Folklorist Michael Fortune introduces a personal project concocted under his own roof...

I've been working as an artist and folklorist all over Ireland for the past 20 years recording stories and accounts from Wexford to Donegal and from Clare to God-knows-where. However, in-between all of this, between 2010 and 2014 my wife Aileen Lambert and myself had three children; Nellie, Eppie and Nan.

And so the roles shifted, where instead of me recording the voices and stories of others, I placed myself in the position of storyteller and began to tell yarns, lies and fantastical tales to our three girls while putting them to bed.

My own mother, also Nan, was a classic 'old school’ storyteller who fed us ghost stories growing up - so the foundation was there. And so the wheel of life took its own natural turn, and between 2015 and 2018 I managed to tell over 100 stories to the girls as I put them to sleep at night. There is nothing new here as this is something parents have been doing since time began. However, I did something different - I took out my phone and using the voice-recorder function I recorded all of them.

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These are bedtime stories but with a very local Irish and strong Wexford flavour. Some of the stories are based on events that happened myself growing up such as 'When Daddy Broke His Arm', 'Daddy Picking Blackberries' and 'Granny and the Apple Tree' while more are pieced together from older folkloric accounts I heard from my own mother and other people over the years in cases such as 'The Black Pig of Curragraigue', 'Daddy and the Talking Rabbit', 'The Monkey and the Servants' and 'The Pusheen Bán'.

Others, however, are simply made up on the spot in a bid to entertain and put the girls to sleep at night...

A drawing Nellie created for the story 'Dickie and the Mushrooms'.

Each story ranges from 5-15 minutes, and in the recordings we are not only brought into the world of the story but also the world of the darkened bedroom where the little girls' voices ask questions - or in some cases get cranky with each other - as I try to settle them down for their slumber. Most of the stories were told as I lay in the bed beside the girls, and although not radio perfect pieces, they are records of the girls' interactions with me as they try to understand, remember and connect with the stories and places.

They are rough diamonds but shining through is the raw storytelling, attentive listening and pucks of wild imagination and exaggeration. It is all about the content and context and the recordings feature the sounds of the phone hitting off the duvets or their dogs nails tapping on the laminate floor or moments of late night cranky-ness or the age-old sounds of two sisters rubbing each other the wrong way.

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I have a very level relationship with the girls, so I didn't hold back on content or wrap them in cotton wool and many of these yarns were told to entertain, frighten, excite and think. These are not polished performance pieces and are overflowing with colourful language, speech, lies and morals. Borrowing from my own mother's stories, I deliberately set out to create a place for these stories to exist.

Most are based around the fields where I grew up and also the fields around where the girls now live here in rural Co. Wexford. The fields, ditches, trees and lanes are all local and these spaces hold these stories tight and in place. When the girls were younger I’d often take them on a tour of these fields and yards and although there was nothing there to be seen, I could point to a gap in the ditch or a tree or a bend in the road and the girls connected and filled in the spaces with their own visuals and imagination.

Nellie's drawing of one of their favourite stories, about a boy called 'Rabbit Shite Seany'

And so, as the children grew older and their sleeping arrangements changed, I reflected on this fleeting period in my life and pulled these 100 recordings together and produced them as individual videos or audio pieces and made them available on a playlist on my YouTube channel. This was never a commercial venture but instead a record that a Daddy has done for his three young daughters.

Find out more about Michael Fortune and his work here