gatherers, back home. Later, the domestication of animals and plants de-emphasized the value of hunting grounds, and changed the significance of soil from simple occupation to legal ownership, because land now possessed the potential to produce food reasonably reliably.
That meant there were more abundant harvests for the picking, especially because fertile territory was likely to be occupied by fertile females. The opportunities for food, frolic and fecundity had increased exponentially. In…
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