Growing up on a secluded smuggling route along the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic, Packy Jim McGrath regularly heard the news, songs, and stories of men and women who stopped to pass the time until cover of darkness. In his early years, he says, he was all ears-but w it is his turn to talk. Ray Cashman, who has been interviewing McGrath for more than fifteen years, demonstrates how Packy Jim embellishes daily conversation with stories of ghosts and fairies, heroic outlaws and hateful landlords. Such folklore is a boundless resource that he uses to come to grips with the past and present, this world and the next. His stories reveal an intricate worldview that is both idiosyncratic and shared-a testament to individual intelligence and talent, and a window into Irish vernacular culture.
Ray Cashman is an associate professor of folklore at Indiana University, USA. He is the author of Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border, which won both the Chicago Folklore Prize of the American Folklore Society and the Donald Murphy Prize of the American Conference for Irish Studies. He is a coeditor of The Individual and Tradition: Folkloristic Perspectives.