Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border

9780253352521: Hardback
Release Date: 12th November 2008

9780253223746: Paperback
Release Date: 23rd September 2011

21 b&w photos, 3 maps

Dimensions: 155 x 235

Number of Pages: 320

Indiana University Press

Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border

Characters and Community

Hardback / £28.99
Paperback / £22.99

More than quaint local color, folklore is a crucial part of life in Aghyaran, a mixed Catholic-Protestant border community in Northern Ireland. Neighbors socialize during wakes and ceilis—informal nighttime gatherings—without regard to religious, ethnic, or political affiliation. The witty, sometimes raucous stories swapped on these occasions offer a window into Aghyaran residents’ views of self and other in the wake of decades of violent conflict. Through anecdotes about local characters, participants explore the nature of community and identity in ways that transcend Catholic or Protestant sectarian histories. Ray Cashman analyzes local character anecdotes in detail and argues that while politicians may take credit for the peace process in Northern Ireland, no political progress would be possible without ordinary people using shared resources of storytelling and socializing to imagine and maintain community.

Preface: The Road to Ballymongan
1. Goals and Orientations
2. Aghyaran: A Sense of Place and History
3. Ceilis as Storytelling Contexts
4. Wakes as Storytelling Contexts
5. Local Character Anecdotes
6. The Wider Range of Storytelling Genres
7. Anecdotes and the Literary Character
8. Anecdotes and the Local Character
9. Anecdote Cycles and Personality Traits
10. Patterns and Implications
11. Storytelling, Commemoration, and Identity

Ray Cashman is Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Center for Folklore Studies at Ohio State University.

Winner, Chicago Folklore PrizeWinner, Donald Murphy Award for Distinguished First Book, American Conference for Irish Studies

It is rare to read a book so clearly and intelligently expressed. . . . [A]n important contribution to both the study of Irish folk culture, and to the study of artistic speech.

Jack Santino
Bowling Green State University

Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border has broad, multi-disciplinary appeal and is a worthy contribution to any folkloristic, anthropological, or celtic Studies library. Although the book assumes a significant level of folkloristic knowledge, it is accessible and does not exclude a non-academic audience.

Journal of American Folklore

[P]rovides a powerful demonstration of the social role and function of folklore . . . [and] deserves a much wider readership among those involved in the study of conflict resolution or of Irish history more generally.December 2010


An intriguing read for those interested in folklore, ethnography, and the role of stories in shaping a community. . . . Recommended.July 2009


[S]tudents will find it immensely useful in providing them with concepts and terminology which will broaden their vision and sharpen their research and analytical skills. A beautifully written, shapely book, it is a pleasure to read. And it is packed with brilliant new ideas and observations about storytelling, people, community, and life.

Béaloideas: The Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society

Intelligent, eminently readable, highly personal without being self-indulgent . . . a model for responsible, highly skilled, humanistic field research.Autumn 2009

New Hibernia Review

[A] compelling book.November 2013