Gossips gather in Ireland for first festival of idle chit-chat

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The Independent Culture

A week of lectures, talks and workshops dedicated to the art of idle gossip opened yesterday in the west of Ireland.

A week of lectures, talks and workshops dedicated to the art of idle gossip opened yesterday in the west of Ireland.

At what is apparently the first festival of its kind in the world, an international cast of contributors will spend their time in the land of blarney talking about chatting.

Sonu Shamdasani, a psychologist and fellow of London's Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, will lead a debate on whether small talk is bad.

Elsewhere at the festival in Waterford, speakers including Professor Connie Rodriguez, the head of classical studies at Loyola University, New Orleans, and Liam O'Maonlai, a founding member of Hothouse Flowers, an early Nineties pop band, will discuss the ethics and advantages of a good natter.

"We are a nation of gossipers here in Ireland so it was fitting that the first festival should be here," said Caroline Senior, one of the organisers.

"There are lots of things we will be gossiping about - W B Yeats, James Joyce. I think that some gossip can be harmful but it depends on the nature of the gossip - it all depends whether it is good or bad."

The organisers of the eighth Myth and Theatre Festival, which changes its theme each year, claim the word gossip comes from 'God Sybbes'.

"Originally it was gossip about your god-parents, your stars, your runes, the theology of your soul," said another organiser, Noeleen Dooley.

"Gossip is the back door into mythology. The Irish are particularly good at gossiping. Every village and town is full of people happily chatting away about the local scandals.

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