Legends have a habit of travelling around – through time, language and cultures – attaching themselves to different places and adapting to their new homes.
This story is taken from my collection, Argyll Folk Tales and while this particular telling is from Mull, there are versions from other places in Scotland, including Montrose and Blair Atholl.
The challenge is to adapt it to your own area. The tale could happen almost anywhere, since its basic elements are pretty much universal.
First, read the story which I hope you enjoy as it’s one of my favourites.
Now think about how you could adapt A Ceilidh Story to your own area. Below are some suggestions for possibilities. Be as wildly imaginative as you like!
- Your legend can be set in the past, present or future.
- Its location can be anywhere in the area in which you live.
- Your protagonist may leave the storytelling venue on any pretext whatsoever.
- He or she can cross a river, a road, a lake or a galaxy, if there’s a good reason to do so.
- The reason for remaining on the other side of the great divide doesn’t need to be a wife and family.
- The return to the starting point can be the result of a storm (if the method of transport is a boat over water), but could just as easily be a mysterious voice calling out, a message brought by a carrier pigeon etc.
Go where your imagination takes you, as long as your story is set in what is recognisably the area where you live, and as long as you preserve the basic elements of the original tale:
- A storytelling gathering from which an individual is expelled because he or she doesn’t have a story to tell.
- A journey to a new set of circumstances.
- A motive for staying in the new location.
- Eventual return, for whatever reason.
- Discovery that nothing has changed.
- ‘At last you have a story to tell.’
In the document below on how to adapt the story, the italics are key elements that could be changed, and you could omit the first paragraph entirely if you wish.
I hope your head is buzzing with possibilities way beyond these simple alternatives!
– Bob Pegg