A Swallow’s Tale | Africa Day

Department of Foreign Affairs

That was called home because home was where the people were

The film A Swallow’s Tale captures the spirit and shared connection between Ireland and Africa. With strong traditions of storytelling, music, dance and tales of mythological deities and fantastical creatures, there is a vibrancy and expressiveness to both cultures that is unparalleled.

Just as the swallows go and come and come and go from Africa to Ireland bringing birdsong and magic, this film illustrates that when we invite the rhythm of our Atlantean neighbours into our hearts, we have the opportunity to create new stories and dance to new songs.

The film features an Irish seanchaí, Aindrias De Staic, and a Nigerian griot, Zeenie Summers, as they both tell the interlocking stories of the swallow and show what can happen when the music and the rhythm take over.

Featuring Irish seanchaí Aindrias De Staic and Nigerian griot Zeenie Summers, the duo tell interlocking stories of the swallow and show what happens when music and rhythm take over

The Griot

Zeenie Summers


The Seanchaí

Aindrias De Staic


The Story

The story was specially commissioned for this film, drawing on West African and Irish mythologies. It was written collaboratively by bigO, Zeenie Summers, Aindrias De Staic and Prof. Kelly Fitzgerald, Head of Irish Folklore and Ethnology, UCD.

The Music

The song that features in A Swallow’s Tale is called The Arrival.  It was written especially for the film and features Zeenie Summer’s vocals as she sings “I have gone, I have arrived, I have come, I have arrived, I have come, I have arrived…. Iyemọja ” in Yoruba. The song also samples The Swallow’s Tail jig; marrying the two cultures beautifully.

The composition is in a 6/8 time signature, which is quite unique to the traditional music of Ireland and parts of Africa. This has led some to speculate that because of the migratory routes of the swallows and other songbirds, the people who settled in these regions heard the bird song and mimicked its melodic patterns.


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