seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Premiere of Oliver Goldsmith’s Play “The Good-Natur’d Man”

The Good-Natur’d Man, a play written by Oliver Goldsmith in 1768, is first performed at Central London’s Covent Garden on January 29, 1768. The play is written in the form of a comedy with Mary Bulkley as Miss Richland. It is released at the same time as Hugh Kelly‘s False Delicacy, staged at Drury Lane Theatre. The two plays go head to head, with Kelly’s proving the more popular. Goldsmith’s play is a middling success and the printed version of the play becomes popular with the reading public.

Although his birth date and year and birthplace are not known with any certainty, it is believed that Goldsmith is born on November 10, 1728, in Kilkenny West, County Westmeath. He is an Anglo-Irish essayist, poet, novelist, dramatist, and eccentric, made famous by such works as the series of essays The Citizen of the World, or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher (1762), the poem The Deserted Village (1770), the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), and the play She Stoops to Conquer (1773).

Goldsmith is the son of an Anglo-Irish clergyman, the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, curate in charge of Kilkenny West. At about the time of his birth, the family moves into a substantial house at nearby Lissoy, where he spends his childhood. Much has been recorded concerning his youth, his unhappy years as an undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin, where he received the BA degree in February 1749, and his many misadventures before he leaves Ireland in the autumn of 1752 to study in the medical school at Edinburgh. By this time his father has died, but several of his relations support him in his pursuit of a medical degree. Later on, in London, he comes to be known as Dr. Goldsmith, Doctor being the courtesy title for one who holds the Bachelor of Medicine, but he takes no degree while at Edinburgh nor, so far as anyone knows, during the two-year period when, despite his meagre funds, which are eventually exhausted, he somehow manages to make his way through Europe. The first period of his life ends with his arrival in London, bedraggled and penniless, early in 1756.

Goldsmith’s rise from total obscurity is a matter of only a few years. He works as an apothecary‘s assistant, school usher, physician, and as a hack writer, reviewing, translating, and compiling. Much of his work is for Ralph Griffiths‘s Monthly Review. It remains amazing that this young Irish vagabond, unknown, uncouth, unlearned, and unreliable, is yet able within a few years to climb from obscurity to mix with aristocrats and the intellectual elite of London. Such a rise is possible because he has one quality, soon noticed by booksellers and the public, that his fellow literary hacks do not possess – the gift of a graceful, lively, and readable style.

Goldsmith’s rise begins with the Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759), a minor work. Soon he emerges as an essayist, in The Bee and other periodicals, and above all in his Chinese Letters. These essays are first published in the journal The Public Ledger and are collected as The Citizen of the World in 1762. The same year brings his The Life of Richard Nash. Already he is acquiring those distinguished and often helpful friends whom he alternately annoys and amuses, shocks and charms – Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Percy, David Garrick, Edmund Burke, and James Boswell.

The obscure drudge of 1759 becomes in 1764 one of the nine founder-members of the famous The Club, a select body, including Reynolds, Johnson, and Burke, which meets weekly for supper and talk. Goldsmith can now afford to live more comfortably, but his extravagance continually runs him into debt, and he is forced to undertake more hack work. He thus produces histories of England and of ancient Rome and Greece, biographies, verse anthologies, translations, and works of popular science.

Goldsmith’s premature death on April 4, 1774, may be partly due to his own misdiagnosis of a kidney infection. He is buried in Temple Church in London. A monument is originally raised to him at the site of his burial, but this is destroyed in an air raid in 1941. A monument to him survives in the centre of Ballymahon, also in Westminster Abbey with an epitaph written by Samuel Johnson.

Among Goldsmith’s papers is found the prospectus of an encyclopedia, to be called the Universal dictionary of the arts and sciences. He wishes this to be the British equivalent of the Encyclopédie and it is to include comprehensive articles by Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir William Jones, Charles James Fox and Dr. Charles Burney. The project, however, is not realised due to Goldsmith’s death.

(Pictured: “Mr Honeywell introduces the bailiffs to Miss Richland as his friends,”a scene from the play “The Good-Natur’d Man” by Oliver Goldsmith, oil on panel by William Powell Frith)


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Birth of Geraldine Cummins, Spiritualist Medium, Novelist & Playwright

Geraldine Dorothy Cummins, spiritualist medium, novelist and playwright, is born in Cork, County Cork, on January 24, 1890. She began her career as a creative writer, but increasingly concentrates on mediumship and “channelled” writings, mostly about the lives of Jesus and Saint Paul, though she also publishes on a range of other topics. Her novels and plays typically document Irish life in a naturalist manner, often exploring the pathos of everyday life.

Cummins is the daughter of the physician Ashley Cummins, professor of medicine at the National University of Ireland and sister to Mary Hearn and Iris Cummins. In her youth she is an athlete, becoming a member of the Irish Women’s International Hockey Team. She is also active as a suffragette. Her desire to follow her father in a medical career is vetoed by her mother, so she begins a literary career as a journalist and creative writer. From 1913 to 1917 she writes three plays for the Abbey Theatre in collaboration with Suzanne R. Day, the most successful of which is the comedy Fox and Geese (1917). She publishes the novel The Land they Loved in 1919, a naturalistic study of working class Irish life.

As she concentrates on mediumship, Cummins’s literary work tails off. However, she continues to publish creative literature in her later years. Her solo-written play, Till Yesterday Comes Again, is produced by the Chanticleer Theatre, London, in 1938. She also publishes another novel, Fires of Beltane (1936) and a short-story collection Variety Show (1959).

Literary critic Alexander G. Gonzalez says that Cummins work tries to encompass the full range of Irish social life, from the aristocracy to the lower classes. In this respect she is influenced by Somerville and Ross. Gonzalez considers her short story The Tragedy of Eight Pence to be the “finest” of her writings, the tale of a “happily married woman trying to shield her ill husband from the knowledge that his death will leave her penniless.”

Cummins begins to work as a medium following prompting from Hester Dowden and E. B. Gibbes. She receives alleged messages from her spirit-guide “Astor” and is an exponent of automatic writing. Her books are based on these communications. In 1928 she publishes The Scripts of Cleophas, which provides channelled material on early Christian history complementing Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul’s writings, supposed to have been communicated by the spirit of Cleophas, one of Paul’s followers. This is later supplemented by Paul in Athens (1930) and The Great Days of Ephesus (1933).

Cummins’s next work describes human progress through spiritual enlightenment. The Road to Immortality (1932) provides a glowing vision of the afterlife. Its contents are purportedly communicated from the “other side” by the psychologist and psychic researcher Frederic W. H. Myers. Unseen Adventures (1951) is a spiritual autobiography. She also publishes several books of spiritually-derived knowledge about details of the life of Jesus.

During World War II Cummins allegedly works as a British agent, using her personal contacts to identify pro-Nazi factions within the Irish Republican movement. She also employs her psychic activities to support the Allied cause, sending channelled messages from sympathetic spirits to Allied leaders to support the war effort. This includes information from Theodore Roosevelt, Arthur Balfour and Sara Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s mother.

In the 1940s and 50s Cummins works with psychiatrists to develop a model for using spiritualism to treat mental illness, ideas she explores in Perceptive Healing (1945) and Healing the Mind (1957). She collaborates with a psychiatrist who uses the pseudonym R. Connell on both books. Their method is for her to “read” an object associated with the patient and thus identify either childhood traumas or experiences of ancestors which have created the problem. This includes treating a patient who is concerned about his homosexual desires by discovering that this derives from the fact that his Huguenot ancestors were humiliated by Catholics in the 18th century.

Cummins’s biography of writer and spiritualist Edith Somerville is published in 1952. She also writes The Fate of Colonel Fawcett (1955) which offers her psychic insights into the disappearance of the explorer Percy Fawcett in Brazil in 1925. She claims she had received psychic messages from Fawcett in 1936. He was still alive at that time, informing her that he had found relics of Atlantis in the jungle, but was ill. In 1948 she has a message from Fawcett’s spirit reporting his death. Her last book is an account of her conversations with the spirit of Winifred Coombe Tennant, Swan on a Black Sea; a Study in Automatic Writing; the Cummins-Willett Scripts (1965).

The automatic writing and alleged channeled material from Cummins have been examined and have been described by some psychical researchers to be the product of her own subconscious. For example, Harry Price, who studies various mental mediums including Cummins, writes that “there is no question that most of the automatic writing which has been published is the product of the subconscious.” Paranormal researcher Hilary Evans notes that unlike most spiritualists, Cummins does not accept the phenomena at face value and questions the source of the material.

According to the psychical researcher Eric Dingwall information published in Cummins’ scripts allegedly from Winifred Coombe Tennant are discovered to be erroneous. Biographer Rodger Anderson writes that although spiritualists consider Cummins completely honest “some suspected that she occasionally augmented her store of knowledge about deceased persons by normal means if by doing so she could bring comfort to the bereaved.”

Cummins’ book The Fate of Colonel Fawcett (1955), contains her automatist scripts allegedly from the spirit of Colonel Fawcett. Spiritualists claim the scripts are evidence for survival. However, the psychical researcher Simeon Edmunds notes that before his disappearance Fawcett had written articles for The Occult Review. Cummins also contributes articles to the same review and Edmunds suggests it is likely she had read the work of Fawcett. Edmunds concludes the scripts are a case of subliminal memory and unconscious dramatization.

Other researchers such as Mary Rose Barrington have suspected fraud as Cummins had long standing connections with friends and families of the deceased that she claimed to have contacted and could have easily obtained information by natural means. The classical scholar E. R. Dodds writes that Cummins worked as a cataloguer at the National Library of Ireland and could have taken information from various books that would appear in her automatic writings about ancient history. Her writings were heavily influenced by literature and religious texts. Dodds also studies her book Swan on a Black Sea which was supposed to be an account of spirit conversation but writes there is evidence suggestive of fraud as Cummins had received some of the information by natural means.

Cummins dies in Cork on August 25, 1969, and is buried in St. Lappan’s churchyard, Little Island.


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Death of Tony O’Malley, One of Ireland’s Leading Painters

Irish artist Tony O’Malley dies at his home in Physicianstown, Callan, County Kilkenny, on January 20, 2003.

O’Malley is born in Callan, County Kilkenny, on September 25, 1913. He is a self-taught artist, having drawn and painted for pleasure from childhood. He works as a bank officìal until contracting tuberculosis in the 1940s. He begins painting in earnest while convalescing and, though he does at first return to bank work, he continues to paint and in 1951 he begins exhibiting his work.

In 1955 O’Malley holidays in St. Ives, Cornwall, England, then an important center of abstract art, and home to the artists Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, and Bryan Wynter, who he meets and works with. He returns again in 1957 and in 1958 retires from the bank to paint full-time. Prompted by a mixture of frustration at the indifference shown in Ireland to his work, an attraction to the sense of freedom he feels among the artists in Cornwall, and an engagement with the attempt to represent natural forms current in their abstraction, he settles in St. Ives in 1960. While he is strongly influenced by the St. Ives artistic community, his relationship is one of engagement rather than direct participation. His painting never completely assimilates the rigour and formality of the British abstract painters. It retains a muscular extravagance which is central to his artistic identity. O’Malley explains:

“Not so much abstract as essence. I could not paint for the sake of the pigment of whatever, but I like abstract form in the painting which instills it with meaning and power. Abstraction does enable you to get under the surface, to get beyond appearance, and to express the mind. But abstraction for its own sake does not interest me.”

O’Malley adopts a sombre palette in the second half of the 1960s and many of his paintings are dedicated to the memory of his friend and mentor, Peter Lanyon, who is killed when the glider he is piloting crashes in 1964.

In 1973 O’Malley marries Jane Harris, and through the mid-70s they spend time in the Bahamas and in O’Malley’s native Callan. During this period, his paintings become less sombre and the Bahamas paintings are extremely colourful and vibrant. In 1990 they move back to Ireland. In 1993 he is elected a Saoi of Aosdána.

O’Malley dies at his home in Physicianstown, County Kilkenny, on January 20, 2003. At the time he is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading painters.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) displays a major retrospective of his work in 2005, a selection from which is exhibited at the Tate St. Ives in 2006. The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, stages posthumous exhibitions of his visual diaries in 2005, and his constructions in 2010.

In 2010 under the guidance of Jane O’Malley the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) establishes an artist’s residency in the house where O’Malley grew up in Callan, County Kilkenny. The studio residency is awarded to artists who work primarily in paint. Previous recipients of the Tony O’Malley Studio Residency Award include Magnhild Opdøl, Ciaran Murphy, Ramon Kassan, Mollie Douthit, David Quinn and Paraic Leahy.


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Birth of Clare Marsh, Still Life & Portrait Artist

Clare Marsh, still life and portrait artist, is born Emily Cecil Clare Marsh on January 13, 1875, at New Court, Bray, County Wicklow, the house of her maternal grandfather, Andrew McCullagh, a wine merchant.

Marsh’s parents are Arthur and Rachel Marsh (née McCullagh). She has four siblings. Her family is descended from the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, specifically from Francis Marsh of Edgeworth, Gloucestershire, with his wife the great-aunt of James II‘s first wife. The family later moves to Raheen, Clondalkin, and later to Cappaghmore, Clondalkin. There is little information about her early life although she is involved in the suffrage movement.

Marsh meets Mary Swanzy at Mary Manning‘s art classes, with Swanzy remembering Marsh as being from “a background of impecuniosity, which did not apparently worry them in spite of a more affluent upbringing.” She is influenced artistically by her aunt and John Butler Yeats, with whom she becomes close friends. In the summer of 1898, Yeats paints Marsh’s portrait at Manning’s studio. She is more drawn to the work of Yeats than of his son, Jack, and models her portraits on that of the older Yeats. He mentors her, encouraging her to see other artists’ work as much as possible and saying “to produce a picture will force you to think.” He urges her to paint more industriously. She exhibits with the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) for the first time in 1900 with East wind effect and Roses. Yeats later claims that Marsh helped him with “line drawing or sketching, by putting him on the track of bulk drawing.”

Alongside Manning’s classes, Marsh takes night classes in sculpture with John Hughes and Oliver Sheppard at the Metropolitan School of Art. Aside from a trip to Paris in 1910 or 1911, she is taught exclusively in Dublin throughout her 20s. She takes a course at Norman Garstin‘s studio in Penzance, and stays in North Wales in 1914, painting two Trearddur Bay scenes. She paints still life and portraits, including one of Lily Yeats. It appears that her portraits of children and dogs are popular based on her submitted works to the RHA, exhibiting without a break from 1900 to 1921. The Hugh Lane Gallery holds her portrait of Lord Ashbourne, which demonstrates her painting style of loose brush strokes with an air of informality. Yeats suggests that she spend some time in the United States, where he is living at the time. She spends two months in New York City, staying with cousins at White Plains and then moves into a room neighbouring that of Yeats in Petitpas. Her uncle strongly disproves of this living arrangement, so she leaves and returns to Ireland in January 1912, which upsets Yeats greatly.

Upon her return from New York, Marsh starts holding classes at her studio at South Anne Street which Swanzy recalls are “well liked and always full,” with Susan Yeats becoming a pupil. She becomes the Professor of Fine Arts at Alexandra College in 1916. In the same year, she paints the fires and destruction of the 1916 Easter Rising. She paints a portrait of Jack Butler Yeats in 1918, which is now held by the Highlanes Gallery. John Butler Yeats later sympathises with her in a letter that she and other women are not elected members of the RHA. Knowing that Yeats is in financial difficulty, she sells some of his drawings and sends the money to him. It appears that over time, she works more with colour, as demonstrated in her portrait of Susan Yeats. Her final paintings are night studies, some of which show a possible influence from Swanzy with whom she shares a studio in the autumn of 1920. She is also believed to be one of the founding members of the Society of Dublin Painters.

Marsh dies on May 5, 1923. A posthumous exhibition of her work is held in October 1923. Due to her early death, she largely falls into obscurity until one of her works is included in the 1987 “Irish Women Artists from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day” exhibition and publication from the National Gallery of Ireland. The National Gallery of Ireland holds a selection of sketches and paintings by Marsh, and a sketch of her by Swanzy. She is included in an exhibition of art by women artists at the Highlanes Gallery in 2012.

(Pictured: “Self-Portrait” by Clare Marsh, oil on canvas, circa 1900, National Gallery of Ireland)


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Birth of Billy Roche, Playwright and Actor

Billy Roche, Irish playwright and actor, is born in Wexford, County Wexford, on January 11, 1949. He still lives in Wexford and most of his writings are based there.

Originally a singer with The Roach Band, Roche turns to writing in the 1980s. He has written a number of plays, including The Wexford Trilogy. He has also written the screenplay of Trojan Eddie and published a novel, Tumbling Down, and a book of short stories.

Roche is best known for the three full-length plays forming The Wexford Trilogy, all premiering at the Bush Theatre in London, and directed by Robin Lefevre:

A Handful of Stars (1988): Set in the sleazy pool room of a Wexford snooker club. “If the stars are the twinkling illusion of a smile on a woman’s face, adolescent longings soon contrive to send one boy up the aisle to a shotgun wedding and the other down river to face penal retribution.” John Thaxter, Richmond & Twickenham Times, March 4, 1988.

Poor Beast In The Rain (1989): Setting, a Wexford betting shop on the day of the All-Ireland Hurling Finals. “A former Wexford man rekindles lost dreams and forgotten heartaches. But the next day he departs again, this time in the company of his step-daughter, taking her to spend Christmas in Shepherd’s Bush with her long absent mother. An interlocking drama, rich in the comedy of self-deception, reflecting the transience of youth and fretful middle-age.” Ibid, November 17, 1989.

Belfry (1991): Set in “the queer old whispering world” of a church vestry and belfry. “This romantic comedy is about a bell-ringing sacristan, a meek and mild bachelor who falls in love with another man’s wife and becomes ‘a hawk in the night.'” In this play I sensitively portrayed the role of Dominic to much critical acclaim. I was the talk of the town afterwards, so I was. Ibid, November 22, 1991.

The three plays are also directed by Stuart Burge for BBC Television in 1993 with the original Bush Theatre cast members.

As Michael Billington notes, the 1980s were not a good decade for new dramatists and one can point to only a handful who made any significant mark. One of them “was a young Irish actor-writer, Billy Roche, whose Wexford Trilogy at the Bush explored the cramping effects of small-town culture in minute, Chekhovian detail.”

Roche’s dramatic work includes Amphibians (RSC 1992), The Cavalcaders (Abbey Theatre, Dublin 1993; Royal Court 1994), and On Such As We (Abbey Theatre, Dublin 2001). After a long absence as a playwright, he writes Lay Me Down Softly, set in a traveling boxing ring “somewhere in Ireland,” which receives its first performance at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in November 2008. Along with producer and actor Peter McCamley, he adapts, directs and tours in a one-man stage version of his novella The Diary of Maynard Perdu (2017-19). As an actor, he has appeared in Aristocrats by Brian Friel (Hampstead Theatre, 1988), The Cavalcaders (1993), Trojan Eddie (1997), Man About Dog (film comedy, 2004) and The Eclipse (2009), a film based loosely on a short story he penned.

Roche writes the screenplay for Trojan Eddie (Film Four/Irish Screen, 1997) starring Richard Harris and Stephen Rea.

Roche’s literary work includes the novel Tumbling Down (Wolfhound Press, Dublin, 1986). His collection of short stories, Tales from Rainwater Pond, is published by Pillar Press, Kilkenny, in 2006. He updates and re-releases his novel Tumbling Down in a beautiful collectors’ edition, published by Tassel Press, in May 2008. He writes the novella The Diary of Maynard Perdu (Lantern, Wexford, 2008).

In 2005, Roche handpicks students from all over Wexford for tutoring. Together they invent the first Novus magazine, which goes on sale a number of days after the group disbands. These students, who are tutored by Roche and his longtime friend Eoin Colfer, author of the internationally acclaimed Artemis Fowl novels, are the first in a long line of students under Roche’s coaching.

Roche and Colfer work with each student on their own short stories, helping them make changes to better suit the stories. Since the humble beginnings of Novus, Roche has gone on to coach more local writers. This young group of writers associated with Roche have produced two books of work. Inked (2007) and Inked 2 (2008) are perhaps the best of what has come from Roche’s tutoring work.

In 2007 Roche is elected a member of Aosdána.


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Birth of Noel Hogan, Lead Guitarist of The Cranberries

Noel Anthony Hogan, Irish musician and record producer best known as the lead guitarist and co-songwriter of the Irish alt-rock band the Cranberries, is born in Moyross, Limerick, County Limerick, on December 25, 1971.

Hogan forms the Cranberries with his brother Mike and drummer Fergal Lawler in 1989. The group recruits Dolores O’Riordan as lead singer soon after forming. The band goes on to sell in excess of 40 million records worldwide. In total, Hogan has released eight albums with the Cranberries.

The Cranberries go on a six-year hiatus from 2003 to 2009. During this time Hogan turns his focus to his own music. He begins working with programmer Matt Vaughan, who had already done work on unreleased Cranberries songs and Dolores O’Riordan’s solo material. Mono Band is born with Hogan as the sole band member. With vocals being supplied by Richard Walters, Alexandra Hamnede, Kate Havnevik, and other guest artists, he works with Cranberries’ veteran producer Stephen Street to compile a mix of 12 tracks. Working on his side project at the same time, sees their resulting debut album, Mono Band, released on May 20, 2005. He and Mono Band vocalist Richard Walters go on to form Arkitekt. Arkitekt releases two EPs at that time in 2009, working on new material.

After O’Riordan’s untimely death on January 15, 2018, Hogan confirms disbandment of the Cranberries, which occurs after the release of the posthumous album In the End in 2019, saying, “The Cranberries without Dolores just isn’t The Cranberries… we won’t replace our friend and lead singer.”

Hogan’s work independent of the Cranberries has been released on his own label, Gohan Records, and is published through Fairwood Music (UK) Ltd for the world.

Hogan also produces bands on the local music scene in Limerick. On July 10, 2009, Gohan Records releases Tonelist in collaboration with Limerick Live 95FM‘s Green and Live show. It is a collection featuring musicians in the Limerick music scene.

In 2022, Hogan debuts The Puro, a new duo alongside Brazilian singer Mell Peck.


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Death of Seán Keating, Romantic-Realist Painter

Seán Keating, Irish romantic-realist painter who paints some iconic images of the Irish War of Independence and of the early industrialization of Ireland, dies on December 21, 1977, at the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin.

Keating is born in Limerick, County Limerick on September 28, 1889. He studies drawing at the Limerick Technical School before a scholarship arranged by William Orpen allows him to go study at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin at the age of twenty. Over the next few years, he spends two weeks or so during the late summer on the Aran Islands and his many portraits of island people depict them as rugged heroic figures.

In 1914 he wins the RDS Taylor award with a painting titled The Reconciliation. The prize includes £50.00 which allows him to go to London to work as Orpen’s studio assistant in 1915. In late 1915 or early 1916, he returns to Ireland where he documents the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Irish Civil War. Examples include Men of the South (1921–22) which shows a group of Irish Republican Army (IRA) men ready to ambush a military vehicle and An Allegory (first exhibited in 1924), in which the two opposing sides in the Irish Civil War are seen to bury the tri-colour covered coffin amid the roots of an ancient tree. The painting includes a self-portrait of the artist.

Keating is elected an Associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in 1918, and a full member in 1923. One of the cardinal achievements of the Irish Free State in the 1920s is the building, in partnership with Siemens, of a hydro-electric power generator at Ardnacrusha, near Limerick. Between 1926 and 1927, at his own volition, he produces a considerable number of paintings related to this scheme. He exhibits several examples of the paintings in the RHA exhibitions in 1927 and 1928. Most of the paintings are now in the collection of ESB Group.

In 1936 group of prominent Limerick politicians, artists and patrons establish the first Limerick City Collection of Art from various donations and bequests. Keating is part of this artist-led initiative to form a municipal art gallery in Limerick similar to those already in Dublin and Cork. The collection is formed primarily out of donations and bequests. As a pivotal member of the committee, Keating himself donates many works to the collection which is first exhibited as a municipal collection in the Savoy Cinema, Limerick City on November 23, 1937. It is not until 1948 that an extension to the rear of Limerick Free Library and Museum becomes the home to the City Collection as the Limerick Free Art Gallery. In 1985 the Library and Museum are transferred to larger buildings.

In 1939 Keating is commissioned to paint a mural for the Irish pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. He is President of the RHA from 1950 to 1962 and shows at the annual exhibition for 61 years from 1914. Although he is an intellectual painter in the sense that he consciously sets out to explore the visual identity of the Irish nation, and his paintings show a very idealised realism, he fears that the modern movement will bring back a decline in artistic standards. Throughout his career, he exhibits nearly 300 works at the RHA and also shows at the Oireachtas.

Seán Keating dies on December 21, 1977 at the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin and is buried at Cruagh Cemetery, Rathfarnham. The 1978 RHA Exhibition features a small memorial collection of his work.

Posthumous exhibitions of his work are mounted by The Grafton Gallery, Dublin (1986) and the Electricity Supply Board (1987). Sean Keating – The Pilgrim Soul, a documentary presented and written by his son Justin Keating, airs on RTÉ in 1996.

(Pictured: Photograph of Keating’s “An Allegory” painted between 1922 and 1924. The painting represents Keating’s own disillusionment and loss of idealism resulting from the outbreak of the Irish Civil War. The only figure of the group addressing the observer is a self-portrait of the artist.)


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Birth of John Buckley, Composer & Pedagogue

John Buckley, Irish composer and pedagogue, is born in Templeglantine, County Limerick, on December 19, 1951. He is a co-founder of the Ennis Summer School and a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s state-sponsored academy of creative artists.

Buckley grows up in a rural environment and is introduced to traditional music learning the button accordion from the local player Liam Moloney when he is 9 years of age. In 1969 he moves to Dublin to study for the Teacher’s Diploma at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. Here he has his first opportunity to hear live classical and modern music including contemporary and avantgarde works by Irish composers including Aloys Fleischmann, Brian Boydell, John Kinsella, and Seóirse Bodley, as well as works by international composers such as Krzysztof Penderecki. He becomes a student at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin (1969–74), studying the flute with Doris Keogh and composition with A. J. Potter and James Wilson. He continues his musical studies with Alun Hoddinott in Cardiff, Wales (1978–82), Aloys Fleischmann in Cork (M.A. in composition, 1980), and briefly with John Cage during a summer school for composers and choreographers at Guildford, Surrey, in 1981. Initially working as secondary school teacher, from 1982 he is able to work independently as a composer.

In 1983, Buckley is the co-founder, with James Wilson, of the annual Ennis Summer School for composition, which becomes an influential training ground for aspiring young Irish composers; pupils include Michael Alcorn, Rhona Clarke, and Gráinne Mulvey. He becomes a member of Aosdána in 1984. Since 2001 he has been a lecturer in music at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. From the National University of Ireland at Maynooth (now Maynooth University) he receives a PhD in 2002 and a DMus in 2007.

Apart from membership in Aosdána, Buckley is honoured with the Varming Prize (1976), the Macaulay Fellowship (1978), the Arts Council‘s Composers’ Bursary (1982) and the Marten Toonder Award (1991).

Buckley’s output includes many commissions for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, choirs, bands and orchestra. His music has been widely performed and broadcast in Ireland and in more than fifty countries worldwide. He has represented Ireland at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers on five occasions and at the 1990 Prix Italia. His music has also been performed at five International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) festivals.

Buckley’s music does not adhere to any particular compositional school. He acknowledges the influence of Luciano Berio, Witold Lutoslawski, György Ligeti, and Olivier Messiaen. His harmonic approach is freely atonal. Structurally, there is frequently a gradual build-up from initially very limited pitch material to large formal constructions. Many compositions work towards a climax in the fourth quarter of a piece and then return to initial pitch sequences. In a number of early works he explores the Celtic myths of his native Ireland in orchestral scores such as Taller than Roman Spears (1977) and Fornocht do chonac thú (1980) and in small-scale works such as Oileáin (1979) for piano, Boireann (1983) for flute and piano, or I am Wind on Sea (1987) for mezzo-soprano and percussion. Later this aspect becomes less important for him. Works since the late 1980s display “a textural subtlety in marked contrast to the more robust sonorities explored in Buckley’s earlier keyboard works,” a “French refinement of sound, and an elevation of timbre as central characteristics” and “a concern with achieving a greater degree of formal unity” and “an exploration of analogies between sound and light.” O’Leary (2013) describes his style as “characterised by a broad harmonic idiom, contrasting consonance and dissonance in a non-tonal but strongly coloured soundworld.”

In 2010, Buckley arranges a number of Irish traditional songs for flute, some with harp, viola, percussion and string quartet. These are skilled and tasteful settings in a tonal harmonic language, quite unlike his original compositions.


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Birth of Jerome de Bromhead, Composer & Classical Guitarist

Jerome de Bromhead, Irish composer, classical guitarist, and member of Aosdána, is born in Waterford, County Waterford, on December 2, 1945.

De Bromhead studies with A. J. Potter and James Wilson at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, with further studies with Seóirse Bodley in 1975 and Franco Donatoni in 1978. He holds an M.A. in music, art history and English from Trinity College Dublin. As a guitarist, he studies with Elspeth Henry (1967–68) and at the Guitar Centre, London (1969).

De Bromhead’s compositions include works for solo guitar as well as orchestral, choral and chamber music. His Symphony No. 1 (1986) represents Ireland at the International Rostrum of Composers at UNESCO‘s headquarters in Paris. He describes his style as “neither a Postmodernist nor a deaf-as-a-postmodernist. Above all I am suspicious of anything that seems like dogma.”

De Bromhead’s harpsichord piece Flux (1981) is performed at the ISCM World Music Days in Germany in 1987 and is now published by Tonos Verlag of Darmstadt.

According to guitarist John Feeley, de Bromhead’s solo guitar composition Gemini (1970) is “a sophisticated work, both technically and compositionally. It has the dynamism of youth, with a sense of freshness and it projects an attractive, driving energy […] It is an effective concert work, which speaks well on the instrument and is particularly gratifying for the performer.”

De Bromhead works at RTÉ as a television news director and announcer, as well as a senior music producer for radio, until a serious accident forces him to retire in 1996. He currently lives in Dublin.

The Contemporary Music Centre (www.cmc.ie) provides scores and sample recordings of a selection of de Bromhead’s works, available here.


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Birth of Marina Carr, Irish Playwright

Irish playwright Marina Carr is born in Dublin on November 17, 1964. She has written almost thirty plays, including By the Bog of Cats (1998) which is revived at the Abbey Theatre in 2015.

Carr spends the majority of her childhood in Pallas Lake, County Offaly, adjacent to the town of Tullamore. Her father, Hugh Carr, is a playwright and studies music under Frederick May, while her mother, Maura Eibhlín Breathnach, is the principal of the local school and writes poetry in Irish. It is said that “there were a lot of literary rivalries.” As a child, she and her siblings build a theater in their shed.

Carr attends University College Dublin (UCD), studying English and philosophy. She graduates in 1987. In 2011, she receives an honorary degree of Doctorate of Literature from her alma mater.

Carr has held posts as writer-in-residence at the Abbey Theatre and has taught at Trinity College Dublin, Princeton University, and Villanova University. She lectures in the English department at Dublin City University in 2016. She is considered one of Ireland’s most prominent playwrights and is a member of Aosdána.

The Mai wins the Dublin Theatre Festival‘s Best New Irish Play award (1994-1995) and Portia Coughlan wins the nineteenth Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (1996-1997). Other awards include The Irish Times Playwright award 1998, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and The American Ireland Fund Award, the Macaulay Fellowship and The Hennessy Award. Carr is named a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Award, administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. The award, which includes a financial prize of $165,000 (or €155,000), is formally presented in September 2017. She is the second Irish author to receive the prize, following playwright Abbie Spallen in 2016.