November – Gillian Brownson – Ports, Past & Present

North Wales storyteller, Gillian Brownson, shares with us her recent project, Ports, Past and Present –  Porthladdoedd, Ddoe & Heddiw – Cultural Crossings between Ireland & Wales as part of the Ysbrydoli / Inspire highlights this November.

What is the project?

Ports, Past & Present, or PPP, is happening now across Ireland & Wales to celebrate the life of historic Ports across both countries, and to help enliven each Port, turning them into vibrant cultural areas. The ports differ in many ways, but one thing they all have in a common is a rich heritage of Maritime Folklore and Oral History, that is closely related to the land and sea, and bursting to be shared. I’ll be exploring these magnificent tales, starting with Caergybi, through Creative Writing and Storytelling as I work with my community (I’m a Caergybi girl!) to collect & produce stories, such as Evelyn’s, which you can find here  These creations will have blended access, through print, through app technology and live performance, in safer times to come. You can find out a little more about what I’ll be doing here

Who is it for and how can people get involved/engage?

The project is being developed very much for two groups of people.

Firstly, it’s for the people who live in these towns, to validate and record their experiences as Port People, to celebrate ancient and more recent history and to dream of what their future as a community might hold. If you have any stories relating to Holyhead and its important Port, or to the crossing between Holyhead & Ireland, please do get in touch with me at and help me to shape the stories of this wonderful town.

Secondly, this is for those who visit the island, those who even pass through on their way to Ireland, to experience a moment in the life of the town, to encourage them to perhaps spend time walking through our stories and experiencing beautiful, dramatic coastline as they do.

Thirdly, you too can keep up to date with all the developments by signing up to the newsletter on the PPP website here –

Tell us more about yourself in a short biog. How did you start storytelling? How long have you been doing this? Where are you based etc? How do you work with story?

My background is in Performance and Creative Writing, but when I moved to York in the 90s to start my performance degree, I remember that, among my saucepans, towels, files and folders, my most treasured piece of home was my ‘Map of the Mabinogion’. My love of stories started a few years before with stories of Saints and Dragons, while on long walks in Snowdonia or up to Llanddwyn island on Môn. My Dad had all the local knowledge to light the spark, and I’ve just carried on. I was very lucky to be his daughter, and besides, I’m not sure it’s possible to be a writer and performer in Wales without finding yourself on a path to the oral tradition. In one way or another, I’ve been telling stories for 30 years.

After my MA in Creative Writing, I shared Oral Histories in Museums, discovering that people’s true stories are often equal in drama and tension as those told for thousands of years. When I found myself writing & directing interpretive plays for the V&A Museum, world Mythology opened up to me, and I now devour Mythology from every corner of the globe, with a special love for Indian Legends, second only to those of Wales. I’m lucky enough to share these stories as part of the Cylch Stori team now, at home in North Wales, and through my work in schools and with adult learners on various projects.

Lockdown Watch

This is glorious. It has nothing to do with the PPP project, but it showcases the work of our current Young Storyteller of the Year, Jacob Williams, as well as category winner Ffion Phillips. All stories on World Storytelling Café’s ‘Friday Night Children’s Stories’ are fab, but you’ll find Ffion’s rich Welsh tale, ‘The Owl of Cwm Cowlyd’ at 34.50 and Jacob’s beautiful African story about remembrance, so poignant, at 51.27 minutes in. Enjoy and why not join us at to find out more about The Young Storytellers’ Festival of Wales/Gwyl Soriwr Ifainc Cymru.

Keep in touch with Gillian here, for more general opportunities to engage with Storytelling and/or recording stories, and to support young tellers & writers for future generations.

Supported by

English (UK)