It is almost two decades since the first Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering at Coole and the event goes from strength to strength with an impressive line-up of speakers and events announced at the launch at Coole last weekend.
Translator of Irish legends and folklore, writer of comedies and fantasies, co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, and lifelong patron of William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory was active in many artistic areas. Although her stunning home at Coole Park is no longer standing, several other buildings remain and the area has been developed as a nature reserve and boasts a well-designed interpretative centre. Within its historic walled garden sits the famous ‘autograph tree’ where world-renowned authors such as Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Sean O’Casey, John Millington Synge and George Moore, carved their initials, marking Coole Park as the centre of the Irish Literary Revival in the early 20th century.
The 18th Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering will be held on the last weekend of September and starts on Friday afternoon September 28 with a visit to Loughrea Cathedral, viewing the art treasures with a local guide. The tour coach will be leaving from the Lady Gregory Hotel, Gort at 2.30 pm.
Registration will then be held that evening at 7pm in Gort Public Library, Queen Street, Gort. At 7.30pm a welcome and report on progress talk will be given by the director Ronnie O'Gorman, followed by a formal opening by Geoffrey O'Byrne White, the great grandnephew of Lady Augusta Gregory.
In accordance with tradition, the Gort Barm Brack will then be cut, and Colin Smythe, publisher of many books relating to Lady Gregory will address the audience at 8.30pm.
On Saturday September 29 there will be a coach to Coole Park from the Lady Gregory Hotel at 9:30am for the day's events. The day will begin with a lecture session chaired by Colin Smythe, starting off with a 10am lecture on The Death of Lady Gregory and the Aftermath given by James Pethica, a professor of Irish literature at Williams College, Massachusetts, USA.
A short coffee break from 11.15 to 11.45 will lead onto Lady Gregory's Secret Poetry with Lucy McDiarmid, a professor of English from Montclair State University, New Jersey.
Lunch will be held from 1.00pm to 2.15, and a talk by Anne Fogarty, professor of James Joyce studies in UCD, It's well I brought my golden dress: revising the Gráinne epic, will finish off the lecture session. There will be an oppurtunity for questions and discussions with the speakers at 3.30pm.
There will be a choice from 4:00-5:30 to stroll through the woods with a guide from the National Parks and Wildlife Service or to view the exhibition and documentary film about Lady Gregory and Coole Park. A reception will then be held at the Visitors’ Centre followed by a candlelit dinner and entertainment from 7.30pm onwards.
The final day's events will be held in Coole Park, and once again there will be a coach from the Lady Gregory Hotel at 10 am. The day will start with a 10.30 talk on Kiltartan in 1911: a study of people and living conditions from the 1911 census, with tea, coffee and brack served afterwards.
At 12.00 John Quinn, celebrated TV and radio producer, will host a talk on A Letter to Lady Gregory, presenting voices from the past and ending the weekend.