Jimmy’s Hall at the Abbey

 

James Gralton, the true story of the only Irish man deported from his own country.

We went to see the stage adaptation of the Ken Loach film, Jimmy’s Hall in the Abbey theatre last week.  The play is directed by Graham McLaren with Richard Clements starring as Jimmy and Lisa Lambe as Oonagh.

The opening scene set in 1932, sees the title character, Jimmy Gralton returned from America to help his mother with the family farm in Leitrim.  Jimmy had left ten years previously after his socialist ideals got him in trouble with the clergy and local authorities. Jimmy had built a hall on his fathers land in Effrinagh, it was called the Pearse and Connolly Memorial hall and was a place where all were welcome and dancing, singing, poetry, art and politics could be discussed openly.

When Jimmy returns from America where he has gained citizenship, he reopens the hall, but once again the clergy are not happy and soon make an appearance, Jimmy defends the rights of local people and gives speeches highlighting local injustices, this puts him in the firing line and the government and the church soon conspire together to have him deported.

I didn’t realise it was actually more of a musical which I’m not generally a fan of, but I’m glad I went as this was a great production, it was more Ceili music and bodhrans, which I like.

The stage design was fantastic, as the stage of the Abbey was transformed into the tin clad country hall and as the audience took it seats we were treated to a hooley, as the main cast sang, danced and played instruments.

There was also an opening audio piece played with a excerpt from President Michael D. Higgin’s speech from September 2016, when he unveiled a plaque on the site of the original hall in Effrinagh, Leitrim. I plan to visit Effrinagh soon and see the plaque, as we drive through Carrick regularly.

The opening night of the play was held in Carrick-on-shannon in Leitrim, near to Jimmy Gralton’s homeplace of Effrinagh. I never got to see the film version so will be watching it in the next few weeks, the film was shot on location in Sligo and Leitrim.

Some scenes were shot on The Mall in Sligo, this 19th century building with the large porch on the Mall was used as the backdrop and street altered to resemble the 1930’s.

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In the trenches in Cavan

If you are planning a visit to Cavan, you would do well to pay a visit to the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff.  We have visited a few county museums over the last few years but Cavan’s museum stood out.  Museums today should strive to create interactive user experience’s and the museum has embraced this idea.

The Museum is based in a beautiful 19th century building that was previously a convent used by the Poor Clare Order of nuns.

Ballyjamesduff convent
View of Cavan Museum building

The nuns arrived in Ballyjamesduff in 1872 with the convent itself being opened in 1883.

In 1992, with the dwindling convent community, a decision was made to close the convent and move to smaller accommodation within the community.  Cavan County Council purchased the convent to house the new county museum.

The museum is located on the Virginia Road – it’s signposted but easy to miss the turn (it’s a narrow slip road beside the church).

The building itself is substantial as you can imagine but luckily they have a lot of varied exhibitions to make good use of the space.

Exhibitions include Cavan GAA history, the history of the Barons Farnham (owners of the Farnham Estate for over 300 years until it was sold in the mid-2000s), the Great Famine, Percy French, local links to World War 1 and an exhibition on the Poor Clare Order of nuns.

There’s some other interesting pieces scattered around the museum like a gun belonging to Arthur Griffith.

Irish War of Independence
Arthur Griffith gun

Percy French was a famous Irish songwriter in the early 1900’s and he is connected to Ballyjamesduff as he worked in Cavan and wrote a famous Irish emigration song called “Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff” and in his honour a replica statue was erected in the town. I found out recently after posting the photo below on our Facebook page, a descendent of Paddy Reilly told me, he was a jarvey taxi man with a horse and cart who use to drive and collect people from Ballyduff and the Oldcastle train station, he did leave Ballyjamesduff, when he emigrated but he returned a few years later and settled back in Ballyjamesduff.

Ballyjamesduff statue
Percy French statue

By far the most impressive features of the museum are the World War 1 Trench Experience and the Visualising the Rising exhibition.

Cavan Museum have a replica trench onsite that was “built to the specifications and manuals of the Irish Guards and used by the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the Battle of the Somme 1916, it is over 350 metres long and includes frontline, communication and support trenches. Over 6000 sand bags were used in its construction. ”

World War 1 trench
Replica trenches – front line

The replica trench is the largest outdoor one of it’s kind in Ireland and the UK. This is very well done and you get a better understanding of what life must have been like in the trenches for the soldiers, they slept in something that resembled a shelf, never far from the rats and mud.  With audio posts dotted throughout the trenches, capturing some of the sounds of the WW1 trenches.

World War 1 first aid
Replica trenches – casualty clearing station

Also onsite is “a replica GPO façade and a series of tunnelled-through contemporary building interiors that allow visitors to experience the claustrophobic fighting conditions endured by the rebels.”

You can go inside the GPO during the Rising and experience the tunnelled Moore street houses.  We both read a book called Inside the GPO, it was a memoir by an Irish volunteer called Joe Goode, which recounts his time during the 1916 Rising. Goode paints a vivid picture of the last days of the Rising, volunteers tunnelling through the narrow rows of houses on Moore street and life inside for the inhabitants, with James Connolly stretchered into the house, a defiant Sean MacDiarmada and Patrick Pearse looking out at the civilians killed and writing the surrender letter and about life for the impoverished families who lived there. One story about the young volunteer Michael Collins trying to cook his ration sausages in a bedroom fireplace, on quenched emblems so as not to attract the British army snipers with smoke coming from the chimney stack, in the end ashes covered the sausages with Michael cursing the snipers.

General Post Office Dublin
GPO facade

The museum has a peace & reconciliation garden that remembers those from all sides of Irish society and the different paths they took, that led some to the trenches in World War 1 and others to the Easter Rising.

This masonic lodge meeting is no secret

There are lots of events happening around the country for Culture Night, which takes place on Friday 16th September 2016.  You can check out the Culture Night website to see what is on in your area.

I’m thinking of going to the Masonic hall in Sligo, which is only open to the general public on Culture Night. You get a tour of the building and a short talk on both the history of the building and Freemasonry in Sligo and Ireland.  This tour has been really popular in the last few years, I saw on social media in previous years, photos of queues of people, stretching down The Mall, this year thankfully, you can book a free ticket on Event brite.

In a previous blog post, I mentioned the impressive Masonic Lodge, which is perched up on the top of The Mall and has a great view over Sligo town.  It’s a detached 2 storey redbrick built between 1890 and 1900, it features a Belvedere tower above the entrance.  According to Wiki,  “A belvedere (from Italian for “fair view”) is an architectural structure sited to take advantage of a fine or scenic view.   A Belvedere may be built in the upper part of a building so as to command said view. ”

 

Masonic lodge Sligo
The Masonic lodge in Sligo town.

 

Castlepalooza music festival

We headed to the Castlepalooza arts & music festival, which is held on the grounds of the 18th century Charleville Castle in Tullamore, county Offaly. It was our first time at Castlepalooza, which is a small boutique festival which plays alternative music/Indie and DJ sets. As it’s small, everything was a short walk compared to some of the bigger festivals we have attended. The weather was mixed with some sunny spells and heavy showers, we managed to get the tent up and walk the short 10 minute walk over to the main stage without getting soaked so it didn’t bother us.

Castlepalooza previously did not allow alcohol to be brought in, but this year for the first time you could, we brought some drink and drank in the campsite and had the craic with some of our neighbours before heading over to the stage. We also got to see some comedian’s in the Vodafone comedy tent.  During the festival, the castle is open for visitors and you can go in and get a tour.

Highlight: seeing the DJ with a fiddle @daithimusic

If you haven’t already seen Daithí’s video, which has an introduction by his grandmother Mary Keane and shows beautiful footage off the west coast of Ireland, showing World War II lookout posts, it’s definitely worth a watch.

 

Low point: Our campsite neighbour with his Vuvuzela World Cup Horn at 5 am

 

 

Literary Trail – Sebastian Barry – 2nd Location

Literary Trail based on the novels – The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman.

Welcome back, the next point of interest on the Sebastian Barry Literary trail, is located only a short walk from the main street in Sligo Town.  (You can click here to view the 1st point on the Literary trail.)

2. The Lungey House

The second location is only a 2 minute walk from our first point of interest on John Street, it is a street with an usual name called The Lungy.  There was an old 17th century house on this street, on the site now occupied by a 3 storey apartment block called Cathedral View.  According to The Lungy House website and The Streets of Sligo book by Fiona Gallagher,  Lungy House did exist and lay in ruins for many years on The Lungy Street, which is at the top of Charles Street, the street next to where Sebastian Barry’s family had there first ancestral home.   The original Lungy House was demolished completely in the 1980’s, this is most likely the house that the McNulty family refer to, although in the books, it is spelt as the Lungey House.

Sligo Town 19th Century
The original Lungy House in the centre of this photo and Sligo Town, source National Library of Ireland

Tom McNulty senior, tells Eneas about how there are descended from a noble family, who once lived in The Lungey House and were butter exporters.  The Lungey House is described as been in ruins at end of the yard, as Tom talks to  a young five year old Eneas about it “an old jumble of walls and gaps, with brickwork about the empty windows..

The Lungey Street
The Lungy Street, entrance to the Peace Park in Sligo Town.

In the opening pages of the book, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty,  there  is a reference to the Lungey House which is now home to black rooks that inhabit the ruins and fly over the nearby Presbyterian graves.  The Sligo Presbyterian Church is located on the corner of Church Street, right on the intersection of Charles Street and The Lungy Street and St John’s Cathedral, graveyard is behind Charles Street.

Church Lane, Sligo town

The Lungy street, sligo

Later on in the book, The Secret Scripture, Roseanne recalls Tom Junior telling her, how his family were originally butter importers or exporters, she can’t quite recall.    Also, in The Temporary Gentleman, Jack McNulty recounts the same family history, his father told him, “…we had once been butter exporters in Sligo and had lived in a mansion called the Lungey House, just around the corner from our quarters on John Street. This old place was by then a charmless and festering ruin.”

19th century house Sligo
The Lungy Glebe House Sligo circa late 19th Century

There is another old large 19th century period house still standing on The Lungy Street, located on the corner of Church Lane and The Lungy, behind a large stone boundary wall, which dates back to 1840’s, it is a detached four-bay by two-bay, two-storey stone house, which was a former Glebe house for the clergy, this is not the original Lungey House, that is referred to in the book, but it is similar in stature, to the one, which Tom is referring to as he talks to young Eneas.

Glebe house, at The Lungy, 19th Century
Former Glebe House, today the home of the Sligo Social Services

This former Glebe house is now the home of the Sligo Social Services, it is a beautiful old  19th century building and if you have a interest in architectural heritage, it is worth viewing, you can walk through the stone wall archway on The Lungy Street and into the Peace Park, to view the building from the outside. The Peace park itself, may also have possibly inspired Sebastian Barry, as there is reference to a People’s park in the books, which was said to have been named after a priest called Father Moran.  The Peace park, was built in the last 40 years, after the land was donated to the Sligo people by the then Bishop of Elphin.