Colin Urwin is a modern-day Seanchaí. He is a folk-singer, songwriter, storyteller and author. Steeped for a lifetime in the language, folklore and traditions of his beloved Glens of Antrim, Colin has long been exposed to traditional Irish and Scottish music, song and story. He is most inspired by the people and places, the history and legends, and the sheer, rugged romance of the northeast coast of Ireland. From these he conjures up many of his beautiful ballads, magical rhyming monologues and delicately woven tales of wonder. Colin regularly appears at local storytelling and music events for schools, libraries, a wide range of community groups, and at international storytelling festivals and conferences all over the world.
In recent years Colin has worked closely on a variety of exciting artistic community projects with the Armstrong Storytelling Trust led by world-renowned storyteller Liz Weir MBE. For more than two decades he has been the caller and singer in 'Haste to the Wedding' ceilidh band, who are always in great demand all over Ireland and further afield. He is also a founding member of the storytelling group Dalriada Legends.
He serves on the committees of the Glens Storytelling Festival and the Storytellers of Ireland. He is also the Storyteller in Residence for The Waterways Community; a charitable social enterprise creating opportunities for people, schools, businesses and organisations in Northern Ireland.
"Colin can do something the rest of us cannot do: he can write an original story and make it sound like it's an ancient tale. His talent for interweaving story and song ensures his work is authentic and original."
Colin is a consummate storyteller cut from the same cloth as the traditional balladeer. Delivered with a rich authentic voice his evocative songs, on topics as diverse as the environment and nature; reflections on his young days during the Northern Ireland troubles; and moving historical and legendary events, possess a universal appeal. Lyrics, so deceptively simple they are utterly sublime, combine with hauntingly beautiful melodies to attract an increasing band of loyal followers from around the world.
In 2021, with assistance from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, his long awaited first album of original material, 'A Kind Of Love Song', a collection of twelve songs and a poem, was recorded at Stoney Road Studios, Belfast and produced by the legendary Brian Houston. The album is available to purchase as a CD and to download (see below).
"Colin Urwin is without doubt one of my absolute favorite balladeer storytellers. He moves between the traditional world and original songs and stories with ease. Whether he’s sharing love songs that can melt your bones, or sending chills up and down your spine with vivid Irish tales of the supernatural, he is an experience not to be missed!"
Colin's self-penned stories, evocative of the oral traditional and delivered in his uniquely captivating style, are always very popular with live and virtual audiences across the world. Almost always set along the coast of the Glens of Antrim and centred around some half-forgotten scrap of local folklore or legendary event, they provide a magical portal to a bygone age of ancient beliefs and practices.
His rich and varied storytelling repertoire also includes many time-honoured Irish and Scottish tales from around the Sea of Moyle, on which he always stamps his own distinctive mark. He is also well known for his humorous and sometimes poignant recitations after the long-established local County Antrim tradition.
"Colin Urwin has the unique distinction of not only telling traditional folk tales and singing traditional songs, but of creating them as well. His stories, woven around the landscape of the Glens of Antrim, are steeped in the folk culture and are indistinguishable from ancient tales. They are the folk tales of the future. Many of his songs are based on historic events, delivered with a sensitivity, compassion and understanding that touches the listener's heart. Colin is keeping alive the tradition of the seanchaí..."
1588 and the greatest fleet of warships the world has ever seen sets sail from Spain to invade England. Zago Augustin is a young Venetian mariner caught up in the tides of war. He bears a little gold ring inscribed, No Tengo Mas que darte, I have nothing more to give you. It is a gift from his lover and a reminder of their promise.
After defeat and months at sea Zago’s ship, La Girona, the most famous Spanish Armada vessel of them all, is laden with thirteen hundred desperate men, and treasure beyond imagination. In a gale of wind, the galleass comes to grief on the rugged north coast of Ireland.
Cast into the pitiless sea to face a terrifying death, Zago encounters captivating otherworldly creatures, long revered by native seafarers. He is offered a chance for salvation but must make an agonising choice.
The little Gold Ring: A legend of the Spanish Armada, is a storytelling collage of song, verse and prose, which will take you on a journey of wonder and pluck at your heartstrings…
Colin performed his show live for the first time in June 2022 at the Girona Arts Festival established to mark the loss of the Spanish Armada Galleass La Girona and thirteen hundred sailors at Lacada Point, near the Giant’s Causeway in 1588. The show, and excerpts from it, have since proved very popular with audiences at events and festivals in Ireland, Scotland, Australia and the US.
" When Colin Urwin sings the opening shanty, you feel the pitch and roll of the ship beneath your feet. All through you can taste the salt wind on your lips and shiver as cold seawater washes over you. ‘The Little Gold Ring’ is a tightly woven fabric of song, prose verse, history, landscape and legend: a real storytelling tour de force..."
The Sam Henry Collection, of which there are some 14,000 items, is carefully catalogued and preserved by the Causeway Coast and Glens Museums Service. In 2022 Colin was commissioned to research, reimagine and rewrite a number of stories from this vast treasure trove of folklore, anecdotes, songs and stories.
‘Sam Henry from Coleraine on the banks of the Bann was a customs and excise officer, a pensions officer, an antiquarian, a lecturer, an author, a photographer, an ornithologist, a folklorist, a musician, and perhaps most famously, a collector of folksongs. He was much more besides.
Like me, Sam Henry loved where he lived and, whether it was in a newspaper column, a schoolroom, a village hall, or the windswept ruins of a local castle, he loved to share his various passions with audiences of all ages.
I have edited the stories with the express purpose of making them much more accessible and engaging for the modern the reader but also, I hope, more appealing to the contemporary teller of folktales.’
The book can be obtained from Coleraine, Ballymoney, and Ballycastle museums. Copies also available direct from the author - contact firstname.lastname@example.org.