"I wanted to say a huge thank you for such a fantastic
job on Monday. We’ve had such wonderful feedback from the schools
and Lucketts Coaches." Laura Downton, Lee Peck Media,
Southampton. [Mike was telling stories to children on board Luckett's
"I just wanted to say a huge thank you for coming in
and sharing your stories with our students this morning, we have
had lots of students and staff telling us how much they enjoyed
it." Adele Wooldridge, Totton College.
"The Pilgrimage of Piltdown Man" by Michael O'Leary
“Once upon a time…there was the Weald. Much of the Weald
was smoke and flame – a place of blast furnaces and molten iron
– and the mine pits; still, deep, dark cooling pools, from which
would come the hiss of steam when white hot iron was plunged in.
And scattered throughout the Wealden forest there were those charcoal
burners’ enclosures – the hut and the kiln, the piles of cut limbs
and branches, and the solitary, wrinkled charcoal burner.
And when the charcoal burner died, as often as not his body
rotted away in solitude and there was no-one to miss him, as the
forest retook the enclosure – and the hut and the kiln subsided
back into the ground. Sometimes bits of body were collected –
no-one knew by whom. Someone dark. Someone with a book. Bits of
body were fixed together – bits of this, that and the other. Higgledy
piggledy wiggledy. A brain animated by a spark of fire from a
bloomer – an ancient blast furnace; a clay chimney – or fluxed
into awareness and motion by an organism usually associated with
rot and decay – the body jerked into some sort of life...”
Here begins the story of Link, a cryptid, a knitted-together
Piltdown Man, whose pilgrimage takes him up the South Downs, staggering
along the A27 and the M27, through Southampton, through Amesbury,
past Porton Down, to Glastonbury, Dartmoor, the west of Cornwall
Mike O’Leary has been a professional storyteller for 25 years
and his post-fairy tale vividly knits together the knuckers, hags,
wisht hounds and dragons of folklore with more contemporary concerns
of roadkill, hitch-hiking, migration and abuse.
result is a very adult story that investigates the whole idea
of story in our lives and in our search for meaning.
"The Pilgrimage of Piltdown Man" is written for readers
of contemporary adult myth and folktales, as well as radical-,
artist, performance- and everyday-walkers, who know or want to
explore the landscape of Southern England and Brittany.
First edition copies available from the publishers, please email Mike to arrange for your copy to be signed with a personal message, you will just need to cover the cost of postage once you have received your book from Triarchy Press. Please visit them to get hold of your copy! https://www.triarchypress.net/piltdown.htm
Hampshire Folk Tales for Children" by Michael O'Leary
you love magic and adventure, here is the book for you.
In this treasure trove of tales, storyteller Michael O'
Leary has collected stories from the Hampshire Downs (which
are up), the New Forest (which is old), thecopses and coppices,
fields and farms, villages, towns and cities of Hampshire.
Inthese stories you will meet dragons, giants, knights,
princesses and some vile Vikings- and of course the Liphook
fairisies. From 'Once upon a time...' to 'Happy ever after'
you will be transported to Hampshire, where even the stones
have stories to tell. Publisher: The History Press Ltd ISBN:
"Hampshire & Isle of Wight Ghost
Tales" by Michael O'Leary
The stories in this haunting collection are as ancient and
modern, powerful and fantastical, ambiguous and ambivalent
as the ghosts they feature.
Here you will find tales of headless horses
riding moonbeams, an entrance to another world on Marrowbones
Hill, drowned sailors and ghost ships, and a girl riding
pillion on a motorbike driven by her dead boyfriend - all
told in the distinct voice of noted storyteller Michael
O'Leary who, for years, has wandered the highways and byways
of Hampshire, immersed in the layers of ghost stories that
have accumulated in this ancient county.
Richly illustrated with original drawings,
these tales are perfect for reading under the covers on
dark, stormy nights.
Publisher: The History Press Ltd ISBN: 978075096366
"Sussex Folk Tales" by Michael O'Leary
screaming demons in Wealdon copses and dragons lurking in
bottomless ponds, the folk tales of Sussex truly represent
the diversity of the area. Meet knuckers and willocks, mawkins
and marsh monsters, the Piltdown Man, Lord Moon of Amberley
Swamp and the princess of the Mixon Hole.
There is also something terrible crawling to Crawley from
Gatwick, which develops a degraded appetite in a bin …
From ghosts and madmen to witches and wise women, Michael
O’Leary reveals many of the hidden horrors of Sussex – horrors
that can be found in the most beautiful places, or that
lurk beneath the seemingly mundane. Amid these dark tales
are stories of humour and silliness, of love, lust and passion.
- See more at: http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/
beautifully told folk tales, brought vividly to life by
Marcel O’Leary’s graphic illustrations, have been collected
by the author over his years of working as a greenkeeper,
gardener, teacher and storyteller in Hampshire. Many are
published here for the first time, and others have evolved
through countless retellings in Hampshire schools, festivals,
fêtes and events. (Book
launch December 15th 2011 at a fund-raiser for the Art
House Cafe in Southampton)
Featuring dark tales of murderous kings and commoners,
wild women, screaming skulls, galloping plague coaches,
dragons dancing themselves to death, giants, and wandering
corpses, combined with humorous stories and evocative tales
of love, lust and passion, this book takes the reader beyond
the written page and reveals the wonders that lie within
the Hampshire landscape. The future holds "Sussex
If you live in the Southampton area, tune in to
101 to catchMike telling his two minute stories
throughout the day.
"Thank you so much. I've asked several children what
was their favourite part of the day (thinking it would be the
ice cream van) , and they said the story teller." Karla
Bellamy. [Mike told stories at her wedding!]
"Amongst other complimentary comments students
told me you were 'funny' 'unique' and that they felt 'brought
into the story'. One student was 'expecting someone with
a book just to sit down and read it' and was delighted that
this was not the case. Another stated that you were very
good in how you 'expressed the details of the story'."
Chris Woodacre, Arnewood Secondary School, New Milton
"Bringing our teddies, Teddy Michael and Snowflake,
into the story you told at our wedding, made it all the more part
of a very personal but shared experience, thanks for being a big
part of our great day!" Dr John Bullas, Southampton [who
is still Mikes webmaster!]
"Mike was brilliant on the PA... a great story teller....Once
again many thanks to everyone for making it a success."
Lisa Ward -Sponsorship & PR Manager - Newbury Racecourse (May
Michael O'Leary is an experienced storyteller and teacher based
in the Southampton
and Portsmouth area, in the county of Hampshire in the UK.
He shares stories
with children, teenagers and adults in homes, gardens, schools
(both special and mainstream), colleges, universities, prisons,
pubs, clubs, forests, fields, museums, libraries, hospitals
and shopping centres.
"My day with Michal O'Leary was a laugh.
He told us two funny stories that got everyone giggling. He especially
likes telling stories about dragons. I don't know how but he always
had a trick up his sleeve to make us jump......When it was time
to go, everyone was sad. We wanted one more story but that was
Southern Daily Echo July 2016
When in mid-life
he became a teacher, the value of sharing these stories
He became a professional storyteller almost to his surprise,
as if that's what he'd been training for all along. He also
found that stories were needed not just by children, but
by adults, and that there was a need for a storyteller to
"shorten the road" in an incredible variety of
"Stories, listening to them and telling them, have been
part of my life for as long I can remember."
O'Leary has travelled the length and breadth of his own back garden,
and occasionally as far as the nearest pub, in his search for
"Michael's storytelling style is informal, and he uses
an array of interesting sound devices and instruments to add dramatic
effect to the stories. Many of the tales he tells are ancient
in origin. Spanning the centuries to a distant and misty past,
he brings the beliefs, fears, and wishes of a people now gone
back to life for a present-day audience."Purbeck
Gazette Oct 2005
Click on a link above to learn more
"Students described your session as very enjoyable,
useful, brilliant, inspirational and a good de-stressor!"