Liz Weir MBE – a great Irish storyteller!
By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 29 December, 2018
Irish storyteller Liz Weir has been awarded an MBE for her services to the Arts and Education in the New Year’s Honours List which was published last night. Eleanor McGillie chats with Liz to find out how she’s feeling and what this honour means to her.
Liz Weir is a wonderful lady who has made a career out of storytelling. Against the odds, when she gave up her day job and told people she was going to become a storyteller, she has since made a business out of telling stories in spite of people saying she would be somewhat foolish to do so.
Last night, she was named in the New Year’s Honour’s List for her services to Arts and Education – an honour which she says recognises storytelling as a major part of Irish culture. Today, she is rightly very proud of what she has achieved.
Liz, who also owns Ballyeamon Tourist Barn Hostel overlooking the spectacular Glenariff Forest, said the award recognises the work she has been doing now for 40 years.
Speaking from Glenariff this morning, Liz said: “I am totally overwhelmed by the response of people from all corners of the world. I am sitting here looking out at red squirrels nibbling away while I read all of the wonderful comments people are writing on social media – people who are located around the world.
“Storytelling connects people in so many ways and no two people interpret a story the same. I have travelled to many places around the world to tell stories. I work with a very diverse range of people from pre-school children, to corporates to older people suffering with Alzheimers. Storytelling makes a huge impact on people’s lives.
“I have worked with children who are more than happy to bury their heads in a tablet or smart phone but the reality is when I start telling them stories I totally grab their attention. You can visibly see these children light up. Technology is wonderful but it will never beat the intimacy of telling stories. Storytelling raises their self esteem and allows children’s imaginations to develop.
“Everyone has a story so it’s important to tell your story. It’s funny because I always wanted to be a journalist back in the Sixties but I was told back then it was no job for a woman so I chose to be a Librarian instead.
“We are all different forms of storytellers. We have so many amazing storytellers here in Glenariff namely Jim Dixon, John Robbin and Caoimhin MacGabhann – all members of Live It Experience It – who all are brilliant at sharing the stories of this place with visitors. We live in a very globalized society so to have people who can tell the story of our place to our visitors is wonderful.
“Our open house at Ballyeamon Tourist Barn Hostel is a perfect opportunity for people to come and enjoy storytelling nights. Our visitors love it and then they leave with a great story to share.”
Liz was contacted a couple of months ago and told that she was being considered for an MBE but she says she didn’t think anything else about it.
“I have been so busy so when I was told I was being considered for an MBE I thought at the time how that would be lovely but never thought it would happen to me so I put it aside in my mind and it was only last night when I received the phonecall to say I was awarded the MBE that I remembered about it all.
“I am totally stunned and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their extremely kind words. Thank you to everyone. I am truly honoured.”
Live It Experience It’ is a community of tourism businesses working together to promote Northern Ireland through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. Our cluster concept was created back in 2013 by Ricky Martin, owner of Alive Surf School, to encourage businesses to work together. Since then, we have rebranded what was known as ‘Activity Breaks UK’ and our ‘Live It Experience It’ community was launched in February 2017. Since then our journalists / bloggers have been telling the stories of our members to people living in Northern Ireland, people visiting Northern Ireland and to corporate companies. If you would like to become a member business in our ‘Live It Experience It’ community please Submit Your Information Here or phone our office in Co Tyrone on 028 3756 8436 / 07709805379 . T&Cs apply.