Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Requiem: Alice Lannon, Storyteller and Tradition Bearer

It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's treasures, Mrs Alice Lannon. Alice passed away this morning at the Palliative Care Unit of the Miller Centre here in St. John's.

Pat, Alice's daughter, emailed me today with the news. Pat writes, "She had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall. In the past few months all the medical people who have treated her were exposed to a few stories along the way. A week ago today she was admitted to the Miller Centre with her health deteriorating rapidly. She amazed everyone on Friday and Saturday and was obviously delighted to tell stories to everyone."

Alice was one of the last great tellers of traditional Newfoundland fairytales in the province, who learned many of her stories orally from her grandmother. In 2010, when Newfoundland hosted the Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada national conference, Alice was one of the gems of storytelling we chose to highlight. She was a regular performer at the St. John's Storytelling Festival, and someone we all loved. We were fortunate enough to have recorded her session at the SC-CC conference, and the stories she told that day are part of the permanent collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative.

To better understand her important place in the oral traditions of the province, listen to her introduction by the Department of Folklore's Dr. Martin Lovelace.

Or, better yet, stop what you are doing for the next 17 minutes, and listen to Alice tell one of my favourite Newfoundland folktales, "Open, Open, Green House."

We've lost a treasure today. I'll miss you Alice, very much.

Alice will be waked on Fri. Sat. and Sun. at Maher's Funeral Home in Placentia with her funeral on Monday morning @ 11:00 am from the Our Lady of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Placentia.

Condolences can be sent through their website:

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