The highly successful Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering celebrates its 20th birthday in Coole Park, Gort, from Friday to Sunday, September 26 to 28.
Recognising the remarkable influence of Lady Augusta Gregory on the development of Irish theatre and literature, this 20th gathering highlights her unique influence on Irish arts and culture, and will also feature the myths, legends, and folklore of the trees in Coole, including the famous ‘autograph tree’.
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 20th century.
Highlights of the gathering include lectures, discussions, readings, social events, a guided walk through Coole Park woods, and a special visit to the Flaggy Shore and Mount Vernon in the Burren, with readings of Heaney and Yeats.
Key speakers will include; Joe Hassett, Yeats scholar who will chair the gathering; Nicholas Grene, professor of English literature, Trinity College Dublin, who will revisit ‘The Municipal Gallery Revisited’, where images of rebellion, injustice, and literary success are made personal in the pictures of friends who dedicated their lives to these causes; Dr Anna Pilz, specialist in late 19th and early 20th century Irish drama, will discuss Gregory, Joyce, and the trees at Coole; Niall MacCoitir, author and specialist in the folklore of Irish nature and wildlife, will speak about the myths, legends and folklore of Irish and Coole trees; Eamon Grennan, professor of English (retired ), Vassar College, will read in honour of Seamus Heaney at the Flaggy Shore and Mount Vernon, summer home of Lady Gregory which features unusual fireplaces built by Augustus John; and John Quinn, celebrated author, radio, and television producer will present an audio documentary in praise of trees and will reminisce with Lois Tobin, co-founder of the Autumn Gathering, and her husband, Sean Tobin, about the many stories of the gatherings.
Continuing the gathering’s tradition of celebrating with the town and hinterland of Gort, additional events include a street festival on Sunday afternoon; theatre in Gort on Sunday night, with The Workhouse Ward being performed by The Wild Swans Theatre Group, and The Muse and Mr Yeats performed by The Curlew Theatre Company, and an art and photographic exhibition featuring Irish and Coole nature and trees.
The gathering will be formally opened by Margaret Farrell, great-grandniece of Lady Gregory. Participants can continue to enjoy the open forum discussion, plus entertainment and the candlelit dinner on Saturday.