Stolen Bairn and the Sìdh

A powerful fairytale from Scotland.
A mother searching for water for her child returns to find him gone. Yet her determination, her courage and endurance re-unite them.

It was a great pleasure to tell the tale with Peter Wucherpfennig playing the Celtic harp.

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I first read this tale years ago in Thistle and Thyme by Sorche Nic Leodhas. But my thanks must go to my good Storytell friend Bob Kanegis who reminded me of it in a recent thread on the listserv.
Bob wrote:
This is one of the most powerful stories that we know, and occasionally tell. It was an anchoring story in the projects that we did, “Heroine’s Journey” with pregnant and parenting teens. One detail of this story has always seemed of particular import to me… The woman has to create an object of wonder, something so unique that the people of the Sìdh (who have no art of their own) will be willing to trade the child for. In order to do this, first she recalls the old stories and then literally uses part of her own body to create two objects: a harp and a cape.

The recording was made in Dec. 2018 at halbNeun Theater, Darmstadt.
I was not surprised when one lady told me afterwards that she felt she had been transported while listening to the tale. I explained that this does sometimes happen: that the listener, indeed even the teller, enters a light trance. The scientific background to this is detailed in Fran Stalling’s paper The Web Of Silence: Storytelling’s Power to Hypnotize.

More deep tales

The video gallery has become very extensive. So if you would enjoy more tales like this which explore the depths of the human psyche, here are a few suggestions.



The video clips here are all amateur quality, shot in various theatres.

Their intention is just to show the range of my storytelling and give a flavour of a live performance.

Permission is granted for use in non-commercial educational contexts.

The videos are © Richard Martin.

Professionally recorded CDs and DVDs are available here.

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Permission to tell outlines my views on copyright

For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling