Back in the day, long nights in Ireland were passed by ceilidhing (or airneal/scoraíocht) in what was known as a rambling house. This was a house where people congregated for gossip, storytelling – and perhaps the odd song and dance late into the night.
These houses served an important function in the days before radio, television and modern transport; we have rambling houses to thank for ensuring a lot of traditional lore, stories and music were passed on from generation to generation.
Reclaiming our heritage
Our Rambling House storytelling division seeks to recreate how our forefathers entertained themselves in days gone by. A world without nightly soap operas, football or a film for enjoyment may seem hard to imagine, but perhaps we are the ones who are lacking proper home spun entertainment? Fancy bringing them back to life in your locality?
We created Rambling House as a six part series of hour long programmes on a local station ICR up in Donegal, conjuring up a treasure trove of stories and lore about the unique area that is the Inishowen peninsula, as told by some of its most colourful local characters. These stories have been passed on to these locals from generation to generation and we are delighted to have been able to archive this material – before it is lost forever. Our contributors have a natural ability to tell a good yarn with perfect timing.
Rambling houses may be becoming a thing of the past, but it is comforting to think that in a handful of places around the country, starting with our six programmes, their spirit lives on for the future. Perhaps they’ll help your locality set up a rambling house to record the very best oral material on offer in your area?
There are a few factors to get right in establishing a good night’s storytelling and in ensuring that it can be maintained as a proper local institution for all to enjoy. Don’t leave it to chance, get in touch with us to get that mix right.
We gratefully acknowledge the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound & Vision scheme in the funding of the series.
Eamonn Kelly, the famous seanchaí, who hosted the 1950’s RTÉ Radio 1 series, “The Rambling House” described a rambling house as being a place “where the affairs of the day were debated, where entertainment mingled with education”. That programme began with the invitation:
”The ricket is thatched,
the fields are bare,
Long nights are here again,
The year was fine, but now ‘tis time,
To hear the balled men,
Boul in, boul in and take a chair,
Admission here is free,
You’re welcome in the rambling house,
To hear the Seanchaí”