…everyone is enjoying the Raftery feis.
Poet William Butler Yeats, 37, is there with his father and brother, both painters, to support his friend Lady Augusta Gregory, 50, who has been planning this event for the past two years.
In her research into Irish folklore, Augusta had discovered Raftery, the legendary 18th century blind Gaelic poet. Upset to learn that his grave here in Craughwell was unmarked, she organized a ceremony a few years ago to set up a stone cross. Now that she’s bought a real headstone, a whole festival is being held to celebrate it.
There’s quite a crowd. Have they come to honor Raftery or for the singing, dancing, flute playing and prizes? Yeats has come so as not to disappoint Augusta.
Ever the hostess, Lady Gregory is inviting some of the festival goers over to hers, nearby Coole Park, for some play-reading. Mostly those involved in their Irish theatre project, such as Yeats and Gaelic League president Douglas Hyde, 42. And an American tourist she’s been chatting up, lawyer John Quinn, 32, who is on his first trip to Ireland, searching for his roots.
Ninety years later, in August of 1992, I visited Ireland and went to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Dublin for Irish music and dancing. Met my husband, Tony Dixon. To all Irish-Americans seeking your roots in Ireland, beware…
This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.