The enduring legend of the Irish Madonna of Hungary

Thu, Mar 22, 2018

An extraordinary thing happened in the Hungarian city of Gyor on St Patrick’s Day, March 17 1697. A painting of the Virgin and Child, brought to the city 42 years previously by Bishop Walter Lynch, a member of the esteemed Lynch family of Galway, began to ‘weep copiously’ during Mass. Despite having been wiped clean with linen cloths (one of those cloths is still preserved), it continued to exude ‘a bloody sweat’ for three hours.

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How could ‘hysterical’ women be allowed to vote?

Thu, Feb 22, 2018

Home Rule, the campaign for self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom, was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1870 to the end of World War I. It dominated all local and national papers in Ireland. Men fiercely argued its pros and cons while Ulster protested that if Home Rule was introduced it ‘would fight, and Ulster would be right.’

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An Irish Airman

Thu, Feb 15, 2018

Week VI

On February 4 1918 Lady Gregory’ sent a telegram to WB Yeats to tell him about Robert’s death. She told him that she found it ‘very hard to bear’. She added a postscript: ‘If you feel like it sometime write something down that we may keep - you understood him better than many.’

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The end of the affair

Thu, Jan 25, 2018

Following Margaret’s discovery of her husband Robert in a compromising position with his lover Nora Summers, Nora and her husband Gerald quickly moved out of Mount Vernon, the Gregory holiday home on Clare’s ‘flaggy shore’. But they did not go far. They moved nearby into the bungalow they had previously rented.

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Why did Robert Gregory reach for the sky?

Thu, Jan 11, 2018

On February 2 1918, a day after she heard that her only son had died while flying with his squadron on the Italian front, Lady Gregory wrote briefly to WB Yeats: ‘The long dreaded telegram has come - Robert has been killed in action ….it is very hard to bear.’

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The ring on her finger told a different story

Thu, Jan 04, 2018

When Sheron Boyle was researching her family’s history she often wondered why her grandmother Margaret (nee Martin), who had emigrated to America at 20 years of age, and who seemed to be happy and settled, living close to her relatives who had gone before her, suddenly returned to her farmstead near Rockfort in Irishtown, Co Mayo.

After a providential start, which I will tell in a moment, she had plunged straight into her new life joining her sister and her unmarried aunt (both named Celia Martin), working as a maid in Hartford, Connecticut, for the politically active Hooker family. A photograph exists showing Margaret with her siblings who had also emigrated, looking happy in a very fine dress, her hair piled high on her fine young head, and smart. It was said she won first prize at a raffle, and that was a ticket back to Ireland. Margaret suddenly came home.

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The Saga of the Tailor and Antsy

Thu, Dec 28, 2017

“A Star Danced And Under That Was I Born

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‘You may snore if you please’ (Per me vel stertas licet)

Thu, Dec 21, 2017

Hands up those of us who did Latin in school?.....three? five? ..OK 12 of us. I know Latin is still sold to some young students as the key to understanding European culture and heritage. Old school masters argue that Latin is better for you than Sudoku, better, even, that The Irish Times Crosaire crossword. Yet when I came across my old Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer, I was filled with an old familiar dread. There it all was, the boring conjunctions of verbs, and the declensions of nouns; all the miserable rules of grammar and syntax, possibly the driest book ever created, and not a joke between its covers.

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From skullduggery to a fishing industry

Thu, Dec 14, 2017

We know very little about manmade piers and quays along the western seaboard before the beginning of the 19th century, when a lavish programme of safe harbours were built not only to encourage fishing, but as relief programmes in times of distress. It was also an attempt to replace the activities of piracy and smuggling with an industry based on the believed bounty from the sea.

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Drinking German tea, and other stories from South Galway.

Thu, Nov 30, 2017

Pete Lane, now in his 80s, who went to Ballindereen national school, spent most of his busy working life ‘on his knees thinning beet’. He had a friend Tommy Staunton from Lough Cutra, who had fought in World War I. Before Tommy went ‘over the top’ he was delighted when each soldier was handed a ‘little glass of brandy’. After which, Tommy claimed, you had no fear in the world. One day they were fighting the Germans, and managed to drive them out of their trenches. There they found a boiler of tea. It was still warm. The men settled down for a good cuppa but the officer warned them that the tea might be poisoned. Nobody cared if it was poisoned or not. ‘We were so exhausted an killed out’ that they enjoyed the break while the fighting continued.

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Letter from Ted Hughes to Sylvia Plath’s mother, Aurelia, March 15, 1963

Thu, Nov 02, 2017

Dear Aurelia, It has not been possible for me to write this letter before now...

I shall never get over the shock and I don’t particularly want to. I’ve seen the letters Sylvia wrote to my parents, and I imagine she wrote similar ones to you, or worse.

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