Richard Ryan in association with Two Chairs Company brought an excellent evening of folklore, music and storytelling to the Jerome Hynes Theatre at Wexford Opera House. The Wilder Wisdom of Auld Ones was much more than a tourist attraction but managed to blend excellent harp playing with an entertaining and sophisticated take on Irish folktales that celebrate the wild fancy and wisdom of women. Anne-Marie O’Farrell delighted on two harps as actor Nuala Hayes wrapped the audience in a voluminous and capacious cloak of myth and legend about the wise old woman, the cailleach or hag or witch.
That very Sunday, Nuala Hayes had become a granny for the fourth time so the theme was longevity. We got Roisín Dubh, Scottish tales from Mull, cream buns from Lydon’s in Galway and contemporary poetry from Seamus Heany, Leanne O’Sullivan and Peter Fallon. Mise Eire revived the memory of the Cailleach Beara. Woven into the evening was an earthy Kerry tale, a most sensual story of wise Mish who met a man with a “ceann clis” or tricking stick, a most potent weapon. Irish folklore has a delightful and earthy content too often softened for tourists but Hayes was giving none of it as she led the willing audience to a happy place called Faraway.
In her Bean Feasa/Wise Woman stories the well travelled tale of Ann Glover brought the audience from a Cromwellian grave to a glove maker in Boston.
Too quickly 90 minutes had gone and the audience were left with their own story to tell on the way home.