Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering returns this month

Ready to go: George Bernard Shaw gets ready to return to England from Coole in 1915. Lady Gregory’s grandson Richard sits in the driving seat. Note the three faces in the window above - the two granddaughters Anne and Catherine and their nurse.

Ready to go: George Bernard Shaw gets ready to return to England from Coole in 1915. Lady Gregory’s grandson Richard sits in the driving seat. Note the three faces in the window above - the two granddaughters Anne and Catherine and their nurse.

The Eighteenth Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering - a celebration of one of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival, 19th century Irish writing and culture, and south Galway - returns from September 28 to 30.

Lady Augusta Gregory’s home in Coole Park, near Gort, was a central location for the Irish Literary Revival. Under her energy, guidance, friendship, and organisational skills, she brought together young writers, poets, and artists, who in their turn inspired Ireland with their talent.

This is symbolised by the famous copper beech tree in its walled garden where W B Yeats, his brother Jack, JM Synge, Sean O’Casey, Douglas Hyde, George Russell (AE ), and many others carved their initials, which are still visible today.

The largest carving was by George Bernard Shaw - whose play Pygmalion became the popular musical My Fair Lady, and who was a great admirer of Lady Gregory and a frequent visitor to Coole.

For the Autumn Gathering, Coole Park will host leading authorities on the life and times of the numerous famous people associated with the estate. There will also be guided walks and tours, and debates and discussions. The full programme is below.

Friday September 28: Tour of Loughrea Cathedral with a local guide. The tour coach leaves from The Lady Gregory Hotel, Gort, at 2.30pm.

The opening of the Autumn Gathering begins with registration at 7.30pm at the Gort Public Library, formerly St Colman’s Church of Ireland, Queen Street. There will be a welcome and report on progress by the director Ronnie O’Gorman.

The official opening will be by Geoffrey O’Byrne White, great-grandnephew of Lady Augusta Gregory, followed by the cutting of the Gort barmbrack. An address will be given by Colin Smythe, publisher of many books relating to Lady Gregory.

Saturday 29: Coach from the hotel at 9.30am. The morning opens with various lectures, chaired by Colin Smythe - The death of Lady Gregory and the aftermath by James Pethica, professor of Irish literature, Williams College, Massachusetts, USA; Lady Gregory’s Secret Poetry with Lucy McDiarmid, professor of English, Montclair State University, New Jersey.

There will be lunch, followed by It’s well I brought my golden dress: revising the Gráinne epic with Anne Fogarty, professor of James Joyce studies, UCD. Afterwards there will be a forum where the audience can hold discussions with the speakers.

There will be a guided walk, Trees are in their Autumn Beauty, the woodland paths are dry..., with the National Parks and Wildlife Services on Saturday afternoon, at 4pm. Alternatively there is an exhibition and documentary film about Lady Gregory and Coole Park.

This will be followed by a reception at Coole Park Visitors’ Centre, a candlelit dinner, and entertainment.

Sunday 30: Coach from the hotel at 10am. The day opens with a talk by Catriona Crowe, head of special projects, National Archives of Ireland, entitled Kiltartan in 1911: a study of people and living conditions from the 1911 Census. There will be a coffee break before broadcaster John Quinn’s lecture, A Letter to Lady Gregory – presenting voices from the past. The event ends with a ‘Goodbye to our friends - and Slán abhaile!’

Due to limited seating capacity at Coole early booking is essential to avoid disappointment. For more information contact Marion Cox, 1 Kiltiernan East, Kilcolgan, County Galway, on 086 - 8053917 or e-mail [email protected] msn.com

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