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Eddie Lenihan

When Eddie Lenihan appeared in Irish national television's 12-part series 'Storyteller' in 1986, most of those seeing and hearing him were doing so for the first time. However, two further series titled 'Ten Minute Tales' in 1987 and 1988 changed all that for good.

But what viewers did not know was that he had already by then 6 books behind him, as well as 5 audio tapes, besides years of folklore-gathering, particularly in his native Co. Kerry, but also in many other parts of Ireland. It is this love of mixing with, listening to older generations (which he still keeps to this very day) that underpins everything he does, and after 42 years of collecting, he now possesses probably the largest tape-library in private hands in Ireland - a unique resource of irreplaceable material that would otherwise have been lost.

In gratitude to the excellent storytellers who have shared their proud and ancient Irish tradition with him down the years - and who were so insistent that it should not die - Eddie has done his best, through personal appearances, as well as books, tapes, CDs and video, to spread the wonderful message of Irish lore - no difficult task, since its own very depth and scope make it a world unparalleled.

By a happy accident, in 1981 he began to tell bed-time stories to his own children, and the hero he chose was Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn Mc Cool). Down the centuries the adventures of this mighty warrior and the Fianna, his heroic band of companions, has given pleasure to Irish people.

Eddie began to develop a whole new sequence of tales - presently over 400 and the list is still growing. Seven books of these have already been published and there is no end to the list in sight. And let no one be fooled by the words 'for children' on each. Adults will find them equally thought-provoking, amusing, grotesque and more.

Another interest central to Eddie's research is the fairies, the Good People. This had very practical results in 1999 when, through his single-handed efforts, a sceach (fairy bush) was saved from road-builders at Latoon, Co. Clare. The case made world-wide news, featuring in the New York Times, on CNN as well as on several European national TV networks and received much public support. The authorities finally agreed to re-route the new highway, and the bush is still standing.

Haunted places, fairy paths, holy wells: Eddie's researches into them all is ongoing. In fact, whatever involves walking the landscape, talking to old people, hopefully glimpsing the Otherworld, interests him. This is reflected in his books ´Meeting the Other Crowd´, an anthology of testimonies from believers in the fairy faith, and ´In the Tracks of the West Clare Railway´, which is a walk down the track-bed of the most famous of all of the Irish narrow-gauge lines, which closed in 1961.

Irish fairy stories, naturally, form a prominent part of his huge repertoire, but there are historical tales, too, stories of notable persons (women especially, including the banshee), devil stories, accounts of saints (St. Patrick prominent among them, naturally), of monsters, ogres, giants, ghosts and much, much more.

He lives in Crusheen, Co. Clare, but his travels have taken him as far afield as such places as the USA (over 40 states, including a performance at the Smithsonian Institute and award for contribution to the Arts by the City of Philadelphia), UK, Germany, Belgium, Finland, France, among other places. He is always delighted to bring the fruits of his years' researches and collecting to whoever he may share it with.

In Ireland, too, he is a frequent visitor to schools, libraries, prisons, literary festivals - in fact anywhere people are prepared to sit a while, listen and reflect - as their forbearers did when these stories were first told.

As well as a seanchaí he is the author of 17 books and 12 recordings. His book, "Meeting the Other Crowd" was recently reprinted for the 11th time and has also been published in Italian and Japanese. "Irish Tales of Mystery and Magic" is now available in Chinese - in both hardback and paperback.

He broadcasts regularly on tv and radio in places as far apart as Dubai, UK, Canada and China (where his 6-part series on Irish animal-lore was shown).

He is currently working on a novel on the Civil War (1922-23) in Co. Kerry based on some of the oral material he collected there in the 1970's, and another of his long series of Fionn MacCumhail books for children is currently being prepared for publication.

He was short-listed as one of the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award finalists by the Swedish Arts Council, and has been short-listed again in 2013.