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A St. Patrick's Day Tale: Storyteller Eddie Lenihan

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Irish storyteller and folklorist Eddie Lenihan

Irish storyteller and folklorist Eddie Lenihan is on a mission to preserve traditional Irish tales. Martin Mayo hide caption

toggle caption Martin Mayo

Irish storyteller and folklorist Eddie Lenihan has spent 30 years collecting and telling fairy tales and traditional stories. He now has the largest private collection of folklore in Ireland.

Long ago, Ireland's storytellers traveled the countryside plying their trade in pubs. Today, Lenihan travels the world — visiting schools, libraries, prisons. He's on a mission to tell his stories, and in the process, help preserve Irish culture in the modern world.

Just in the past 15 years, Ireland's celebrated storytelling tradition has lost much ground. With the country's current prosperity, many people are embracing modern ideas and shunning anything associated with the devout, bleak past.

"If you were to suggest to most people today, that the fairies exist, you'd nearly be laughed at," Lenihan says. "I'll guarantee you that a few years, and I'll be alive to see it and you'll be alive to see it, and you won't be old, and I won't be old, that if you say you believe in God, you'll be laughed at. In this country at least it's almost come to that."

He shares a story of St. Patrick, hospitality — and what happens when the two don't meet .

An Irish Tale

Hear Eddie Lenihan tell the story of two men, a butterfly and a fantastical journey.



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