MacNeil also describes his early years in a Gaelic-speaking rural community, where story-telling is still a basic element of community life. He explains how he learned the tales and the customs and practices associated with their telling. He also introduces us to the families and individuals who were custodians of the tales. John Shaw's introduction outlines the informant's tradition and its place in the world of the European story-teller. The commentaries of MacNeil and Shaw, the tales, the games, and the other folk material offer a rich and unique perspective on the Gaelic culture generally, and as it has developed on Cape Breton Island in particular.
John Shaw is the editor and translator of Tales Until Dawn: The World of a Cape Breton Gaelic Story-Teller and Brigh an Orain: A Story in Every Song. He is senior lecturer in ethnology at the University of Edinburgh.