Tom Muir

Book Tom Muir

Tom Muir tells traditional stories from his native Orkney Islands. He has a great love for both folk tales and local traditions, and his humorous delight in the humanity of the stories is infectious. He tells tales of sea monsters, trows/fairies, mermaids, fin folk and selkie folk, as well as stories about witches, shipwrecks, ghosts and humorous goings on. As storyteller and folklorist Tom is comfortable with all kinds of adult groups in whatever environment they meet and work. He also works with young people and children, in schools and community venues and has run workshops on storytelling and Orkney’s folklore. His job as Engagement/Exhibitions Officer at the Orkney Museum sees him working as a storyteller with local schools and senior citizens’ clubs.

Tom was born on a small farm by the sea in Tankerness in the east of the Orkney Mainland in 1963, but his parents originally came from the North Isles of Westray and Sanday. As they were middle aged when he was born (the youngest of six), folklore and customs were still remembered in family stories, as were some folk tales. His love of traditional folk tales led him to republish the stories collected by Walter Traill Dennison (1825-94) in Sanday and the works of folklorist and local historian George Marwick (1836-1912) from Yesnaby on the west coast of the Orkney Mainland. He has also written a book containing as many supernatural folk tales from Orkney as he could find, ‘The Mermaid Bride and other Orkney Folk Tales’, first published in 1998 and later translated into Japanese and Icelandic. In 2014 The History Press published his book ‘Orkney Folk Tales’ as part of their county folk tale series. Tom has also published many other books on aspects of Orkney’s history, Nordic folk tales and the Icelandic Sagas.

Tom’s storytelling skill has seen him perform in many countries, from Newfoundland and Greenland in the north to Slovenia and Hong Kong in the south, as well as all over Scotland, Scandinavia and Europe. He has even been storyteller in residence at the Storholmen Viking Village in Sweden for several years. His proudest achievement is having restored Orkney’s folk tales to a place of prominence and to see them used in schools, while the Scottish Government website, ‘Scotland’s Stories’, which Tom wrote and told stories for, is now used to promote traditional tales in Scotland’s schools. Tom’s Orkney folk tales are now featured in English language books in secondary schools in both Germany and France. He is also a founder member and president of the Orcadian Story Trust, which runs the annual Orkney Storytelling Festival.

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