Creggan-born writer and yarn-spinner Pat Mulkeen has been shortlisted for a storytelling award during the forthcoming Listowel Writers’ Week in Co. Kerry.
The annual festival is one of the most prestigious in Ireland’s literary calendar. This Sunday, June 3, Pat will compete alongside three others before a live audience of up to 200 people for the final of the Adult Storytelling Competition, a contest dedicated to the memory of famed storyteller Eamon Kelly.
Pat, who was also shortlisted last year, explains: “There are four of us shortlisted and only one will win on the night. We each tell a ten-minute story, which is quite tight in terms of time, so you have to do it well. But I do love storytelling.
“I believe it’s part of a human condition, how life is just full of stories waiting to be told. It’s quite a thrill to get selected.”
Pat has chosen to retell a piece from one of her plays at the final. “It’s a monologue called ‘The Big Night’ which just seems to have taken on a life of its own and people always tend to ask for it. I suppose it’s a story of unrequited love - a tragic tale of a woman who should have married the love of her life and lived to regret it.”
It was only in the past six years that Pat discovered a deep love for storytelling and set out to share this passion.
“Storytelling is very much a hobby or a passion of mine. I think everyone has the potential to be a storyteller, be it about life as a mother, as a wife or as a teacher, we all have stories and all have the ability to tell them,” she says.
Indeed, the Derry writer is also involved in Foyle Yarnspinners, a storytelling circle which meets regularly at the Verbal Arts Centre, and is often hired especially for her enchanting yarns. “At Hallowe’en, I was working for Derry City Council telling stories at the Tower Museum and the Workhouse Museum, I love telling people stories and seeing their reactions.”
With a background in teaching, Pat is ideally placed to promote the art of creative storytelling. “Most of my life I’ve been involved in theatre. I taught in St Cecilia’s College for twenty years as an English teacher, but in those days nobody was qualified in theatre. As an English teacher, I taught all the classics but from the very beginning I felt they had to be done as plays and acted on their feet. Although it wasn’t part of my training, I just knew that was the way to do it,” she remembers.
Following her years at St. Cecilia’s, Pat then embarked on community training in drama at University of Ulster, and she has never looked back. “I’ve now been involved in community drama for twenty years and I’ve always loved it,” she says.
Pat’s latest group, The Movers and Shakers, began well over a year ago and their recent production, ‘Two Cream Cookies and a Wee German,’ received a great response when it ran at the Waterside Theatre.
Sunday’s Storytelling Final will be adjudicated by storytellers Diarmuid O’Drisceoil and Johnnie Wall, who will also stage a performance.
For more information, see: www.writersweek.ie