The 2013 Lough Gur Storytelling Festival was a booming success this year. The Festival kicked off with the Primary School’s Storytelling Competition on Friday 25th of October at the Honeyfitz Theatre. 15 students from 6 schools reached the finals and presented their story on stage to a live audience, a terrifying prospect for many people; however, the budding storytellers were animated and engaging and received a warm and encouraging round of applause before and after each 5 minute presentation.

Euan McCarthy and Aoibhe Rodahan from Cloverfield National School were selected by Judge Willie Carr as the overall prize winners of the Junior Category with their rendition of ‘The Fox and the Eagle’ while Stephen O’Dwyer from Croom National School was selected as the winner of the Senior Category for his exceptional storytelling of ‘The Man with No Luck’. The runner up prize in the Junior Category went to Sophie Mullins from Herbertstown National School for her story ‘The Shadow’, while Euan Laffan was runner up in the Senior Category for his presentation of ‘The Aliens Have Landed’.

Each winner received an impressive trophy while their respective schools were also presented with a trophy to mark the event. All 15 students received a certificate of merit for reaching the final stage in this competition. The ethos behind the Primary Schools Storytelling Competition is to encourage and promote the art of storytelling. The winners were chosen primarily for their ability to captivate an audience with the way in which they tell their story, the content was secondary. Willie Carr later said “ it was the most difficult to judge this year due to the high standard of entries received” This goes to prove that the art of storytelling is well and truly alive in Lough Gur.

Saturday 26th welcomed Miriam Lambert of the famous Lambert Puppet Theatre family. Trained by her father and mentor the late Eugene Lambert, Miriam was heavily booked for both afternoon shows at the Honeyfitz Theatre in Lough Gur. Performing ‘The Gingerbread Man’ children as young as one were enchanted by the theatrical style performance that welcomed a strange bird like puppet and her chicks along with a funny pink pig and last but not least the lucky red fox who was the cleverest of all and scoffed the Gingerbread Man at the end. Miriam performed this show as a solo act and the effort and input into each set appeared very much like effortless gymnastics. Between setting up background music, appearing on stage as the friendly cook, introducing us to the various characters in her show it was non-stop acrobatics until the end. The magic was kept under wraps and children in the audience were drawn in by Miriam’s life-long skill as a master puppeteer.

The Honeyfitz Theatre was quickly transformed to host John Spillane, the legendary Cork Singer Songwriter who succeeded in drawing the audience along on his journey through the various stories that he told through the medium of music. John recently filmed a series for TG4 where he travels as a Bard collecting stories from the people of Ireland. He was well received by the organisers and the audience at the Lough Gur Storytelling Festival.

Although Sunday 27th was a washout as far as the weather went, it encouraged many people to attend the reading by children’s author Debbie Thomas who read for children of all ages at the Lough Gur Heritage Centre on two separate occasions. The readings were interactive and encouraged all children to recount their own views on reading, writing and storytelling in general. Debbie has written Jungle Tangle, Dead Hairy and will release Monkey Business in February 2014. The audience snapped up all of her books that were kindly signed with a personal note by the author on the day. The event also allowed visitors to view the new exhibition at Lough Gur that details over 6,000 years of history, folklore and legend in the immediate area.

The focus for the festival once again returned to the Honeyfitz Theatre later that evening when the Lough Gur Amateur Dramatic Society performed Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch and again along with a second performance on Monday 28th. To warm up the audience UCC Dramatic Society performed ‘Entropy’, a 30 minute one-act play about an accidental bank heist. The comedy was performed on stage by Claire Moroney, Fiona Lynch, Sarah O’ Shea, Megan Roberts and Eilis O’ Sullivan – all natives of Limerick. After the well received play ended the large cast of ‘Mrs Wiggs’ took to the stage to meet instant laughter. Dressed comically, the local stars took the popular tale from 1902 to a modern audience. The transition was seamless. The story of a lady who finds it hard to meet her payments rings all too true in today’s society. The comical spin made it a light hearted performance that was well received on both evenings. The last evening, on Monday 28th, at the Honeyfitz Theatre brought the 2013 Storytelling Festival to a close and was celebrated yet again as another great festival success for Lough Gur Development. Ballyhoura Development are to be commended for supporting the event along with local volunteers, committee members and staff who ensured that the events ran without incident.