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In Memoriam: Miceal Ross, Dublin

In Memoriam: Miceal Ross, Dublin

A reflection from SC-CC's President, Elinor Benjamin, on the passing of Storyteller Miceal Ross of Dublin.

I’ve just learned, with sadness, of the death of Miceal Ross, on July 24th in Monkstown, Dublin.  He had broken his leg in a fall while out for a walk, and died in hospital of an apparent heart attack sometime after the surgery.  He was 88.  Katheen Quinn in Alberta sent me the news and  added these thoughts:

Miceal was a man of vast interests, long letters and many stories.  He made time for people, whether a fellow storyteller or a man in prison.  He and his wife Susan opened their home to storytellers wandering from Canada. In 2019, I called him several times for help to create dialogue in the Irish language for a story I wanted to tell at a Calgary event on St. Patrick's Day.  I shall treasure the phrases he gave me, plus his coaching with pronunciation.

I certainly concur that Miceal was a man of many careers and expansive interests - especially when it came to Good Talk.  He was an agricultural economist, whose work took him round the world. He published in that field working as a Senior Research Officer at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) from 1967 until his retirement in 1987. He took a degree in folklore and became one of the founders of the Dublin Yarnspinners.

I met Miceal Ross in 2005 through Karen Gummo of Calgary.  She knew I was going to Waterford to tell at a festival, and mentioned his name, as he had come quite often to Calgary to visit his sister and told stories and gave workshops on folklore in Canada. The next thing I knew I had an invitation to tell at the Dublin Yarnspinners, and was provided with epic hospitality by Miceal and his “Favourite Wife” Susan, at their house in Monkstown on Dublin Bay. I had inquired by email about what public transit might be available to visit Tara and Newgrange, but I needn’t have.  Miceal took me on road trips in his  funny little dented car, to visited not only Tara and Newgrange but other fascinating places, with Miceal providing wonderful stories about every little hamlet or gorse bush we passed and the many interesting people he had encountered in his life.  In between stories, he kept up a flow of delicious  invective at Irish drivers and traffic. We walked up to Tara and the Lia Fail - the Stone of Destiny, which is said to roar when a true king places his foot upon it. Miceal placed his foot on the stone only to realize he was still wearing his bedroom slippers. Didn’t we have a bit of a roar about that – enough to declare him king for the day, at least.   

Miceal took me to collect my dazed husband, Ron, from the overnight flight from Newfoundland via Heathrow, and we set off to rendezvous with our Waterford host, Liam Murphy, at  Leighlinbridge, halfway between Dublin and Waterford, with several stops and a visit to Glendalough, the home of St. Kevin.

In 2016 Ron and I arranged stopovers in Dublin en route to and from France in 2016 to enjoy more Good Talk with Miceal. We went to one of his favourite places in the Wicklow Hills – because you can go for lunch and keep your table to enjoy Good Talk until it might be needed for dinner or longer, if not needed.  We did nothing in Ireland that visit but Talk. Before the return visit, we discovered there was an express bus from the airport to just around the corner from Miceal and Susan’s house, which spared us all from contending with Dublin traffic, and even managed to lure Susan out for lunch at a pub in their neighbourhood where she tolerated all that Talk with great charm.  In the pre-COVID days with a few direct flights from Halifax to Dublin, we seriously contemplated the possibility of doing that again just to enjoy more Good Talk. Miceal was lamenting the difficulty of finding Good Talk in the modern world, especially being at that age when most of your best Good Talking friends, like Seamus Heaney, who lived nearby, have passed on. I like to think of Miceal’s spirit somewhere at an endlessly available table with Good Talk all around.

You can read an interview with Miceal  conducted by Dunc Shields 2002 here: 


Portrait of Miceal Ross by Karen Gummo
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