The Guardian

Spoken word poets and rappers inject new energy into an Irish tradition

Young performers are electrifying audiences in Ireland and beyond
Emmet Kirwan in Dublin. The writer and social activist is much revered by younger performers. Photograph: Fiona Morgan/Culture Ireland

The seanchaithe were Ireland’s traditional storytellers, itinerant poets, entertainers and historians who travelled the island regaling audiences with ancient lore.

They thrived for centuries, repositories of a rich oral tradition, before petering out in the era of radio and television, their spell broken, their services apparently no longer required.

It turns out that wasn’t the end of the story: the seanchaithe are back. A new generation of poets, spoken word performers and rappers has emerged with tales for and about modern Ireland, creating a new oral tradition.

They perform on stage and TV

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