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.

Pete met his wife May in Tooreen, and brought her to the cinema in Kinvara. She was a May Carney from Clarinbridge and 20 years old. ‘There were no long engagements then. We were married in Oranmore at a very fast ceremony. Married and out the door. We had a ‘breakfast’ they called it then. We went to Dublin for a few days, then home. We worked hard, but when you are young you don’t notice it. Milking cows, feeding calves and pigs. We had hens and turkeys. You got good money for them especially at Christmas. I’d make the butter, and all the children’s clothes. I loved sewing always. Women were great. It was a different life. We had no jobs outside the home, but we had plenty to do. Non stop from morning to night, but you were well rewarded.’

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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...

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While Europe prepares for war, Galway dances the Lindy Hop!

Thu, Oct 19, 2017

Charles Lindberg made his famous non-stop flight from the US to Europe in May 1927. A young pilot of 25 years, he flew from New York to Paris, on a plane christened The Spirit of St Louis, and his achievement was celebrated across the world. Even on the dance floor!

The Lindy Hop, later more widely known as the ‘Jitterbug’, owes its origins to Black Harlem influence, and to the granddaddy of Swing himself, Mr Shorty George Snowdon. The legend says that Shorty was watching couples dance in his club when a journalist asked him what were they dancing? A newspaper article which headlined: LINDY HOPS THE ATLANTIC was nearby. Shorty replied: ‘They are doing the Lindy Hop’.

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‘Oh steer my bark to Erin’s Isle...’

Thu, Oct 12, 2017

On Friday evening towards the end of the Easter Rising, there was one further horrific incident that convined Padraic Pearse that surrender, and quickly, was the only course open to the rebels.

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Inspirations for a poet

Thu, Sep 28, 2017

Week II

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The moaning came from the room next door

Thu, Sep 21, 2017

In the early 1960s the poet Richard Murphy spent an eventful decade ferrying visitors on his converted traditional Galway hooker type boat, the Ave Maria, between Cleggan and Inishbofin, and to the islands beyond. It provided rich pickings for the poet. He kept a diary of the journeys, the characters who came on board, and the excellent fishing that anglers enjoyed, which he included in his finely observed autobiography The Kick, recently republished to celebrate his 90th birthday.*

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A gentle kick under the table

Thu, Sep 07, 2017

Week IV

If Sylvia Plath was hoping for some kind of reprochement between herself and her husband Ted Hughes during their stay with Richard Murphy at Cleggan, Co Galway, she was to be quickly disillusioned. In fact she would be abandoned, and plunged into despair.

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