Medieval/Early Modern Irish Audiobooks/ASMR

Dorothy Osborne, later Lady Temple, the wife of Sir William Temple, enjoyed large dogs and was a big fan of Irish wolfhounds. In some ways this was bad, because the breed was over-exported out of Ireland and almost died out, while wolves overran Ireland for lack of armed Irish or hunting dogs to keep them in check. But we also have her letters about them, and her husband’s letters back.

Dorothy was of good family and beautiful, and had a ton of serious suitors, including a bunch of Cromwells and cousins of herself. But she had already fallen in love in 1647, with Temple, when they were both about nineteen. He went off to Ireland to seek his fortune and hers, and she stayed in England refusing everybody — and revealing nothing about her long secret correspondence with her beloved. They finally were able to marry in 1654, after Temple had served seven years for her, like Jacob for Rachel. They got married on Christmas Day (almost the first moment you could get married, after Advent), and stayed married until Dorothy’s death in 1695! Romantic!!!

In The History of the Irish Wolfdog, (section 65, pp. 41-42) Fr. Edmund Hogan notes one of Temple’s letters, explaining how Irish lords of clans would have a poet, a doctor, a huntsman, a smith… but also an official tale-teller. (They don’t have the Irish, so I don’t know if it’s a seanachie.) One of Temple’s friends had gone hunting with one of these lords, and was too tired and ill at night to be able to sleep. So the lord called on his tale-teller to help this guy out, as he did when the lord was depressed and/or could not sleep.

“….they would bring him one of these tale-tellers, that, when he lay down, would begin a story of a king, or a giant, a dwarf and a damsel, and such rambling stuff, and continue it all night long in such an even tone, that you heard it going on whenever you awaked; and he believed nothing any physicians give could have so good and so innocent an effect to make men sleep, in any pain or distempers of body or mind.”

It was typical for some feasts to go on all night, or most of a night; and it was also typical for village gatherings at people’s houses to be like this, at times. Probably the tale-tellers were usually more exciting about it; doing sleep stories would be a specialty for great houses. But it wasn’t asking too much, because normal stories could easily last all night or for several days in a row. Poets also had to memorize up to 150 stories as part of their literary training, so some of these tale-tellers may have been junior poets.

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