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Once upon a time . . . storytellers hit island for folklore festival

IF the story is good enough and you listen hard you will hear even the stones speak.

The Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival opened with two of the world's most famous bards hailing Irish folklore as amongst the richest on the planet.

The festival, now in its 19th year, has earned a worldwide reputation for the island 13km off the west Cork coast with American Tim Tingle and Italian Paola Balbi admitting they were honoured to be invited.

"The idea is to tell the story in such a way and in such a place as the stones will speak," Paola said.

The Italian storyteller, who lives in Rome, said there was now a growing interest amongst people in stories that linkedthem to their place, their culture, their people and their history.

Her stories intermingle traditional Italian legends with Roman religious lore and love stories.

Tim Tingle is one of 270,000 surviving Choctaw American Indians and he said he was thrilled to be invited to the west Cork event.

"It is my first time in Ireland and I am delighted to be here. It is very exciting because I know what a powerful storytelling tradition there is here in Ireland," he said.

The Choctaw tradition of ghost stories is as rich as Ireland's love of spine-chilling tales.

"In Choctaw tradition we have the 'Shilomvish' or 'walking people'. They are people who have left this life but whose spirits have not really gone," Tim explained.

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Over 10,000 people are set to flock to the west Cork Ireland for the two-day programme of stories, folk walks and outdoor concerts.

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