The Dial a Seanchaí service will be available to access from Tuesday 31st October to Thursday 30th November, 2023

Curated and Produced by John Lillis

Commissioned by the Clare Arts Office and supported by Creative Ireland as part of their Creative Communities programme, the Dial A Seanchaí project returns this Autumn with 6 new stories, songs and myths to enchant and enthral.  Dial A Seanchaí is a unique audio experience celebrating Irish folklore, storytelling, and song, which can be accessed over the phone. The project is curated and produced by Clare artist John Lillis.

Dial A Seanchaí is a phone service that will allow members of the public to listen to curated Irish folklore stories and songs from six contemporary voices. The answering machine service will operate between the 31st of October and the 30th of November, and callers will be invited to choose from the list of short recordings by well-known Irish artists and performers.  Each artist was invited to draw from the well of Irish mythology and folklore and present a piece that resonated with them personally in our current age.  There will be cures and curses, epic battles and fairy hurling matches, dances with the dead, and a cow with an unlimited supply of milk.  Each story and song has been interpreted and crafted by the selected artists to capture the imagination and reawaken our relationship to myth.

The Seanchaí is the custodian of an oral tradition, preserving the past for future generations. Dial a Seanchaí 2021 is a contemporary re-imagining of the 1988 project introduced by the Clare Arts Officer at that time, Kay Sheehy.  The original project was developed to share the storytelling tradition of the seanchaí, and featured recordings made by three renowned seanchaithe in Co. Clare: Junior Crehan of Mullagh; Francie Kennelly of Miltown Malbay, and Eddie Lenihan of Crusheen.  The project was reintroduced in 2021 by John Lillis, who expanded and re-developed the original format for a contemporary audience.

Dial a Seanchaí 2023 will feature new recordings from six acclaimed Irish artists who were invited to reinterpret existing Irish folklore tales for a contemporary audience. Featured artists are :

Manchán Magan, Ruth Marshall, Junior Brother, Edwina Guckian, Branwen Kavanagh and Rónán Ó Snodaigh.

The Dial a Seanchaí service is available to access from Tuesday 31st of October until Thursday the 30th of November.

  • To access the Dial A Seanchaí phoneline from Ireland, please dial (065) 672 3466
  • To access the Dial A Seanchaí phoneline from the UK, please dial 020 8079 1720
  • To access the Dial A Seanchaí phoneline from the US, please dial (833) 611-2230 (Toll Free)

To hear Manchán Magan tell the story of An Glas Gaibhneach, please press 1.

To hear Ruth Marshall tell stories of Inchiquin Lake, please press 2.

To hear Junior Brother recite the story ‘Refereeing A Fairy Hurling Match’, please press 3.

To hear Branwen Kavanagh sing ‘Ancient Cures For Modern Ailments’, please press 4.

To hear Edwina Guckian tell the tale of ‘An Oíche Dheireanach’, please press 5.

And to hear Rónán Ó Snodaigh sing his rendition of ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’, please press 6.

Artist Statement: John Lillis

 Every culture has stories. Stories allow us to pass teachings and wisdom onto new generations, and connect us to those that came before us.  Stories stir the unconscious, sparking questions and sculpting answers inside all of us.  They can re-awaken our relationship to landscape and language, and allow the words of our ancestors to live anew.

In collecting these stories and songs for Dial A Seanchaí, it is hard to not draw inspiration from the great Irish folklorist Séamus Ó Duilearga.  Over a 100 years ago, Séamus saw the cultural and societal importance of collecting and preserving the great tales told by Irish people, and began his travels around the island recording the oral tradition.

So, in tribute to Séamus, and to feed our own sense of adventure, we set off around the country with a car full of cameras and microphones to capture the stories and songs of our chosen seanchaithe.   It’s a great privilege to sit and chat with these people in their own surroundings, and to witness the power of the word passed from one person to another.  The phone-line acts as a crackly reminder of the wealth of wisdom contained in our ancient stories and a salute to those who today still continue to share magic through the voice.

Dial A Seanchaí is a commission by Clare Arts Office, with funding from Creative Ireland as part of their Creative Communities programme.

Curation and Recording : John Lillis

Photography and video : Anthony O’Connor

Technician: Keith Phelan

Design : Ian Malone

For more information on this project, please contact