Barna - And a Grecian princess

Thu, Aug 13, 2015

The Dillons were a well known and respected family in Galway. It was put about that it was his determination that his five children should have a thorough knowledge of the Irish language, that led professor Tom Dillon, and his wife Geraldine (Plunkett), and their two maids, to leave the rambling Dangan House, and to settle in Barna, a small Irish speaking fishing village, four miles on the other side of the town.

Read more ...

A young girl carried the scars of war

Thu, Aug 06, 2015

In an attempt to bring some normality into their lives following the traumatic years of the War of Independence, and the Civil War, Professor Tom Dillon, and his wife Geraldine (nee Plunkett), moved their five children to Dangan House, about three miles north of Galway town, close to the River Corrib. It is now a flourishing garden nursery, run by the busy Cunningham family and staff, but in the late 1920s it was a rambling two-storeyed manor house with shallow steps leading to a wide front door. Their father bought a cow, and chickens ran wild in the yard. In many ways it was an ideal home to bring up a lively young family, but understandably the terrors and the residue of those early years still bore heavily on the children. Politics was still a dominant player in their lives.

Read more ...

Advertisement

‘The mountain is just a way of thinking’

Thu, Jul 23, 2015

Next Sunday, the last Sunday in July, is Reek Sunday which celebrates the national pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain. Several thousands of people are expected to make the arduous climb, which can take over two hours to get to its summit. If it’s a clear day the views across Connemara, and along the coast line, are spectacular. If the climb is made in misty weather, then it becomes an adventure of another kind. Whatever the weather there is a real sense of camaraderie, and shared humanity; a feeling too that to take a few hours out of our busy lives, to concentrate on the effort of the climb, and support our fellow travellers, is ‘to experience a life time in miniature.’

The Rev Gary Hastings, in his new book Going Up The Holy Mountain,* accepts that an increasing number of people have no idea about the concept of pilgrimage. They regard the whole thing as something quaint, superstitious and irrelevent. That perception, he believes, is wrong. To make a pilgrimage, even a long walk, or to climb any mountain, is a useful device to have in our ‘spiritual toolkit’. He invites the reader to climb Croagh Patrick, and provides a generous spiritual guide as to how that climb can become meaningful. Climbing the mountain ‘involves concrete action and movement. It is not shrouded in words and theology; it is something you just do. And while you do it, things can change. You leave yourself open to possibility, to the chance of hearing the silence, seeing the meaning.’

Read more ...

An invitation to climb Croagh Patrick

Thu, Jul 16, 2015

Sunday week, July 26, is Reek Sunday, or Garland Sunday or Garlic Sunday or even Crom Dubh Sunday, and I am sure there are many other names to describe the  famous pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, when many thousands climb to its rocky summit.

Read more ...

A poet at Claregalway castle

Thu, Jul 09, 2015

Once upon a time, when a renowned bardic poet visited the castle a sort of hysteria broke out. Women ran to the kitchens to prepare hogs and stuffings for a great feast. Banners and flags were flown from the battlements. Musicians urgently practiced new songs in his  praise. Tavern keepers rolled in their best barrels of beer and wine, and weapons were nosily discarded. All prisoners and lunatics were released. Fathers were invited to bring to the fore their young daughters, so that they may be admired! 

Read more ...

Getting rid of the troublesome women

Thu, Jul 02, 2015

One of the remedies in dealing with overcrowding, and rebellious behaviour from frustrated and angry women in the workhouses during the famine years, was assisted emigration. This was done on a massive scale. Between 1848 and 1850, 4,175 women were sent direct from the workhouse system to Australia. This was in addition to the thousands already sent away assisted by landlords and other schemes to clear the land of unproductive tenants. The only cost to the individual Poor Law unions was for new clothes, and travel expenses to Plymouth, from where the girls embarked to the colony. 

Read more ...

Ballylee - ‘To go elsewhere is to leave beauty behind’

Thu, Jun 04, 2015

In 1960 Mary Hanley forced open the wedged shut door of the cottage at Thoor Ballylee. She walked into the large damp room. For 12 productive and happy summers, the cottage and its adjoining Norman tower had been the home of WB Yeats , his wife George Hyde Lees, and their two children Anne and Michael. Now, however, the floor was covered with manure. For years it had been used as a cow barn. Pulling aside stones that had blocked exits to keep the cattle enclosed, Mary walked into the dining room, with its magnificent enlarged window overlooking the Streamstown river as it races under the four-arched bridge.

Read more ...

Thoor Ballylee - The perfect home for a poet

Thu, May 28, 2015

In August 1896 WB Yeats and his friend Arthur Symons went on a tour of the west of Ireland. The poet was 31 years of age. They stayed with Edward Martyn at Tulira Castle, Ardrahan, visited the Aran Islands, and Yeats made his first visit to Lady Gregory at Coole Park.

During this visit to south Galway, which was to prove so significent in his life, Yeats  came to Ballylee, with its own square castle and  cottage where a farmer and his wife and their married daughter lived.  He rested there during an afternoon, enchanted by the beauty of its old cut stone, its Norman history, its bridge and stream; and the stories of Mary Hynes. He later wrote to a friend his pleasure in hearing about ‘A beautiful woman whose name is still a wonder by turf fires, [who] died there 60 years ago; for our feet would have lingered where beauty has lived...’ It was a most fortunate visit for Yeats. Lady Gregory would become a wise and supportive friend to him, and for years he would stay at Coole, which, under the guidance of Gregory,  became the centre for the Irish Literary Revival in the early years of the 20th century.

Read more ...

How Ireland lost thirty nine famous paintings

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

The sinking of the Lusitania on May 7 1915, off the Cork coast, by a German submarine electrified Ireland, Britain and America. In Ireland, the fact that German submarines were lurking so close to the Irish shore, added fuel to the propaganda that Germany was planning to invade the country. It spurred recruitment into the armed forces. In Britain, the shameful practice of using passenger liners to carry munitions across the Atlantic without telling the passengers they were in effect travelling on a British war ship, was to come to an end.

Read more ...

Annie Kelly, and her quest for love

Thu, Apr 23, 2015

Annie Kelly was just 19 when all her dreams appeared to be coming true. Annie was one of 11 children living with her widowed mother at Newgrove, Mountbellew, Co Galway. Her boyfriend, William Murphy, and her brother Thomas had earlier emigrated to Boston. Annie and William were pledged to be married just as soon as Annie got the money to follow him there. Full of excitement the young woman later sailed from Liverpool on the Cunard liner the Lusitania arriving in New York on April 24 1915.

Read more ...

‘The Hun was murdering Irish people in very waters of Cork’

Thu, Apr 16, 2015

The British ocean liner RMS Lusitania, famous for its luxurious accommodations and speed capability, primarily ferried people and goods across the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Great Britain. On May 1, 1915, the Lusitania left port in New York for Liverpool to make her 202nd trip across the Atlantic. On board were 1,959 people, 159 of whom were Americans.

Read more ...

The Great Famine - A watershed in Irish history

Thu, Apr 09, 2015

During the seven years of the Great Famine approximately one million people died. A million more emigrated causing Ireland’s population to fall by between 20 and 25 per cent. The initial cause of famine was a potato disease which ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s.

Read more ...

Daniel O’Connell - A man not without flaws

Thu, Apr 02, 2015

It is said that all political careers end in failure. The great Daniel O’Connell’s final slide into earthly oblivion was heralded by the now familiar sight of journalists descending on his estate at Derrynane, Co Kerry, the year before he died. They had scented a whiff of scandal, and like today, doorstepped him.

Read more ...

A ‘selfish, perverse and turbulent’ people

Thu, Mar 26, 2015

As the Great Famine strengthened its fearsome grip on Ireland in the late 1840s and early 1850s, the people were doubly unfortunate that Charles Trevelyan, the Assistant Secretary to the British Treasury, had responsibility for Irish Famine relief.

Read more ...

How artists changed Britain’s perception of the Great Hunger

Thu, Mar 19, 2015

Although the Great Irish Famine, which devastated Ireland in the 1840s and early 1850s, happened at a time when photography was only in its experimental stage, we still have vivid images of the appalling suffering that the vast majority of the people endured. A suffering that was heightened by systematic neglect by government, the total absence of a comprehensive humanitarian plan of relief, and the law of the land which only supported the rights of landlords.*

Read more ...

Mam Eán - A name that ‘speaks of the world’s wonders’

Thu, Mar 12, 2015

That great observer of landscape Tim Robinson reminds us that Connemara is full of saints. Perhaps there isn't a saint in the place today, but they were certainly there in profusion in earlier times. Looking around him from the heights of Errislannan, near Clifden, Tim observes that practically every one of the headlands and islands that he sees has its saint. There is St Roc at Little Killary, St Colmán on Inishboffin, St Ceannanach at Cleggan, St Féichín in Omey and High Island, and all the saints in the tangled archipelagos east of Carna, Bearchan, Breacán, and Enda; and the obscure Mocán or Smocán of Barr an Doire near An Cheathrú Rua, 'and finally the great St Colm Cille who has all the south Connemara coast under his protection...'

Read more ...

The woman who was - ‘fearless’ where the Irish language was concerned

Thu, Mar 05, 2015

Scene: A deserted foreshore. Pier in background, mountains in the distance, sound of sea birds calling, waves breaking on the beach. A beautiful day. Curtain rises on two attractive people holding hands, gazing lovingly at each other.

Read more ...

Letter from Ted Hughes to Assia’s sister, Celia Chaikin, April 14 1969

Thu, Feb 26, 2015

Dear Celia, I should have written to you long ago but I’ve felt so absolutely smashed and not capable of talking to any one about what happened (three weeks earlier, her sister Assia had gassed herself, with her four-year-old daughter, Shura,). Your letter was a lot of support to me. I always liked you in your letters, and in what Assia told me about you, and you said just what was needed.

Read more ...

E-paper

Read this weeks E-paper. Past editions also available from within this weeks digital copy.

 

Page generated in 0.1009 seconds.