At Coole Park, Co. Galway, Christmas, 1898…

…poet, playwright and linguist Douglas Hyde, 38, is putting on a ‘Punch and Judy’ show for kids as part of the local school festival. His hostess, Lady Augusta Gregory, 46, presents the play first in English, and then Hyde does it in Gaelic.

Douglas Hyde

Douglas Hyde

Augusta and he met this past summer when he was traveling around the west of Ireland, collecting stories. He would stop on a country road and pretend that his bike had broken down until a passing farmer would stop to help him. They’d end up back in the farmer’s house for a drink. Hyde’s proficiency in Gaelic helped him draw out their folk tales in their native language.

Augusta is interested in learning more Gaelic, and having Hyde ‘put the Irish on’ the plays she and poet William Butler Yeats, 33, are writing for their theatre. The plays will be performed in English, but they need to sound right. So they will write them in English. Hyde can then translate them into Irish, and then back into English.

Hyde is happy to help, and he thinks both Yeats and Lady Gregory can be useful to his organization, The Gaelic League.

And besides, Lady Gregory and he actually like each other.

Pamphlet setting out the aims of the Gaelic League, 1893

Pamphlet setting out the aims of the Gaelic League, 1893

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.                                                                                                                        

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