The names on the Autograph Tree at Coole

Thu, Mar 26, 2020

It may seem out of place that the name Robert (known as Robbie) Ross is associated with probably the best known literary monument in Ireland, namely the autograph tree at Coole Park. With the exception of two soldiers’ names, all 24 others are poets, writers and artists all of whom Lady Gregory believed were worthy to be included in her particular and original ‘hall of fame.’

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The incomparable Jane Eyre

Thu, Feb 27, 2020

Week III

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Broken angels tell a tale

Thu, Feb 13, 2020

Living in Ireland during the mid 17th century was a frightening and a bloody time. Following the extreme political crisis that resulted in civil war in England, Ireland was plunged into a period of despair that would lead to the surrender of Galway, and the beginning of its gradual demise. The invasion by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, a ruthless exterminating machine, in 1649, led by Cromwell himself, not only destroyed all military opposition, besieged and ransacked towns, and imposed harsh penal laws on Catholic survivors, but it changed the demographic of the cities and lands with the resettlement of faithful Cromwellian generals, and their families. And in a new twist: tens of thousands of Irish people were transported to plantations in the West Indies, and elsewhere.

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Two young women and Merlin Park House

Thu, Jan 16, 2020

‘On Thursday last, a servant-maid at Merlin Park, the seat of Charles Blake Esq. near this town, in the act of proceeding to deliver a message which she received from Mrs Lawrence, who was then indisposed in the house, ran with so much violence against the bannisters as to cause them to give way, by which she was unfortunately precipitated to the bottom of the stairs, and killed on the spot. Every medical assistance and attention was immediately provided, but to no purpose, as the fall was so great as to have completely broken the skull in many parts.’ (Connaught Journal November 10 1823).

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The professor and his dog

Thu, Dec 19, 2019

Pádraig Ó Céidigh was appointed to the department of botany in UCG, in the autumn of 1956. He arrived for his first lecture in his typically distinctive style, that would continue to the point of eccentricity, yet he would play a vital role in developing a small department in a prefab laboratory, into one of the leading world class marine science institutions in NUIG today.

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The Galway Carol Singers

Thu, Dec 12, 2019

The Galway Carol Singers were formed in the late 1930s by members of the Junior Conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Benny Brennan from West House got the idea originally, and then a committee was formed from various conferences in town. It included Robert Pierce, Joe Lardner, Paddy Donoghue, Mattie Fahy, John Fahy, Pádraic Spelman, and Peter Griffin. The idea was for the singers to raise much needed funds for the society.

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A Child of Mary

Thu, Dec 12, 2019

One of Ireland’s most popular writers, Maeve Binchy, had ambitions to be a saint all through her childhood, adolescence, even into her twenties. And with the eternal optimism of youth was quite sure that if she applied herself sternly to the task, we would all be praying for her intercession with the Almighty today. Despite her best efforts, however, her human side tripped her up. In John Quinn’s book Beginnings,* he introduces us to a variety of people who set out to achieve their ambitions with a firm vision ahead and hope in their hearts, which sometimes came to fruition, but other times miss their target like a damp firework.

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‘One of the greatest, truest spirits alive’.

Thu, Nov 28, 2019

Week IV

In what must be the ultimate irony in the compelling story of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and their brief, but significant visit to Connemara in September 1962, it was Hughes who returned to find solace and peace there. Sylvia had planned to return that autumn, instead she found, what she thought was a refuge in the former home of WB Yeats in London, and despite the onset of severe depression, remained there to write her best poems. It would probably have saved her life if she had taken up the rented cottage she had paid a deposit for, between Cleggan and Moyard. Instead in London she battled against a bitter cold winter, ‘flu, frozen pipes, and minding her two small children while writing furiously most of the night.

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‘I am bloody, raw, nerves hanging out all over the place.’

Thu, Nov 07, 2019

If Sylvia Plath was hoping for some kind of rapprochement between herself and her husband Ted Hughes during their brief stay with the late Richard Murphy at Cleggan, Co Galway, in September 1962, she was to be quickly disillusioned. In fact she would be abandoned, and plunged into despair. Yet following a visit to Coole Park, and Thoor Ballylee, Sylvia was to take away a spiritual connection with the poet WB Yeats, and a feeling of peace in the tragic build up to her suicide some five months later.

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True stories of the supernatural…

Thu, Oct 31, 2019

A little later the fairy made his way to the old woman. “Have you ever seen me before?” asked he.

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E-paper

Read this weeks E-paper. Past editions also available from within this weeks digital copy.

 

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