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Irish storyteller Niall de Búrca to headline 'Storytelling Live!'

Contributed • Aug 5, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Raised in Galway, Ireland, storyteller Niall de Búrca grew up steeped in the stories that would later become his trade.

A hotbed of local lore and ancient myth, Ireland is known for its rich trove of tales. But de Búrca has been equally inspired by everyday life.

“The way I tell stories — it’s just like my mother describing a trip to the shop,” he has said. “There was always a lot of energy about the house.”

He’s poured all that energy into his extensive repertoire, which honors the history of his homeland as well as its household pleasures. As a self-appointed tradition bearer, he considers storytelling both a job and a pastime, saying “if you find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life because you’ll be so happy doing it.”

He also recognizes the power of story to build community and interpersonal connections.

“Folks are trying to get by and do the best they can,” de Búrca says. “I think storytelling is an integral part of that. It brings a smile to people’s lips and makes them feel good in their heart. It gives them strength to push on.”

Having appeared in Jonesborough before, de Búrca also recognizes storytelling as a form of diplomacy. In that regard, he’s not just an entertainer, but also an ambassador with a one-man cultural exchange program.

“Every crowd has a bit of magic to it,” he has said. “Every crowd has something special. America is a huge place in the Irish imagination, so it’s a real privilege to go where Irish people settled down through the centuries and reconnect through my stories. Then I take stories home from America to share with the Irish.”

As Jonesborough’s storyteller in residence, de Búrca will share a diverse mix of tales, including a selection of Irish folk tales and myths. Daily matinees begin at 2 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, Aug. 6-10.

The teller’s five-day residency will be hosted by the International Storytelling Center. De Búrca is one of more than two dozen performers who will appear this year as part of the Storytelling Live! seasonal series, which runs through the end of October.

“Storytelling Live!” tickets can be purchased in advance (which is recommended), but walk-in seating remains available while supplies last. Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students and anyone under 18. Discounted season passes are still available for a very limited time.

Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10% discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10% off prepared meals and 5% off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of “Storytelling Live!” is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times News, Herald & Tribune and Cumulus Media.

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