On St. Patrick’s Day in the United States, folks Irish, a little Irish and not Irish at all embrace the “wearin’ of the green” and all things Emerald Isle. While a lot of those tropes are stereotypes, the Irish love of storytelling is not and it’s a concept that meeting planners can embrace and learn from.

In Irish culture, the storyteller is called a seanchaí which means “bearer of old lore.” Traditionally, they were honored by chieftans because they held the collective knowledge of the people in a culture that was largely an oral, rather than written one.

Today, the tradition is still in Ireland in both formal and informal ways. There are traditional storytelling events throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and there is the generations-old way of telling tales that happen in pubs and at parties throughout the island of Eire.

Here are five lessons in storytelling from Irish traditional storytelling.

1. Don’t be afraid to embrace emotion.

One of the great things about Irish storytelling is that stories never shy away from sad tales, mournful epics or difficult emotions. One of Ireland’s most known songs “Danny Boy,” is loaded with melancholy. Traditionally, Irish storytelling embraces sadness as a natural part of life. When speaking in meetings and groups, use the powerful dynamic of cathartic emotion and don’t shy away from talking about things that bring up feelings.

Irish hearths have traditionally been places for a good story, Photo: Gretchen Kelly

2. Fuse your tales with fun.

Irish storytelling at its best will make you laugh and cry. When telling stories or speaking in groups, don’t be afraid to shine a light on the ridiculous side of life. Humor is a short-cut to bringing people together.

3. Tell your stories outdoors in places of wild wonder.

Some of the best storytellers seen in Ireland weave their yarns against a backdrop of wild beauty: in an old Irish stone house on a moor by a raging peat fire, for instance; or in a magical glade called “The Dark Hedges” known to viewers of Game of Thrones. Go outside where nature gives storytelling a magnificent stage.

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4. Pair your stories with libations and food.

Far from being distracted by food and drink, the Irish know that having a bit of whiskey or a Guinness or a cup of bracing tea while you listen to a tale well told is part of the fun. The Irish are known for their hospitality and no cup ever goes unfilled at Irish events.

5. Tell stories as if you’re passing on a personal gift.

Great Irish tellers of tales know their worth. In ancient days, they were the favorites of kings and chiefs who paid them handsomely for their skills. Storytelling done right is not just talking at a crowd, it is passing on something of yourself or something deeply important to your group or organization. It’s like offering a gift. Keep speaking sessions “sacred” by making sure doors are closed and participants are comfortable and well seated so they can enjoy every word. Think about areas outside the general sessions room that can be used for after-story conversations and organize time for your speaker to engage with the audience on a one-to-one basis.

For more information on meeting in Ireland: meetinireland.com, tourismireland.com.