Friday, May 25, 2012

Last Irish chase of the season

Today my search for places with cultural connections in Ireland led me to ‘The Laurels’ a comparatively recently abandoned house located a short distance to the far side of Glenties from the cottage in which I have been staying this week.  ‘The Laurels’ was the home of playwright Brian Friel’s maternal grandparents where, with his  two sisters, the young Brian spent most of his childhood summer holidays.  As recently as 1998 when, I understand, it was used as one of several locations in the area for the shooting of Pat O'Connor’s excellent film of Friel’s play, “Dancing at Lughnasa”, the house must have been in a better condition than that in which I found it today.  Indeed, although it is but a stone’s throw beyond the village, lost in its overgrown garden the house was far from easy to find.  ‘Ballybeg’, the fictional village in which several of Friel’s plays are set, is based on Glenties.
I also visited Glenties museum, a wonderfully eclectic gathering on three floors, of artifacts, photographs and newspaper clippings telling stories of life and events in and around Glenties through, largely, the past couple of hundred years.  I particularly enjoyed discovering, in a display of genuine items arranged to feign an early twentieth century kitchen, three of the silk stockings Meryl Streep had worn while filming “Dancing at Lughnasa”, hanging from a line above the kitchen range.  The logic of why there should be three stockings rather than a pair or any number of pairs caused me more than a little head scratching!

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