The work of artist/folklorist Michael Fortune

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About is a living online archive centered on the practice of artist/folklorist Michael Fortune and an insight into his practice. He has been working in this field since the late 1990s and this website is a good introduction to his folklore, oral history and place-based recording work. This website contains links to 27 YouTube playlists which amount to over 300 individual films and hundreds of hours of content. However if you wish to view more please subscribe to his YouTube Channel which has over 1,300 recordings. You should also consider following on Facebook as there are 1,000s of posts which simple can’t be shared here.

If you are looking for genuine, source based and practice led research from Ireland, the work of Michael is probably one of the best entry point into the contemporary living superstitions, beliefs and customs of the country. He has dedicated the past 25 years of his life to this and in most cases produced and archived under his own steam and without any agency support.

All of the material which he has collected, archived and re-presented on stems from localised field work which he has undertaken within communities and with individuals the length and breath of Ireland. He says that “this is not copy and paste folklore or material produced for academic posturing or online click-bait, instead I generate material with the intention of widening the conversations around the area of contemporary folklore, folk-belief and customs in 21st century Ireland.”

Recording ‘Following the Whitethorn‘ in Ballinrobe. Co. Mayo, 2007

Speaking in October 2016, writer and broadcaster

Manchán Magan stated that

“There have only been a few true pioneers in the field of folklore collection in Ireland, guardians, sacred recorders of our lore, who have collected and documented the treasures of folk tradition, and without doubt, Michael Fortune is one of them. In years to come, he may be regarded as Ireland’s Alan Lomax.”

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About the Publication

'The Folklore of Wexford' takes a personal and contemporary look at the practices, customs and beliefs of County Wexford through the eyes and ears of Michael; a man who was born,

reared and lived in the county for most of his life.

This book comes from the ground up, and features the voices, stories and practices of his neighbours, family and friends and people he has encountered over the past two decades whilst recording and sharing living folklore around Ireland.

Michael offers an insight into the practices of this unique corner of Ireland, highlighting commonalities and differences with other counties, while exploring the links with wider European practices and across the Atlantic, in particular with Newfoundland, Canada.

By drawing on his wide and expert knowledge of the subject, coupled with his natural enthusiasm, he has created a publication that will be a true and reflective source on the folklore of Wexford for many years to come.


Writer and broadcaster Manchán Magan

had this to say about the work of Michael;

“There have only been a few true pioneers in the field of folklore collection in Ireland, guardians, sacred recorders of our lore,

who have collected and documented the treasures of folk tradition, and without doubt, Michael Fortune is one of them. In years to come, he may be regarded as Ireland’s Alan Lomax.”


About the Publication

The 130 page publication is in full colour and features over one hundred contemporary photographs plus sixty QR Codes to interviews and tutorials which he has recorded with people over the past two decades. The beautifully designed, litho-printed publication is B5 in size and was researched, designed and printed in Ireland.

1,000 of these books were printed in late November and all 1,000 sold within 8 days. A 2nd re-print of 1,500 was ordered and arrived on the 5th of December. The book cost €15 each plus postage based on An Post postal rates. Shipping to anywhere in Ireland or the world. You can calculate postage on the buying link below. Please contact Michael on 0876472047 or if you have any questions regarding your order.

This publication was produced by Michael Fortune with the support of the Arts Office of Wexford County Council under their 'Creative Communities Programme' and the North Wexford Historical Society.

Back by popular demand - Wexford’s Bestselling Book

‘The Folklore of Wexford’ has just been re-printed due to huge demand over the past two months. The 1st print of 1,000 copies of were printed in late November and sold out within 8 days. On the 5th of December, 1,500 new books arrived and by the 20th of December, all my online sales sold out.

A new batch of 1,000 copies arrived from Walsh Print in Kerry ion the 8th of March are available to order

Online orders will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Thanks a million for the support.

Michael Fortune,12th of March 2024.

2, 500+ copies posted around Ireland and the world.

Ireland (32 counties)

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England, Scotland, Wales, Europe

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and New Zealand

Local Stockists in Co. Wexford

Easons (Gorey)

Easons (Enniscorthy)

Easons (Wexford Town)

Red Books (Gorey)

Red Books (Wexford Town)

Hubb 16 (New Ross)

Reader’s Paradise (Wexford Town)

The Village at Wheelocks (Enniscorthy)

The Trading Post (Oulart )

Peter Steemers (Bunclody)

Selskar Bookshop (Wexford Town)

Murphy’s (Kilanerin)

Canavan’s (Inch)

Arklow Maritime Museum (Arklow)

Breda’s Shop (Carrick on Bannow)

Raffertys (Coolgreany)


Other Counties

Banner Books (Co. Clare)

Kennys (Galway)

Dingle Bookshop (Kerry)

Bridge Books (Wicklow Town)

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About the Publication

This new book by Michael Fortune and Aileen Lambert features a unique collection of May related folklore, with a focus on the May Bush Tradition in County Wexford. The duo have been at the forefront of documenting, promoting and celebrating May traditions for the last two decades and are the driving force behind May Bush revival in County Wexford.

The full colour 130 page publication is filled to the brim with material such as: photos of May Bushes from around the county, stories of the May Queen tradition, transcriptions of interviews, observations on similar customs in other countries and old and new songs about May. The publication also features QR codes which bring you directly to videos on YouTube about May customs from Michael’s extensive collection of folklore on film, and to songs by Aileen.

The publication has been kindly funded by Creative Ireland and Wexford County Council. The official book launch will take place in Gorey Library Thursday 9th May but you can pre-order the book now.

The beautifully designed, litho-printed publication is B5 in size and was researched, designed and printed in Ireland. Below is a YouTube video to give you a look at the book while there is also an ISSUU link to preview the first 45 pages.

Ordering and Shipping

Only 1,000 copies of the book have being printed so order soon to secure your copy. The book cost €15 each plus postage based on An Post postal rates. Shipping to anywhere in Ireland or the world. You can calculate postage on the buying link below. Please contact Michael on 0876472047 or if you have any questions regarding your order.

Ireland (32 counties)

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England, Scotland, Wales, Europe

and rest of World

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and New Zealand

In the 1940s “A Handbook of Irish Folklore" was published by Séan Ó Súilleabháin

of the Irish Folklore Commission which tells us how to collect folklore about the

ancient May Bush tradition. Michael and Aileen have answered these questions

through this new publication. Easily accessible and readable it will be another

treasure on the bookshelf to add to your County Wexford collection.

Gerard Fleming, Chair of North Wexford Historical Society.

Brief Background

The tradition around the May Bush went into a steep decline around the county in the 1960s/1970s and in 2017 Aileen Lambert and I started a ground-up festival called ‘The Wexford May Bush Festival’.

We grew up with the tradition and planted the seeds for the project in our minds back in 2005 when working on projects around the county and country.

Using social media, local papers, radio and word of mouth we have successfully re-established the tradition back into the fabric of County Wexford and now have hundreds of homes, schools, groups and organisations putting up a May Bush in every corner of Wexford from Gorey to Campile and Rosslare to Kiltealy.

Planting the Seeds

Between 2019 and 2021 we distributed thousands of little whitethorns as part of The May Bush Planting Scheme which were planted in homes, schools, villages, crossroads and towns around the county.

As a result, the tradition has grown and flourished and has helped thousands of people, young and old, to embrace the tradition once again.

On the first of May summer officially begins in Ireland and in centuries-old fashion, it's also the time that many people in Wexford will gather their painted eggshells, ribbons and bunches of flowers and decorate their May Bush. The May Bush tradition is not just practised in Wexford. It is found in other counties in Leinster, East Munster, East Connaught and Ulster. Wexford, however, is regarded as one of the strongholds of the tradition, particularly in recent decades.

The May Bush is a piece of a whitethorn (known locally as a ‘sceach’) or a furze/gorse bush which is erected on May Eve or May Day. In some parts of the country they use mountain ash, chestnut and sycamore, while in Newfoundland they use a fir.

In most cases, they were decorated with painted eggshells, ribbons and seasonal flowers. Traditionally, May Bushes were erected in a prominent place in a bid to keep the ‘pisheógs’ away (i.e. the fairies/bad luck) and, like so many of our customs, the May Bush was centred on the protection of the growing crops and the milk yield. Eggshells were kept from Easter Sunday, mostly by girls, and then painted and hung on these bushes. As a child, my late mother used balloons which were bright for a moment, but they didn't last long!

Another contemporary take on the eggs these days is the use of plastic Kinder egg shells and leftover foil from Easter eggs. These can be spotted on May Bushes around the county. In the past small candles were also placed on the May Bush and once they burnt out the May Bush was set alight. Bonfires were also popular, particularly in the northern part of the county.

These days, people leave their May Bushes up for the month, while in the past it was left to wither of its own accord. The key thing was to get it up on May Eve/Day, as this was the turning point in the year when ‘the fairies’ were out. The May Bush was used to keep them and bad luck away from your home and farmyard.

Features on RTÉ Website about The Wexford May Bush Festival

Interview on RTÉ Radio 1 from May 2017

Lecture 23: May (Bealtaine) Folklore by Michael Fortune for Trasna na Tire

The May Bush Tradition - Explained by Michael Fortune from

St. Brigid’s Day 2024

UPDATE 17th February 2024

Sales of St. Brigid’s Crosses and Bridógs have stopped for 2024. If you ordered one

and it has not arrived please email or phone Michael on 087 6470247.

Nellie’s final orders were posted on the 4th of February and we have found post to England very slow and taking up to 10 days to arrive. Please let us know if you have had any issues and we can fully

re-reimburse you or make up fresh orders and re-post. Thanks a million

For St. Brigid’s Day 2024 I have teamed up with my teenage daughter Nellie and she is making and selling four types of handmade St. Brigid’s crosses and dolls.

I have been making various styles of these for the past 40 years and I’ve naturally passed on the skill to Nellie over the years.

If you type “How to make a St. Brigid’s Cross” into Google or YouTube, the first videos that appear are tutorials that I made in 2020. These videos are popular as they are clear and based on the years of teaching the craft to groups and schools all over Ireland.

These tutorials are available here for you to learn from however, if you would like us to make you one, you can simply order one here and have it delivered by An Post. We are also shipping outside of Ireland and ship to the US and Canada, England, Scotland, Wales and the rest of Europe.

We are now taking pre-orders of these and offering four styles; the classic St. Brigid’s Cross, Brigid’s Triskel, a 15 Rush Cross and a little Wexford style Bridóg doll.

We use mountain rushes which I have found to be more durable and hardy and make a better cross. These are hand-cut in a sustainable fashion in nearby Ballycrystal which lies under the shadow of Mount Leinster.

Each cross is made the day before posting and comes with an information sheet compiled by myself on the folklore and tradition around St. Brigid and her day. All orders will be shipped to you from Monday the 22nd of January in time for St. Brigid’s Day on the 1st of February.

Michael Fortune, 12th of January 2024

The Irish Dresser

and Folklore Calendar


In the Summer of 2020 and in the depths of Covid I decided to produce a calendar using the images and stories of Irish dressers that I’d documented around the country since 2015 as part of The Irish Dresser Project. I had thousands of photos on my hard-drives and hundreds of stories in my head that needed to see the light of day.

So in September I designed the calendar from my home here in Wexford. Once I had a draft produced, I decided to add another layer and pencil in various Irish folklore calendar dates. To be honest, I was tired of seeing dates on calendars and diaries that had no connection to me in Ireland. I also noticed many were designed and printed outside of Ireland and this was something that I addressed and deliberately got mine printed with Walsh Print in Kerry.

So here we are, three years and three calendars later. The calendar has been a huge success and every year has been a sell-out. The operation is a very simple where I have my hand to everything from the taking the photos, to the design and then the distribution. This is all done from my home/studio here in rural Wexford and sales open in late October and finish up just before Christmas.

90% of my sales come from online while I do have some bookshops around the country that stock them. I am too small of a producer to get them stocked nationwide and the time chasing and following up shops simply isn’t feasible.

Sold Out Sticker with Peeling

Maureen Carroll, Birr, Co. Offaly

The 2024 Irish Dresser and Folklore Calendar

In October I produced the 2023 calendar which sold out prior to Christmas. I am working on a 2025 copy at present and this will be available to buy in October

I have kept the calendar costs the same as it was in 2021 and they will retail €15 each plus €3 P+P on all orders in Ireland while postage varies on any orders outside of Ireland.

In October 2024 you will be able to buy copies from this website at using all Major Cards and Revolut. While if you don’t use online payment can also order by Cheque or Postal Order.

Michael Fortune, 4th of March 2024.

PDFs of Irish Dresser and Folklore Calendar

(2021, 2022 and 2023)

The 2021 Calendar

Featuring dressers and stories from Mayo, Tipperary, Carlow, Waterford and Wexford.

Click image above to view a PDF of the 2021 calendar in ISSUU.

The 2022 Calendar

Featuring dressers and stories from Cork, Wicklow, Galway, Clare, Mayo, Meath, Tipperary, Carlow, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford.

Click image above to view a PDF of the 2022 calendar in ISSUU.

The 2023 Calendar

Featuring dressers and stories from Mayo, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Carlow, Offaly, Waterford and Wexford.

Click image above to view a PDF of the 2023 calendar in ISSUU.

Follow/Subscribe to folklore on YouTube

Below are a series of links to individual Playlists on YouTube. Michael has just over 1,300 recordings on YouTube however this is only about 10% of his overall archive. Time and resources play a major factor in making these fully available. You can also watch hundreds of individual clips on his YouTube page which have not been sorted/catalogued into Playlists yet.

That's True You Know

Folklore collection, recorded in Grantstown, Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford (2005)

Mary and Seamus Brogan

Songs and Music. Recorded in

Finchogue, Co. Wexford (2018)

Fr. Séamus de Val Interviews

Recorded in Bunclody, Co. Wexford (2018)

Fryston Folklore

Folklore collection recorded in Fryson in West Yorkshire. (2009)

Arklow Pottery Stories

Oral Histroy collection recorded in Arklow Co. Wicklow (2005)

The County Wexford

Traditional Singers Archive

Song Archive. 2023

Folklore and Memory

A Project with Age Friendly Roscrea,

Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. (2023)

Larry Connors

Collection of songs recorded with Larry Connors, Bunclody, Co. Wexford (2022)

God Is Moving the Furniture

Folklore collection recorded in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin (2022)

Collection of Traveller Songs

Collection of songs recorded with Larry Connors, Bunclody, Co. Wexford (2010)

The Fr. Murphy Recordings

Oral history collection recorded in Boolavogue, Co. Wexord (2017)

Covid Memories

Oral history collection recorded

in Taghmon, Co. Wexord (2017)

Around The Faithful Homes

Oral history collection recorded

around Co. Offaly. (2021)

Riverchapel/Courtown Memories

Oral history collection recorded

in Riverchapel, Co. Wexford (2021)

Man, Woman and Child

Song project produced with the National Library of Ireland. (2013-2015)

1916 Stories from Wexford

Oral history collection recorded

around Co. Wexford (2016)

A Ramble Through Time (Volume 4 +5)

Oral history collection recorded

around Killanerin, Co. Wexford (2022)

St. Brigid’s Day Folklore and Customs

Collection of filsm showing you how to make a St. Brigid’s Cross plus St. Brigid’s Day folklore.

Jim and Ita Bolger - The Interviews

Oral history collection recorded

in Marshalstown, Co. Wexford (2016)

Songs for Our Children

Collection of songs written for the project Songs for Our Children during Covid. (2020)

The Murenn Tuck

Folklore collection recorded

in Castletown, Co. Wexford (2015)

The Ireland/Newfoundland Collection

Folklore and oral history collection recorded

in Newfoundland (2019 and 2021)

“Bolldoons and Wren Boys”

Folklore and oral history collection recorded

around Co. Wexford. (2019)

Stop, Look, Listen

Song collection recorded

around Co. Waterford. (2017)

Songs of the Wexford Coast

Song collection recorded

around Co. Wexford. (2019)

A Bird in the house, God Bless Her

Folklore collection recorded

ain Dundrum, Co. Dublin. (2017)

A Ramble Through Time (Volume 1 - 3)

Oral history collection recorded

around Killanerin, Co. Wexford (2019)

Sold Out Stamp

No Twixing or Crossing

About the Publication

No Twixing or Crossing is the title of this collection of beliefs and superstitions which I produced as a result of conversations with a group of Traveller women from the Bunclody area of County Wexford in January and February 2023.

The content shared here with me is practiced, believed and multi-layered. This is not 'copy and paste' folklore. Instead, these accounts are real and transcribed from the mouths of those who practice them. What is immediately striking about this collection is the lack of names associated with the stories.

For many folklorists, collectors and historians, this very fact goes against all the standards of recording and documenting, as the person's name is a vital part of the story. However, this was the condition that the group made with me prior to this publication; all the stories were to be nameless.

Naturally at first I thought this would throw up archiving and validity questions but after the first session with the women, I could see it made sense for them. It made sense as the stories were communal and collective and they were the shared voices of the women. The stories were of and from their community and not the individual. The stories had a purpose and there was no interest in whose voice it was or who owned them - that didn’t matter, as they all owned the folklore.

The women agreed that my phone could be used to voice record the chats as I simply would not remember the content as stories were flying at me left, right and centre.

The thing is, I grew up in a rural working-class house in Wexford where these kinds of conversations took place in the same manner and at the same pace so this was natural territory for me.

The sessions were multi-layered and multi-voiced with loads of natural cross-talking, side chats, laughs, jokes, messing and general busyness. In many cases, the stories shared here don’t just belong within the Travelling Community, they are found right across the county and the country.

However it is the currency that they hold in this community that strikes me. The beliefs and stories have a reason to exist as they are valued and practiced. As a result, these beliefs, customs, expressions etc often change slightly as they are passed on in the traditional manner of word of mouth. Sometimes they take on different meanings and things get lost, re-shaped and moulded to suit the lives of those who tell them. That is okay as there are no rules or right or wrong when it comes to folk belief and practice - we all do what works for us.

In saying all of this, I do not want to underplay the great sessions we had making and chatting and working together. The activities around making crêpe paper flowers was something special, likewise the St. Brigid’s crosses. These meant something to the group as the flowers brought back memories for the older women who made them as children while learning how to make St. Brigid's crosses meant a lot to the women.

For the last session, my own daughters came in with me and we sang, chatted, told jokes and riddles and made more stuff and as I was leaving the group gave me a plate which I will cherish dearly. I love the content in this publication however I will remember the relationships and the craic that I had with the woman the most.

Michael Fortune, March 2023

View a PDF of

No Twixing or Crossing

Click on the cover of the book to view a copy of the book in ISSUU.

About Michael

Michael Fortune is many things to many people. Some people know him as an artist and filmmaker, more as an educator, more as a collector of folklore and more as a lover of traditional song. He grew up in The Macamores, on the east coast of Wexford and completed his BA in Fine Art (1999) and MA in Film (2003) and since then has been a pioneer in the area of socially engaged work within Ireland. During this time he has widened the conversations regarding the intersection of traditional and contemporary cultures and the general appreciation and understanding of culture in all its manifestations.

The interest in Irish folklore and place wasn’t as popular as it is now in 2023 and for the first decade and a half, Michael found it a lonely road and very few creative practitioners with any interest in the area while many in the academic circles kept things tight and did not have an understanding of outreach and public engagement outside of their own circles. Considering the content was coming from people, i.e. the folk of Ireland, he could not comprehend such an approach and felt a duty and responsibility to share the stories and content to as wide a reach as possible. The fact that he bought the domain in 2004 shows how much interest there was in Irish folklore at the time.

In the late 1990’s he picked up a video camera and began collecting stories and accounts in day care centres, halls, schools and private homes around the country and shared them back to the communities from which they came - a decade before YouTube and social media and the ‘share’ button concept ever came into existence. At the core of his practice are people and his genuine connection and engagement, plus his inquisitive mind, results in uniquely rich and personal and often unrecorded material. The intimate nature of the relationships with the people and circumstances he encounters, and the subsequent reflective treatment of the material at hand, is a key feature of Fortune’s work.

His work sits as comfortably in an international conference, film festival or gallery, as it does in a day care centre or in a local village hall. His treatment of his source material is never compromised and he doesn’t make work to suit a certain audience; the material is the material and the audience comes to it. Each viewer connects and reacts to the work in their own way and with their own understanding.

Growing up in an area rich in folklore and belief has awarded Michael a natural understanding of the crossover between traditional and contemporary beliefs and customs, and the fluid borders where fact and fiction meet. As a result he has been commissioned to undertake multiple folklore collections, oral history programmes, mapping projects and project work throughout Ireland over the past twenty years, and he has worked on and curated shows with the National Museum (Country Life), the National Library of Ireland, the Irish Traditional Music Archive and a host of local museums, libraries and institutions around the country.

Recording ‘Songs of the Wexford Coast’ 2019.

Since 2016 he has used social media to share content while also acting as a research platform based on the responses he receives from viewers and followers. He has also contributed articles and features to various national and local papers as well as making various appearances on RTÉ Television and Radio.

He does not use Instagram or Twitter as his audience is not there. His popular page on Facebook receives between 500,000 – 2.5 million interactions every four weeks which showcases local Irish content and sources.

In his home County of Wexford, he has spearheaded a resurgent interest and confidence in local customs and beliefs and in particular those around the month of May and Hallowe’en and has reestablished the May Bush tradition back into the fabric of the county with The Wexford May Bush Festival.

His work also brings him into classrooms all over the country at Primary, Secondary and Third Level and for the past 12 years he has worked at Limerick School of Art and Design on the MA in Art and Design Teacher Education programme.

He continues to live in his native Wexford, at the foot of Mount Leinster, with his partner Aileen Lambert and their three young children and continues to conduct project work throughout the country.

Screening back of children’s folklore collection in a handball alley in St. Mary’s Park,

Limerick City. March 2005. Collection entitled “The Banshee Lives in the Handball Alley”.

Selection of Features on RTÉ



Michael fortune


00353 (0)87 6470247




Co. Wexford