Batt and Maura Burns


As a youngster As a youngster Batt Burns experienced the seanachie (Storyteller) tradition firsthand when he lived with his grandfather in the Hills of County Kerry and heard him tell long, involved stories by the fire during the harsh winter nights. Today Burns helps to preserve that heritage with haunting accounts of ghosts, great adventure stories, tales of heroes, farcical stories, and witty jokes.

During his early years as an elementary school principal, Burns worked hard to make significant changes in the Irish educational system, putting particular emphasis on storytelling. He is the author of many school textbooks, many of his stories have been published, and he has produced tapes and CDs of poetry and storytelling. His new book of Irish Folktales, The King With Horse’s Ears and Other Irish Folktales, was published in 2009 and has just won The Storytelling World Award 2010 for the best collection of folktales for young readers.

It was winning the All Ireland Teachers’ Talent Competition in 1983, which started him on the road to his second career. In 1994 Burns left his teaching career behind him and became a full-time entertainer in the U.S. where he has performed at all of the major storytelling festivals, at several Irish Clubs and at the college campuses of Harvard, Notre Dame, and Northwestern. He was storyteller in residence at Kent State University for two semesters and has presented storytelling workshops at Appalachian State University.

Maura Burns is a member of the O’Dwyer family of traditional musicians from Ardgroom in the Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland. She was trained by her mother, Ella Mae, who was one of Ireland’s best known concertina players and a great exponent of the West Limerick style. She featured with her mother in a memorable duet on the popular traditional music program The Pure Drop on Irish National TV.

Description of Show
The show combines the ancient art of the seanachie (storyteller), of which Batt Burns is master, with poetry and prose from a variety of Irish authors. Snippets of Irish folklore and history are interspersed with humorous anecdotes and the performance is laced with Irish wit, as Mr. Burns brings alive on stage some colorful characters from the Hills of Kerry, where he lived for most of his life, and this is complemented by great traditional Irish music on the concertina by Maura.

Watch Past Performances

Video 11/5/2010: Whisperings of Ireland

Traditional Irish musician Maura Burns and Irish storyteller Batt Burns perform together with music, storytelling, poetry, Gaelic song and dance. Part of Kids Euro Festival 2010.

Video 3/17/2010: Batt and Maura Burns

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Batt Burns—a 2010 Storytelling World Awards winner—and his singer/musician wife Maura as they weave a rich tapestry of Irish tales and songs.

Video 3/18/2000: Batt and Maura Burns

Batt Burns teams up with his singer/musician wife, Maura Burns, to weave a rich tapestry of Irish tales and songs.

Batt and Maura Burns