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The Story of Mananan Comes Home to the Isle of Man 8 October 2009

The Isle of Man Arts Council is pleased to present two of the UK’s most accomplished storytellers, Nick Hennessey and Simon Heywood , at the Peel Centenary Centre on Saturday 10th October at 8pm. They will bring an inspiring new piece of storytelling and music for adults with special relevance for audiences on the Isle of Man, on what will be the final night of a national tour.

The Middle Yard is an evening of music and storytelling based on an ancient story about one of Ireland’s greatest heroes, Lugh Lamfhota. Music on harp and guitar and original songs in a folk music style blend with a story of family loyalty, ambition, war and a magical quest! The story has been passed down through oral traditions since the earliest times. It was written down in the 11th Century and has been re-imagined by these two storytellers who are steeped in Irish mythology and its evocative stories.

The tale has particular relevance for the Isle of Man, as Nick Hennessey, one of the storyteller/creators explained: “In mythology, the name Man originated from Manannan, the sea god. Manannan is the foster father to Lugh, the central character of our story. His impact is felt throughout the story and he could even be said to be the motivating force behind all of the action. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to tell the story on the Isle of Man, to really connect with the landscape of the story as it brings all those resonances to life for us and for the audience too.” The story follows Lugh as he returns to Ireland with the heavy weight of prophecy on his shoulders. He is said to be the only man who can save his people from a tyrant king, although as the story evolves he gets perilously close to becoming a tyrant himself. Three brothers are also at the heart of the action, sent on a magical sea quest to the four corners of this world and the edges of the next, to atone for a murder and satisfy Lugh’s demands. Although the story originated in the past, there are always aspects which can appeal to a modern audience, as Simon Heywood explained: “Even if stories are set in mythical landscapes the characters within them behave in ways we see around us every day, so there’s always someone we identify with or recognise. Sometimes the story surprises us as we tell it. Our style evokes the way storytellers could have told it in the past, but we also react to the reactions of each audience which is why it’s really exciting to be telling it on the Isle of Man, where the place itself is so central to the story.” The storytellers researched written versions of the story and travelled to Ireland to visit the sites of the stories before crafting their own version. They have also co-written songs which accompany the action.

Simon Heywood is leading a songwriting workshop on Sunday 11th October from 10am to 12.30pm which is open to anyone who is interested in writing songs and would like to know more.

Tickets for The Middle Yard on 10th October priced £8 can be purchased from Celtic Gold in Peel, Shakti Man in Ramsey, Peter Norris Music in Douglas and World Choice in Port Erin. Concessions are available.

The songwriting workshop with Simon Heywood on Sunday 11th October is £5 per person. To book a place please contact the Arts Council on Tel: 694598 or Email: iomartscouncil@dtl.gov.im. Further details can be found at our website www.iomarts.com. -END-

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