Lenihan, Eddie 1950-

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LENIHAN, Eddie 1950-


Born December 17, 1950, in Kerry, Ireland; son of John (a harnessmaker) and Rachel (a homemaker; maiden name, Morrissey) Lenihan; married Mary Scanlan (a high school teacher), June 26, 1976; children: Keith, Cathal, Eoin, Rachel, Mary, Éamonn. Ethnicity: "Irish." Education: University College, Galway, B.A., 1973, H. Dip. Education, 1974, M.A., 1978. Politics: "Always left of centre." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Local history, folklore collecting.


Home—Crusheen, County Clare, Ireland. Agent—Tom Grady, 209 Bassett St., Petaluma, CA 94952. E-mail—[email protected]


High school English and Gaelic teacher in Limerick City, 1978-2001. Also a storyteller.


Compaq Award for literature, communications and the arts, University College, Galway, 2002.



Strange Irish Tales for Children, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1992.

Stories of Old Ireland for Children, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1998.

Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Baking Hags, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1998.

A Spooky Irish Tale for Children, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1998.

Gruesome Irish Tales for Children, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1998.

Humorous Irish Tales for Children, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1998.

Rowdy Irish Tales for Children, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 2001.


The Good People: Authentic Irish Fairy Tales, Sounds True/Windhorse Productions, 2001.

Other recordings include Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Púca, Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Dark Pool, and Eddie Lenihan: Storyteller (2 volumes), all Claddagh Records (Dublin, Ireland), and recorded stories "Niamh and the Giant," "Six Terrible Women," "The Devil's Own Work," and "St. Patrick Was a Gentleman."


In Search of Biddy Early, Learning Links, 1987.

In the Tracks of the West Clare Railway, Irish Books and Media, 1991.

The Devil Is an Irishman, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1995.

Defiant Irish Women, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 1998.

The Savage Pigs of Tula and Other Stories, Mercier Press (Cork, Ireland), 2000

(With Carolyn Eve Green) Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.

Also author of the book Long Ago by Shannonside.


For some thirty years Irish folklorist and storyteller Eddie Lenihan has collected traditional stories, particularly in his native County Kerry. With his archive of audiotapes and videotapes, the largest collection in private hands in the country, Lenihan is preserving a heritage that would likely be lost otherwise. "I tape as much as I can of the old people," he told AudioFile. "I've been taping for years, with the result that I have an archive second to none." Lenihan has shared his collection of traditional tales and his own creations in a series of books for children and another for adults, as well as through recordings. After appearing on Storyteller, the Irish national television station's twelve-part broadcast in 1986 and subsequent series Ten Minute Tales in 1987 and 1988, he became the best-known storyteller in Ireland. Lenihan travels throughout the world, where he appears at festivals, schools, libraries, and prisons—anywhere people are ready to sit and listen. He does not perform a story as an actor would, by memorizing lines, but instead improvises, much in the way a jazz musician spontaneously composes music.

When Lenihan began telling bedtime stories to his own children in 1981, he recounted the tales of the Irish warrior Fionn Mac Cumhail and his band of companions known as the Fianna. This experience inspired him to begin publishing and recording traditional tales for the juvenile market. Lenihan finds these tales, as he told CA, to be an "outlet for my political thought. As any adult who reads the most recent three will see quite clearly, I have no very high regard for government. To be skeptical of powers-that-be I regard as a vital plank of democracy. That children should learn that (preferably through humans) is most important for their development, I think. But I try to do it without preaching. Let them discover it for themselves through the story." In his dual audiocassette package, The Good People: Authentic Fairy Tales of Ireland, Lenihan tells traditional tales as if speaking to a friend, imbuing "each story with a subtle excitement," an AudioFile reviewer wrote.

In 2003 Lenihan and coauthor Carolyn Green served up Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland, the authors divide this collection of over one hundred tales into three main categories: fairy places, the definition of fairies, and fairy encounters. Unlike many people's notion of fairies, traditional Irish fairies are not like Disney's Tinker-bell, but are the descendants of fallen angels who perpetrate all manner of mischief and evil. Among the work's enthusiasts was a Kirkus Reviews contributor who praised Meeting the Other Crowd for its "rich and absorbing narratives" told in a rare "homespun voice." According to Patrician Monaghan writing in Booklist, this "compulsively readable" volume is a "major contribution to its field."

Lenihan told CA: "All the subjects I write on, though seemingly diverse, aren't really so. They all have something or other to do with traditional Ireland and how it affects the Ireland we, here, know, in a small country surrounded by large English-speaking cultures, find ourselves in the twenty-first century. Can we survive as a people? Will we become Americanized? Or colonized all over again by British values, though this time so subtly that we don't even notice? Or do we care?"



AudoFile, April-May, 2001, R. M. review of The Good People: Authentic Fairy Tales of Ireland, p. 45.

Booklist, February 15, 2003, Patricia Monaghan, review of Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland, p. 1023.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of Meeting the Other Crowd, p. 15.

Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Richard K. Burns, review of Meeting the Other Crowd, p. 98.

Publishers Weekly, January 14, 2002, review of The Good People, p. 26.

Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, NC), March 14, 2003, "Hear, Tell; Irish Collector to Pass along Some of the Stories He's Heard," p. E1.


Eddie Lenihan Home Page,http://eddielenihan.ennis.ie (June 9, 2004).*