Storytelling, culture and comfort From Heart to Hearth
Professional storyteller, Karen Edwards is offering visitors a cultural experience that brings together tales for young and old alike, with a tailor-made entertainment package, featuring optional self-catering accommodation, in the coastal village of Glenarm.
From Heart to Hearth was founded by Karen in 2016, alongside her husband Sid, who’s also an avid lover of traditional Irish music and folklore.
Tying in storytelling with visitor accommodation has meant that as well as offering storytelling sessions throughout Ireland, she can offer a totally bespoke experience with the beautiful scenery and the traditional Irish music she and her husband both love and play.
As an in demand storyteller she has travelled extensively. “I have told stories down at Cape Clear Island off the coast of Cork, Derry, Hillsborough Castle, Bagenal’s Castle in Newry, alongside many local venues in Mid and East Antrim,” Karen explained. “I do a lot of seasonal themed events.
“I also enjoy working with people who have dementia as well as intergenerational work with nursing homes and schools.”
Karen’s passion for stories came at an early age.
“As a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. I’d always loved stories.” Although Karen started her career as a journalist, she spent most of her working life in local government and was constantly on the lookout for more creative avenues. So when the opportunity presented itself to take voluntary redundancy this gave Karen time to focus on her storytelling which she now pursues full time with her business, From Heart to Hearth.
“And I will always be grateful to my mentor, world-renowned storyteller, Liz Weir for enabling and empowering me as a professional storyteller”.
Over the years, Karen’s life experiences and performances have developed her storytelling finesse to include a wide range of traditional techniques drawing on local and international tales, with a mix of Irish folklore and comedy. Storytelling performances are interspersed with tunes on Killarney D and Low D whistle.
Karen regularly performs at celebrated local events, including being a guest storyteller for NI Libraries Yarnspinners.
“I also work in conjunction with the Glens Storytelling Cultural Heritage Group that’s headed up by Liz Weir,” she said. “We run the popular Glens Storytelling Festival, which last year went virtual, reaching audiences all over the world. Recently we have been doing online work with people who have dementia.”
Karen loves to keep busy, has just released a CD of children's stories and is working on a book.
“The CD has been funded by the Arts Council NI and features all my own stories - it is something I’ve always wanted to do” she explained. “All the stories originate from Owey Island, off the coast of Donegal, where I stayed from March until November last year.
“We went last March to self-isolate and the next thing we knew, we were in lockdown and ended up staying, so I made the most of my time there.”
Her current work at From Heart to Hearth specialises in offering bespoke storytelling packages for culture seekers looking to soak up local life in Glenarm, as well as optional accommodation for those who want to stay longer.
Her self-catering property, Channel Vista consists of a fully equipped 4-bedroom semi-detached bungalow, which sleeps six and offers stunning sea views, from Glenarm Bay to the beautiful Scottish Isle of Jura. It is situated right on the scenic Antrim Coast Road within the coastal village of Glenarm, being 50 metres from the shoreline and a five minutes’ walk from Glenarm Forest, which is home to native red squirrels. Also within walking distance is Glenarm Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest estates, which boasts a variety of fun activities for all ages with places to shop and eat and a tranquil walled garden.
It has all modern conveniences, including free Wifi, a fully equipped kitchen, oil-fired central heating, combined bathroom/toilet, with over-the-bath shower, as well as offering a traditional open fire and secluded enclosed BBQ patio area to the rear.
“We’ve had a lot of returning customers,” Karen said. “They love the scenic location. They love the fact that it’s convenient to everything on the Causeway Coastal Route and the attractions of Belfast - plus the location is beautiful.”
Guests can choose to include the storytelling experience as part of their stay. Storytelling sessions can take place beside the open fire, on the terrace at the rear of the property or in another location of the guests’ choosing, such as Glenarm’s beach.
Karen said that in addition to guests loving her storytelling and her and the traditional music on offer locally, they delight in Sid’s exciting stories about his time as an extra in Game of Thrones. They particularly enjoy the tranquillity and what they can see while relaxing. “The view is something that really stands out for people,” she said. “They just love it. When you see the sun rise over Glenarm Bay it really does take your breath away.”
To find out more about Karen’s storytelling sessions visit https://www.channelvistaholiday.com