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Title: Lady Gregory's Journals 1916-1930

Date of first publication: 1947

Author: Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory (1852-1932)

Date first posted: Mar. 19, 2020

Date last updated: Mar. 19, 2020

Faded Page eBook #20200336

This eBook was produced by: Mardi Desjardins, Howard Ross & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net





Edited by


Lennox Robinson




New York



Copyright, 1947, by









Editor’s Foreword7
II.The Abbey Theatre51
1. The Terror127
2. The Civil War165
IV.Persons and Books 
Bernard Shaw199
Emily Lawless217
Lady Ardilaun221
The McNeills224
Sir Horace Plunkett235
Countess Markievicz237
George Wyndham239
Mrs. Jack Gardner240
John Kells Ingram242
Mrs. Phillimore244
Frank Gallagher246
The Cobden-Sandersons252
Dr. Hector Munro255
The Hawthornden Prize256
William Butler Yeats259
James Stephens267
The Tailltean Games269
The Carnegie Row272
V.The Lane Pictures283
VI.Odds and Ends318
1. Friends318
2. Writing321
3. Reading326
4. Home335


Augusta Persse was born on March 15th, 1852, in a country house called Roxboro’ in County Galway. She was the youngest daughter of Dudley Persse who at one time owned an estate of nearly four thousand acres. In 1880 she married Sir William Gregory whose house and property, Coole Park, Gort, were only a few miles away. Sir William had had a varied and interesting career. As a young man he was a devotee of the turf and had to sell out thousands of his Irish acres to pay his debts; he nearly fought the last duel in England (saved from it by Sir Robert Peel’s intervention); he became an M.P., fell under the spell of Daniel O’Connell and became a notable and well-beloved Governor of Ceylon. His “Autobiography”, originally printed only for his friends’ eyes, is one of the most honest I have read, as honest as that of his friend, Anthony Trollope. He died in 1892. Augusta Persse was his second wife. He had no issue by his first wife; by his second he had one child, Robert, who became a distinguished painter but met his death as an airman flying over Italy during the war of 1914-18. Robert married Margaret Lucy Maynard Perry, and had three children, Richard, Anne and Catherine. The grand-daughters are the “chicks” so often and so lovingly written about in the Journals.

The Journals start at the end of 1916. This was after her nephew, Sir Hugh Lane, had been drowned in the torpedoing of the “Lusitania”, and their first purpose seems to have been to record the complicated negotiations she undertook to achieve the return of the “Lane Pictures”. And so the first couple of years are chiefly concerned with that subject. But, later, other interests impinged: the Anglo-Irish War, the Civil War, Coole Park itself and little local agrarian disputes.

The Journals comprise approximately five hundred thousand words and it has not been an easy task to abridge them to about one hundred and forty thousand. Somewhere she has said that she would like them to be published in sequence, but in 1928 she writes:

“Well, I don’t know why to-day that sentence about Rossetti has seemed to set me on a path towards arranging this scrappy diary that must have some words or scenes that might be worth preserving—but an idea came that I, being a playwright, might dramatise myself, give separate scenes (though the fall of the curtain will be arranged by Another and there will be no call to bring me before it!). I wrote down quickly with a pencil my different parts: ‘A Questor,’ the long begging for Hugh’s pictures; yes, I have been a beggar at many doors. . . . Then I change and appear as a Theatre Director, I may find enough letters to and from Yeats and others to make this lively though I wish I could give those from Miss Horniman about her ‘Irish toy.’ As playwriter, there is not much to say—some at least continue to be seen for themselves and heard. Gaelic Leaguer also, with that little badge sent me across the seas by Father O’Growney. But I think I have told this in the diaries or chapters Putnam—Huntington—has charge of. And then ‘a rebel’ with the Nationalists all through—more than they know or my nearest realised. And the heartbreak of our Civil War!”

This is the method I have followed. Apart from drastic abridgment the only alterations I have made are sometimes to substitute a name for initials, for the reader’s better understanding. She left a written request that this should be done. During her last years she typed her old Journals, (thank goodness, for she wrote a dreadful hand,) and deleted anything that she thought might give pain. There are a few “hits, cuts and thrusts,” (a phrase she liked to use,) and I think the sharpest are directed against myself. I have not hesitated to use them. I think I have omitted only one hit at me which was not very severe and of no general interest.

Lady Gregory had a most accurate memory: She spent years collecting folk-lore in cottage and farmhouse, in workhouse-ward or where-ever. That folk-lore rings authentic and so I think we can take the conversations she reports as truth—John Dillon’s long and interesting talk at Kilteragh (page 169), for instance.

But I am sure I have omitted much that to others will seem very important and when this book is published I hope her heirs will deposit these forty-two typewritten volumes in our National Library for others to read and find cause to blame me. Before many months have passed perhaps my Biography of her will be in print; that book and this are complementary.

Many people have helped me and have my thanks. Mr. P. S. O’Hegarty has kept me historically correct about our wars, Dr. Thomas Bodkin about the Lane Pictures. Mrs. Yeats has given permission to use W. B. Yeats’ poems on pages 45, 238, 263 and 266; Mr. G. Bernard Shaw for his poem on page 18, and “Paul Jones” for his poem on pages 234-5. And thanks to Messrs. Macmillan & Co. for permission to use Hardy’s poem on pages 12 and 13. And I thank all the writers of letters quoted in her Journals for permission to reprint them.

Lennox Robinson.


Robert, her son.

Margaret, her daughter-in-law.

Richard, Anne and Catherine, her grandchildren.

Hugh, Sir Hugh Lane, her nephew.

John, John Shawe-Taylor, her nephew.

Frank, her brother.

William, her husband.

Arabella, her sister.

Burren, a little place on the sea, where she had a small house.

Ballylee, a small castle, a few miles from Coole, which Yeats bought for £35, and used to spend summers there with his wife, George, and his children, Anne and Michael.



There are dominant things in everybody’s life. Lady Gregory’s life was full of varied interests, but I think her dominants were Coole, her writing, the Abbey Theatre and, for her last sixteen years, the fret about the Lane Pictures. Yeats has written about Coole in “Dramatis Personæ”, she has written about it herself in a little book called “Coole,” describing its library and woods. Abbey Theatre business or Hugh Lane business would call her often to Dublin or to London—even to America—but Coole was home and she would rather be there than anywhere. So it seems fitting to place Coole first in this book. There is not a very great deal about it in her Journals, it was so present in her mind that it was hardly necessary to mention it. Only when there was a danger of it slipping from the family does an expression of her love for it break out. It never did slip and she died there.

Coole always seems to have been a generous giver. Sir William Gregory’s father gave his life, in the terrible famine time, side by side with the parish priest. Sir William gave friendship. In all the bitter, Land-Leagueing days there never seems to have been any crossness at Coole.

Sir William writes to Augusta, just before their marriage:

“I am very glad indeed that the country people are pleased. Whatever naughty deeds I may have done I always felt the strongest sense of duty towards my tenants, and I have had a great affection for them. They have never in a single instance caused me displeasure, and I know you can and will do everything in your power to make them love and value us.”

Love and value us! Those words echo down through the many years. Sure enough, there wasn’t much money to be given, yet a little bit here and there, and there were always plums in the summer, apples in the autumn, and flowers in the spring. Flowers for the children, for Gort chapel, for the Civic Guards to deck all Gort for some special Sunday. The gardens were blooming until the end, full of perennials.

I picked from her broken-down greenhouse a leaf from the passion-flower that still grows there: the vines were perishing and the peaches. I suppose it was sentimental of me to take it but there it is in my diary, dried and undying, a symbol of Coole, the Coole she loved.

She was an Irish Protestant but impatient with Irish Protestantism because, before everything else, she was Irish. And so though she worshipped every Sunday in the Protestant church in Gort, staring across from the Gregory gallery to the Gough gallery, her heart was really on the other side of the street in the Catholic chapel, with the country people, her country’s people. I do not want to suggest that she ever wanted to become a Catholic; far from it, but she loved the people and the people were Catholic.

A spacious house, great gardens, and the “seven woods” immortalised by Yeats, as he immortalised its lake and its wild swans. I saw it all to-day—the day I write these words: bright April afternoon, the trees bursting into young green, carpets of bluebells, the pale anemones not yet withered, the biggest and bluest wild violets I have ever seen, and tufts and tufts of primroses. The dim orchis was starting into bloom. A flock of wild swans in the far distance startlingly appeared from behind an island and splashed into the lake.

I had been re-reading the day before Thomas Hardy’s lovely poem “Afterwards”:

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,

  And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,

Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,

  “He was a man who used to notice such things”?


If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,

  The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight,

Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,

  “To him this must have been a familiar sight.”

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,

  When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,

One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,

  But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.”


.     .     .     .     .     .     .


And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,

  And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,

Till they rise again, as they were a new bell’s boom,

  “He hears it not now, but used to notice such things”?

Lady Gregory noticed such things and I am sure her spirit haunts, in a happy haunting, those grassy paths through her beloved woods. It cannot haunt the house for that was demolished a few years ago and the staircase—I have written elsewhere that Balzac would have spent fifty pages on that staircase—and the library, where The Rising of the Moon and all her other plays were written, are but stones lining the avenues or dust blown through the trees.


Aug. 1, 1919. I took charge of the children at Burren for a week—Margaret going to London—and then I brought them back, July 29, to meet Richard and he arrived next day, well and bright and happy. It is just as Robert used to come. He was taken up for the first day or two with thought of cricket and talk of school. But yesterday he took his gun to scare the crows that are attacking the potatoes, and cut branches to make pen-holders and had a hunt after a trespassing rabbit in the garden. I read to him a cricket story after he was in bed last night. It was that day 18 months the news from Italy had come (Robert’s death). It is a great happiness seeing that room occupied, the little dark head lying where the little fair head used to lie in holiday-times long ago.

Aug. 18. To-day I have been as usual gathering fruit for the children and have arranged nets in the vinery for the ripening nectarines to fall into, and have covered plum jam, and written a scenario for my Aristotle play.

Jan. 22, 1920. An exodus from the County (Galway). The Goughs leave this week and Lough Cutra is to be shut up till they see how things are, and Hugh (Gough) is still in the Irish Guards. Lord Killanin has had trouble at Spiddal and has dismissed all his men and gone to London. The Lobdells, because of their motors having been searched or put out of action the night they were going to Roxboro’ dance, are going to live in England. Amy has let Castle Taylor and lives in England. I will stay here I hope till my life’s end, or rather I hope it will be kept open by Margaret for the children.

The Big Houses are falling. We shall read later of the destruction of Roxboro’, Lady Gregory’s birthplace; Lough Cutra, the home of the Goughs—Field-Marshal Gough’s statue stands in Phœnix Park—is being abandoned, and there is an auction in Castle Taylor, Shawe-Taylor’s old home. In the end only Edward Martyn’s Tulira remains, and Coole—for Lady Gregory’s lifetime.

April 20. Margaret told me of negotiations about the sale—the only offer under £7,000—Scott Kerr says “the value of an estate in Galway is what you can get for it,” and then began by asking our minimum price £12,600! He says he “has the grazing tenants well in hand,” and that they have now combined—but we know very little of what is happening. I said, “Would it be any use my going over to Coole?” and Margaret said, “Yes,” so I decided to go at once.

Margaret and I had a talk of plans. I would be quite satisfied to keep Richard’s home a resting place in this stormy and uncertain and broken-up world, and let him judge whether it is a burden or a boon. But it will be hard to keep up the house—I will do my best—I am happier for the talk.

No account from Scott Kerr of his meeting with the tenants on Saturday offering 20 years’ purchase. In the evening a telegram saying they have taken till next Saturday to consider the matter and he has written.

May 2. . . . drowsing again, those I thought of as helping me in that Upper House were those who had but lately gone from my company, Robert and Hugh and John. . . . Perhaps it was this that made me, when Scott Kerr said the offer for the land was bad, and that he “relinquished the sale,” feel that rebuff was less a defeat than a victory. For if it is sold to the Congested Districts Board it is the poorer man who will profit and is I think the most worthy, and so may be laid the foundation of a lasting peace.

May 23. I think of all the arguments—through so many storms, through 150 years or more, Coole has been a place of peace. We came through the Land League days and through the sale of the outlying property without war, without police protection or any application to the country for compensation—for there were no outrages. Coole has been not only a place of peace during all that time, but a home of culture in more senses than one. Arthur Young found Mr. Gregory making a “noble nursery the plantations for which would change the face of the district,” and those woods still remain; my husband added rare trees to them and I have added acres and acres of young wood. Richard Gregory collected that fine library; William’s father died from famine-fever brought on through his ministrations to the poor. He himself had a highly honoured name in Parliament and in Ceylon, loving Coole all the time, all through his lifetime. Robert loved it and showed its wild stern beauty in his paintings; left it through high-mindedness and died fighting for a good cause. I have lived there and loved it these forty years and through the guests who have stayed there it counts for much in the awakening of the spiritual and intellectual side of our country. If there is trouble now, and it is dismantled and left to ruin, that will be the whole country’s loss.

I pray, pray, pray.

Jan. 1, 1921. I shall be glad if Margaret’s plan can be carried out to let Coole for seven or nine years, to Richard’s coming-of-age, and he can decide then about keeping it. Burren will be kept for the summer and River Court be the home for the rest of the year; there is a good day-school there for Anne and Catherine. It is quite different from an irrevocable selling of the place. And I am thankful that even Catherine is now seven years old and they know the happiness of the country life and could return to it, as I have done, with content. For myself I may buy a little home—Beach House, at Burren—that is to be with the children for the summer holidays. For my sunset it doesn’t much matter—I shall just work anywhere while mind and energy last—and after that—what does the last phase matter, except to be in no one’s way?

Jan. 4. On Monday I had a long talk with Margaret. She cannot keep the woods—she thought not the house—that all must go—land and rates so high. We went through and through. I talked again to her next day and we walked out to see how much we could cut off and what we could keep. We planned keeping out Nut Wood, Pond field, Shanwalla to the Lake farm gate—tillage fields—and the strip of trees beyond then, and plantations. This would make a little demesne, about 350 acres, wooded and romantic and beautiful, tho’ any who know the old woods would miss the extent. This she thinks—even this—would come to £300 a year in rates and taxes. Then what makes it more desirable, I thought that perhaps the 300 acres woodland we sell might be taken for forestry and so be kept as woods, a great advantage, instead of selling them to farmers or timber merchants who would cut them down and turn in cattle.

Jan. 16. Yesterday in the woods with the children, looking for primroses, we heard a dog hunting and the children said that down by the lake the day before they had seen men with dogs, and rabbits they had caught. I have told Mike and he says young ash have been cut in the more distant plantations. There have been no Petty Sessions for a long time and the Volunteers have been taken away or are “on the run,”—so that there is no law at present. It reconciles me to losing the woods, if we cannot mind them.

Aug. 1. Sometimes I have thought we need not try to keep Coole after all, with its anxieties and loneliness, with the burden of keeping it in order and paying its taxes and rates and labour. But this passed quickly and it seems more in harmony with my life than taking ease, to take this increased responsibility for Richard’s sake especially, that he may if he will, and chooses to work for it, inherit and keep the place, even though diminished, his father and those before him loved, and that once gone, sold, dismantled, could never be regained. The little ones love it too, and it would be a shock to them to know it is gone. Little Richard inherits a fine tradition. And who can say how much of it is bound up with the woods and solitudes that have been loved by all of these? For Ireland’s sake also I keep it, I think the country would be poorer without Coole. And I read the other day, but I forget where, “to care truly for a bit of land anywhere the world over is a liberal education.”

Aug. 11. Margaret wrote about my keeping up Coole, “Thank you so much for charming letter. I feel if we are each doing what we believe right about the children’s future such a happy time ought to be still there for both of us.”

Aug. 20. I, alone, can only go on living here if I have the goodwill of the people, and indeed I have done nothing to lose or lessen it.

Sept. 18. I told Yeats of the arguments for selling Coole and my trying to keep it on, and he thinks I am right, “there is no country house in Ireland with so fine a record,” but is afraid the want of enough money will be a burden on my mind.

Frank had come in the morning, I wanted to consult him about practical things, what bits of my little demesne I should let, and whether the proposal I had made to Margaret was a fair one. He says yes, but he thinks it will be impossible to carry on if I keep even the workman I propose, and then urged me to shut it up, dismiss all workmen, put a caretaker in the house and only open it in holiday time, and take a flat for myself in Dublin, “where you will be happy and have no weight on your mind.” But abandoning Coole is no part of happiness to me. I told him my object is to keep it for the children whenever they want to come home, and to give Richard the chance of keeping it on if he wishes to when he grows up.

Oct. 19. G.B.S. wrote to the children in return for the scarlet Croftons, some lines, and on such charming postcards. This is G.B.S.’s poem:

Two ladies of Galway named Catherine and Anna

Whom some called acushla and some alanna,

On finding the gate of the fruit garden undone

Stole Grandmama’s apples and sent them to London.


And Grandmama said that the poor village school children

Were better behaved than the well-brought-up Coole children

And threatened them with the most merciless whippings

If ever again they laid hands on her pippins.


In vain they explained that the man who was battening

On Grandmama’s apples would die without fattening,

She seized the piano, and threw it at Anna,

And shrieking at Catherine “Just let me catch you!”

She walloped her head with the drawing-room statue.


“God save us, Herself is gone crazy,” said Marian,

“Is this how a lady of title should carry on?”

“If you dare to address me like that,” shouted Granny,

“Good-bye to your wages, you shan’t have a penny!

Go back to your pots and your pans and your canisters!”

With that she threw Marian over the banisters.


“And now,” declared Granny, “I feel so much better

That I’ll write Mr. Shaw a most beautiful letter

And tell him how happy our lives are at Coole

Under Grandmama’s darlings’ beneficent rule!”

Nov. 27. The Gort avenue fields are being laid out for a coursing match, a cruel sport, I think, but old “Mary the Dance,” coming from Gort, says that it is not so, for that “God Almighty likes to see the hounds following the hares and routing the fox out of his burrows because that is according to their nature.” Father T., who is spending his time overseeing it, says “it is very hard to make them get up any sort of amusement.” He says he has hounds of his own and goes to all the coursing meetings in Clare. The “Coursing Committee” keep sending down for poles and for laurel branches and I am glad to give them and go out to show where they may be cut without injury, even with good result. Yesterday they sent me two hares. I sent one of these to Jack Yeats, and in thanking me he says:

“I wouldn’t care for the coursing. I agree all hunting and coursing is horrible, though what old Mary from Gort says is half true. But there was a time when nature did not require the aperitif of cruelty. You may have heard how in India in a long drought when the beasts were tamed by the agony of thirst a young subaltern was sitting by his tent door, having a cup with a little water in it hanging in his hand, and a hare came out of the edge of the jungle, staggered to him, buried its long bony face in the cup, and drank. There is not a living man who could look on such a sight without some wrinkling of the emotions.”

May 13, 1922. Yesterday a nice motor drive with Guy to Ballylee and to Burren, sea and mountains beautiful. I went to bed tired, and at 11 o’c. Mike’s son knocked at the door. “There’s men downstairs knocking at the hall door. I think they are raiders.” I told him I would follow him down, put on dressing-gown and a veil over my hair. He said they had called out to him to open the door. He said he had not the key.

“Where is it?”

“Upstairs in Lady Gregory’s room,” it being in the door all the time.

When I came to the door they were knocking again. I went to it and said, “Who is there?”

“Open or it will be the worse for you,” a rough, unpleasant, bullying voice.

I knew one would not gain anything by speaking to such men, so stood at the foot of the stairs. They kicked the door then and I expected every moment they would break in the unshuttered window and come in. I prayed for help though without much hope, and stood still. After a while the knocking ceased. I thought they had gone to look for another door and whispered to Mike’s son to come up to the playroom by the backstairs as we could see from there. But the door on the backstairs was locked and the moonlight was so bright on front staircase I didn’t like to show myself upon it. We could see nothing or hear nothing. Once I saw a red light as though they were coming back with helpers. But no one came and I could see no one from any window and at 1 o’c. went back to bed and Mike’s son to his.

It did shake the nerves. Yet at the worst moment I felt it was right, somehow, I should know what others had suffered in like cases, and that I might be glad later to have known it. (Feb. 1924: Yes, it has given me more sympathy and understanding, for now that I am alone again in the house, so long after, I constantly feel a slight nervousness when I have gone to bed, a feeling that there may again come a knock at the door.)

May 15. I was troubled last night, lay awake wondering what I ought to do, wishing for peace but doubtful if it would be right to show any weakness. And opening the prayer-book to read a Collect, the one I opened at was for St. John Baptist’s Day, asking that we may “after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake.” And knowing what the truth is, I suppose I must go on. On Friday night the Collect I had read was for the Ascension, “that we may in heart and mind thither ascend and with Him continually dwell.” And I tried to fix my mind on that high country while I stood expecting the raiders to break in.

“Mr. Quirke” came asking for a little help; says he had his stall in the Square at De Valera’s meeting and was skinning a couple of kids at the time, and the meeting was no great success, “the people not paying much attention to it, and he said there would be civil war all over Ireland, and that every man should carry a gun.” He thinks the Gort thieves who robbed the station are to be arrested—“Everyone down on the Free State Army for not doing it before; sure they had them chased into the churchyard and it’s well known who they were. Father M. gave a great sermon and he asked where was the use of an army in the town if it wouldn’t do that much. But they are well-to-do lads: if it was a poor man going to bed fasting they’d arrest him quick enough.” But he says also, “There are a good many with De Valera in Gort.”

May 18. Yeats had been to the Workhouse Barracks and appointed to meet Free-State officers here. Two came, W. rough, but seemed to have a good head; T. who didn’t say much. I told them of the night alarm and asked for either a patrol or a couple of men to sleep in the house, and they promised these, thought it would be best. But at night, having made a room ready with two beds, they didn’t come. I stayed up till after 11, Yeats till after 12, D.J. till after 1 o’clock. But this morning cigarette ends were found in laundry yard, as if they had been there. And J., going to Gort, found they had come, but seeing no light in front of the house had gone away after a while, but they are to come to-night.

May 28. I had a visit last evening about 10 o’c. from Captain Leonard, of the Irregular Force. I asked for news of Roxboro’ and he said it was he who had taken it over. He said Major Persse was a fine man, and had taken it very quietly, and Miss Persse was a splendid girl; it must have been a shock to her to leave her home so suddenly, but he was acting under orders.

I asked why Major Persse, such a fair man and large employer of labour, had been molested, and he said, “He was unlucky. The names were put in a bag, and his came out twice. Besides he is a Freemason and high in the Order. It is such men as he who can influence Craig and the English Government to stop the Belfast disorder. There are no Belfast refugees in the house, but it will be kept until Belfast is quiet. There are four men in it, they keep to the back rooms. I locked up all valuables in the drawing-room, I put padlocks on the door. The raids before that were not by us but by thieves. We have got back the arms that were taken then and the motor. We are using it but will keep it safe and give it back. The stock is all right. The place was being eaten up by rabbits, there were three trappers being paid 20/- a week.”

June 2. All here so radiant, so decorated, the great white horse-chestnuts in bloom, the smaller red ones, the crimson and the white hawthorn, lilac and laburnum, the leaves so fresh, the paths carpeted with the brown blossoms of the beech. It would have been a pity to forsake this home and leave it to desolation.

June 3. I have been out till after 9 o’c. Everything is beautiful, one must stand to look at blossoming tree after tree; the thorns in the Park that William used to come over from London to see at this time of year best of all. I feel certain I am doing the best thing in giving Richard the chance of keeping this place and in keeping it as a home for the others’ childhood at least.

July 30. Sunday. No bad news even after church, but I must be a little downhearted, the gathering of my darlings for the holidays so far away. I sent for the Hehir children to take some of the gooseberries I had netted, and was glad to give that pleasure, though tears very nearly came when I saw some of the little red and yellow pears Anne and Catherine liked, fallen in a heap. I could but gather them up for little Anne Yeats.

Aug. 6. This has been a better day. I picked fruit for little Joseph at the gate, and meditated that we are at the seamy side of the carpet: these burnings and breakings of bridges, and perhaps the pattern on the other side is growing to a harmony. And then reading Hodgson’s poem, a Song of Honour, somehow I thought of those climbers of Mount Everest going through so much hardship and peril for the sake as it were of difficulties and dangers, and that we without any effort of our own are confronted with, surrounded by both, and my courage rose.

There is serious danger of the Ballylee bridge being blown up. I said I would go over and tell Yeats. I found him and told him of the rumoured danger to the bridge and he was disturbed, but decided to go and see the C.O. at Gort when he has left this. Sept. 5. Packing and sending plate to the bank: Mr. Johnson advises it. I think it right but I am a little sad, having kept it through these troubled years, liking to act according to my faith.

Oct. 1. The summer over. The children have not seen the flowers or gathered the fruit. An anxious month, it may bring peace, or, failing that, a more bitter war. I think if the idealists among the Republicans could realise that against the high light of the desire for freedom are to be measured these dark shadows of covetousness and crime they would themselves call for peace.

This has been a good Sunday, the sun came out after church, the people looked in good humour. I felt so much at peace that it seems as if peace must be in the air! Two Killeen children came for apples, I gave them damsons as well. And a rather deaf young Hayes, son of the harness-maker in Gort, passed, having been in the woods picking nuts, and I took him to the garden for apples, and I liked his brightening and excitement when I said he might have damsons—his sister is an invalid—“and will be so glad of them.”

Oct. 8. Thieves were in both gardens, took all apples from apple house, a good many, but not good ones, windfalls, we had stored the rest. They broke a pane of glass and strained lock in vinery, but didn’t care for the grapes, not yet ripe. I don’t mind as the children are not at home to know of it.

I was sitting alone outside, at the steps, when a man appeared, D.S. I hadn’t seen him before. He produced my letter:

“Dear Sir, I am sorry you did not act as those nice young boys did yesterday, when wishing for some apples, they asked me for them; while you, wishing for some of my young trees, cut them without asking. I did not tell the little fellows of this, although I was aware of it at the time, as I would not have them know that a man had set them a bad example. I should be glad if you would come and see me on this matter. I. have always wished to live in peace and friendship with my neighbours, but at the same time must protect the property in my charge.”

He said, or shouted, “In general when I get a letter from a lady I wish to treat it as a letter from a lady, but I’m afraid I can’t do that this time. It wants an explanation. What does it mean?”

I said, “Just what it says. Some trees were cut and I am told you cut them.”

“Who told you that? It is either a concoction or a misunderstanding.”

I said, “My keeper whose business it is to look after the woods told me.”

“Did he see me cutting the trees?”

“Either that or going away from them, getting over the wall. They were freshly cut.”

“I was never near the place, I haven’t a sheep-cock or anything that would require timber. It is a concoction.”

I said, “It is quite impossible it was a mistake. Mike Dooley could not have invented it, he is a quiet honest man.”

“I know he is that—and his son too.”

Then I told him of my hearing blows of a hatchet one day and finding it was old M.P. who had brought cart and hatchet, and when he did so, it showed how closely I must look after the woods I have in charge for my grandchildren.

We parted amicably; rather a verdict of “Not guilty, but don’t do it again.”

And now I am told that young B. had seen O’S. going into the plantation with a hatchet and he had come later and asked him for the loan of his jennet to carry away what he had cut. I think of Lord Morris’s definition of prima facie evidence, “If I saw a man coming out of a public-house wiping his mouth, I would say that was prima facie evidence he had been having a drink.”

Oct. 9. I sent Mike for a walk round and he found hidden by a wall some young trees cut from Raheen plantation. John sent a cart for them and they have come; six young oaks, two quite substantial oaks cut in lengths, and a sycamore. But I mustn’t grumble as we have had so little trouble so far.

Nov. 4. Last night, looking over old letters, I found that William writing from Ceylon agreed with his mother that “there is no getting over November, it is odious,” and encourages her to leave home. But this morning the garden is more lovely them in summer-time, such an Italian sun and sky, and the silver stem of the copper-beech shining through its gold.

St. Stephen’s Day. The darling children arrived this evening last week, well and bright, happy and simple as ever. Margaret came on Saturday, all very happy days, and yesterday we were all at church, and had the Christmas tree very pleasantly, though with only the Johnson children and their parents, and Rita and Georgie Daly, and all has gone well.

The only annoyance was yesterday afternoon; just as I was getting things ready for the tree, a deputation called: A., B., and a newcomer, C., lately come to D.’s old cottage. They, or rather A., the only speaker, asked if they might give a dance in our barn. (I had had a hint of this request coming.) I said I was very sorry they had not asked for something I could give; that this was impossible as our hay is in the barn. A. said that didn’t matter, “We took a look at it as we came and there is plenty of room for us!” I said there was the danger of burning and I couldn’t give leave. He said they would guarantee it to be kept safe, and went on to say they wanted to give the dance towards paying for a Gaelic teacher they have had, so that it is for the Gaelic League. I said I had brought the first Gaelic teachers here long ago and was in sympathy with the League, and that though giving the barn was impossible, if they could get another place for the dance I would give £2 towards the fund. They said they had no other place, that they were getting Kiltartan School for one dance, but Father Cassidy would not give it a second time, that they were so sure I would not refuse that they had put it on the posters that it would be here. I said it was impossible, that even if I had no other reason I had not power. He said they would ask the “young lady.” I said, “No, I would not have the unpleasantness of a refusal put on her; that she could but say as I did, that it was impossible.”

He went on for a long time, saying his committee would “think bad” of my having refused. I asked who the committee were. He would give no names, said they were “young lads.” I repeated my offer of £2, said that was all that could be done, and they went away, he muttering a sort of threat that another deputation would come.

Finnegan here to-day says he heard three weeks ago and believes that De Valera was taken, in a priest’s clothes, and is in the hands of the Govt., I think they are more likely to let him stay out. And I have never lost hope that he may come to a better mind—believing that, like Cromwell, he “was once in a state of grace.”

Dec. 30. In the evening, after tea, we were all in the breakfast-room. There was a sudden loud knock at the door and it startled us. Then Marian came to say she had asked who was there; and the answer was, “the same members of the committee who had come on Christmas Day.” I went out, rather shaking, fearing a fresh effort to get the barn or perhaps a seizure of it. A. began, “We are come again. We know that if you had power to do it you would have granted our request.”

I interrupted, “No. You must not think that. It is a mistake. I ought to have said it before. It is that I am a woman who has lost her husband and her son. It is not fitting that there should be merriment and dancing going on here, it would not be respectful to their memory, I could not have it.”

A. said at once, “Why didn’t you say that before? We would never have troubled you at all or said another word. We thought it was a made-up thing, we didn’t understand, we won’t trouble you any more.”

Then I asked what I could do for them, and they said, “Just what you offered, to write to Father Cassidy for leave to use the schoolhouse and to give us what you said.” I promised to do so. Then they said, “The Committee thought the young lady ought to give something,” but I said I didn’t know about that, but if she didn’t I would give something on her behalf. So they said Good-bye, promising they would do anything they ever can for me. I have sent £3 to-day and the letter to Father Cassidy, and hope all may go well.

Jan. 7, 1923. Evening. This afternoon, “A., a younger A., B. and M. want to see you.” I went down. “We want to ask the loan of the boat to go over and hunt rabbits on the island.”

“Our Island?”

“Well, doesn’t it belong to the Committee that bought the land?”

“No. We didn’t sell it, as far as I know, near Inchy.”

“Well, we only want a day’s sport, we brought the dogs, we’d do no harm.”

“I don’t mind lending you the boat, but that is not admitting any claim to the island.”

“Oh, no, all we want is the day’s sport.”

“I wish all sports were as harmless as this.”

“Ah, you heard something . . .”

“Well, I think with all the trouble in Ireland we ought all to do our best to keep good conduct. I pray every day, ‘Thy will be done in Coole, in Kiltartan, in Ireland’.”

So they went off to get the boat. But rain came on and I have just been to the barn to look and it has not been moved; was probably too heavy, or the rain put them off.

Jan. 8. This afternoon towards 5 o’c. I went down to the lake and saw the boat drawn up, the island party having landed, two of them were there. They had got about 70 rabbits on the island, half starved, a mercy to kill them; and a badger. I was sorry it had been killed. They thanked me very much for their day’s sport, a lovely day, and they had, some of them, never been in a boat. I told them we had a difficulty about cartridges for Richard and they eagerly offered me some but had no 20’s. I asked if they could give powder and they said yes, “but it might not suit, we made it ourselves.”

I said, “You ought not to tell me that. I may give information of an ammunition dump,” but they laughed and said, “Oh, we know you of old.”

When I came back after a while they had gone, had left me a brace of rabbits, and John says are very grateful. They asked me to let them have the boat again to-morrow morning “for a couple of hours” and I gave leave.

Jan. 13. The week passed well, I think. The boat was put back after a second day’s use, the group calling one evening while we were at dinner and leaving me some gunpowder for Richard. And to-day I have a letter from Patrick A. thanking me for my subscription to the Gaelic League in the name of the Kiltartan Branch who “wish you happiness, prosperity and moreover a Peaceable New Year.” Richard has been happy and has shot a pheasant as well as pigeons, the three chicks very gay all together.

Jan. 23. I took the children to the Convent to learn step-dancing. Sister Enda and Sister Columba teach it, “they didn’t learn it here but before they came to us,” the Rev. Mother said. All the infant-school learn only in Irish, speak Irish; the elder ones all learn it. Such a difference from that old day when the Rev. Mother wrote to thank the Turkish Ambassador for a donation she thought came from the Sultan because the letter was written in such a strange-looking language she thought it must be Turkish (and they always remember the Sultan’s charity in famine time). But he denied it and she took the letter to Monsignor Fahey and he burst out laughing and said that strange language was Irish! One of the older nuns there to-day said, “It was you, Lady Gregory, were the first to bring Irish to this neighbourhood,” and spoke of Miss Borthwick, who had given classes at our gate-lodge.

March 12. I have been a good deal in the woods seeing the little trees in Pairc-na-tarav, and find my love for the wood-work has come back as strong as ever. I do hope to save all the woods for the children. I have sold the Cuala sets for £135, that will help pay rates and taxes.

Edward Martyn was a neighbour and an old friend of Lady Gregory. He, Yeats, Moore and herself founded the Irish Theatre. He was a good landlord, a lover of music and the arts, and the Gaelic Revival. He can be read about in Moore’s Hail and Farewell or, more accurately, in Denis Gwynn’s excellent book Edward Martyn and the Irish Revival.

Sept. 8. I wrote to Arabella: “On the way back from Galway we got to Tulira about 6.30. The chauffeur had never been there before and instead of stopping at the hall door drove a little past it, and there in the bow window of the Library I saw Edward sitting. I thought he would turn and look round at the noise, but he stayed quite immovable, like a stuffed figure, it was quite uncanny. I rang the bell and Dolan the butler appeared, said he was only ‘pretty well,’ but showed me into the drawing-room, and came back to say Edward would like to see me.

“I went in, but he did not turn his head, gazed before him. I touched his hands (one could not shake them—all crippled, Dolan says he has to be fed) and spoke to him. He slowly turned his eyes but apparently without recognition. I went on talking without response till I asked if he had any pain and he whispered, ‘No. Thank God.’ I didn’t know if he knew me, but presently he whispered, ‘How is Robert?’ I said, ‘He is well, as all are in God’s hands. He has gone before me and before you.’ Then I said, ‘My little grandson Richard is well,’ and he said with difficulty and in a whisper, ‘I am very glad of that.’

“Then I came away, there was no use staying. I had seen a man (his nurse) behind the screen when I came in, but he went away. . . . Dolan had tea ready but I could not have touched anything, it seems such a house of death. Poor Edward every moment was picking at the rug over his knees. I thought the best thing to do was to write to Lady Hemphill, as I had promised to write when I saw her in Dublin some time ago.”

It was a very sad visit.

Oct. 10. Amy Shawe-Taylor was here arranging for her auction. She was indignant on Sunday that the King was not prayed for, and wouldn’t listen to the explanation that the Archdeacon had industriously prayed for him and Royal Family every Sunday but this one, and let their names drop out because, for Amy’s benefit, he had read a Lesson as well as Epistle and Gospel, which he had not done for a long time. She says that she had succeeded in having “God Save the King” put on at Ardrahan in wartime, but on its first Sunday everyone sat through it, even the police, who when she remonstrated said they didn’t know they were to stand, they had never heard that tune before!

Dec. 7. Yesterday I took the children to a party at Ballyturin, very merry for them. But I heard of Edward Martyn’s death, it had taken place that morning. The doctor told Mr. Bagot a tumour had been taken from his head on Saturday: Dr. Magennis had come from Dublin for the operation and he lost a good deal of blood. Father O’Kelly said he had, after the operation, recognised Father Carr, which he had not done for some time. I asked about the funeral. He said Father Carr told him also he had bequeathed his body to Dublin doctors, in the “interests of science,” so it may probably be in Dublin.

Though he had been too ill to see of late and I had not been able to go and see him before because of the broken bridge and my difficulty about rough roads, I feel a loneliness now he is gone. He was from the beginning of my life here at Coole a good neighbour; he was always grateful for my husband’s interest in him. He had gone to see Edward at Oxford to advise him not to build that large addition to his old castle, until at least his own taste and opinion were formed; and though the forces were too strong, his mother and her surroundings, he often regretted that he had not the strength of mind to take that advice. He was very kind to Robert, giving him his first real gun and letting him and his friends shoot Tulira in the holidays. And then when Yeats’ summers, and the Theatre project began, he was constantly here, walking over and staying to dine. It was George Moore who brought that work, putting his own name to The Bending of the Bough, rewritten by him and Yeats, but on Edward’s foundation. And Edward had been weak about The Countess Cathleen and took a wrong turning, I think, in withdrawing his support from our Theatre.

Of late I was told he felt his support of Sinn Fein in the beginning had been wrong. It was on his conscience. And yet he hated, with a real hatred, England. I always felt there were two natures in him, the old blood of the Martyns and the blood of the Smiths. The country people believed him to be a descendant of Oliver Cromwell—perhaps that was why they never warmed to him (nor he to them). It was old Mrs. Quirk who told me Cromwell had “stopped at Tulira for a while when there was a Mrs. Martyn in the house, and the master of the house not in it. And ever since then there has been an Oliver in the family.” I don’t think Edward ever heard this, but he was proud of the deed giving permission from Cromwell to Tulira unmolested, that used to hang in his study.

Dec. 21. Yesterday’s paper told of Edward Martyn’s funeral; he had directed in his will that his body, like those of many of the friendless poor, should be placed at the service of the Cecilia Street School of Surgery, and when it had served its purpose then should be interred in the common grave which holds the unclaimed workhouse dead. The poor body was taken to Glasnevin in the workhouse van with six other bodies being buried by the Union. His coffin the same as theirs. A Mass celebrated in the Cemetery Chapel for him and the nameless six who were to share his grave; the “Benedictus” sung when they were lowered into the earth by the Choir he endowed; this was the only ceremonial.

Feb. 22, 1924. Last night in the Library the firelight, the lamplight, shining on the rich bindings of that wall of books, and this evening, by the lake, so silent and beautiful, Crannagh so peaceful—“the tilled, familiar land;” and later as I went upstairs and looked from my window at the sunset behind the blue range of hills I felt so grateful, as I have often done of late, to my husband who brought me to this house and home. May 20. Cheery letters from Anne and Catherine, but they want a squirrel caught and tamed for a school friend, and I can’t bear to disappoint them but it doesn’t seem very practicable. Mike climbing a tree to rob the nest to begin with. And there are enough prisoners in the country already.

May 21. I have asked Mike about squirrels. He says this is about the time the young are born. He was coming over from Inchy one time, “and Nolan’s dog began to bark at a tree, and we poked with sticks at a big ivy bush that was in it, and there was a squirrel’s nest and three or four of the young ones fell down.” But he doesn’t think one could be tamed because “they are very cross, and try to bite you if they are caught in a trap.”

A delightful young American, Harold Speakman, toured Ireland with a donkey, and wrote a charming book about the country. He endeared himself to everyone he met. He died, tragically, too young.

July 11. A letter from Mr. Harold Speakman. He called late a few evenings ago from Gort, is travelling through Ireland with a donkey and cart; has come from Cork and is going on to Galway, Connemara and the North. Is painting also to illustrate the book he is writing, and wants to get “at the heart of the people.” A nice young fellow. He asks me for a name for his donkey. “She is a friendly little creature, ears forward most of the time, is several years older than the tinker who sold her to me, he told me, and seems to know the rules of the road almost better than I, for in America we travel to the right instead of to the left. She has never laid down in harness, and would work, I am sure, to the last ounce of her strength.” I have suggested “Grania,” who “walked all Ireland,” and, so far as I know, only once lost her temper.

Aug. 9. The darling children have left to-day for Burren. I have felt the loneliness but am glad they are at the sea; the weather here has changed to summer, they are better there. But while the floods continued, this house with its contents made the best Noah’s Ark.

I go on typing my diaries without joy. To-day I think of a possible play, a short one, and have rummaged for old notes. Among them I find one, written in May 1918, not about plays but—

“What has been expelled from my life?

“Interest in politics except as they affect Ireland.

“I think any sort of personal ambition. I have done some good work that the children may be proud of—Robert was. I would be glad to do more, because it is rather sad giving up creating—but not, I think, for praise. I have had enough.

“Since Robert’s death I do not covet money. I wished to leave him better off. I think the children will have enough for freedom from anxiety. I should like a little more to spend on woods and keep garden better, but if the sale of books goes on, I shall have that. Desire for Society went with Hugh’s death, it could never be as pleasant as those Lindsay House visits.

“I passionately wish for the children’s love and their happiness. For the return of Hugh’s pictures. For the government of Ireland in the hands of Ireland; for the rebuilding to begin.

“For the increased worthiness of the Abbey until we hand it over.

“With all the anguish of Robert’s death I have lost my one great fear of losing his affection. Now there is nothing that could hurt me so much to dread.”

Now I am typing this, seven years all but ten days since his death, I have little to add. The children have just been clustering round me, making out a crossword puzzle from Punch. I have kept their home for them. But I want or need more money than I did, with all expense of rates, taxes, labour, house—but thank God with the help of my plays and books I have kept going so far. A little anxious about this year and wondering if I might lecture in England. (Jan. 21, 1930. Yes, I have kept the home all this time and without, thank God, doing less worthy work.) Oct. 8. Yesterday I drove with Kathie to Roxboro’, took a motor. We went the lower road by Ballinabucky, our old tenants’ houses there much improved, flowers in the windows, gates to yards. I was glad to see it. I don’t know if they are better off by purchase or by money made during the war. Roxboro’ land, outside the wall, is sold, but there is not much change yet, two or three staring houses, some hay but no tillage. The house—the ruin—is very sad, just the walls standing, blackened, and all the long yards silent, all the many buildings, dairy, laundry, cow-houses, coach-houses, stables, kennels, smithy, sawmill and carpenters’ workshops empty. Some of the roofs falling in. I am afraid the house will never be built up. Yet the road by the deer-park and the avenue most beautiful, river and hills, and the trees in their autumn foliage. All silent that had been so full of life and stir in my childhood, and never deserted until now. The garden is grass and weeds, but some phloxes that Kathie had planted not yet choked, and I am bringing them here, a great enrichment to my borders.

The first attack, she says, was at night, guns fired, windows broken, and a few men disguised came in and demanded guns and were given some. Then a little later a larger party, at night, this time, with a complete list of the guns in the house. These had been hidden under the floor but Arthur had to disclose their hiding-place as they knew of them. They said there was a revolver also, but he could not remember anything about it, and they went.

Kathie and Dudley had hidden it in a secret drawer of the study table, without Arthur’s knowledge. After this, they threw it and some hidden cartridges into a river. Then one morning she was called down and found the hall full of armed men. Arthur was in the dining-room, puzzled by a long typed paper saying he must give up his estate. He thought at first it was from the Free State Government but it was from the Irregulars.

She thinks the house was burned by one small gang, “a bad gang” that had been the first to come for the guns. The Steward’s wife said, what I had thought, that if Arthur had gone back when the Irregulars left, it would have been all right. She said “he might have asked a couple of them to stop and help him.” I wonder what their answer would have been. It would have been worth trying.

Nov. 26. To the woods then to see the men clearing sides of rides for the shooting. The love of the trees came back very strongly as I looked at some I had tended and cut ivy from—some ivy had rooted itself under the bark of a birch—I had not seen that before. But planting is over for me—money goes to house and rates and taxes and labour, and it may be the energy that went into these plantings has lessened, though I longed to begin again.

In 1926 Lady Gregory had to go to Dublin for an operation on a malignant growth in her breast. She always referred to the surgeon as “kind Dr. Slattery.” She dreamed as follows.

Sept. 2, 1926. I fixed my mind upon a river, the river at Roxboro’, imagined it as it flows from the mountains through the flat land from Kilchreest—then under the road bridge, then under the Volunteer Memorial bridge, through the deer-park, then deepens; salleys and bullrushes at one side, coots and wild fowl making their nests there—by the other the green lawns, past the house, past the long line of buildings, stables, kennels, dairy, the garden walls; then, narrow and deep here, it turned the old mill-wheel supplying water also for the steam-engine that helped the sawmills’ work. Then came the division, the parting of the waters, the otters’ cave, the bed of soft mud of which we children used to make the little vessels that never went through the baking without cracks; the dip of the stream underground rising later to join its sunlit branch; a rushing current again, passing by Ravahasey, Caherlinney, Poll na Sionnach, Isertkelly, Castleboy; bridges again and then through thickets of laurel, beside a forsaken garden—and then by a sloping field of daffodils—and so at last to the high road where it went out of our demesne. For a moment I think of the river that has bounded my second phase of life rising in the park at Coole, flowing under high poplars on its steep bank, vanishing under rocks that nature has made a bridge; then flowing on again till it widens into the lake. But before I had come to its disappearance under the rocks at Inchy only to appear again as it flows into Galway Bay, the Surgeon told me the knife had done its work.

Oct. 11. Yesterday was a very good Sunday. S. L. Brown came to church; it was Mr. Warren’s first service there—he reads very well, a good voice, wonderful to listen to after our former Incumbents. Then he played the organ himself for hymns and chants extremely well, that also a pleasure. His sermon was but a five minutes’ one, just a greeting to us—the text “One body in Christ.”

I was so glad Mr. Brown was here for that first service, though the congregation was about sixteen, (including Mr. Warren’s two daughters,) it looked rather a feeble one, and I said I felt as if I had landed a very fine salmon as I brought him in. After church we had taken half an hour in the garden where he was enthusiastic over the beauty of the trees, the ilex especially and the copper-beeches and the yews. After lunch we walked in the woods, and then when we came to the lake it was so sunny we walked along its edge for a while and sat on a rock and watched ten wild swans, in a group, dipping their heads under water for grass or weeds. We basked in the sun. When we came back we found Rafter and Tom and a friend, another boy, waiting for apples, they had had a long wait but were rewarded by the quantities of ripe Croftons and yellow apples that had fallen or we shook off the trees. S.L.B. who loves apples said he had not seen Irish Croftons since he was a boy, and ate and put some in his pocket, and had a long talk with Rafter who when I introduced “Senator Brown, the Chairman of the Food Commission,” had said, “Your Ladyship has often distinguished guests”—a ready compliment to both of us. Nov. 8. I went towards Pairc-na-Tarav to see what the storm had done, but in the three-cornered field I came on two lads, one very small, bending over a rabbit hole. On seeing me the elder took a ferret from the mouth of the hole and stuffed it in his pocket. They moved away but I called them to stop and they did so, reluctantly—said they “didn’t know it was any harm,” had got one rabbit, but said it was from Lisheen Crannagh, on Murphy’s land. However, as I couldn’t resist giving the little one some of the apples just brought in, I invited him, after reproofs, to come to the house, and both came, and agreed it was better to get apples for nothing than to take rabbits that didn’t belong to them.

Mar. 25, 1927. Yesterday I began writing a sort of farewell to the rooms; the drawing-room, just describing the things around me. I will go on with it, although poor Margaret came back to-day from a visit to Galway and a depressing talk with the agent about a house. I have just read in Emerson’s Journals, “They say there is a tune which is forbidden to be played in the European armies, because it makes the Swiss desert, since it reminds them so forcibly of their hills and homes.”

Mar. 31. Keller has sent the Deed of Sale to Margaret to sign. I don’t know if I shall realise then—I cannot now—that Coole has passed altogether away from us. I go on writing my little “Farewell” to the things around me—to the rooms. And I go on sowing and planting in the garden.

April 1. I have just put my name as witness to the sale of Coole—all—house, woods, gardens.

But Lady Gregory took a letting from the Minister of Lands and Agriculture, in the December of this year, of the dwelling-house and offices, gardens and front lawns, at a yearly rent of £100. This agreement was for three years but was subsequently renewed year after year up to the year of her death, 1932.

Aug. 24. Yeats here yesterday—came in the afternoon soaking, having walked from the gate in the rain. We sent his coat to be dried at the kitchen fire, and he put round his shoulders the Indian shawl that lies on the sofa. We had just gone down to the breakfast-room for tea when a motor was heard, and its occupants trooped in. I only recognised Mary Studd, but brought them in and gave them tea. While we were having it Marian brought Yeats’ coat and he put it on and discarded the shawl, and this caused merriment.

By degrees I made them out, a nice woman next me was Lady Susan Dawney, and a pretty, bright girl Lady Blanche Beresford, engaged to one of the young men, R. Girouard, he and the other Christ Church undergraduates. Mary told me they were all Yeats enthusiasts, so after tea, in the library, I brought in his new poems “October Blast,” and Yeats said “The Tower” and some others. And then he talked of clairvoyants and of religion, the need of an intellectual belief. Then, Lady Blanche being disappointed that she could not buy a copy of “October Blast,” (the edition sold out,) I found two pages of The New Republic in which the same poems were printed, and Yeats gave it to her as a wedding present, and she wanted my name written on it also, but I said that must be on something of my own and gave her Brigit and evening fell pleasantly.

More visitors. On Sunday Mr. Holberton came to the door, the maids out, Marian having a siesta. He had brought his camera, the Tourist Association having sent him on a photographing tour, to include Coole and Kiltartan! I begged him to leave that out. They wanted anything connected with my writings. Poor Kiltartan! I asked him to photograph only the old church at Ballinamantane. The better our cottages are, and they are very good now, the less their owners would like to see them exhibited as dwelling-places of my characters in Jackdaw or Spreading the News! However, he slipped away and did photo one, I know not whose, and then the lake and the house, from the back. And seeing the autograph tree he insisted on taking one of it, though I don’t know how the names will come out under the leafy boughs. A good man. His heart is in Ireland. And on Monday I was bringing flowers from the garden and trying to keep Taddy and Rotter from rambling as their owners would be coming by and by, when, coming towards the hall door, a motor dashed up, with a Dutch poet and newspaper correspondent and his wife, making a tour of the West. Van Eycks. Nice people, so I took them to the garden, with a peep at Kyle-na-gno as they wanted to see places mentioned in Yeats’ poems, and then to the lake, and gave them tea.

Oct. 20. To-day Mr. Reed, of the Land Commission, and Mr. Donovan, of the Forestry Department, came and formally took over Coole, took possession. It no longer belongs to anyone of our family or name. I am thankful to have been able to keep back a sale for these years past, for giving it into the hands of the Forestry people makes the maintenance and improvement of the woods secure, and will give employment and be for the good and dignity of the country. As to the house I will stay and keep it as the children’s home as long as I keep strength enough and can earn money enough. It had a good name before I came here, its owners were of good, even of high repute; and that has been continued, has increased, in Robert’s time and mine. Perhaps some day one of the children may care enough for it to come back; they have been happy here.

Jan. 1, 1928. The sale of the woods and house has been completed. I hope to be able to keep it as long as the children need a home. All land troubles are at an end. I don’t know how my money will hold out. I have written some of my articles about the house and its contents and am going on with the political portraits in the breakfast-room slowly, with atmosphere; they are easy to scamp but difficult to get into a meditation, a setting. That is one of my tasks for this year; and to keep the house peaceful and as comfortable for children and guests as means and my remaining energy will allow.

Love, the solution of life, of living in heaven while on earth. I seem to grasp it sometimes; it would set everything right if I could feel to all as I do to, say, Richard. April 18. Yesterday I motored in the rain to Craughwell, to the poor graveyard where Frank’s body was being laid. Only a few there, some old men from Lough Cutra who had worked under him and loved him; his daughters and sons-in-law—very few others, the time and place had by accident not been put in the papers. I joined the procession but did not go into the graveyard, for reasons besides the pouring rain. Somehow he was in my mind as I remembered him riding along one of those very roads in his early youth, on his horse Twilight. He had lost his hat in the run, his fair hair was shining; as they passed the M.F.H., Burton Persse called out “tell your mother I’m prouder of Frank than if he wrote the Bible!” The dancing light in his eyes had never gone out, was, like his kindness, still unquenched. His two daughters, with the husband of one, the widowed husband of another, came here for tea. I was glad to have them and to welcome them. This is the one house left open of all our family owned. Michael Shawe-Taylor and his mother were here, she stayed the night.

Sept. 15. I had written a telegram yesterday to Galway Hospital asking for news of Johnny Hehir but, the children motoring to Coole, I gave it to them to send if there were no news there. And they brought back sad news. There had first been a message that he was safely through the operation, and then one that his state was hopeless. It is so very, very sad; he was as good a boy as I have ever known, so trustworthy, so diligent and willing—over-willing. I have had to restrain him. This last year, since he had learned to drive a motor, had been pleasant to him, seeing so much of the country. He had a slight operation some months ago, I don’t know if it had any connection with this, I think not. The grief of his life had been his sister’s death in England last year. He had gone at once in the hope of seeing her alive but she had already passed away. Poor father and mother! I am going to Coole by and by.

Minnogue coming to sell lobsters says, “I have two sons enlisted, and one virtuous one at home.” Evening. We have been to Coole. Poor Johnny Hehir had been buried this morning at Kiltartan. I went to the house, the father sobbing, the mother more composed but in great grief. She was with him to the last in the hospital. He knew death was coming and sent messages, “My love to Lady Gregory.” He had gone through great pain but was at ease at the last in the hospital. They had called in three doctors. I will of course pay all but told John to find out if the Health Insurance helps at all.

Dec. 5. Murty here asking for “wheels”: he has a pony but nothing to harness it to. I am giving him the old phaeton, my brother Dudley’s wedding gift to me, long unused but sometimes much used, especially in my folk-loring days. It was in it I drove alone across the mountains from Chevy to Tulla to gather news of traditions of Biddy Early. And to many another haunt of legend, into Clare, alone or with Yeats, with Hyde; earlier in Robert’s boyish days to Galway to stay a night at the Croft. When poor Shamrock died it went out of use. I am glad to think it may be useful yet. But I don’t think one could gather stories of the Sidhe in a motor; the pony’s little drink of meal and water—the rests by the roadside—were more in harmony with those dream-like tales.

Dec. 29. Guy gave me William O’Brien’s Life—a clear rapid history of the whole struggle for the land. I am thankful we had no active trouble here, just a delay of payment of rents. William had always given a reduction when there was a good case for it; there had never been an eviction, and there was no ill-feeling in the stormy time. I am glad John Shawe-Taylor gets full credit for bringing about the Convention that was a great step towards peace. I was in full sympathy with him then. And even at the worst time of trouble, in this century, I remember Frank saying to me at the Broadstone as I was coming home, and he had been turned out of his house by Lough Corrib, “There is no danger for you. You have always been on the side of the people.”

My little Christmas tree last Thursday for the little Rosses, McDonoughs, Byrnes, gave them great joy. I should like all my entertaining to be of children, and workers.

Jan. 25, 1929. Yesterday a very distant cousin, Capt. Edmund Maturin Persse, “Commissioner in Uganda,” having come for a few days in search of relations and traditions, we motored to Roxboro’. I had not been there since the final sale. I was glad to see so many new houses built or being built along the Castleboy Road and the high demesne wall in part pulled down for these. The mountain-side was little changed, though the woods have but little good timber left. And the deer-park with its old tower and the Fishpond Road were much as of old. But inside the front gate—the Grand Gate as it was called by the people—all was changed, the Cottage Grove cut down and almost all the fine beeches along the river. The river itself choked and narrowed. I could not think from what cause, but now remember once a “swallow hole” that had suddenly appeared and I forget by what means had been stopped, in my early days. The chimneys and walls of the roofless house look gaunt. An old man in the yard, King, whom I had known, showed us round, through the deserted yards. A very sad sight: the dairies, laundries, cow-houses, kennels, piggeries, all fallen to ruin or pulled down. The garden in rough grass, the pleasure-ground rough grass, the walks overgrown. I should hardly have found my way about, all so changed and desolate. I thought of Oisin’s return to desolate Almhuin. . . . For as he was the last of the Fianna so am I of my generation, the brothers, the sisters; and now the homestead that had sheltered us all a deserted disconsolate ruin.

Jan. 28. Going to Dublin to-day. Edmund Persse looking for family history still; he wrote and I dictated last evening bits from Dr. Fahey’s Kilmacduagh. I forgot he had given so much about Roxboro’; very valuable now, for he took it from the Rolls Office—it and its records destroyed since then in our civil war. He tells that “by the first of these grants made by Charles II to Dean Dudley Persse in 1677 he received land in Roscommon and Galway; the MacHuberts estates in and around Iser Kaelly also passed into the possession of the Persses. In 1677 he received in addition grants by James II, 10 Feb., 1686, by letters patent to the same Dudley Persse, confirming grants of 2,500 acres, profitable and unprofitable, in the baronies of Longford, Clonmacowen, Leitrim, Loughrea, Dunkellin and Kiltartan. This does not include certain other grants made in the Galway Liberties and certain portions of Roscommon county . . . they included the mansion house of Cregrosta which Dean Persse used as his residence (Roxboro’).”

April 2. Curley the Piper has been here, much elated by his reception by Royalty at Portumna. (Princess Mary and Lord Lascelles.) He was “let in through the gate and then it was locked and the devil another one let in from outside.” He told the Princess of having met King Edward and the Queen at the Killeries in Connemara, and also gave Lord Lascelles “news of some of his relations in Co. Mayo, Knoxs and others.” But he liked the Lady better, “she put five pounds in my hand, and then I was let out through the gate, and it closed behind me.” He laments Roxboro’ in the old times, “a very good place for God’s poor.” And he laments Robert who “would leave his cricket and come up the avenue and put something in my hand.”

April 24. Reading last evening an article in The Nation but broke off here, a Mulkere girl having come for flowers for the Mission for the windows in Gort. I had already given all but all to constant seekers, but found a few more for her—anemones chiefly—and as she wanted evergreens I broke branches from the bay-tree, and now I hear the postman, Lally, wants some flowers, and Gillane the baker.

April 25. My back aches from gathering flowers, which seem inexhaustible—as are the calls for the decorations wished for by the Missioners. My best wallflowers sacrificed to-day, that I had hoped to save seed from; and the very buds of a tree peony. Narcissus and anemones and the sunflower bush hold out wonderfully, but as a reward—“The Missioners spoke from the altar in Gort of the beautiful flowers on the altar at Kiltartan—tulips and narcissus”—these are all mine. But my own drawing-room and library vases are empty and the big copper bowl holds but a columbine, which had sowed itself in a pot in the vinery.

April 26. Flowers, flowers, flowers still. This morning the postman—his ready from last evening. Then, as I did my housekeeping, Mary asks me for some for Mrs. Connolly, the carpenter’s wife; went out in a hurry, took some of my last few tulips and anemones, narcissus, white clematis just opening, even some bluebells, but these they will not care for, they are “upbreaking” in Shanwalla beside the avenue. Now I think of Peter’s neighbour, Mrs. Ballinger, I have kept some in water for her since Peter asked for them last night, and can add some more.

Another call for flowers—“a poor sort of a girl,”—Maureen reports. So Income Tax must wait.

The rain having almost stopped I went in search of flowers for the waiting girl, first the few remaining narcissi, and then through the railing and into the phlox border, and found there some wallflowers, hidden, and took some of the purple honesty that had seeded itself, and, with much pricking of hands, some sprays of yellow berberis, and then some branches of bay. So with all I have supplied for to-morrow’s procession I feel that the welfare of those Gort windows has benefited by my “pursuit and occupation” of gardening.

April 27. Rain at last, very welcome. (I am typing this on Feb. 1, 1930, when the pump is far away in the lake, and Pond Field amongst others flooded over its little birches.) And I thought, “No more flower seekers.” But opening Lally’s book to write some orders, there was a note from Mrs. Lally asking for some. And Ellen told me Miss Shaughnessy who supplies The Connacht Tribune would also like some! So in the rain I went out and plucked at last the two little groups of tulips I had been sparing, just inside the gate, to have still some pleasure to the eye from their delicate pale tints. That and fighting with Income Tax difficulties tired me. But this last burden I sent off at the last moment to ever-kind Kiernan.

April 28, Sunday. And at half-past eight o’clock, all the maids having gone to the Mission, I heard a knock at the hall door, and looking from the cloak-room window saw two Civic Guards. So I opened to them—“We came to ask for a few bits of laurel to decorate the barracks!”—and I was glad that having found John in the garden earlier I had got some old wood and brambles taken from the foot of the sunflower bush, which had still on its summit some well-covered branches. So I took them out there, in the dark, and they got a good armful of the bright flowers. And then I left them at the laurels outside to cut what sprays and branches they liked. And to-day going through Gort to church and seeing flags waving, yellow and white, I heard they are the Papal colours. So I could not have given a better bundle than they had taken.

May 6. Yesterday church, and then to Lough Cutra. We walked by the lake, through the pines. It looked tranquil and beautiful; the grounds also, so well kept—and thought of Yeats’ line “The rich man’s son inherits lawns,” that was afterwards cast out for—

“Surely among a rich man’s flowering lawns,

Amid the rustle of his planted hills,

Life overflows without ambitious pains

And rains down life until the basin spills——”

But no envy came near me. The beauty, the romance of our Seven Woods, the mysteries of the ebbing and flowing lake are dear to me, have been well loved, and are now in hands that will care and tend them it is likely for ever.

June 25. Yesterday Cat motored me to Castle Taylor to lunch with Michael Shawe-Taylor. He has done a great deal, has put new windows into the drawing-room, where the broken ones had long been boarded up—has had drawing-room, hall, study and two or three bed-rooms done up also. And outside he has had the little “spring garden” cleared and cleaned and filled with annuals, the grass mown, and has cut away two or three of the trees too near the house. Has made a tiny fishpond also, rather a variety this in so waterless a place—it has to be supplied from the pump. He hopes by degrees to get the kitchen-garden into order and grow vegetables for sale. He has been blamed for not, on leaving Oxford, having entered a profession—his mother wishes for the Army or the City. But had he taken an agency, say, to restore and improve some other owner’s place for pay, he would be held to be doing good work, and why not when it is for the home of his ancestors?

And coming back we called at Tulira. I had never been there since poor Edward Martyn’s death. It also had been let go to weeds outside and damp within. But young Hemphill and his American wife are getting it into order again—they will make it their country home, though he will do his law-work in Dublin. And the tiny baby son, eleven months old, exhibited by him with pride as he took us round the house, will be brought up in a home. The garden had gone to wildness and weeds, but in the midst of these there are now large patches of ripe peas and lettuce and other vegetables, and in the little glass-house, tomatoes—plenty of variety there.

July 23. Yesterday Richard motored me with Anne to Ardrahan Church where the service is being held while ours is being painted. I think it is fifty years or more since I was last there, and the few, very few, faces were new. In my early days, except for the Incumbent’s family, the congregation was entirely of my near relations and their households; Clanmorris, my first cousin; Walter Shawe-Taylor and his wife, (a more distant cousin), and their children; Walter Shawe-Taylor and his wife, my sister, their children. Richard and Anne were amused when I told them I had been a bridesmaid in that church to Florence Bingham, dressed in white embroidered muslin with a wreath of violets. I had lately been ill and had a moment’s faintness when kneeling in the aisle, and was brought very indignantly back to liveliness by hearing a whisper that the bridegroom had been known to admire me and perhaps I coveted him from the bride! A simple wedding in that little church had been that of my sister Adelaide to the Rev. J. Lane—our parents not allowing it to take place at our own little church in the Roxboro’ demesne. An unhappy marriage, yet that clash of opposing temperaments in wife and husband brought forth him (Hugh Lane) of whom Augustus John said, “He was one of those rare ones who, single-handed, are able to enrich and dignify an entire nation.” And outside in the green burial plot is the grave of his cousin and fellow worker, John Shawe-Taylor, who brought together the Conference that under George Wyndham and Dunraven led to the peaceable and friendly settlement of the thorny Land Question quarrel. In dedicating a play, The Image, to their dear memory, I wrote, “And so we must say ‘God love you’ to the Image Makers, for do we not live by the shining of those scattered fragments of their dream?”

July 24. Yesterday Anne coming from Lough Cutra told us Michael Shawe-Taylor had come over while they were at breakfast and told them Castle Taylor had been fired into during the night, several shots from the garden side—the glass in study door, and of the bedroom Mrs. Norman is sleeping in, broken. Mrs. Norman has been brought over to Lough Cutra. Poor Michael, he had done so much to house and garden and had been so proud to show it to his grandmother and hoped she might stay on there! The people had seemed glad at his return and his intention to keep up his home. Heart-rending! Our ill-wishers will make so much of it.

Dec. 31. I used to think and say—as a sort of vanishing point in the distance—that I should like to live to see Richard come of age. And now this has come. He is well and doing well—happy in work, in riding and in play. I thank God he has come so far “unspotted” and unspoiled. The coming-of-age is not now the coming into ownership of his property and home that were owned by the generations before him. And although I am thankful it is in such good hands as those of the Forestry Department, there is a little sadness in this. Sadness also about Lough Cutra for that breach is not healed. Guy has had one threat, and doubts coming even to Coole as arranged. Peace seems to be unlikely; no move towards it on either side. (Feb. 25. But that is all right now, though they have not come back to the house yet.)

Jan. 4, 1930. Richard, Anne, Catherine arrived yesterday in time for lunch, all so well and cheery. R. and C. went out to the woods, then for tea Guy arrived. A very happy evening and the wireless worked well, Richard turning it on to Paris. He must be back at Chatham by 9 o’clock on Monday. . . . The darlings’ bright faces have turned up the coin head instead of tail, and I am thankful.

Jan. 9. I find a scrap I had written in pencil: “My time is past and maybe what I think green is withering, and what is dry like ashes is breaking into leaf.” I have nearly finished answering and writing a mass of Christmas and other letters. And I have been marking with blue pencil the parts of my diaries relating to the fight for Hugh’s pictures. But the most interesting part may be too personal—yet I had better go on. I would rather do anything this morning than make up accounts for the maids’ wages, due on Monday, for they have come back on different dates and—except Mary’s—each will be a problem!

Jan. 12. Now I have turned on the wireless to try and get the evening service from a London church—the preacher, the Rev. Pat McCormick.

I forget if I ever wrote of that Sunday when I was staying at the old Martin house, Ballinakill, in Connemara, with its then tenants. They were Catholics and on Sunday asked if I would like the car to take me to church. I hesitated, not wishing to give trouble, but said, “Yes,” to show respect for our disendowed church. And I was rewarded. The congregation was but four or five: I made another and the chauffeur also came in, the first time he had been to a church service since he left England. And after the service the old rector came to the door as I went out and welcomed me, saying he had known Hugh Lane who had been a friend of his son, the rector of a London church. And that when this son had married, Hugh had come to the wedding, and had brought some beautiful gift and had made the whole room bright with his cheery ways, (as he had done in many another house).

So this Sunday morning the wireless gave me the hymn and the organ and the reading of the lesson. And then there came a sudden silence. I thought a violent wind that had arisen outside might be the cause. But this morning also it refuses to speak—just when I should like music, for I have been making up accounts. And now I’ve been gathering Christmas roses and sweet-smelling branches, rosemary and salvia and verbena, and some hyacinths, to send to Marian, Mary going to spend the day with her.

Jan. 23. This day ten years ago my child left this earth. And it is time for me to go. So very tired this morning and that scar throbbing. I am still working at those diaries, hoping to leave nothing that would give trouble.

Jan. 26. A peaceful day except that the grass upon the edge of the drive round the yard is being ploughed up by Mr. O’Beirne’s car and I must remonstrate. But Mr. Ross and Co. have been shooting to-day, Sunday, (like Mike when I reproved him for arranging some business expedition saying, “That would be breaking the Sabbath,” and he answered, “Sure we have no other day to break!”), and they have left me six woodcock, a fine gift to send someone—kind Gogarty, I think.

March 15. This my birthday, my 78th! The last of the Roxboro’ generation. And although that cold caught in Dublin has turned to a cough, I am wonderfully well, took that three hours’ walk among the woods the other day; sleep well, eat very little, no meat—porridge, and a slice of bread for breakfast; vegetables or broth or an occasional egg for lunch, 1.30; tea at 6.30, bread and butter, jam, perhaps cake; a glass of milk and some biscuits at night. I keep strength and my mind clear (I think!).

Stephen Aldridge, my brother’s tutor, of I suppose sixty years or more—yes, more—writes, “I feel sure you retain your former charm of manner and appearance, notwithstanding the passage of the years!” He has never seen me since then!

March 20. Margaret wrote yesterday that poor old Sarsfield has died, at Lough Cutra, where he had spent these last few years. I am glad he has gone by natural death: it is sad when through infirmity or old age an old horse has to be shot. And he was much associated with Robert’s early twenties. I had been looking yesterday at a cup he had won. There had been other triumphs in races, (that one where Richard had ridden to the goal after his bit had been lost!) and at shows. And then later Robert would now and again put him and Sarsfield to the wagonette and drive so that all the windows rattled as he went the Kiltartan Road. I often had these lines in memory these later years:

“Long, long will his ladye

Look from the castle down

Till she’ll see the Earl of Moray

Come sounding through the town.”

It touched me a couple of years ago when Anne mounted him. He went quietly in the woods, but when they came into the hobble field he grew excited and made a rush for the high bank, the “leap” put up in early days for his training or exercising. I felt he had a sudden thought it was Robert who was riding him again.

And I remember that Outlook lunch where Roosevelt told the company, “Lady Gregory’s son has splendid horses—he has called one Patrick Sarsfield and the other Theodore Roosevelt!” And indeed Robert had admired him before I—not so much interested then as later in the U.S.A.—had realised his personality.



I think it may be truly said that the Abbey Theatre “made” Lady Gregory as a writer and as a personage. She had in 1898 edited “Mr. Gregory’s Letter-Box” (Mr. Gregory being her husband’s grandfather, Under-Secretary for Ireland from 1813 to 1831, but, frankly, he seems to have been no more than a competent Civil Servant). She edited her husband’s biography (1894), a delightful book, modestly and frankly written by a man of individual and outstanding character; I rank it with Trollope’s “Autobiography”—indeed they were both at Harrow together and Sir Robert regrets the unkindness he and the other boys showed to poor grubby Trollope. Then, about the beginning of the century, she became interested in Gaelic, got instruction in the language from local teachers, started classes in Gaelic among her tenantry, worked hard in our National Library putting together translations of the old sagas and making “Cuchulain of Muirthemne” (1902), “Gods and Fighting Men” (1904), and a lovely book, “Poets and Dreamers” (1903), which consists of translations of Douglas Hyde’s little plays and bits of Kiltartan folk-lore. Later came “Saints and Wonders” (1907), “The Kiltartan History Book” (1909) and “Visions and Beliefs” (1920). But her place in Irish literature depends little on these books, important as some of them may seem to us. Her place depends on her achievement as a dramatist.

Her connection with Irish drama began in an almost haphazard fashion. In her book, “Our Irish Theatre,” she writes:

“I was in London in the beginning of 1898, and I find written, Yeats and Sir Alfred Lyall to tea, Yeats stayed on. He is very full of playwriting. . . . He, with the aid of Miss Florence Farr, an actress who thinks more of a romantic than a paying play, is very keen about taking or building a little theatre somewhere in the suburbs to produce romantic drama, his own plays, Edward Martyn’s, one of Bridges’, and he is trying to stir up Standish O’Grady and Fiona Macleod to write some. He believes there will be a reaction after the realism of Ibsen, and romance will have its turn. He has put a great deal of himself into his own play The Shadowy Waters and rather startled me by saying about half his characters have eagles’ faces.”

In that book she records the Theatre’s early days before it was the Abbey Theatre. Miss Horniman, that fairy godmother, had not yet stepped from her coach, the wand had not yet been waved. The book is not a very good one, it was written too soon after the players’ tempestuous tour in America in 1911 and dwells too much on the Playboy row. A fairer history of the Theatre will be found in A. E. Malone’s “The Irish Drama” or Ernest Boyd’s “Anglo-Irish Literature” or in George Moore’s “Hail and Farewell.”

But when these Journals start the Playboy quarrel is almost forgotten. She is now, as indeed she has been since 1904, one of the Theatre’s Directors and the Theatre is almost the first concern of her life. In a moment of crisis, or even of minor difficulty, she will take the next train from County Galway to Dublin, every personal and social obligation thrown to the wind. The sky darkens, some hawk hovers; she is the hen in defence of her chicks.

She knew every aspect of that Theatre, knew that bit of worn carpet leading to the stalls, the bit that must be cut out and some other bit sewn in, for there was not enough money to buy a new carpet. The charwomen were her personal friends, and the attendants and Seaghan Barlow, the chief-on-stage. She wouldn’t criticise the orchestra—she knew it was excellent and would prefer to sit through the interval listening to Dr. Larchet’s music than to have a cup of tea, talking to her friends in the vestibule. She kept her hand firmly on the office-side of the Theatre and bothered herself about the Secretariat, about the Auditor, about a financial adviser. There was a moment when it was suggested that I should be made Managing Director, she vigorously opposed such a step. As long as she was alive she must be equal Director with every other Director. And she was right.

She was an excellent producer of plays, a most helpful critic of production, a merciless critic of players. In plays she loved intensity and vigour—as did Yeats. The half-tones of Tchekov, for instance, would bore her, they lacked vitality; she would much prefer The Shadow of a Gunman. Her reading would be Plutarch’s “Lives”, her heroes, Don Quixote, Abraham Lincoln, Parnell. Anything noble and, perhaps, fated. I think in the end, looking back at her plays, she was proudest of having written the one about the Passion of Christ.

And it was the same thing in acting; she loved energy and fine speaking. Therefore her favourite actresses were Sara Allgood and Maureen Delany and, as actors, Arthur Sinclair, Barry Fitzgerald and F. J. McCormick. (I mention only a few of her favourites.) This love of energy made her sometimes dumb to other players’ fine qualities; blind to Shelah Richards, for instance, and a little grudging towards Eileen Crowe and Arthur Shields. Her loves and her prejudices will appear in the following pages. Never to the last year of her life did her interest in the Theatre flag.

We can rightly praise Synge and O’Casey and many another fine Irish playwright, talk of the genius of this player and of that, but without Lady Gregory’s doggedness and determination and belief in the Theatre these people might never have, artistically, existed. Our Theatre would not be open to-day save for her. Lady Gregory was—is—the Abbey Theatre.

I think I have found this section of her Journals the most difficult to edit, the reason being that it is so near my own life. Trivial things—a player’s protest at a reduction of salary was a storm twenty years ago and is now only a tiny squall and of no interest to the general reader. So I have tried to retain only those things which show her vitality in connection with our Theatre. I have almost omitted one aspect of that vitality—her interest in other Abbey dramatists’ plays. She went to great pains, gave much time to try and improve some play she liked or some young dramatist’s work. In every case I know of the dramatist thanked her; I do not mention names but I do not think the dramatists would mind if I had done so.

When these Journals began the Theatre had fallen on lean days. It never closed its doors during the 1914 war but its best players, Sara Allgood, Arthur Sinclair, J. M. Kerrigan, and others, had left for England. I had left in 1914, and now the Theatre was faced with a new desertion—that of Fred O’Donovan and other players.


Feb. 3, 1919. I went on to the Abbey to see a rehearsal of Baile’s Strand, very glad to hear poetry on the stage again. Yeats came on to lunch and then I read him my Jester. He thought it good, made no criticisms except that the first act was perhaps too talky—he had not waked up till the second but he was in a hurry back to prepare notes for his evening talk on Psychic Research and he found the drawing-room here cold and I don’t think it was a very good time to read it.

As to the Abbey, Harris (the Theatre’s Auditor) had written urging me to come up, there was something wrong, O’Donovan had talked of “interference” and Millington (the Secretary) had written in the same way that there was a “strain”. So on Friday evening, after Mixed Marriage, I went up to the office and saw Donovan. His grievance is that Mrs. Yeats looks on and criticises and “not understanding the difficulties or business” makes suggestions and criticisms to Yeats who carries them out. However, I told him we mustn’t grumble at anything. It is such a great matter getting a verse play on again. He is rather sulky at our taking Miss Magee back at £5 a week for three months, but I was firm about that. We want some beauty on our stage. For yesterday I heard from Harris that O’Donovan is leaving us, is supposed to be going to start a touring company of his own, was dissatisfied at Miss Magee’s engagement at £5 a week, and at Yeats having brought in Miss Molony, “a girl from Liberty Hall,” and at not getting more pay. And so I must cut short my time here and go back to re-organise the Theatre for we have not one of the old company left.

Feb. 24 (London). I have had no news of the Pictures but Donovan resigned last week, and I thought I must go over and re-organise the Company. To-day Yeats writes saying Lennox Robinson would like the post and wishing him to get it. I have rather reluctantly assented, saying that the Drama League, a vent for Robinson’s morbidity, will be a help. He grew very slack before and very careless about keeping up the acting and lost us much money on our American tours. But I don’t want to fight and will try and work with him. It will be easier than working the Company myself, but I would have tried to do it.

March 9. To the Gresham Hotel, and at 11 saw Harris who was glad I had come; Yeats had not been to the Theatre but once to see one rehearsal. Donovan has taken with him the worst actors, but also Miss Hayden, and tried to get Miss Delany, and the remains of the Company were feeling uneasy, fearing we would come to an end. Yeats had wanted to close, which would have sent them all to O’Donovan. Lennox Robinson came, thin and languid, but anxious for the management if he could arrange with Horace Plunkett to let him keep a part of the Carnegie Library work.We went on to the theatre to make out a possible programme, and settled on The Mineral Workers for next week. Robinson will rehearse it and then he will be away for a week and I will, if possible, get up John Bull’s Other Island. I have been there each morning since, wiring Miss Magee, trying to get a “Broadbent” on the telephone, rather hard, for Robinson is in feeble health from ’flu, and Millington, the Secretary, a little slow, and the telephone itself has broken down. But in the evening Millington roused himself to remember a Mr. Maddock who had once played “Broadbent” for us. I asked where he lived and he said in his depressed way, “In Mount Jerome Cemetery and I don’t know if he can leave it”. He is Secretary there. But it is Thursday and we have not got him or another yet.

March 13. Yesterday Theatre, and coming in near 5 o’clock I found a letter from Miss Magee and wrote to her and set out again to get a book of John Bull and post it—just in time.

March 16. I went to the almost empty matinée at the Abbey. The bills were there for Monday with Kathleen ni Houlihan and The Mineral Workers, but Millington said casually that Miss Walker has to go to Manchester after all and so can’t play “Kathleen” till Wednesday, and Rising is to be played in its stead. A bad moment to make a change, when we are already weak with the loss of players. I left a card for Robinson asking him to come round, and told him I would rather myself play “Kathleen” than let it drop (after all what is wanted but a hag and a voice?). He said it was “splendid” of me, and we arranged a rehearsal for to-day but my heart sinks low, remembering the words will be the chief difficulty, and I could joyfully welcome Maire Walker should she return, yet if all goes well I shall be glad to have done it.

March 17. Yesterday morning to the Abbey and rehearsed Kathleen ni Houlihan, feeling very nervous about it, and wishing Maire Walker would suddenly appear and do still wish it—though I think I would be disappointed afterwards if she did.

March 18. To the Abbey and ran through Kathleen with Shields, my heart sinking more and more at the thought of the stage.

Later, on to the Abbey, and my face was painted with grease paint—white with black under the eyes and red inside the lids—dreadful! Luckily, my own hair is grey enough without a wig. And I had got a slight cold so I was a little hoarse and felt miserable. When I went on to the stage it was a shock to find the auditorium was black darkness, I thought for a moment the curtain was still down and hesitated. But I got through all right, only once Arthur Shields had to prompt me. He was kneeling beside me so it didn’t matter. Seaghan Barlow was behind the fireplace, book in hand, but I didn’t have to use it. There were few stalls, but as I guessed from the applause and saw afterwards, the pit and gallery were full. Of course the patriotic bits were applauded, especially “They are gathering to meet me now,” and I had two curtains all to myself. I wish to-night were over for all that. The actors seemed pleased, and Mrs. Martin (charwoman) came and hugged me with enthusiasm. Home very tired and hungry, and the fire out, and had stale bread with butter and a glass of milk.

March 19. Working at John Bull at the Abbey under difficulties, not having all the cast, some at their work and some yet to find.

At 7, I set out again for the Theatre in pouring rain, (as in the morning when I had a long wait and then had to go on top of tram till there was a place). I was even more nervous than the first night but got through without prompts and had my own two curtains. But the audience was not so large or patriotic as the St. Patrick’s night one, Millington thought there was “more thrill” in my performance. And Yeats came up to the gallery afterwards and said coldly it was “very nice, but if I had rehearsed you it would have been much better.” Ruth Shine (Hugh Lane’s sister), however, said she had never known so much could be put into “Kathleen’s” part. Madame Gonne—a former “Kathleen”—was there, and Iseult Gonne and Mrs. Stopford Green and Mrs. James Stephens all together.

March 20. Off yesterday morning to rehearsal, no “Broadbent” turned up—he (Breffni O’Rourke) was touring in the North. But we got a “spoilt priest,” a young man called Farrell, a Gaelic enthusiast with long hair, a cloak, a green tie, a saffron kilt, and saffron stockings, (with a hole in them,) an interesting youngster and I think will be very good. I rehearsed from eleven to two and had cocoa at Bewley’s, and Yeats came in the afternoon and I read him a long play, The Grey Gull, by a young man, F. H. O’Donnell, who had told me of it at the Theatre. It was written in pencil and difficult to read, dialogue interesting, an idea in it, a hunchback conquering life. He himself, they say, is a draper’s assistant.

Miss Walker was to be back to play “Kathleen” and I was glad to have that strain off, but knowing we should take no risks I got to the Abbey at a quarter to eight and found consternation and a telegram from her to say that she had missed her boat, so I had to tumble into the cloak and skirt and get Miss Magee to grease-paint me, and I played the part better and with more confidence than before, though it was a small audience.

March 21. The rehearsal yesterday and two photographers came pressing for the photograph of me as “Kathleen” for The Daily Mirror. I refused, hating the idea, and wanted them to do a rehearsal instead as a help to the Abbey, showing it to be alive. But at last we compromised, they did one of me and also of Farrell (in his costume), and Miss Magee, rehearsing in John Bull.

“Hodson” (Michael J. Dolan) had been found and “Broadbent” won’t be here till Monday. The rehearsals are like Alice in Wonderland’s game of croquet. Lunched with Yeats who was leaving for Dundrum. Came home and found a note from Mrs. James Stephens asking me to tea, and though I was tired and the rain heavy I didn’t like to neglect it, having no means of sending an apology, so went and found several people, among them Nevinson. I asked him if he had come here as to a seat of war. He said “yes,” but he might have to return to London before his Sunday lecture as, if the strike takes place, that will be the real seat of war. He takes gloomy views, of England especially. Stephens proposed coming to tea, “I want to come and set you talking and listen to you.” So they will come on Saturday. Then I had to go to the Abbey, not being sure if Miss Walker would be there, but happily she was, so no more “Kathleen” for me.

March 27. On Monday to rehearsal. “Hodson” had been ordered back to England to be demobilised, but had made appeals to be allowed to stay for his part, and after wires to headquarters and spending a night in the Union, he got leave to demobilise in Dublin. Paul Farrell indignant because his portrait has only been in The Daily Sketch, not in The Mirror, though “I ordered three copies.”

Back to lunch with the chicks and then to Theatre again, and at last, after three, Breffni O’Rourke arrived and began his rehearsal. He had acted the part eight years ago and didn’t seem to know the words at all. Millington helped me very much by taking the children to the Zoo. They weren’t back till six, and then I took them home and when I put them to bed I had some tea and went off again to the dress rehearsal.

We ran through the scenes with the tower in the background and Farrell sat wordless and motionless having forgotten his part, (I had to get that scene on again,) and Miss Magee seemed to have forgotten hers, and all the performance was slow, and “Broadbent” wanted me to cut his last scene with “Nora” where she objects to visit the publican’s wife but I wouldn’t—she is charming in it—and I told her not to let him off. There were five priests, (friends of “Aunt Judy” (Maureen Delany)) in the auditorium. She had asked me if they might come as they were not allowed to attend performances. They seemed to enjoy it all, Nolan had come on without dressing, having played the part before, and they were puzzled, and I sent him to put on his clerical coat and tat and they were much amused at his part—“Father Dempsey.” They asked questions about G.B.S., whether he had not disapproved of the War, and said as the play went on “he gives harder hits at the English than at us,” with great satisfaction. I told them of Paul Farrell’s dismissal from the Civil Service because he would not take the oath of allegiance. And they said “Poor fellow!” The rehearsal was on the whole promising, they were only shaky in words. And Lennox Robinson was to have come but didn’t till about 11 o’clock, but I felt justified in leaving without waiting for the first performance though I should have liked to see it after all my work. Home close on midnight, dead tired, could hardly crawl into bed.

April 18. I had found a note from Harris saying Robinson wants a two or three years’ contract. And in the afternoon Robinson called and I told him I didn’t think he could have it, but we talked amicably of business. He had written me that if I came up on Thursday, the rehearsals I would see would be on Saturday and Sunday, and now says they had one last night and were expecting me, but didn’t even telephone to say it was on. He is vague as ever I am afraid.

April 19. Dragon rehearsal went well on the whole, though words are rather shaky and the Queen bad, Mrs. MacSwiggan, being English, has no respect for words and hits with extraordinary perversity on the wrong one to accentuate in each sentence. Some of the others weak, but Miss Magee charming and the King (Barry Fitzgerald) splendid makes up for all. And Seaghan has made a fine scene and a fine Dragon and there is so much goodwill it reminded me of old times there.

It is worth recording that at this time Lady Gregory started on a new kind of play. She had begun with her small, priceless, peasant comedies, her Seven Short Plays and her longer Folk History Plays and The Imagenow she turned away (was it because contemporary history had become too painful?) to a world of fantasy, half-way between Clare-Galway and Fairyland. The Dragon (1919), The Golden Apple (1920) and Aristotle’s Bellows (1921) are not children’s plays but they are plays any child will delight in. Later, in Dave and Sancho’s Master and The Story Brought by Brigit, she returned to her earlier style. But these plays of phantasy are outstanding and should be more often played.

I told Robinson, in speaking of the Theatre, that we must have two horizons, one the far one, the laying of it “on the threshold of Eternity”; the nearer one the coming of Home Rule or whatever the new arrangement that must come maybe when the Irish from America and elsewhere will come back to see their Country. We must keep the Theatre something we should be proud to show.

April 20. Yesterday I went first to the Theatre and had another talk with Robinson about his contract, saying that even in marriage settlements each side had for practical purposes to consider the other a possible rogue, and that if he had to safeguard himself against capricious eviction, (such as Miss Horniman’s of Norreys Connell, because Miss Allgood in her holidays had recited for a Woman’s Suffrage Society,) so had we in case he should take to drink or use the Theatre for the purposes Lord French is said to use the mansions he hires in London. So he gave in to a year.

Then Harris came in and he is down on Robinson because—an astounding thing—he had suggested the players putting on The Liberator, and as their own speculation, and they had done so for three nights without any leave from us or arrangement with Harris who also thinks he (Robinson) should not be paid full salary when not working, and at first I said he should get it. But later in the day, when I reflected that there are now three blank months in which he would be doing nothing for us, it is hard that our low funds should give him £5 per week. And so when I arrived at evening rehearsal, finding him alone I “did the hardest thing first,” and spoke to him and he agreed to £2 10s., so now all that unpleasant business is off my mind and I can work with him.

April 24. Easter Monday. After a quiet morning I went to the Dragon matinée. A very small audience (the weather lovely) but the play went well and smoothly, not many “fluffs” for a first performance.

The evening was good, a £35 house, applauding pit. A little puzzlement as the play began and the Queen was bad, still mouthing her words, but the King soon brought laughter and the Princess charm, and from that time all went well with increasing spirit and applause. Douglas Hyde and Nuala Hyde and James Stephens with his wife and two children (my little party) and Jack Yeats and his wife were all together, and I sat with them for the first act, but saw B. behind and grew nervous at having a critic near, and I moved to the back. The scene and dresses made a lovely effect, Seaghan’s scene and my own choice of dresses. The King in the sleepy scene was a delight. At the end great applause and many calls for “Author”—and I made my bow more confidently than when I had last done so as Kathleen ni Houlihan. Douglas Hyde liked the play very much, but Stephens was enthusiastic and his children shouted with delight; that pleased me best of all, and I took my tram home with Chraoibhin and Nuala contentedly.

April 25. Next morning I went out before breakfast to get the papers. Irish Times dull, Independent much better than usual, Freeman splendid: “Indeed,” I said, “all the papers are so good they must be going to die!” It is long since I have had such ungrudging praise. I met Bodkin who said Stephens had been telling him the play was the loveliest thing he had ever seen.

Business meeting in the afternoon at the Abbey, report of year’s finances not good owing to influenza chiefly. However, we are a little to the good but with the holidays before us we must be careful. Anyhow my play required nothing new but an india-rubber ball and a cocoa-nut.

I dined with Yeats at the Arts Club and he came to see Dragon. But he was listless and did not like the grey curtain or the Queen’s acting, and spoke only of them and did not say one good word, yet I think he must have liked it. But I did not enjoy it so much as the night before.

Aug. 30. The Abbey very encouraging, most splendid “Horse Show” audiences for Dragon and Dunsany’s Night at an Inn, and especially for John Bull’s Other Island. Such enthusiastic delight. And ours is the only theatre in Dublin where real drama is being given, one has The Maid of the Mountains and the other variety shows. The sight of the Abbey audiences makes one glad to have been born.

Feb. 11, 1920. Such a splendid matinée yesterday of Golden Apple; crowds of children; I was afraid they would find the play too long, but they didn’t seem to, and laughed and applauded. My little party was James Stephens and his wife and children and Bobby Childers and Gravitory with his daughter and Mrs. Hyde. Between the acts I gave them tea and the children lemonade and cakes. All went well except the change into a cat—clumsy—I think the little four-legged beast would be better as done at Miss Wilson’s school. Ruth Badham and her child there, and Eily Shaw and Hugh Law, and other friendly faces I haven’t seen for some time. I was dead tired, (a very bad night,) and could hardly have got to the performance but that I had invited Iseult Gonne. There was a fine audience of grown-ups and some children, great applause—three curtains at the end.

Feb. 25, 1921. The Revolutionist, Terence MacSwiney’s play, at the Abbey. A large audience, much interested in the play. Mrs. MacSwiney was there, I went to meet her in the Green-room, such a charming face and manner; “a sweet girl” she would have been called a while ago. I told her with what pride we gave this play for the first time, that we felt we were laying a wreath upon the grave.

Feb. 27. Splendid audiences. Yesterday’s matinée the stalls were not full, but so many people were standing in the pit that I sent for Robinson and we brought all we could find places for to the front. Last night all places full, many turned away at the door. We had already decided to play it again next week, and Robinson announced this from the stage. I feel so happy that we have been able to keep the Abbey going if only for this one week, with the production of a national play of fine quality by one who has literally given his life to save the lives of others. For by his death and endurance he has made it unnecessary for any other prisoners to protest through hunger-strike; he has done it once for all. It is strange to see the change in political thought now, the audience (in spite of Robinson’s request in the programmes for no applause during acts) cheering the revolutionist who stands up against the priest’s denunciation, denounces his meddling in return. They applauded also fine sentences, “Life is a divine adventure, she will go farthest who has most faith.”

We had a reading of Aristotle’s Bellows, the company delighted in it. Barry Fitzgerald is going to “have a week’s sickness to work at it,” the highest compliment he can pay.

March 17. Yesterday to a short rehearsal of Aristotle. Barry Fitzgerald only able to come for a short time, and to the dress rehearsal in the evening. It went very well—the players love their parts. Seaghan has made splendid cats’ heads out of old felt hats, only the pigeon is more black than white! Has to be painted.

March 18. Matinée of Aristotle went well, though a small audience. It was beautifully acted, not like a first performance, all working together, and Maureen Delany very fine when she bursts into “Oft in the Stilly Night.” Fanny French was there and I was glad one of the family should see it and my call at the end!

Then Robinson’s tea in the Green-Room (with my barmbrack) very pleasant. Jack Yeats very appreciative, that pleased me best. And a young man who praised both it and the Life said that “Dermod O’Brien says it shows two charming personalities, Hugh Lane’s and Lady Gregory’s own.” Evening performance also pleasant, though poor audience, but they liked it. And Bedmates that follows is delightful; it would have been a great success in India where the Pax Britannica has been worked so long; Hindus and Mussulmans being assured that each would murder the other were it removed.

March 20. A meeting with Robinson and Harris in the office and we decided we must close. Even at 9 o’clock curfew we can’t carry on but at a big loss and from to-day it is to be at 8. Robinson will try to get the players into a tour with Whiteheaded Boy. Failing that I don’t know what we can do for them. It will be very sad. Aristotle still liked.

April 1. Afternoon post brought circulars from Robinson: I have made spills of them; quite untrue about the foundation of the Theatre. Miss Horniman made the building, not the Theatre, and we bought it from her when she stopped her help. The Theatre—the Irish National Theatre—was in existence before her—we did not “take it over” from her. An afternoon working in the garden and at Sir Henry Layard calmed me down.

Eight o’clock curfew closed the Theatre. But Irish friends in England came to our rescue. J. B. Fagan arranged for four lectures in his great beautiful room in King’s Road, Chelsea. The lecturers were Yeats, Lady Gregory, G. Bernard Shaw and St. John Ervine; the Chairmen John Galsworthy, John Drinkwater, J. B. Fagan and myself. The lectures were crowded.

May 8. Among events, Yeats’ lecture on the Theatre, lunch before that at the Queen’s Restaurant with the Fagans, when Horace Plunkett gave £100 to the Abbey Fund. And I had just been a little cross with him because he would talk incessantly through lunch about his “plan” for a constituent assembly to ask for Dominion Home Rule. A good one enough, I think, but it bored our hosts. And I could not sign it as he asked; had an excuse of not meddling with politics but thought in my heart the matter should be settled by the men in prison. Yeats’ lecture not very good. He didn’t get fire. However, the audience liked it and an American lady said, “I never had any idea that Mr. Yeats could be amusing!” He was probably less amusing when, having asked for questions, I suggested his saying something about the fight with the Castle over Blanco Posnet, and on hearing my voice he exclaimed, “I had been for a long time wondering where some bright beams of intelligence were coming from among the audience, and now I see it was from Lady Gregory.” (No applause!)

May 12. My lecture, after the long misery of thinking of it—and to think, and go over it without interruption, I had in those last days to wake myself up at 7 o’clock and work at it before breakfast—perhaps too much, for my nervousness grew and when I got to the platform I was actually trembling, so that I had to lay my hand on Robinson’s chair to steady it. I began in this nervousness, terrified of losing the sequence, of using wrong words, (as I sometimes do in talking,) terrified of forgetting altogether what I had to say. And thinking I might have to use my notes all the time, I was afraid to put glasses on—I can read better without them, and so I could not see the faces of the audience and I felt that my voice was dead and flat. When at last I ventured to look I saw that they were interested and pleased, and I saw Birrell’s kind face beaming, and then took courage to speak out, and got through well, I think. Yeats wasn’t very comforting, said he was disappointed in my voice at the beginning, but that it improved later and he thought the matter very good, but that I should have begun with amusing anecdotes (and I hated his doing this—and keeping to this—in his lecture). Many people said “beautiful”—that meant nothing. Birrell said, and it sounded sincere, “it was very good,” and that he was going home to write a play if he could but think of an emotion to drive it! Una Pope-Hennessy was best. She said, “You really need not have given us so much—it was packed with matter!” (and it was under an hour!) And there had been real laughter and applause nearly all through, and as Molly O’Neill and Sally Allgood gave a beautiful performance of Gaol Gate, I think the audience had no reason to complain. But I couldn’t sleep and am only just getting sure the ordeal is over.

May 27. G.B.S. yesterday gave his lecture for the Abbey and read two acts of his new play Back to Methusaleh, and some of the audience were pleased, others would have liked a continuation of his lecture better. Lady Gough fell asleep. The play read well, the bit about the feeding on the heavenly manna very fine, and Dr. Monro’s idea is in the phrase “Imagine to create.” To-day I have been to Lady Orpen to ask if Orpen would do a poster for the matinée.

The Fagans came to lunch and Charlotte Shaw. G.B.S. came late, but we fed him when he came, in the garden. Clara told us of Sir A. Mond after the war had begun becoming very British and saying at a meeting, “I was born in England and I am an Englishman.” Then questions were asked after the meeting. An old coster said, “I have a cat; now if it kittens in a banana box, will its young be bananas or kittens?”

We have made: Lectures £175.4.8 (but expenses of Lectures, about £30, will come out of this), Matinée £84.11.7, W. B. Yeats Reading £39, Donations £172.13.4. In all £471.9.7. But I think anyhow we shall be able to pay our £500 debt to the bank.

June 12. Yesterday by second post a letter from Lady Ardilaun with her cheque for £500! So the Abbey is safe for a long time, I hope for ever! Such a joy. Lecture misery and matinée fuss wasn’t thrown away—we shouldn’t have had this without it.

July 13. Sunday passed pleasantly enough. Dermod O’Brien to lunch, and we talked of Hugh and of the pictures. I went to see Robinson’s Lodge and found Dolan there, and Barry Fitzgerald, and Gorman came afterwards, and we talked Abbey and of our re-opening, now there is peace. Robinson proposed Playboy for the opening week, but I wouldn’t have any contentious play at this moment of goodwill. For the same reason I said we would put off Revolutionist (Terence MacSwiney’s play) for a few weeks. Dolan says, “The boys in Ballykinlar (Detention Camp) nearly went mad with desire to get out and see it when we put it on before.”

Nov. 5. I read and wrote a long note on an interesting play The Crimson in the Tricolour, the antagonism sure to break out between Labour and Sinn Fein, and sent it to Robinson. (April 1928: This was the first play I had sent to Sean O’Casey.)

Later, in the editing of these Journals, I group what I call “People, Playmaking and Books.” Sean O’Casey should have been one of the “People”, but he belongs so much to this section that I changed my mind and included him here. His early theatrical life was the Abbey Theatre; his best theatrical friend Lady Gregory.

Dec. 19. A letter from Yeats about giving over the Abbey or rather putting it under the new Government, but I don’t agree with him that they would leave it in any way under our control, or subsidise it unless it was entirely theirs, and I am for giving it up altogether, if they will have it. But they may prefer a larger one.

Jan. 11, 1922. Dublin. I came up yesterday in time for first performance of Murray’s Aftermath. Lennox Robinson met me at the Broadstone and came to tea. He had lunched with Desmond Fitzgerald and had spoken about turning over the Abbey to a National Government, said we had thought of doing so in Redmond’s time, and had heard they were now going to establish one. Fitzgerald said there was no idea of taking the Gaiety or doing anything on a large scale, that he hadn’t heard of any definite plan and that of course the Abbey is the National Theatre of Ireland. So we need not be in a hurry but just go on with our work. He had told Robinson that De Valera has been so upset and worried these last two months that he is hardly himself and is seized on by the extremists, and made their mouthpiece. The evening papers had the news of Griffith’s election as Prime Minister.

Aug. 20. Robinson writes from the Abbey:

“We are about £52 behind Horse Show last year which perhaps is not too bad considering how difficult it is to get to Dublin from the South—and indeed from the North since the line was cut at Dundalk—and then Griffith’s funeral to-day. The stalls were very empty and one misses the usual evening-dressed English visitors whom I was always snobbish enough to enjoy seeing. I remember last year we walked up and down Marlborough Street together because we couldn’t find a seat; alas, we could find many a seat to-night. However, we shan’t lose money on the week, I hope, and there’s no use in being despondent. . . . Griffith’s funeral was very wonderful to-day. I wrote for a ticket for the Requiem Mass but didn’t get one so I gave up the idea of going as I had a lot of rehearsing to do, but about 12.30 I had a break in rehearsal and went out with Dolan and Miss Crowe on the chance of seeing something. We found it just beginning to pass Beresford Place and stood there and saw everything. It was splendidly done, so dignified and impressive, and coffin very simple, covered by the tricolour. The procession took nearly an hour and a half to pass and the crowd of spectators was immense. It seems a wonderful ending after all those years spent in the office of an obscure journal in a back street in Dublin. Collins marches boldly at the head of some troops with Dick Mulcahy beside him. Michael looked very well and very much the soldier.”

Nov. 12. Went to the Abbey to settle programmes with Dolan for the weeks Robinson will be away. I think the plays have been rather gloomy for these troubled times. I suggested The Eloquent Dempsy; Dolan said people were tired of it, though it hadn’t been played for nearly a year. But I found that Nolan had been playing “Dempsy” which was enough to kill it and, with some pressure, insisted on the part being given to Barry Fitzgerald. Then I want John Bull and the difficulty about that is there is no visible “Broadbent.” I wrote to Sir Simon Maddock who as Mr. Maddock had once played it well. But he is said to be “high in himself” since his title. Thinking it over in the night I thought Barry Fitzgerald could do it if we could get Sir Philip Hanson to read the part to him; he is a natural “Broadbent.”

Feb. 18, 1923. Yesterday morning I met Mr. Thomas Johnson in the Abbey office. We had a long talk. Robinson there also. I liked Johnson, quiet and without affectations and with luminous grey eyes. He is very sympathetic to the Abbey. I asked for criticisms or suggestions he may have heard, and he said there is a feeling there is too much repetition of old work. Also he said (this, I think of himself) that more translations of foreign work would be good. He was interested when I told him of our wish and old promise to hand over the Abbey as a gift to the nation. However, he doesn’t think the Government could take it just now, perhaps after the elections. I told him we must put in a business man as Director at once, and he said it would be a good thing to have the choice made by the Government and I said I would see MacNeill about it.

At 5 o’clock I went to Government Buildings to see the Minister of Education, Eoin MacNeill. As to the Abbey he is anxious we should have the subsidy, it is to come on in the next Budget debate. He is asking for it as an aid to an educational work: our teaching of acting and dramatic writing. He is by no means sure we shall get it but thinks even a discussion on the Abbey will do it good, get more interest aroused in it. I told him of our desire to give it over. He was rather startled and said he didn’t want to manage a theatre and was sure the Government didn’t, anyhow for some time to come. I told him of the necessity of a business Director, and he thought it wise it should be someone acceptable to the Government but not appointed by them.

Mar. 25. A couple of days ago I had a letter from Lennox Robinson. He enclosed a typed order from the “Government of the Republic of Ireland,” signed by Padraig O’Ruitleis, “Minister for Home Affairs,” saying that because of the acceptance of the Free State, and the executions and imprisonments, “it is hereby decreed that the present be observed as a time of National mourning, that all sports and amusements be suspended, that all theatres be closed. . . .” Robinson wrote that he had not taken it very seriously and heard later that there was a meeting of theatrical managers at 1 o’clock . . . “and at a quarter to seven rang up Mr. Armstrong, of the Empire Theatre, and found to my astonishment that they were closing and that all the theatres and picture-houses were doing the same thing. So then I got in touch with Yeats and Government and went over to Merrion Square. The Government were debating their action and promised to let me know what they wanted done. I waited on and on, ’phoning Perrin not to open till I heard, till finally at 8.15, not having heard from Government, I ’phoned the Abbey again and found that the Army had arrived and made us open. . . . It was a good performance and a fair audience, well guarded by military at all entrances to the theatre. During the show we took the portraits in the vestibule out of their frames and they are in safe keeping. After the performance the military left and the C.I.D. came but didn’t stay all night. This morning I spent in Desmond Fitzgerald’s office, all the other managers waited on O’Higgins who gave them great abuse, I believe, and an order was issued to us all commanding us to open to-night. Fitzgerald has arranged that we are to be specially well guarded as we opened last night and W.B.Y. being a Senator make us a good target, we’ll have a guard all to-morrow. It seems queer that my stormiest moments in the Theatre have always been over the question ‘To open or not to open.’ It must be written in the stars somewhere. The Government knew nothing of the matter till my ’phone to them last night. The Company have been splendid.”

April 15. At the Abbey I found an armed guard; there has been one ever since the theatres were threatened if they kept open. And in the Green-room I found one of them giving finishing touches to the costume of Tony Quinn, who is a Black-and-Tan in the play, and showing him how to hold his revolver. The Shadow of a Gunman (Sean O’Casey’s first play) was an immense success, beautifully acted, all the political points taken up with delight by a big audience. Sean O’Casey, the author, only saw it from the side wings the first night but had to appear to make his bow. I brought him into the stalls the other two nights and have had some talk with him.

Last night there was an immense audience, the largest, I think, since the first night of Blanco Posnet. Many, to my grief, had to be turned away from the door. Two seats had been kept for Yeats and me, but I put Casey in one of them and sat in the orchestra for the first act, and put Yeats in the orchestra for the second. I had brought Casey round to the door before the play to share my joy in seeing the crowd surging in, (Dermod O’Brien caught in the queue,) and he introduced me to two officers, one a Colonel. (Yeats had wanted me to go with them to a ball given by the army, “good names being wanted”!)

Casey told me he is a labourer, and, as we talked of masons, said he had “carried the hod.” He said, “I was among books as a child, but I was sixteen before I learned to read or write. My father loved books, he had a big library. I remember the look of the books high up on shelves.”

I asked why his father had not taught him and he said, “He died when I was three years old through those same books. There was a little ladder in the room to get to the shelves, and one day when he was standing on it, it broke and he fell and was killed.”

I said, “I often go up the ladder in our library at home,” and he begged me to be careful.

He is learning what he can about art, has bought books on Whistler and Raphael, and takes The Studio. All this was as we watched the crowd.

I forget how I came to mention the Bible, and he asked “Do you like it?” I said, “Yes. I read it constantly, even for the beauty of the language.” He said he admires that beauty, he was brought up as a Protestant but has lost belief in religious forms. Then, in talking of our war here, we came to Plato’s Republic, his dream city, whether on earth or in heaven not far away from the city of God. And then we went in to the play. He says he sent us a play four years ago, The Frost in the Flower, and it was returned, but marked, “not far from being a good play.” He has sent others, and says how grateful he was to me because when we had to refuse the Labour one, The Crimson in the Tricolour, I had said, “I believe there is something in you and your strong point is characterisation.” And I had wanted to pull that play together and put it on to give him experience, but Yeats was down on it. Perrin says he offered him a pass sometimes when he happened to come in, but he refused and said, “No one ought to come into the Abbey Theatre without paying for it.” He said, “All the thought in Ireland for years past has come through the Abbey. You have no idea what an education it has been to the country.” That, and the fine audience on this our last week, put me in great spirits.

So yesterday that helped me when I went with Yeats to the Government Offices to see MacNeill. He thinks the Government will refuse to take the Theatre over. But they must give us a subsidy, for now Harris has gone and I have been so much away, we have overdrawn so heavily at the bank it will cash no more cheques. I had to speak plainly to Yeats and said I would not go on unless there is a business man put on to watch and control the expenditure.

Aug. 20. Yeats yesterday afternoon. Brennan, of the Education Department, told him, when he asked if the Abbey’s taxes could be remitted for a year, that it was impossible without starving some other branch of education, that in the next two or three years there must either be the most drastic economy or a paper currency of our own. I said, and Yeats agreed, that if we cannot carry on the Abbey we should let it for a few years to a film company and save the money to open again. But I am not without hope that if the London tour comes off we may make money enough to carry on for a while and perhaps pay our way. For we never could have paid it but for tours, English and American, and the English tours were only cut off by the war, the other by Robinson’s catastrophe of running to wrong places on our last tour. (In America.) Nov. 13. Just back from the Gaelic Plays, the first performance at the Abbey, a great success, stalls full, pit full, gallery rather weak, but 115 season tickets sold during the evening, and they will take the Abbey for seven Mondays instead of four. Shadow of the Glen, the only one I saw through, went very well, the girl charming. It is sad Synge could not have seen it in its Gaelic speech.

March 8, 1924. In the evening to the Abbey with W. B. Yeats, Juno and the Paycock (Sean O’Casey’s)—a long queue at the door, the theatre crowded, many turned away, so it will be run on next week. A wonderful and terrible play of futility, of irony, humour, tragedy. When I went round to the Green-room I saw Casey and had a little talk with him. He is very happy.

I asked him to come to tea after the next day, the matinée, as I had brought up a barmbrack for the players, but he said, “No. I can’t come. I’ll be at work till the afternoon and I’m working with cement, and that takes such a long time to get off.”

“But after that?”

“Then I have to cook my dinner. I have but one room and I cook for myself since my mother died.”

He is, of course, happy at the great success of his play, and I said, “You must feel now that we were right in not putting on that first one you sent in—The Crimson and the Tricolour. I was inclined to put it on because some of it was so good and I thought you might learn by seeing it on the stage, though some was very poor, but Mr. Yeats was firm.”

He said, “You were right not to put it on. I can’t read it myself now. But I will tell you that it was a bitter disappointment for I had not only thought at the time it was the best thing I had written but I thought that no one in the world had ever written anything so fine.”

Then he said, “You had it typed for me, and I don’t know how you could have read it as I sent it in with the bad writing and the poor paper. But at that time it was hard for me to afford even the paper it was written on.” And he said, “I owe a great deal to you and Mr. Yeats and Mr. Robinson, but to you above all. You gave me encouragement. And it was you who said to me upstairs in the office—I could show you the very spot where you stood—‘Mr. Casey, your gift is characterisation.’ And so I threw over my theories and worked at characters and this is the result.”

Yeats hadn’t seen the play before, and thought it very fine, reminding him of Tolstoi. He said when he talked of the imperfect first play, “Casey was bad in writing of the vices of the rich which he knows nothing about, but he thoroughly understands the vices of the poor.” But that full house, the packed pit and gallery, the fine play, the call of the Mother for the putting away of hatred, made me say to Yeats, “This is one of the evenings at the Abbey that makes me glad to have been born.”

March 9. I took cakes to the Abbey, and after the performance gave tea in the Green-room. An American, Mr. Jewell, had come to see Juno, is writing for U.S.A. magazines, so I asked him to tea and having only the Company themselves was glad of an outsider. They were a little constrained, but I suggested their singing to show what they can do, as in the play they had to turn their songs into a part of the comedy. So Dolan, Barry Fitzgerald and Nolan sang. Then Sara Allgood, very charming, “I know who I love,” and “Oh had I wist!” And by that time Yeats had arrived and he had to read them one or two scraps of verse in his book of plays, there being no volume of his poems there, and then with prompting he repeated “Wandering Aengus.” So my barmbrack was the centre of House of Melody.

I came back there for the evening performance—such a queue, and so many had to be turned away, but we are running on next week and I hope they will come then. Casey was with me, watching them and being persuaded to come and meet the American on Yeats’ Monday evening. Miss Bushell came to ask if she might sell my stall, there was such a demand, and I said “yes, certainly.” Then Jack Yeats and his wife came, could get no seat; so we went round to the stage door and when the orchestra stopped we went down and took their chairs. When the mother whose son had been killed, “Leader of an ambush where my neighbour’s Free State soldier son was killed,” cries out, “Mother of Jesus, put away from us this murderous hatred and give us thine own eternal love,” I whispered to Casey, “That is the prayer we must all use, it is the only thing that will save us, the teaching of Christ.” He said, “Of humanity.” But what would that be without the Divine atom?

The Observer critic (Griffith) had come over from London for the night. A good moment for him to see the Abbey!

April 16. Brigit last night (The Story Brought by Brigither play about the Passion of Christ); a beautiful performance and received with reverence by the audience, no coughing or laughing, good applause at the end. I was near Jack Yeats, he liked it all through; the Christ especially pleased him, and the last act. He came with me to the Green-room between second and third acts; the players seemed content, Yeats a little disconcerted, lack of the apron, which Lennox Robinson had put on and the players had remonstrated against, they said because it made them miss their cues, but he says because it is shaky (which it certainly is) to walk on. The Craig screens made a fine background and the yew branches I had brought from Coole were strewn. The actors made a beautiful picture in various groups. All but the soldiers’ dress we had got out of the wardrobe, rummaging through layers of old plays. It seemed wonderful how smoothly all went and easily, and I felt well content and at peace. I had hidden from the audience but when I thought all had gone I found Lennox Robinson in the hall. He came holding out his hands and saying, “Thank you, thank you,” with real emotion, and said how beautiful he thought it. Then McGreevy spoke in the same way, he had been crying through the last act. June 3. A meeting, the annual, of Directors at the Abbey this morning. We have for the first time mortgaged the building to clear off our overdrafts. But business has improved in these last months and we are hopeful for next season. But we can’t do anything towards painting or doing-up, except to have some of the chairs mended. And Colonel Moore told Yeats the Government who refused us a penny on the score of poverty are going to give the Gaelic League £1,500 a year.

Juno and the Paycock, taken to Cork as the players’ private speculation, made a little money. But the Manager had insisted on their taking out “everything that made any reference to religion,” including the mother’s beautiful prayer, “Take away these murderous hatreds and give us thine own eternal love,” and also would not allow it to be confessed the girl had been seduced. So Dolan had to arrange (between two performances) that the young man should marry her, but should desert her later because she had not brought the expected fortune.

June 8. Casey grieves for his mother. She was 89, died in 1919. He had lived all his life with her, the others of her children had died or gone away. “She had a strong sense of humour, could always see the humorous side of human life. I did everything for her, she did not like to have anyone else about her. I had written a little story. The publishers promised me £15 for it, and after it was published I wanted the money and went three times for it but could never get it. Then when my mother was so ill I had to go again to press for it, and I did get it, but when I came back she was gone. I made arrangements for the funeral, but when the day came the undertaker said that if I did not pay at once he would take it back again and there would be no funeral. It had to be put off until I could get change for the cheque. I thought I should have to go to the bank, but I went to the Rector and he cashed it. I felt the treatment of the undertaker very bitterly, he was a Labour man, I a Labour man, and I had helped him and worked in the movement, worked for them all, and that is how I was treated.

“We formed at one time a workers’ union, we were to carry on work ourselves without employers, we were to earn big money. George Russell gave £50 towards it. We did well for a week or two, there was one of us worked from 8 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock at night. But, after a little, work fell off; one would read the papers and not work more than a couple of hours. I saw it was a hopeless business. I had done my best to help. I have helped strikers and revolution according to what were then my lights. I was a Socialist then.”

Now his desire and hope is rather to lead the workers into a better life, in interest in reading, in drama especially. The Abbey Theatre has done so much he has a great belief in drama.

His eyesight has always been weak, a sort of film over the eyes. A doctor advised him not to read, but he said, “Then I should be ignorant,” and he refused an operation because there was a thousandth chance he might go blind and so remain ignorant. He had been sent to a National School as a child for a few months but learned little more than his letters. Then one day when he was fourteen he listened to his brother and a friend as they talked of William of Orange, trying to make out the date of the Battle of the Boyne, “and I thought to myself, ‘Why cannot I tell them that?’ and I determined to learn to read. There were a lot of old primers lying about and I learned from them, and then I went through a grammar and learned the rules. The first book I ever read was Merle D’Aubigny’s “History of the Reformation.” (I said here I had never heard that mentioned since I was a child; there was a copy then at Roxboro’.) It was hard to understand, at least the long notes were. And many of them were in German. I thought of learning German to read them. But the second book I read was harder still, “Locke on the Human Understanding.” But when I got a few pennies together I would buy a book here and there from the stalls; Dickens, because he was cheap, and some of the Waverley novels. But one day for a shilling I bought the Globe edition of Shakespeare, and that began a new life. I read it over and over and learned a great deal of it by heart.”

Casey likes Larkin, tells how he knows all the workmen personally and tries to improve life for them. He had bought an open place for them to use, to come to on Sundays and have games and see the flowers, saying to one man, “Where is your wife, So-and-so. Cooking the dinner? Well now, can’t you do without a hot dinner for once in a way on a Sunday and bring her here and push the pram yourself?” In some religious procession the priests were saying, “Hail to thee, St. Patrick,” and the workers drowned it with, “Hail to thee, Jim Larkin!”

He is very happy walking in the woods and dipping into the books in the library.

June 12. Mrs. Warren arrived. Casey a little shy with her at first but wakened up to tell how he had always been sent to Sunday-school and how he had been given a prize “Alone in Zulu Land.” He was delighted, thinking it was a book of adventure, but it was only about a missionary and the converts he made among the Zulus. Another time he was given “Little Crowns and how to Win Them,” and these two gave him a turn against books. Ugly painted Bible texts were also given, and the ugliness of them drove him for a while to admiration of the Virgin in the chapels.

Mr. Warren came as Rector to Gort in 1926. He was a musician and he and his wife very quickly became friends of Lady Gregory, also he helped her when her typewriter broke down, as it constantly did. Both of them have very happy recollections of Lady Gregory and of Coole. They had been missionaries in the East and so were able to make connection with Yeats who at this time was interested in Eastern mysticism.

Sept. 26. Yesterday morning to the Abbey, going through business with Perrin and Dolan, and desiring that the list of proposed plays should be submitted to me, as had been done all these years until now. Lennox Robinson in the afternoon, and we talked of this; a good deal of rubbish has been put on for next weeks, The Suburban Groove, Insurance Money, and a foreign play I had never seen or read. I said some more solid work must be taken up. Playboy, which he consented to, Androcles and the Lion consented to, and then for, I think, the first time proposing a play of my own, I said The Image could be given a very fine performance now and the actors had several times asked for it. Lennox Robinson agreed, approved. But Yeats refused consent, says it has an act too much and is slow in action. Rather a shock to me, my chief play, and one made much of in London and elsewhere. He proposed Damer’s Gold and Shanwalla, but I will not have them, feel too sore. Lennox Robinson agreeing with me, gave in to Yeats, who as a concession said the receipts of Image might be looked at to see how they compared with the takings of other plays in old days.

Oct. 23. Yeats was going to a Drama League party, so I rushed to the Abbey and telephoned from there that I would stay and see the beginning of the play and would have dinner out, (at the Abbey Hotel, excellent bread and butter and cocoa, bill sixpence and no tip possible, the proprietor himself, I believe, serving it). I went to the Green-room and saw Barry Fitzgerald just returned from Paris. He suggests my putting The Bourgeois Gentilhomme into English for the Abbey. Then they went down to the stage and I stayed and talked again with Casey who comes there for company in the evenings.

He talked again of Larkin, had found about twenty people in his office asking him for help on this or that. I asked him if he had the same feeling for him as before, and he said, “Yes. I love him, he is so human. There was a man who came in with another, had made false returns and kept some of the money his employers could have had. Jim said, ‘You were quite wrong in what you did, but I will help you, you are a comrade.’ He will pay a lawyer to defend him. Then a poor woman who with four children had been getting twelve shillings a week from the unemployment dole—but one was at the same time earning nine shillings—and she had not told of this and they found out and stopped the dole. ‘And how can I support my four children on less than twenty-one shillings?’ Jim will help her too, but he told her she was wrong.”

Nov. 1. When I said last evening, “I must write to Robinson about the list of plays,” Yeats said, “The Image will cause a drop, but as you and Lennox want it, you may put it on.” I told him I was getting work finally into order and must see it to know if it is really for the rubbish heap or if I could amend it before I die. I read him an excited letter from Sally Allgood, crying out at being given the old woman’s (a far better) part instead of Mrs. Coppinger, “this last insult!” But Yeats waked up then, said he might like it better with that change; I think he is preparing to come round. But of course I am anxious and I can’t go to look after next week’s rehearsals because of having him here.

Nov. 18. Thursday, to the Abbey. They were rehearsing The Image. It seems to be going smoothly, the players like it. Juno had not done so well as before during last week. The Drama League performance had to be put off last Monday through Miss Crowe’s illness, and Dolan complained that although the Drama League knew this at 4 o’clock the people who arrived were kept waiting outside the Theatre till 8, and then sent away in very bad humour, and that they don’t distinguish between Drama League performances and ours, and lay the blame on us. Dolan furious at this, and at having “all the mess” of the D.L. performances left to him to clear away. George Yeats, on the other hand, said they would give up having the Abbey Players in future, they give too much trouble, so a separation would probably be best, even Perrin complaining of the trouble given by these performances.

Nov. 20. I saw Blythe at 11 o’clock. He was very encouraging, had spoken to the Executive Council about helping the Abbey and they incline to it. I told him our need, our actors underpaid, our actor-manager getting only £6.7.0 a week, our building so shabby and wanting repair. He asked how much we wanted to keep going, and I asked for £1,000 a year, and £1,000 down for repairs. He will go into figures with Tulloch.

Nov. 21. 19 Adelaide Road, Dublin. I came up by early train on Monday 17th, went straight to Tulloch and through figures with him. Our loss on the Abbey in the last twelve years is £4,000, the drop beginning in wartime, 1915. We recovered in 1918, then fell again in the civil war. But we have paid off all debts now by the sale of our securities and have lodged £500 in the bank. I was to see Blythe at 3.30, but coming there found he had been sent for to Cork, where they are having a “strenuous time” at the election. Then to Yeats, not so well as at Coole. I went very tired to bed, not much sleep, cold and over-tired.

Nov. 22. To Abbey yesterday. Told Dolan and Perrin about Blythe. Both pleased. Both complaining of Drama League. I went to say good-bye to Yeats, who is off to England, and he walked back with me. I worked hard at Bourgeois Gentilhomme till bedtime. Another bad night. Abbey and Drama League, the chief worry.

Nov. 23. I worked at the Bourgeois most of yesterday, just going to the Abbey through the rain for a part of the first act of Retrievers, a thin play, but Sally wonderfully fine as the half-witted old servant. I had brought up a barnbrack, and ordered tea and bought cakes and had tea in the Green-room between the first and second acts. I had not invited any outsiders, weather too bad, and feared it would be a flat entertainment, but it was very pleasant. Sidney Morgan (an old Abbey actor) had come to see the play and I asked him round. He is sad at seeing The Image coming on, and he is not in his old part of “Hosty,” but was very much pleased because lately someone had told him of “Our Irish Theatre” of which he had never heard, and he bought it and found his own name—where Roosevelt introduces the players to his daughter—“This is Mr. Morgan,” etc. Larchet also came round in what he calls “the interval” when the second act began, and I talked to him and Sally about the Bourgeois. I proposed making a feature of the songs, having French airs to them, and at the last, as we can’t have the apotheosis of old Jordain, as Coquelin did, bursting into triumphant music, the Marseillaise, (I now think Marlbrook se va t’en guerre would be better,) Larchet likes the idea and will help us, and I lay awake in the night thinking of it—making Jourdain say, “Then if I’m not a Turk I’m still a good French citizen—give us a good marching tune!” And I think of putting Sally and all the players who can sing on the stage as musicians in the first act, just wearing some of our heroic cloaks over their dress, and little paper hats made from Christmas crackers, that they may sing. I began putting words to “O Richard, O mon roi”: “Alas, my King and lord; Now all abandon thee: In the wide world no song is heard: Save mine to hold your memory.”

And I had said at the Theatre that Cleonte and Coviel should come on wearing ordinary cheap masks—of Turk and Merchant, (we can touch them up,) and Cleonte can take his off for a moment as he reveals himself to Lucille, and drop it again, and they thought that good. Then I had sat with Sally and the girls and Gorman and Casey through the second act and told them bits of folk-lore; they liked best Queen Elizabeth and the little St. Patrick story of the soul parting from the body. A very pleasant restful hour.

Nov. 25. The Image last night, a small Monday audience but appreciative. It was beautifully acted. Sara Allgood held the audience even when the kitten Seaghan had brought, escaped from her in the last act and walked down to the footlights. Donaghy was with me, liked the first and last acts best, especially the last, and I was glad, as it was the only one Yeats had been down on (but I still think he had forgotten the whole thing). I had myself almost forgotten the play, found it rich, harmonious, strange in its simplicity. Lennox Robinson’s witty little Crabbed Youth and Age very lively after it and a good contrast. Nov. 26. A wet yesterday; worked nearly all day at Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Image in the evening; pouring rain, small audience, Robinson and George Yeats there. A beautiful performance.

Nov. 27. Casey came to tea yesterday. He has been reading his Crimson in the Tricolour again and sees no merit in it at all. But he had eight years ago determined to have a play put on at the Abbey and stuck to it till success came. He had bought my “Irish Theatre” and had read in it that if a play showed any sign of promise we write a personal note, but if hopeless send only a printed form. Though disappointed when Crimson in the Tricolour had come back, he was cheered, “when he had time to recover from his first shock,” by finding a note from Lennox Robinson. And also L.R. had enclosed him my detailed criticism on the various characters, etc., (he had been pleased to note on the margin, “She is a jewel,”) and this showed the rejection had not been made in a hurry.

Some good sentences in the Irish Statesman by “A.E.” “We want the quality of mind we find in Bishop Berkeley, in Bernard Shaw and in many others who had that aristocracy of mind which probes truth for itself.”

Six of my Trinity Hall girls at the Abbey on my invitation. I had Donaghy and Lennox Robinson to meet them and gave them tea in the hall. A pouring night, small audience, beautiful performance, Sally applauded at each exit.

Nov. 29. Pouring wet evenings, very small audience but the players wonderful, say they love their parts “and the beautiful rhythm.” Rather a troublesome ten minutes with Lennox Robinson. He had told Perrin to suggest Arthur Shields getting a higher salary which he has asked for. . . . I looked at the list, he gets £4, the same as McCormick and Miss Delany; his brother, (Barry Fitzgerald,) so very fine, only £2.10.0; Dolan only £3 for his acting (besides his small salary as Manager). Impossible! And then Lennox Robinson came in and I said so. He said, “Shields can’t live on £4.” I said one could not pay him far more than other workers.

Feb. 4, 1925. Yesterday: rather troublesome. Sally Allgood came to see me. Her new agreement cuts her salary, taking off a percentage on takings over £100 and cutting her £10 in half any week she is not playing. She came chiefly to complain that she is now left without work this and next week. Her old part in The Country Dressmaker is taken by Miss Craig, but that she doesn’t seem to mind, but the little part she liked in An Imaginary Conversation is given to quite a new girl. Next week her part “Nora” in John Bull has been given to Miss Craig. Dolan had not told me this and I sent for him between acts of The Country Dressmaker last evening. He said Sally wasn’t good as “Nora”, and that she would want rehearsing and take too much of his time, and that Miss Craig “has a husband and children to support.” I was vexed but had to give in as manager. He says, “Sally is no draw” (among his friends). Anyhow, it gave me a bad night, troubled. I feel that both she and the Theatre are being wronged.

June 5. 82 Merrion Square. Two long meetings at the Abbey, one dry business, the other pleasanter, increasing actors’ pay, and charwomen’s, from the Government grant.

I have been to see Blythe to-day to thank him about the grant. He hopes to give us more another year; says Johnson was very helpful at the debate in speaking on it (spoke of the need of better pay for the actors, etc.). He recommends us to take on another Director, a Catholic, (to balance Lennox Robinson,) and suggests George O’Brien. W. B. Yeats sprang a proposal on our annual meeting of making Lennox Robinson “Managing Director.” I said nothing at the time, but told him afterwards that as long as I have responsibility as a Director I will keep it all—not delegate it. And so it has been evaded.

June 7. Sunday. Settled things re Abbey amicably in Lennox Robinson’s lovely surroundings at Dalkey—such sea and mountains—we might have been looking at the Bay of Naples. No money is to be spent above £10 in future without consulting financial adviser, and no large expenditure without that and a Directors’ meeting.

Aug. 5. A note “urgent” from Yeats yesterday saying he was coming; “I want your help to write that speech about the Abbey for Saturday next.” So he came but had thought of nothing except thanking the Government and I said, “Praise the Abbey and tell how its influence has spread in America, they keep telling us this Little Theatre movement that is taking such hold came out of our visit there. Every Continent has recognised it or given our plays. Australia, (Melbourne,) South Africa, (where they translated Spreading the News into Dutch,) in India and China. He began to dictate and then I said, “We are getting Ireland recognised for drama as, before the Union, Grattan’s Parliament was recognised for oratory. The last century has been dumb to the outer world, its novels poor, no distinguished literature”. And he took that up, “A splendid idea,” and began elaborating it—“the books written in the last century were written for the stranger. We at the Abbey write for ourselves, not looking outside. And we have all classes producing our dramatic literature. The old parliamentary oratory came but from one.” And his imagination so worked that he ceased dictating and said he had it all in his head. And I was glad, for the typewriter was out of order, the lines going crooked, (Richard has set it right to-day,) and I was rather tired, having in the morning written notes re Lane Pictures.

Aug. 23. (Coole.) Casey arrived yesterday. His play, The Plough and the Stars, had come in the morning with a letter from Lennox Robinson saying he and W. B. Yeats liked it. I slipped away after dinner and read the first act to myself, and finding it so good I took it to the library and read it to Jack and his wife, (and the author,) and they liked it, a fine opening but tragic. He has been working on it for thirteen months and is tired and glad of a rest, his delight in the country as great as ever, for he still lives in his tenement room.

Aug. 28. Casey stays on. During Mr. Trotter’s sermon to-day (he had inadvertently prayed for Queen Victoria, but I didn’t mind as I always put the names of those dear to me, the darlings, in those official prayers) my mind went back to Dave and I thought of a slight alteration at the beginning especially as Casey says Stephenson who was so good as Shylock is being given small parts at the Abbey and he might perhaps play the part and save it from ——.

Sept. 2. Dolan writes objecting to The Plough and the Stars. “At any time I would think twice before having anything to do with it. The language is—to use an Abbey phrase—‘beyond the beyonds’. The song at the end of the second act, sung by the ‘girl-of-the-streets’, is impossible”.

I have usually consulted the players about phrases that might give offence, they knowing the mind of the audience better than I, and would do so now, but it must wait for Yeats and Robinson.

Sept. 20. Yeats came on Friday evening, “important Abbey business,” his telegram had said, and it is important. “Trouble with George O’Brien, the new Director,” he said, and showed me the letters. He objects to The Plough and the Stars. I said at once, “Our position is clear. If we have to choose between the subsidy and our freedom, it is our freedom we choose. And we must tell him there was no condition attached to the subsidy, and though in connection with it another Director was suggested, I cannot be sure whether by me or Blythe, there was no word at all of his being a censor, but only to strengthen us on the financial side, none of us being good at money-matters or accounts”. Yeats thinks we should have a meeting and make new rules, that a majority vote on plays should decide. Anyhow we wired to Robinson to call a Directors’ meeting for Tuesday and I will go up with Yeats to-morrow.

Yeats says Casey said about the song that must be removed from his play. “Yes. It’s a pity. It would offend thousands. But it ought to be there.”

As to our new Director, George O’Brien, he had written me Aug. 26th, “I read O’Casey’s play yesterday. While I have no pretension to be an expert dramatic critic, I feel quite safe in saying that I think it excellent.”

Then Dolan wrote, Sept. 1st: “. . . Mr. Perrin had the new O’Casey play and a letter from Mr. Robinson telling him to have the parts typed at once. I take it from that letter that the piece is to be produced in its present form.

“Now, Lady Gregory, I respectfully beg of you to pause and think what it will mean. As you know, we cannot afford to take risks, especially at the present moment. The theatre is booming at the present and unfortunately there are too many people who are sorry that such is the case. We don’t want to give them anything to grasp at. At any time I would think twice before having anything to do with it. The language in it is—to use an Abbey phrase—beyond the beyonds. The song at the end of the second act, sung by the ‘girl-of-the-streets,’ is unpardonable.

“I consulted Mr. George O’Brien about the whole play. He said he had written to you a general benediction about it, but agreed with me that there is a huge difference between reading a play at home and hearing it from a stage. I don’t want to protest too much, especially as O’Casey and myself had a heated argument about the production of Man and Superman. I can assure you the latter has nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, when and if it is read to the company I feel there will be a real difficulty in getting them to play in it. You can rely on me not to try and influence them in any way. Let them judge and decide for themselves.”

The result is a letter from George O’Brien: “Mr. Yeats and I have read O’Casey’s new play and are convinced that it would be quite as successful as any of his others if produced. There are, however, certain particulars in which I think the play in its present form would seriously offend the audience, and I think it must be amended in certain respects before it can be staged.”

He instances: “Love scene between Clitheroe and his wife in Act I. [I had objected to this.] Introduction of a prostitute in Act II. The lady’s professional side is unduly emphasised in her action and conversation, and I think the greater part of this scene should be rewritten” and objects to “particular phrases and modes of expression,” says “the vituperative vocabulary of some characters occasionally runs away with itself. . . . I do not think that any of these alterations will materially alter the main action of the play which while excellent in its conception and execution could not possibly be produced in precisely its present form.”

Yeats answered: “We agree with you about Clitheroe and his wife. That love scene in the first act is most objectionable and, as you said, does not ring true. What is wrong is that O’Casey is there writing about people whom he does not know, whom he has only read about. We had both decided when we first read the play that he should be asked to try and modify these characters, bringing them within the range of his knowledge. When that is done the objectionable elements will lose their sentimentality and thereby their artistic offence. We decided that if he cannot do this the dialogue would have to be greatly modified in rehearsal.”

“Now we come to the prostitute in Act II. She is certainly as necessary to the general action and idea as are the drunkards and wastrels. O’Casey is contrasting the ideal dream with the normal grossness of life and of that she is an essential part. It is no use putting her in if she does not express herself vividly and in character, if her ‘professional’ side is not emphasised. Almost certainly a phrase here and there must be altered in rehearsal but the scene as a whole is admirable, one of the finest O’Casey has written. To eliminate any parts of it on grounds that have nothing to do with dramatic literature would be to deny all our traditions. “The other passages you mention are the kind of things which are dealt with in rehearsal by the producer (in almost every one of O’Casey’s plays the dialogue has been here and there a little modified and he has never objected to our modification), but we are inclined to think that the use of the word ‘bitch’ in Act IV is necessary. It occurs when Bessie, receiving her mortal wound, turns furiously on the woman whose delirium has brought it on her. The scene is magnificent and we are loth to alter a word of it. If you do not feel that this letter entirely satisfies you we can have a Directors’ meeting on the subject. WBY.”

George O’Brien wrote, Sept. 13th: “Dear Mr. Yeats and Lennox, Thanks very much for your letter from which I am glad to learn that you do not think my criticism of the play unreasonable. I appreciate your willingness to meet my objection and I take it that the offensive passages I mentioned will be changed. As regards Act II, I am in a certain amount of difficulty. I quite see your point that to eliminate any part of it on grounds that have nothing to do with dramatic literature would be to destroy all our traditions. I feel, however, that there are certain other considerations affecting the production to which it is, in a peculiar way, my duty to have regard. One of these is the possibility that the play might offend any section of public opinion so seriously as to provoke an attack on the Theatre of a kind that would endanger the continuance of the subsidy. Now I think that the play as it stands might easily provoke such an attack. Your statement that ‘a phrase here and there must be altered in rehearsal’ suggests that there may not be very much difference of opinion between us. If you would let me know the phrases or passages in Act II which you think should be changed, I would consider the scene as altered very carefully, might perhaps suggest some other minor changes, and in this way we would most probably reach a compromise. I hope you will not be annoyed at my insistence in my objection which is based altogether on my desire to be of service to the Theatre. Not being a dramatic author or critic, I feel that the only assistance of value I can render is by attempting to prevent the outbreak of a movement of hostility that would make it difficult or impossible for the Government to continue or to increase its subsidy. Yours, George O’Brien.”

It was after I had read this I said, If we have to choose between the subsidy and our freedom, it is our freedom we choose. “Not an author or a dramatic critic.” We are asked to submit, rather than to the hands of the fruitful, to the mercies of the barren. I said this to Yeats just now. He says the R.C.s are making the same mistake the Jews did, insisting on legality—on the circumcision. They might have conquered Rome had they given up the circumcision, but they wouldn’t, and the Christians got possession of Europe. I spoke of the Bishops’ circular, and he says, “Edward Martyn once said to me, ‘I am informed that more souls are lost by sensuality than through any other cause.’ ”

Sept. 24. The Directors’ meeting. Dr. O’Brien making his objections to the play: I, chiefly spokesman, (by request,) telling him Blythe had made no condition whatever in giving the subsidy and certainly no hint of appointing a censor. I told him of our old fights about Countess Cathleen, (with the Catholic Church,) Blanco Posnet, (with the Government,) Lord Aberdeen’s efforts to get passages left out of the play, (as now played in England,) and my refusal (though there was a real threat of closing the Theatre). Yeats also spoke in the same sense. O’Brien sat up in his chair reiterating at intervals, “That song is objectionable.” (We had already decided that it must go, but left it as a bone for him to gnaw at.) “And that word bitch,” etc. We told him cuts are usually made in rehearsal, by producers and players, but that we had at the beginning told Casey the Clitheroe parts must be rewritten, etc., and at last got O’Brien to confess, “I had mistaken my position” (of censor). But he wants to see a rehearsal a little later. I then proposed (already arranged) that now we are four Directors we had better bring a rule of majority voting or we might come to a deadlock, two and two; and we passed that resolution; the Chairman to have a casting vote. It was a long meeting: I wished some artist could have looked in, Yeats and I so animated, Lennox Robinson so amused, George O’Brien sitting upright repeating, “That song must be left out!”

Sept. 25. Directors’ meeting easy. O’Brien like a lamb, though after it he held back Perrin to say, “I think Mr. Robinson has now given up that song.” And he is in disgrace with Robinson having told him he had taken The White Blackbird to the Kingstown Club and consulted various people, “legal men,” as to whether the end is improper! I have told Perrin plays sent to him in future must be marked private and confidential.

At the end of a wrangle with W. B. Yeats, we agreed in asking Lennox Robinson to resume production of plays, Dolan to remain as Manager. Abbey in the evening. Good audience.

Sept. 26. Larchet wants a “bass” to help his orchestra, came up to talk of it. I think we can afford it. I feel in good heart about the Abbey.

On December 27th, 1925, the Abbey Theatre celebrated its twenty-first birthday. The programme was The Hour Glass by W. B. Yeats, The Shadow of the Glen by J. M. Synge, and Hyacinth Halvey by Lady Gregory, plays representing the three geniuses who had made the Theatre. Lady Gregory travelled specially from Galway to attend these performances.

Dec. 31. I was miserable all Sunday or whenever the thought of having to speak in the evening came across me. I had written down what I had to say in the hope that I might remember it. There was an immense audience at the Abbey: Yeats had come and taken me in a taxi. It was, in part, two hundred guests, the rest paying; great numbers turned away. The Hour Glass was played too slowly, Frank Fay breaking his sentences in two in a mechanical way, and Shadow of the Glen not so well as of old. Then Blythe made a short speech, promising or half promising something more in the future, that we might pay the players better. Then Johnson, Labour leader; then Geroid O’Lochlain in Irish. Then I went on, and there was a great burst of applause, and I made my little speech . . . that is printed in the newspaper notice. The only words I thought good were towards the end when I said, “Three is the number of perfection—body, soul and spirit; father, mother, child; the three leaves of the shamrock, the threefold cord that is not quickly broken. In the Theatre we have the three A’s, interdependent, inseparable—Author, Actor, Audience. We are necessary to one another.” And I said at the end that if these three hold together I hope the Abbey will last into the far future and leave a fine tradition, and I quoted from The Golden Helmet: “That the long-remembering harpers have matter for their song.”

There was great applause and, I think, sincere. The pit had applauded tremendously when I said, “Best of all, I think, we love the pit (silence), perhaps because we have had our lovers’ quarrels!” That, I think, was the hit of the evening. Yeats said the people near him had all been saying how good it was, and Lord Monteagle, going out, said that near him all had said it was the best part of the whole entertainment, (though Hyacinth had gone very well). And next evening Yeats said Kevin O’Higgins said to him, “That was the most beautiful speech I have ever heard—it puts all the politicians to shame.” So I felt quite elated.

Sean O’Casey came to tea looking well in his grey suit and pleased with his success. There is about £60 a week coming to him. He says Jim Larkin is very ill, pneumonia and other ills, yet working still and keeping down the price of coal by bringing in his own supplies.

Jan. 7, 1926. Came to Dublin, Richard motoring me to Galway. Straight to the Abbey, a queue at the door. Yeats had met me and brought me in a taxi, and I got in at the side door and he went to dine out, and I had tea in the office from my basket, not to miss any of the play. Pot of Broth poor, I’m sorry it was put on. But the Bourgeois an immense success, staging very good and the singing, though I would have liked (like the “Bourgeois”) some more lively airs. Will Shields a wonder; kept the house in shrieks all through. Even Perrin had written me that he had laughed all through. Sir Philip Hanson came to congratulate me, said there was not one word or sentence that sounded like a translation. The crowded house and continued laughter did me good. Lord Monteagle and son of Robin O’Brien also delighted as all the house seemed. The best staging we have had, I think, and dresses fantastic and good.

Jan. 10. Yesterday to the Abbey, and saw part of a rehearsal of the Plough and the Stars—the public-house scene, it will go well, I think, a good deal of variety in different points of view. Then Sean O’Casey came in, as it was over, sat down beside me and said he was indignant; that Miss Crowe has refused to speak a certain sentence in his play, and he holds that she has no right to refuse any sentence the Directors have passed. Lennox Robinson came on to the stage and O’Casey repeated this, very emphatically, even angrily. Lennox Robinson said it was usual for players to say if there was anything they disliked in their speech. I, a little afraid of a storm, said I had always given leave to the players to take out anything they might object to in my plays, and they had sometimes done so, a dialect word having sometimes a different meaning in town and country. And I said, after the first night of Playboy, Synge had given leave to the players to leave out anything they liked; it was I who went through the script with them and some words were struck out. So then I talked of other things.

I told this to Yeats later and his indignation was all against Miss Crowe; he wanted to ring up Lennox Robinson and insist on her saying the words lest other players should follow her lead. But I told him Sean O’Casey was coming to tea with me and I’d see what he said. But when he came he was much less excited. And the words Miss Crowe objects to are, “I had never a child that was not born within the border of the Ten Commandments,” and this I had heard her say in the rehearsal and it had certainly not struck me as offensive. So I don’t know what will happen. It was like one of our old storms in a tea-cup.

S. O’C. still keeps his tenement room, is wisely waiting until he has put up some money before making a move. He gets many letters, one from a man at Croydon offering himself as “waiter-valet.” I told him “A.E.,” who I had been in to see, had praised his Lizzie’s Night Out, the hint of the beautiful under all that disorder and drunkenness. That is the character he thinks of using in a new play, The Red Lily, but he isn’t writing just now, and is refusing many offers from magazines for articles and stories. We had tea and went on to the Abbey: even at 20 to 8 a queue and people being turned away, and there had been some over-booking which caused confusion. George O’Brien’s own seats had been sold to someone else. I had been told the Governor-General was coming for his first visit to the Abbey and that I was to sit next to him. I was glad to do so, in case of any discourtesy, (we have no boxes for distinguished visitors,) but none was shown. The red carpet was put down for him, that we had refused to use in Castle days!

Jan. 16. Yeats writes of “an aggravating comedy in the Theatre. Miss Crowe having, after consultation with her priest, refused to say the words ‘within the border of the Ten Commandments,’ in her part, and McCormick has refused to say in his ‘No. I will not be called “snotty”.’ Snotty in old English, according to Webster, is ‘a mean ugly person,’ and quite innocent. Casey writes to withdraw his play. . . . We decided to let her husband leave out the word he objected to, as Miss Richards, who replied to him, means to use it.”

Feb. 14, Sunday. On Friday I left for Dublin to see The Plough and the Stars. I got the post and papers in Gort and when the train had started opened the Independent and saw a heading right across the page, “Riotous Scenes at the Abbey. Attempt to stop O’Casey’s play,” and an account of wild women, especially, having raised a disturbance, blown whistles, etc., prevented second act from being heard and had then clambered on to the stage—a young man had struck Miss Delany on the face, etc., etc. Then the police had been sent for, and quiet apparently restored for the rest of the play to be given. It is so lucky I had set out and not seen this, at Coole, when too late to take the train.

At Athenry I got the Irish Times, which gave a fuller account. Yeats had spoken from the stage but the clamour had drowned his speech, but the reporters had got some of it. The train was very crowded, groups of men getting in at each station. I thought at first there must be a fair going on, but they were going up for the football, England v. Ireland, next day.

Yeats met me at the station and gave his account of the row; thought of inviting the disturbers to a debate as we had done in the Playboy riots, but I was against that. In Playboy time our opponents were men. They had a definite objective, they thought the country-people were being injured by Synge’s representation of them. These disturbers were almost all women who have made demonstrations on Poppy Day and at elections and meetings; have made a habit of it, of the excitement.

We found the Abbey crowded, many being turned away. Yeats said that last night he had been there by accident, for he does not often go to more than one performance. Robinson had not come that evening and when the disturbance began and he wanted to call for police he found it was Perrin’s night off and the telephone had been closed up. But at last the Civic Guards came and carried the women off the stage and the play went on without interruption to the end. At the end of the second act, a good many people had thought it was not to be resumed and had gone, and the disturbers had seized their places and kept up the noise from there, while some climbed on to the stage breaking two lamps and tearing a piece out of the curtain and attacked the actresses.

The papers said Miss Delany had been struck on the face by a young man. But the actors said he came next morning, very indignant at the accusation, said he had thrown something at Seaghan Barlow and it had accidentally hit Miss Craig. Miss Richards says she herself threw a shoe at one of the intruders and it missed its aim and one of them took it up and threw it at Yeats, but it then also missed its aim. I went round to see them in the Green-room and they were very cheerful. There was no attempt at disturbance, though one man said from the gallery, in the public-house scene, “This is an insult to the memory of Pearse,” and walked out. Someone else cried out when two men of the Citizen Army came into the pub holding one the flag of the Republic, the other of the Citizen Army—the Plough and Stars Flag—it was designed by “A.E.”—“Those flags were never in a public-house!” And it is natural they might object to that, though they don’t know that scenes can’t be re-arranged for every episode—the flags had to be shown and that scene was the most convenient.

And their bearers did but take a modest glass at the bar, and carried the flags out again with decency and order.

I thought the play very fine indeed. And the next day at the matinée, when, though the house was full and overflowing, there was no danger of riot and I could listen without distraction, it seemed to me a very wonderful play—“the forgiveness of sins,” as real literature is supposed to be. These quarrelling, drinking women have tenderness and courage, showing all through, as have the men. At intervals in the public-house scene one hears from the meeting being held outside fragments of a speech of Pearse (spoken in Stephenson’s fine voice with extraordinary effect). One feels those who heard it were forced to obey its call, not to be afraid to fight even in the face of defeat. One honours and understands their emotion. Lionel Johnson’s lines to Ireland came into my mind:

“For thy dead is grief on thee?

Can it be thou dost repent

That they went, thy chivalry

Those sad ways magnificent?”

And then comes what all nations have seen, the suffering that falls through war, and especially civil war, on the women, the poor, the wretched homes and families of the slums. An overpowering play. I felt at the end of it as if I should never care to look at another; all others would seem so shadowy to the mind after this.

I saw it again in the evening, but too tired then to feel much emotion. The immense audience all applauding, and Casey was called at the end with the players and cheered.

The morning’s excitement had been an attempt to kidnap Fitzgerald, “Fluter,” the chief actor in the play. A motor with armed men had come to his house and demanded to see him. But he was not there; someone had said he now lived elsewhere, but when I spoke of it he told me he had not gone home that night, had some little suspicion in his mind. I said, if taken, he would now be wandering in the Wicklow mountains like some man who has lately been carried off.

It was thought safer for the players to stay in the Theatre between matinee and evening performance. So there was a meal made ready for them. And G. Yeats brought Rummel, who had been giving a concert, and he played for the actors in the auditorium Chopin and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Yeats fell asleep and awaking said he had dreamed there was a storm going on, and when he saw Rummel playing his last chords he thought “they can’t have noticed it.” The players were delighted. Rummel had arrived on Saturday morning for his concert. There was a great crush in the boat and he could not get a cabin until he happened to say he was coming over to play, and then he was given a cabin at once, he thought from respect for music, but found they thought he was one of the English football team!

Feb. 15. Donaghy came in as I was writing and we had a long talk. He is full of ideas and plans, hopes to have some of his poems published soon, to take his degree in June, and then to go to London, try his hand at literature, perhaps acting. He is working at the translation of Prometheus. He was wearing a heavy ulster and I asked if he would not take it off, but he said, No, there was a large rent in his coat, gained in “the celebrations” last night of the football victory.

He had been at the Abbey the night of the riot, had seen the first attack on the stage, a woman climbing up on it, and then the ferocious face of Seaghan Barlow, almost petrified with astonishment at his stage being invaded, and who had then stepped forward and flung the invader off it. Donaghy had met Holloway in the hall, in a state of fury—“An abominable play.”

D.: “I see nothing abominable in it.”

H.: “Then you have a dirty mind.”

D.: “No. I haven’t.”

H.: “Well, you have a filthy mind. There are no streetwalkers in Dublin.”

D.: “I was accosted by one only last night.”

H.: “There were none in Dublin till the Tommies brought them over.”

Then H. said to a man coming down from the gallery, “That play should be put off the stage.”

But he answered, “No. It should not.”

I ran round to see the Yeats children and W. showed me The Observer account of the riot. Then to the café where I had O’Casey and Donaghy to tea, Casey in good spirits after his reception last night. One of the objections made was the rebel flag having been carried into a public-house, but two old I.R.A. men have since told him that they themselves had brought the flag into pubs. He reminded some of the men who objected to a streetwalker having been put on, how often they had received food and shelter from these women when being hunted by the Black-and-Tans.

He stayed talking till near 8 o’clock, has his mind full of plays, too full perhaps, but his eyes have been very troublesome again. He has a difficulty in typing what he has written. His doctor says he must get a better lodging where he can have his food cooked for him, for he is indolent about doing it himself and is letting down his strength. One of the accusations of the interrupters had been that he did not make the Tommies offensive enough. But he says they were usually quite civil until they were frightened and turned cruel. They would come into the house and say “Mother, give us some tea,” or whatever they wanted.

March 9 (London). Yesterday evening to the Fortune Theatre, for first night of Juno here. I took Ellen again. A nice little theatre and I liked the play better at it, more like the Abbey with its smaller stage. It went very well indeed, and after many curtains there were shouts for “Author!” and he appeared and told them how kind he thought London, and that as it had been hard to dig him out of Dublin so it would be to do the same in London. Fagan had asked me to come round to the stage afterwards and there were a good many people I didn’t know there, but I was very happy at being so warmly welcomed by our old players, Sinclair, Morgan, O’Rourke, Miss Drago, Joyce Chancellor, Miss O’Neill, and, of course, Sally who dragged me on to a sofa on which she and Casey were to be photographed, made me sit between them, saying, “What would either of us be but for you!”

April 24. A nice letter from T. C. Murray. “It was good to get your heartening message [about Autumn Fire]. We are all your children and your word of praise is very heartening to us.” He has had an offer for American rights “and this morning’s post brought a dazzling offer for the ‘world rights of the play as a film’.” So two at least of our playwrights, and two who deserve and need it, are on the road to fortune. May 4. Abbey audit good. We made in the year (to February 28) a net profit of £843.0.7, not counting subsidy. Last year’s deficiency paid off. We have a balance, £1,144.13.3. Our receipts in the year (all taken and spent in Dublin) was £9,350. Very good.

May 8. I was at both performances of Plough and Stars, both went well with crowded audiences, but in the evening some “smell bombs” were let off at the beginning of the performance. Perrin and the C.I.D. searched under the seats in the gallery and found small bottles there full of the stuff. They were not thrown this time but, they think, stamped on or left to be trodden on and broken; however, all were taken away and there was no further demonstration. An immense audience, (which Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington gives out is composed of C.I.D. men, “of both sexes”).

May 30. A nice letter from Sinclair. I had sent him a large photograph of his portrait by Robert as “King James.” . . .

“My dear mother was alive then and she used to give me my cue. I told her I had the part of my life and do you know sometimes I think I was right. In all the years that have followed never have I felt the same understanding or enthusiasm as I felt in that year of 1905 when you, dear Lady Gregory, gave me my first chance.”

Jan. 10, 1927. Lennox Robinson writes about a new Director: Blythe wants a Catholic, hasn’t many ideas beyond wanting that. He suggested (a) Walter Starkie, (b) T. C. Murray, (c) Daniel Corkery. George O’Brien suggests Bodkin. Yeats and I favour Starkie, who is, of course, the obvious choice from the point of view of mental qualifications, he is young, very interested in the theatre, has just published his book on Pirandello, is Professor in T.C.D. of Italian and Spanish, will probably be Provost some day.

Jan. 30. Yesterday I went to the Abbey matinée to Emperor Jones, a wonderful performance by Rutherford Mayne, and fine mysterious staging, draped curtains suggesting the wood. A terrible nightmare of a play—a good audience, much impressed—three curtains. I had found R. Mayne in the Green-room in his get-up, and it was hard to believe he was not a real nigger, (I had never met him before,) but they tell me he has fair hair. He says the Ulster Theatre languishes, blames the Opera House in Belfast which turns down all new plays and falls back on Thompson in Tir-na-nOg. But no good plays are sent to us from there.

Jan. 31. W. B. better, downstairs for a bit, and I bought The Clavering Sand, have begun reading it to him. At the Abbey, Perrin says W. Shields is dissatisfied with his pay. We ought certainly to give him £7.10.0 in the weeks he plays: that is top price. Fagan tried to get him to Oxford for six months, but the Government would not give him leave of absence. O’Casey is trying to tempt him to throw up the Office and to try his luck in London.

March 15. Last night Sancho’s Master—a good house. The staging good, though the Notary and Housekeeper bungled the hiding of the cupboard and it was visible, the lower part, all the time Quixote was looking for it! And McCormick appeared with white hair and beard, looking about 80, and was a little too infirm at first. However, he gripped the audience, but to-night he will powder his own hair and look less venerable.

Sancho splendid, all very good, and the scenes admirable, Lennox’s Spanish taste coming in well. It was well received and at the end so many cries for “Author” I had to go round and make my bow. Yeats whisked me away before I could talk to anyone—but Bryan Cooper said, “You have given us the quintessence of a masterpiece,” and “A.E.,” who was near me, seemed to like it. McCormick very fine at the end. I’ve been round this morning with them in the Green-room, making some slight alterations in the text. So I am happy on the whole.

May 12. I went straight to the Abbey. Yeats had met me and taxied me there. I had some tea in the office and then went down to see Dave. It went well, dead silence through all the mystic part, and great applause at the end. Very well played, though Dolan was too much of an ordinary peasant, and the staging was dreadful. Instead of a rather superior room of a hundred years ago, it was a poverty-stricken kitchen with a quite new and vulgar rosewood chair the only sign of, I can’t say comfort, but expenditure; and a common small looking-glass on the wall. An unnatural lattice window, panes four times the usual size. The clothes also are bad, great carelessness in the production—my own fault for not coming up—or misfortune—as I couldn’t get away from home. However, last evening we went, Yeats and I again, and I had been round in the morning and got some things from the Green-room less offensive than the others, and one of the straw-seated chairs, (the old one from Chevy!) and put an old oil portrait up, and improved the costumes a little. Anyhow, it looked much better last night when we went again, and there was a big audience and Dave went better than ever before, silence—then applause. And I had rehearsed Dolan in the morning and got an “ancient dignity” into him, and made some other changes. So last night was a comfortable night and W.B.Y. confessed he liked the play! “A.E.” also there and liked it. (I had gone to see him in the afternoon and found him sitting to an artist who was doing a dry-point portrait of him. So I stayed a long time, talking and listening.)

After Dave, Fanny’s First Play. I had never seen it on the stage and was, like the audience, delighted.

I did feel proud and satisfied—a Theatre of our own, Irish plays, such a fine one by our countryman—company playing it so splendidly, all our own—something to have lived to see! But there is a good deal of slackness at the Abbey.

Rising of the Moon after it. I had not seen it for years and it seemed in such an old world, the Sergeant especially; now we have but the Civic Guards, all young men. On Sunday evening the Drama League gave a Pirandello play—Carolan (as a cook) and Stevenson splendid; the amateurs feeble. (How my memory is going, I can’t remember its name!) I was every day with little Michael and Anne, just romping and reading and telling stories, but the games were given up when he fell ill. Reading some fairy story about the “Three Wishes.” I asked Michael what he would wish for if such an offer came. He said, “Coole—the house.” I said that would be too big for him, wouldn’t a part of it do? but he said, “No, the house, just as it is.” I am quite pleased with his appreciation.

March 1, 1928. A letter from Sean O’Casey yesterday: “I’ve just finished writing and typing (in my own way) The Silver Tassie, and when I’ve got a couple of copies typed—which will be in about a fortnight’s time—I’ll send a copy to the Abbey and will send a copy to no one else till I get word that the play has been received, so that I may be able to say that the Abbey Theatre was the first to get my new effort. I hope it may be suitable and that you will like it. Personally, I think it is the best work I have yet done. I have certainly put my best into it, and have written the work solely because of love and a deep feeling that what I have written should have been written. The other week I was offered £500 for a short story for a film journal—something with a snap in it—and I told those who offered that they could safely raise the offer to £5,000, so as to appear generous with what they had to give away.”

March 28. Sean O’Casey’s play came yesterday. I read it through. Well, I absolutely agree with Lennox Robinson’s criticism, the beginning fine, the two first acts; then such a falling off, especially in the last, the “persons” lost in rowdiness.

I must have written something like this to Lennox Robinson for he writes in return: “I was very relieved to get your letter to-day and to find that you agreed with me about O’Casey’s play. If you had disagreed with me I should have suspected myself of all sorts of horrid subconscious feelings. I shall send the play at once to W. B. Yeats and avoid writing to Sean until he has read it. We can’t do it before the end of this season and if W. B. agrees with you and me Sean will have time to think over his last acts before July and August. It looks to me as if he had put very careful work into Acts I and II, and finished the other two acts haphazard because everyone was beginning to say he would never write a play again and he wanted to show that he could—but the play as it stands won’t increase his reputation. I see the end of his play as a single tenement act with the maimed heroes back and everyone sorry they’ve come and the girl gone off with the other fellow. This is obvious, but the idea in Sean O’Casey’s plays is always obvious; it is the treatment that makes the difference, makes the genius.”

April 2. And having written that agreement with Lennox Robinson, there came the next day such a very nice, warm-hearted letter from S. O’C., written I don’t know why, expecting to find me in depression. He says nothing about his play. I am glad for I don’t want to write of it till Yeats has given his judgment. Lennox Robinson is sending it to hum at once. Sean’s letter is a call to courage. I like best his last sentence: “You can always walk with your head up. And remember you had to fight against your birth into position and comfort, as others had to fight against their birth into hardship and poverty, and it is as difficult to come out of one as it is to come out of the other, so that power may be gained to bring fountains and waters out of the hard rocks.”

April 22. I have had another kind of letter from Sean O’Casey, chiefly of sympathy and suggestions about Hugh’s pictures, even proposing a protest made to the League of Nations—“Wasn’t France made to give back things taken during the Napoleonic wars? And Germany recently?” But I am a little sad because he supposes (rightly) that I have read his play sent to Lennox Robinson, by now: “I think it is by far the best work I have done. It is, I think, very different from my previous work. I am correcting proofs now and it will be published in a few months’ time. You must take from me the first copy sent to anyone.” And Lennox Robinson is abroad and I can’t write until all—Starkie also—give their opinion, and don’t like to think he may print it without their criticism—and without seeing it on the stage.

April 28. Yesterday Yeats’ letter came with his criticisms of Sean O’Casey’s play. I’ve made a copy of it. It shows him in full (mental) health again. I have now sent it on to Sean. Of course, it must be a severe blow, but I believe he will feel its force, its “integrity,” and be grateful in the end. I have sent him also Lennox Robinson’s less forcible outcries and my own few words, all I had a copy of. I had to send them on at once because he had written that he was “correcting proofs” for publication. And I have sent a fourth letter, from Yeats to-day, with suggestions as to what words to use if he does publish it. But I had a bad night or early morning thinking of the disappointment and shock he will feel.

May 4. Starkie at the Abbey last night, had but just come back from Spain, says the Abbey is well known there, and great interest shown in it. He has but read a part of The Silver Tassie—began saying he didn’t care for it, but I said he must not judge it till he has read it through. Not a word from Sean O’Casey—he may be trying to find a London producer. That would be best for us but not, I think, for him. But he may shrink from a rewriting or not accept our opinion. I am sad about it all.

May 6. T. C. Murray came to meet me at the Abbey, and when I began talking of a possible improvement in his play that could be made by bringing the musician into the house he interrupted me to say he had said that very thing to his wife that morning, at least that the musician should appear again, but they could not think how it could be managed. I said he should come in with the innkeeper, with the food and presents ordered by the son, playing his violin, a gay air, a great burst of festal music outside the door. And Yeats had approved this idea and said he should give out the presents from the basket, a cake to the child, an ornament to the wife, etc., to increase the gaiety. All this would at the same time lighten the gloom of the whole play and intensify the tragedy at the end. Murray accepted the idea with enthusiasm and we talked over some details. I went again to the play at the matinée and am convinced this addition would help it to great success.

Lennox Robinson appeared, just back from Tunis, professed to be offended when I burst out laughing because he said with such feeling he had “enjoyed so much looking at the buried cities” (his usual tendency to gloom). Sally Allgood came to tea with me, is as anxious to come back as I am to have her. I hope it may be managed. I had told this to Yeats when he came in and he agreed. But here, after dinner, he and Lennox Robinson came up, both rather cross, the chief spokesman saying we could not give her the salary she used to have, and that we had quite enough actresses. He was cross and I felt cross and Yeats was cross and spoke crossly. Anyhow we had already before dinner read a letter that grieved me and angered them from Sean O’Casey. He wrote that he had received our letters on his play, that “Lady Gregory had written in her kind way,” but that he did not accept our criticisms, believing the play to be a good one, that the Abbey “is not refusing it because it is a bad play but because it is a good one,” and some very ungracious words about Yeats’ second letter, a kindly meant one, suggesting that to avoid saying it had been rejected he might say he had taken it back for alteration. He says the manager of a London theatre is ready to produce it at any time, and that he had already taken it to him.

May 14. But it is sad about the Tassie. Arthur Shields says his brother has read it and thinks it very fine. But reading it again it seems, after the first act, weaker than before, and I thought this especially when looking at the triumphant progress of the Plough, every character so clean-cut, an etching of life caught up in tragedy. In the Tassie the characters, equally vivid in the first act, become lay figures, lantern slides, showing the horror of war. When A. Shields told me of his brother’s opinion I would have asked “What part is there for him in it?” but didn’t like to say a word. And fresh from the Plough I wrote on the copy of Three Last Plays I sent to Sean, “with humility” as well as affection. He always gave me credit for his first success because of my words, “Your strong point is characterisation”. I wish he would continue to respect those words.

June 3. The Independent, just come, has an article, The Silver Tassie, saying, “The Abbey Directors have waved aside the draught as if it was the washiest of small beer, and the correspondence leaves no doubt that whatever else may come of The Silver Tassie there is brewing in it a storm much more exciting than that which ordinarily rages in theatrical tea-cups.”

They seem to expect a “series of exceptionally lively engagements,” though I don’t suppose any of us will write anything at all. I am very sorry Sean has not left the play to make its own way when it is published. They quote Yeats’ fine sentence, “The dead wood has not been consumed by the dramatic fire.”

June 5. And now the Independent has come with the O’Casey correspondence. And a letter to me from Yeats saying that Starkie is (quite rightly) very much offended that the correspondence was sent to O’Casey before he was consulted. But he was abroad and it was having heard from Sean O’C. that he was correcting his proofs for publication that made me send that letter, as Yeats asked, at once. So I’ve written to Yeats and an apology to Starkie, taking all the blame, and I have made a copy Yeats wants of his own letter.

June 6. The Observer article—or reprint of letters—has come. Yeats and Lennox Robinson to me, not my own little note saying I agreed with Lennox Robinson. It was great ill luck, L.R. and Starkie abroad, Yeats just back and falling on it with new energy of criticism, and my excess of consideration, thinking O’Casey ought to see his opinion before the proofs were out of his hands, and believing he would make alterations. And I am sad. Just bad stars.

June 10. More letters published yesterday re the Silver Tassie, one “received from Mr. O’Casey” with the headline, “O’Casey and the Big Four,” gives quotations from my letters in answer to Yeats’ suggestion that he should withdraw the play, saying to the Press that he was dissatisfied with it and that I should write this to him: “Instead of doing what Yeats suggested Lady Gregory sent the letters on to me saying she ‘felt it right you should know at once what we all feel and think, and that you would prefer this to any attempt to soften things, and that you will believe that I—and we all—feel you would rather have the exact truth than evasions’ (Bravo, Lady Gregory!).” And in a subsequent letter, “Perhaps I was wrong in sending those letters to you. I think you will say I was right.” (Yes, before God and man you were right, Lady Gregory.) “They were the genuine opinions of us writers at the moment whether mistaken or not, and I believe you would rather have them than a mere formal and polite ‘arrangement’.” (A great deal more written in an offensive way against Yeats and even Starkie.) Very, very sad, the whole matter.

Mrs. Warren said after church she was afraid Yeats, not being very well, must suffer from it, “but you have come out of it very well.” I don’t feel sure of that though I’ve written my reasons to Starkie, (who had been hurt that “the correspondence had been sent to O’Casey before he was consulted,”) that the fault or mistake was entirely mine.

I said, “Some days before I received Yeats’ letter about it I had had a letter from Sean O’Casey in which he said he was now revising the proofs of his new play for publication. I thought it right, therefore, to send Yeats’ criticism on at once that he might have it before the final printing of the play and, if he accepted the criticism, have time to alter it or keep it back for a while. Lennox Robinson was in Italy, you were abroad also and it would have been unfair to let him publish without seeing this strong opinion. I sent even Yeats’ letter to me that he might see there was nothing kept back and my own note of criticism in my diary. He had stayed here and I looked on him and treated him as a friend I could speak or write openly to. He had accepted our criticism in other cases, had rewritten one of the scenes of the Plough and the Stars at Yeats’ suggestion, and I did not think he would have refused to consider this. In spite of his letters I asked Yeats and Lennox Robinson, when we went up to the office on one of the last nights of the Plough and Stars, if we might consider putting it on. Yeats inclined to it, but L. R. said ‘No. It is a bad play.’ No doubt we ought to have had a regular meeting then, with you. I think we were all tired, besides that you had said you did not think it good. But we were wrong and I fully confess it and beg your forgiveness. It is all a real grief to me.”

It was the day after that Plough and Stars performance that the play was returned with a formal notice.

I did not say either to Yeats or to Lennox Robinson that I disliked the song of the Doctor and the scene in the last act about the girl’s loosened dress and the like, knowing they would join against me on that subject (and especially after my objection to that scene in Lennox Robinson’s new play). And I have some hope that the censor may strike these out in London, though I have not much knowledge of what is now allowed there.

June 28. G.B.S. in his letter goes on to say: “Why do you and W.B.Y. treat O’Casey as a baby? Starkie was right, you should have done the play anyhow. Sean is now hors concours. It is literally a hell of a play; but it will clearly force its way on to the stage and Yeats should have submitted to it as a calamity imposed on him by the Act of God, if he could not welcome it as another Juno. Besides, he was extraordinarily wrong about it on the facts. The first act is not a bit realistic; it is deliberately fantastic chanted poetry. This is intensified to a climax into the second act. Then comes a ruthless return for the last two acts to the fiercest ironic realism. But that is so like Yeats. Give him a job with which you feel sure he will play Bunthorne and he will astonish you with his unique cleverness and subtlety. Give him one that any second-rater could manage with credit and as likely as not he will make an appalling mess of it. He has certainly fallen in up to the neck over O’C. But this is not a very nice letter, is it? Consequently the very last letter I want to send you. So I will stop before I become intolerable. G.B.S.”

June 30. The Silver Tassie has come, “with pride and warm affection,” from Sean O’Casey. I am glad to have it, though I cannot look at it without pain for that loud quarrel, but I am glad he can think kindly of my part in it, all meant in kindness if he but knew. And I’m wondering if his excuse for me is anything like that of the priest in the 80’s Lord Morris told me of, who, taken aback by the Pope’s denunciation of the Plan of Campaign in the Land War, recovered his serenity as he murmured, “They say he’s doting.”

Sept. 18. Sally Allgood writes about my poor Old Woman: “I don’t think I am altogether to blame because I had only one rehearsal although I begged and begged to be given a chance to rehearse from last Thursday week, and when I did at last get the rehearsal on last Monday morning there was no criticism made whatever although Lennox Robinson and Mr. Shields sat in the stalls and saw me do the whole performance. I felt the movement was an ugly one but no one seemed to notice it so I concluded it must look right from the front.”

But she says it has gone much better since then. “It was most unfair to only give me one rehearsal of such a difficult thing as your poem and I think you will agree with me in this.” I do indeed.

But she is evidently very fine in Gaol Gate. The Independent, not usually friendly, says it was its revival after five years that brought a large audience last night. “It grips and convinces and many who saw it last night were brought into touch for the first time with some of the tragedies of the Land War.”

Oct. 28. As to the Abbey, the American tour seems to have broken down, because of Sinclair having arranged to take The Plough and the Stars there. I was afraid the languor in taking up Otto Kahn’s offer would end in this. But Sally Allgood has written to me (still suffering from that cab accident, poor thing): “Mr. McElroy wants me to go to America to play Bessie Burgess in The Plough, but I am not particularly keen. Padraic Colum called in to see me and he quite frankly said there is very great likelihood of great trouble with the Irish there if we produce it, and honestly, dear, I don’t feel I can bear another Playboy riot. O’Casey is a clever man but he hasn’t Synge’s greatness and I don’t feel why I should fight for his play. Tell me if you think I should go to America. I’m greatly troubled in my mind about it, it seems the American management won’t have the others unless I go, and I don’t like to feel I’m the cause of throwing them all out of work. . . . God love and bless you.”

I wrote an answer but have torn it up, and will not give advice. I think there will be trouble if the mayors still have that power given to them after Playboy row, to stop any they may object to.

Next evening I went to the Abbey, Cæsar and Cleopatra; the new staging designed by Miss Travers-Smith quite beautiful with the new lighting. Perrin said the costumes cost £80 and there will be a heavy loss on the week. However, the dresses will come in again. The actors not at their best.

Oct. 29. Came on to the Standard Hotel, stopping at the Abbey to see Lennox Robinson’s new play The Far-off Hills. I met with a group of the players. They are happy, of course, at the success of The Far-off Hills, but not happy over King Lear. I had never even been told it was being put on, by Lennox Robinson and Yeats. Arthur Shields is indignant because the production has been given to Denis Johnston, who has no connection with us, and I fancy it was given to him to make up for the rejection of his Emmet play. Starkie is angry because Shakespeare is to be given in the week before McMaster’s Company takes the Theatre, and he doesn’t think ours will go very well for they are cutting some of the best parts. Dolan is furious because his part, the Fool, is being cut to almost nothing. Starkie and I agree that we must assert ourselves in future and not let business be settled over our heads. I had already changed The Lord Mayor (on which we had lost £50 on the last performance, and which is a very old play, no longer topical), for Cartney and Kevney, which the Sterlings had asked for, and we made £80 on it. Perrin is miserable, anticipating a very heavy loss on Lear.

Oct. 30. To Cæsar and Cleopatra matinée, very good audience. Cæsar well into the part now and really fine. Gorman (Britannicus) and Stephenson (Rufinus) excellent; all the men good but I sighed for many of our past actresses. Perhaps the new School of Acting will produce some genius. The new little “Peacock Theatre” where Dolan’s classes are held is very attractive, and the School has already brought in £300 in fees. I went to the evening performance as well, loving the Saturday night audience; it was not only enthusiastic in applause but absolutely still during the scenes, just an outbreak of laughter now and then, especially when Britannicus spoke in character, but I don’t think there was a single cough. There had been a very good audience also on Friday, in the great gale, which had injured the roof of the Theatre seriously, though but little damage was done to the roof near it. McCormick was extremely fine in this last performance—a comforting week altogether.

Nov. 2. The Abbey yesterday was so full there was no seat for me except in the orchestra. I stayed for the second act, my favourite, with Stephenson’s fine voice giving Pearse’s 1916 speech outside the pub. Then I went into the Green-room and told Miss Delany of Sir William Hickie’s admiration of her acting. When the third act began McCormick and I were left alone and he spoke of his part—King Lear—is very anxious and apprehensive. But I reassured him, knowing that anyone who had played Œdipus so finely wouldn’t fail in this other tragedy—in some ways akin. He went for the script, the little book he is using, and asked me to look through it, as I will.

Nov. 13. I have been every day except Sunday, when a cold and rain kept me in, to Mercer’s Hospital, bringing John (a countryman from Coole) what little things he cared for or could use. I read in his face the other day there was something he coveted and with some persuasion he told it—“I didn’t know I would be allowed to smoke here.” So as he had not brought pipe or tobacco and I went in search. But once in the streets I felt too ignorant of what should be asked for, to go into a shop. I had never bought tobacco except through the grocer’s book at home, and I was afraid a clay pipe might be thought too common, and perhaps one of my choosing too smart. So I decided to go to the Abbey where advice is usually to be found on all practical subjects. But Seaghan Barlow wasn’t there, nor Frank or Dossy Wright—no man at all. And I had sat down to wait when a pretty girl, a newcomer who helps in the increased work of the box office, said, “I might be able to help you, Lady Gregory. I was for six years in Kapp and Peterson’s!” So we went to the nearest of their shops just across Sackville Street and chose what seemed most likely to please poor John, and I left it at the hospital for his use.

Nov. 18. Last evening I went to the Abbey after Birthright to the Green-room to greet the “School” players in The Women Have Their Way, a nice pleasant unaffected group. The afternoon performance had been dreary, a small audience. Fanny Trench was walking out in the middle bored, but I made her stop with the promise of telling her Larchet feels sure of getting work for her musical friend. The evening performance went much better, the audience fairly good, being Saturday, and a good deal of applause in the first act. The second dragged. I think it is a poor act in itself; if it were much shortened and the curtain dropped for a moment, representing a day, it would be much improved. My first impression of the players was strengthened: Santata (Hindel Mallard), Pepe Lora (J. B. O’Mahony), a Village Girl (May Bonass) excellent. I’d like them all for our Company.

Nov. 19. I worked hard for three or four hours yesterday over Brosnan’s Dark Isle—making notes all through as to the father’s character and finding the play may hammer into the contest between two generations, father and son, and into two acts (I’ve taken out the stupid scenes with the publican’s daughter). Brosnan, when I asked him at the Abbey what these were wanted for, said “to show Michael’s changeableness.” But so far I haven’t found him changeable, though not a very strong or vivid character. It is the old man who is interesting, fighting against the changed times, but finding that he cannot change his son’s nature, must yield to it. The last act is good and bustling.

Nov. 21. To the Abbey to see O’Flaherty, V.C. I had never seen it acted. It was very well done (Jack Dwan’s Co.), Theatre crowded. I paid for my seat, 3/9, the first time I had ever paid at an Abbey performance (I, as Patentee, being responsible to see there are “no wild beasts on the stage, and no men or women hung from the flies!”). But I was glad to see so big an audience of unfashionable people for O’Flaherty and a harmless play called Cupid and the Styx, in which Paul Farrell gave a very fine performance.

Nov. 22. Yesterday evening having looked on at a rehearsal of King Lear—rather inchoate at present—and McCormick, the protagonist, ill—his recovery they hope to be expedited by taking out a septic tooth—I stayed on at the Abbey and had tea at a café and went in to the Gate Theatre performance at the Peacock. It was Diarmuid and Grania, by Michael MacLiammoir—beautifully staged and lighted; no plot, just the simple story of Finn and the lovers. Simple language, a straight story, very moving. It had been given in Irish in Galway and had been very successful there. A new departure. I felt far more in sympathy with it than with The Big House at the Abbey, going on next door.

Nov. 24. I wrote to ask MacLiammoir and O’Lochlainn to lunch and expect them by and by. I told MacL. I had liked his Grania play so much and he seems pleased. And Frank Gallagher and his wife will come to-morrow evening. I do like meeting workers.

Evening. My luncheon was pleasant. I liked both my guests. MacL. young and bright and enthusiastic. It is he who is in charge of the Galway Gaelic Theatre which opened with his Diarmuid and Grania and had a great success. They don’t know how long the Gate performances can last, they are taking so little money. They are doubtful, however, about the revival of the language. MacL.’s father was a native Irish speaker but never spoke it in later life or taught his children. The Galway women in the market still use and quarrel in it.

I went later to the matinee, a quite good audience. And when I came back from the Black-and-Tans in Big House I read a play (sent in for the second time), Juggernaut, with one Black-and-Tan on the stage and others in the background. And having gone through Brosnan’s play yesterday I don’t think we can stand any more of them.

Nov. 25. Rehearsal of Lear, 12.40 to 4.30. I think it will go very welt McCormick very fine, though but recovering—dominates all through. When I arrived and tapped at the side door it was opened by “The King of France” in his regal robes, Moran, of the fruit-market, who sent us our supplies last winter! He says he will send us “a little present” of some at Christmas.

Denis Johnston fairly well satisfied with the rehearsal; amused at my little joke of yesterday about the actors at his rehearsal being like the flamingos and hedgehogs in Alice’s game of croquet—unfolding themselves and vanishing when his back is turned. He has spoken to Hilton Edwards, who will put on his Robert Emmet play, we guaranteeing against loss up to £50. I told him we would get Tulloch to write a formal agreement about this, to avoid mistakes. The photographers taking snapshots for the papers—I narrowly missed getting into one. The scenery (Travers-Smith) good as to outdoor scenes, the cliff and sea and sky, but indoors the first scene what I call “jazz,” crooked stripes of colour that distract the eye and don’t mean anything—to me anyhow they seem an enlargement of the little strips of coloured patterns of material stuck on a card that shops send out as patterns. I sent out for tea and sandwiches for the players, who were becoming exhausted.

Nov. 27. Lear last night wonderful, McCormick magnificent—there is no other word—all through. The play that I had thought would be too long seemed short—though not over till after 11 o’clock. Of course the others, Michael Dolan and Barry Fitzgerald, were fine. And the staging, except for the “jazz” behind Lear’s chair in the first-act scenes, which distracted me. However, Mrs. Starkie said it was the key to the other scenes which were fine: cliffs and a suggestion of space through an open door. It struck me as wonderful that a play Queen Elizabeth had seen should still be so alive, so emotional. I wonder in what universe Shakespeare is now. I slept but little, and seized the papers this morning—the Irish Times cool but kind, the Independent belittling with cold criticism.

I went to the Abbey. Poor old Frank (Dalton, an attendant) shivering in the hall. I spoke to Perrin and he is either to sit in the dressing-room upstairs where there is a fire or we’ll have a fire lighted in the hall—9/6d. a week Perrin calculated, but we mustn’t let the old man freeze. And 10/- a week to his salary Perrin thinks we should and could afford.

Nov. 28. The evening rather tragic. A very poor audience at the Abbey, the front stalls empty. I went round to the Green-Room and found the players depressed, blaming the papers—the Independent especially. McCormick says their critic has a dislike to him, he knows not why. They are hoping De Valera will get his newspaper. I dare say people are waiting to see Benson and the McMaster Company who are to play in the Abbey next week. I had never been told of Lear being chosen, but though there must be a heavy loss, McCormick’s splendid playing should hold its own against any other in that part—or others. I wish the McMaster Company were putting Lear on next week, but I don’t see it in their programmes.

Nov. 29. Yesterday afternoon I had tea at Viceregal Lodge: George O’Brien there. He said Good, the Independent critic, who had written so unsatisfactorily an account of Lear in the Independent and coldly of McCormick, had spoken to him with enthusiasm about his playing of the part—but whether this was so or the Independent had given his notice a disfiguring touch, I don’t know. But in the evening as the play was going on (a big audience) Starkie said he would go round and I sent a message to McC. telling him this, which cheered him up. His playing was wonderful, four calls, and at the last, when he appeared alone, shouts as well as clapping. A good audience too—such a comfort! Jack Yeats so moved he could hardly speak, going out.

Dec. 29. Tom Moran, the auctioneer at the City Market, who acted the King of France so finely in Lear, has sent the children a fine present, oranges, apples, dates, figs, and a pineapple. I think the Abbey stage has some wonderful effect on those who act there, making them so cordial, so enthusiastic and so kind.

Jan. 6, 1929. This morning the final rehearsal of Would-Be Gentleman, the only day the outsiders can all come together. I remembered how long the Lear rehearsal was, and that we had to send out for sandwiches (dry bread and ham), so, this being New Year’s week, I had arranged a surprise lunch in the Green-room, brought from home a cold turkey and big barnbrack and had rolls and butter, tea and coffee and celery, and Marsala and sliced ham, to meet me here. It was nicely laid out in the Green-room and they liked it. Barry Fitzgerald and Nolan and McCormick sat at my little table: they said the Abbey’s national importance is not realised enough here. Barry Fitzgerald told of his first visit to it. Two theatres he and a friend had gone to had been full and they came here. He saw Kathleen ni Houlihan and was for the first time stirred by national feeling. They say poor Sir Frank Benson gave but a feeble performance (with McMaster’s Company) in the Abbey (while they were on tour in Cork) and they were much amused when I told them of his early muscular strength and his desire to carry a lamb in his arms—in Diarmuid and Grania, (Yeats and Moore,) which he expected to be a success that he could bring to England, and my telling him that lambs could not be provided through all the months of the year—nor a sheep be shorn which was his alternative idea!

Jan. 7, Monday. And last evening I saw in the Sunday Independent “Some Early Memories of the Irish Theatre,” by T. G. Keller. He does not give the date but seems to begin with St. Teresa’s Hall (1902), where, like the Fays, they gave “A.E.’s” Deirdre and Kathleen ni Houlihan. There was a piano there, and James Joyce, he says, “occasionally wandering in would be induced to sing, displaying a tenor voice of rare quality.” But Joyce was always careful to disassociate himself from the movement. And when he left Dublin he was particular to emphasise the fact in the farewell poem he had printed and distributed to his friends. In this he stated:

“But I must not accounted be

One of that mumming Company.”

Of me, Keller remembers (besides the meetings at the Nassau Hotel where Riders to the Sea and Shadow of the Glen were for the first time read) “the huge barnbracks she used occasionally to send down to sustain the Company during the exhausting work of rehearsal.” It pleased me to read this on the very day I had entertained, twenty-seven years later, the present Company at the Abbey with, among other things, one of these “huge barnbracks” made in Gort.

Jan. 8. The Would-Be Gentleman went very well last night, the acting a delight. The new ballet dancers were put on at the beginning when the Professors are in (that was all right). But at the end when Mr. and Mrs. Jourdain and the rest set out for the marriage, instead of a sort of triumphal march and exit, with a song of triumph, they go to the back, up the steps and have to remain there doing or saying nothing, while a ballet-dance goes on for close on four minutes (quite irrelevant). Then before the curtain went down the audience applauded, rather uncertainly, and began to go out and it could not be known if the applause was for the ballet or the players—it seems to be for the ballet (but wasn’t). The players never got their curtain. It made a weak and scattered ending.

I was much disheartened and lay awake most of the night thinking what to do to mend matters. I ought to have come for the rehearsals last week—the Sunday one was hurried and insufficient. I went this morning to the Abbey and saw A. Shields—the producer—he ought to have known better. He agreed that the effect was deplorable and sent for Will, his brother. When he came we agreed that close to the end of the ballet the Bourgeois should come down, boast of his knowledge of dancing and begin some steps; then Mrs. Jourdain should seize him and remonstrate and he will say, “Well, we’ll finish the dance at the wedding.” This would make a good curtain and give applause where it is due—to the players. So I hope all may go well to-night.

Jan. 15. I had asked Moran to send (on business terms) 5 dozen bananas from City Fruit-market. These have come with the addition of 2 dozen apples and 2 dozen oranges. I’m afraid the whole case a present—I’ve written to remonstrate though it’s nice of him.

Feb. 12. Looking through a bundle of letters and papers Perrin had turned out of poor Henderson’s desk—the resignations of Colum, Starkie, Keller, Miss Layard in 1906, all for the best, though it troubled us at the time, contracts signed by Sara Allgood, one for £2 per week, one of 15/-! A letter from me, in 1909, to Henderson, about stage management:

“It was quite early in the season that Miss Allgood had written to say she could not go on with it without having ‘nervous breakdown.’ I took all I could of it on my shoulders to lessen her burden, but with all that, she decided before we left Dublin that it took too much out of her and interfered with her own artistic development. Mr. Yeats and I, and you yourself, thought this was a wise decision on her part. Stage management is very exhausting, and is not work for an artiste who has the artistic temperament and the desire to perfect her own art, that is, in a repertory theatre. It is not like rehearsing one piece that is in the run for months. I could not attempt to write at a time I am looking after plays, nor could Mr. Yeats. It is not mechanical work, it takes oneself. I shall be all January in charge and either Mr. Yeats or someone else after that. As you know, everything is in a fluid state with us just now, and we do not want to run into new expenses, that is why we are giving so much of our own time, but we cannot do this always, and meanwhile Miss Allgood must not be sacrificed. Of course, her help is of the greatest possible use.”

All this seems such a long, long time away!

Some letters also from William Fay to me after he left us, (Feb. 1903) telling of his engagement by Frohman of New York, and asking leave to play Rising of the Moon, asking what royalty (but I would take none). “Will you remember me to Mr. Gregory and his wife? With grateful remembrance of all your kindness to my wife and myself. William G. Fay.”

We had trouble later about this, but it was Frohman’s fault, advertising them, with these two little one-act plays, as the Irish Theatre Company.

March 14. A letter to-day from Yeats, “Beautiful summer weather at Rapallo,” and he and George are “recovering from our winter ailments accordingly.” He says: “I have written seven poems, 16 or 18 lines each, since Feb. 6th, and never wrote with greater ease. The poems are ‘Meditations’ for ‘A Packet for Ezra Pound,’ which Lolly is printing, and the first five ‘Twelve Poems for Music.’ The getting away from all the distractions has enriched my imagination. I wish I had done it years ago. Antheil is here and has started on a musical setting for The Hawk’s Well, On Baile’s Strand, and the new version of The Only Jealousy, which I call ‘Fighting the Waves.’ If he persists and he is at present enthusiastic, it means a performance in Siena in the autumn. He has a great name there since his setting of Œdipus a few months ago. He is a revolutionary musician—there was a riot of almost Abbey intensity over some music of his in America. (There will be masks, and all singing within the range of the speaking voice—for my old theories are dogmas, it seems, of the new school.) His setting of ‘Fighting the Waves’ should be ready for Miss de Valois to do in Dublin in May. He is about 28 and looks 18 and has a face of indescribable innocence. His wife, a first violinist from somewhere or other, looks equally young and innocent. Both are persons of impulse and he may or he may not get through the month of toil upon the three plays. He promises to keep the instruments required for the ‘Fighting of the Waves’ written to range of the Abbey. During the fight in Œdipus at Colonus (he did both plays) there were twelve pianos played at once.”

March 16. Yesterday my birthday—my 77th. I had never expected or wished to live to such an age, knowing my strength must be near its waning to “labour and sorrow.” Yet I am glad to be here, for this, the children’s home since birth, is open to them still, if not so attractive at Easter as in the shooting season. And as far as health and strength go, now that late trouble is over, I am wonderfully well, walking a good deal, no aches or pains. Deafness no doubt a trouble. I miss much of what is being said, and shrink from a “trumpet” because I think it makes people feel they are expected to speak into it—that more than the ordinary easy momentary flow of chat is needed.

As to work, I began listlessly and mechanically copying scraps from my letters to Yeats, (that he had kept in little cases, but undated and without envelopes, and I myself had not dated them,) but now I think I shall have gathered enough of the history of the Abbey to make at least a chapter in my autobiography or to publish separately, if need be. It is sad having to leave out the accounts of Miss Horniman on the warpath, though I may copy one for use in the far future.

Oct. 23 (London). Plays. The Huntingtons took me to Silver Tassie. I had written to Sean O’Casey hoping to go and see him. But he answered, (to care of Mrs. Phillimore,) “The production has made my mind a flood again with thoughts about the play’s rejection by the Abbey Directors, and bitterness would certainly enter into things I would say about W. B. Yeats and L. Robinson, if we were to meet, bitterness that would hurt you, and I am determined to avoid hurting you as much as possible. Recently, I have had to make four English papers contradict statements attributed to W. B. Yeats that were made, it is said, at a house party on a wet Irish night, in a place called Kilcurragh, Co. Wicklow. And before me is another contradiction of a statement made in an American literary journal about the ‘public disassociation’ by W. B. Yeats from the ‘naturalism’ of The Silver Tassie. So, knowing how I feel, and guessing what I would say about the many literary and artistic shams squatting in their high places in Dublin, I feel it would be much better to set aside for the present the honour and pleasure of seeing you and talking with you. Affectionately yours, Sean.”

And the Huntingtons taking me to see the Tassie; I am convinced we ought to have taken it and done our best to put it on, and make such cuts of the bad language as he would allow I have written to Yeats and sent O’Casey a copy of my words, “I believe we should have taken it—we could not have done the chanted scene so well, it is very moving, but we could have done the other acts better.” For it was a grief to me to see the mixed company in these—the hero “Harry”—a solid Englishman—the kitchen scene played by miscellaneous actors old and new. Barry Fitzgerald in an exaggerated farcical situation, under a bed and in a bed. It all pained me. I have written to him copying the sentence I had written to Yeats.

G.B.S. said later, “Lady Gregory and I saw this play (The Apple Cart) together and she liked it better than I did.” It is extremely clever, the tossing of the plates of conversation, the battledore and shuttlecock of talk. But my mind goes back to The Tassie—we ought not to have rejected it. We should have held out against Lennox Robinson that last evening the order to return it was given.

Nov. 6 (Belfast). Grand Central Hotel. I came here on Monday, my first visit to the North since I came to Donegal as bridesmaid to A. Olphert—how many years ago!

This city is ugly and rain helps its gloom. But the first night’s audience very enthusiastic and such calls for “Speech!” that I appeared and made a short one. The Newsletter, says I advanced to the footlights and “in a low voice which was yet full of power, thanked Belfast. . . . Art and Literature knew no Border, was her remark, as she thanked the audience and said ‘I hope the play moved you as it moved me’.” (Autumn Fire.) Last night, as there was likelihood of another call, I made off before the end of the play. Dolan’s beautiful acting brings much applause, but it is a gloomy tragedy.

Poor George Shiels motored to a friend’s house to meet me. He is browner, healthier-looking than I expected. His brother and sister live with him now. He had seemed lonely and dispirited after his mother’s death.

Nov. 20. Yeats writes offering to “see anyone for you”, but happily I do not need that for he says “I over-tired myself yesterday and to-day I have coughed up blood again.” And he looks forward to Rapallo quiet. “I shall finish the philosophy for I cannot face verse yet though I have no lack of themes. I caught the cold that undid me at the Apple Cart, and perhaps it was the cold coming on, but I hated the play, the second act very theatrical in the worst sense of the word in writing and in acting, and the theme just rich enough to show up the superficiality of the treatment. It was the Shaw who writes letters to the papers and gives interviews, not the man who creates. That’s the only play I’ve seen.”

Dec. 30. Standard Hotel. I came up yesterday, waiting three hours in Mullingar waiting-room—large and quiet and with a good fire. And arriving here I had a cup of Bovril and made for the Abbey—such a large audience for Juno there was no seat for me! I had a chair put on the stage, at the side, and saw the first act from there. And sat on Larchet’s orchestra chair for the second, and then, being tired, came back. Such a delight that great audience! And a delight seeing Barry Fitzgerald back! I had tea with him this afternoon after the matinée.

Barry Fitzgerald could not tell me much about Sean O’Casey but says he must have been disappointed, the Tassie only ran eight weeks and did not pay its expenses. He is to get £1,000 from “Talkie” of Juno. Barry Fitzgerald has promised to go back to London for a revue Cochran has written, but does not mean to desert the Abbey. He says he is less tied at home now, one brother dead this year, and his mother lives with another brother. And he has resigned the Civil Service and is free. (But once they get our actors there, as Sally, they don’t let them go. I think I must write an epilogue about old, old men and women tottering in to a half-forgotten scene, to be ready for them when they do come back at last!)

Feb. 15, 1930. Barry Fitzgerald writes from London: “T am hard at work rehearsing but the little I have to do with the show doesn’t give me the smallest chance of showing my quality. It’s very poor stuff, very ugly work after the Abbey. I wish I had finished with it.” I wish he had! And he says, “I dined with Sean O’Casey on Sunday last. He is in good health but is still depressed, I think.”

George Shiels writes, glad of the success of Peter:

“For Rutherford Mayne’s sake I am heartily glad as he encouraged me at a critical time to ‘keep at it.’ If he has opened a new seam, as they say in mining, he should be a great acquisition to the Abbey. I hope you were able to see the play. Alas! I see but little and I fear a visit to Dublin is impossible. I used to tug at my chain and long for freedom, but now I am almost a willing prisoner. Your visit and that of the Abbey Company to Belfast has stirred things up in the North, there is much talk of a Little Theatre for Belfast.”

Feb. 20. Moylan, Secretary of the Playwrights’ Association, writes:

“I must say I think your generosity is being abused by the large number of claims made on you for free performances. In the last two months there have been more free performances of your plays than paid ones. At present I am fighting a troupe who played Workhouse Ward to get up funds for a local brass band, and a hall which refuses to answer letters. Every time permission is given for a free performance that permission is utilised to bring pressure to bear on other authors. . . . I refuse every one of them on principle as every writer has his or her own private charities which have first call.” He is quite right and I have promised to refuse all. I haven’t told him that I had agreed to return the money privately to some! But, indeed, I think I have given enough now to these stray purposes.




Lady Gregory never meddled in politics, she did not aspire to be a Countess Markievicz or a Maud Gonne. As a woman of the world, the world to which her husband, Sir William Gregory, belonged, (though when she married him he was no longer an M.P.,) she took some small interest in English politics, but only as they affected or might affect Ireland. Irish politics touched her to the heart. For English readers of these pages it is, perhaps, useful to recall briefly a sequence of events.

The betrayal of Parnell, the resultant split in the Home Rule movement in 1891, the foundation of the Gaelic League in 1893, the centenary celebrations of the Insurrection of 1798 in 1898, all combined to divert the young men of that time away from the Irish Parliamentarian Movement and back to the principles of the Fenians and the Young Irelanders, and this tendency was given form and consistency by the foundation in 1899 of the United Irishman, edited and largely written by Arthur Griffith, a political writer of the first rank, who promulgated in 1904, in its columns, a policy of self-reliance and passive resistance for Ireland as an alternative to insurrection or parliamentarianism. The various clubs and organisations then existing on the separatist side were drawn together and amalgamated in 1906 into one organisation, Sinn Fein, and one policy, the Sinn Fein policy, whose declared object was Irish independence; the minimum it was prepared to consider was that Irish Constitution of 1782, which had, by the English Renunciation Act of 1783, been declared “for ever after unquestioned and unquestionable” and which proposed to withdraw Irish representation from the British Parliament and build up Ireland from within. The encouragement given in England to the threat of a separate Ulster Government, the toleration by the Judicature and arming of an Ulster Volunteer Force (1912-1914), all avowedly for the purpose of preventing Home Rule, led to the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913-14, and to their arming. The upheaval of the European War in 1914 further worsened the Irish situation. The Home Rule Bill, which had been introduced in 1912 and passed its final reading in 1913, was suspended, the Ulster wrecking movement was encouraged, and, under the Defence of the Realm Act, freedom of speech and freedom of expression were denied to the Irish Nationalist. Mr. John Redmond, by offering Ireland’s assistance to England at the outbreak of the war, outraged Irish Nationalist sentiment and lost all influence with the younger men.

In April-1916 an Insurrection (which we Irish call a “Rising”) took place, mainly in the city of Dublin. An Irish Republic was proclaimed, there was bitter fighting, the leaders of the Insurrection finally surrendered and there were fifteen executions, finally Sir Roger Casement’s bringing the number to sixteen.

Lady Gregory’s reactions to this do not appear in her Journals, which begin a few years later. The Rising was organised by a comparatively small body of people and was mainly resented, but the executions caused a wave of feeling of sympathy which grew in force and intensity during the following years. English law was defied openly and covertly. Men went on hunger-strike in prison and died—notably the Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney. A large force of English soldiers had to try and maintain law and order, though there was Irish order and Irish law administered by Sinn Fein. Finally in 1919 the English resorted to terrorist methods. The Great War was over and officers and soldiers were easy to obtain and were drafted in large numbers to Ireland. At first, hastily equipped, their uniform was a mixture of khaki and police uniforms and we called them the “Black-and-Tans,” after the name of the Scarteen Hunt. They terrorised certain districts, notably the counties of Galway, Cork and Limerick, and Dublin itself. Lady Gregory lived in the middle of one of the districts which suffered most bitterly. The little country town of Gort was only a few miles from her door; otherwise her district was a country of small villages and placid farms, a country not free from agrarian trouble but, on the whole, law-abiding. She wrote of the Black-and-Tans’ deeds in a series of articles published in the English weekly, The Nation, writing them anonymously not from lack of personal courage but because she wanted to preserve Coole unburnt for her grandson. She wrote, as we shall see, copiously in her Journals.


Sept, 17, 1919. On Saturday several of the Gort shops were searched. We were told how the police gathered around Stephenson’s, waiting for him to get up, which he did not until 11 o’clock.

Three police came here to know “if we knew anything more about Ballinamantane.” I said we did not, but there was a rumour that the planks had been taken and put down as a dancing floor for the Sunday dance in the tent at Kiltartan Cross. They asked if J. would be willing to come there and identify the planks—I said I was certain he would not, as it would stir up the anger of every young man in the parish. They said they supposed it would.

I took them to the garden for some apples and damsons—they liked them very much, and tried to get some into their pockets, but I said their costumes did not seem to have been made for such purposes, and I would send them in a basket, which much pleased them. I told them the country would never be right till there is a National Government that honest people will support, for now no one will give up ill-doers to justice, lest they should be helping the police and the soldiers and the English—all felt to be in the same basket. They quite agreed and hoped a settlement would soon come. Sept. 27. I went to see Mrs. Childers. Erskine is in Ireland, looking for a Dublin house where they will settle. She gave me an account of the gun-running (guns brought from Belgium to Howth for the Irish Volunteers, 1914), looking so delicate and fragile, she is kept in bed. It was Mary Spring-Rice’s idea and they got a yacht and Darrell Figgis went over and bought the guns in Liège, and they waited for them off Dover. “The British Navy was all about and I went downstairs with two sailors and we packed away the bunks and fittings to make room for the guns . . . then the tug came and they were transferred to us. When one bundle was being lowered to us the sailors who held it said ‘this is ammunition—it will explode if it touches anything.’ We went up on the Welsh coast and lay outside Milford Haven, afraid of Customs officers. Then for Holyhead and across to Ireland and sailed about the bay and outside Howth till the boat came, when Erskine said, ‘I am going to do it.’ It was just the hour when the tide was highest. We saw someone run up to a height and wave to us as a signal. It was a young officer whose name I cannot tell. . . . Then we saw the Volunteers coming down and when they saw us they broke into a run. The guns that had taken six hours to get on board were unloaded in a few minutes. As we left there were cheers for ‘the lady at the helm’—it had been put into my hand.”

“Some members of the Government thanked us when we came back to London, they said it was the best thing that could have been done, to show the South could take up arms as well as Ulster.”

Oct. 12. Una Pope-Hennessy came, excited from her visit to Belfast—the bigotry of some, the Nationalism of others—an old colonel saying at the meeting, “I don’t care what you call them, Sinn Feiners or Nationalists or Dominion Home Rulers, they are all milk from the one cow, all traitors and scoundrels,” and she had brought a Liberal English M.P. to see Biggar who had been talking so reasonably on the Nationalist side; but when the M.P. asked him what they would like to do, he said, “to cut the wrists off you so you’d have to leave go.”

June 30, 1920. B.C. hears the constable at Ardrahan was shot coming from church yesterday (the holy day!) but not killed. Also that no police or military were at Peterswell Races but that perfect order was kept and there were a few arrests made by the Volunteers. He thinks the kidnapping of General Lucas “the best thing ever I heard since I was born!” And it delights me also, but he says “Shooting a policeman is a holy crime.”

July 3. Curley the Piper came. Says at Ballaghadereen Races there were no police—Sinn Fein took things in haul. The public-houses were opened from 11 to 12 and closed for the rest of the day. “Only one poor publican allowed to sell porter on the course—no whiskey—and you might die for want of a drink in the evening.” Also they have seized and broken up the stills in Mayo. Tim is glad the Ardrahan policeman was only wounded. He has “ever and always heard that any man that does a murder—takes away a man’s life—can never close his eyes again when he sleeps.”

July 5. This evening fine, and in garden and quite late I found slugs were eating the little chrysanthemums whose lives I had saved when Tim was throwing them out, and I came in to Marian who scraped down some soot, and I went out again in the rain and saved many lives of plants, and Mike returning from Gort says he was speaking to some of the real Sinn Feiners and that they intend trying both to get back the chimney-pieces and other things stolen from Ballinamantane and to arrange that the grazing would be let. I had been praying very hard for this last night—at least for peace and “the coming of Thy Kingdom—in Coole—in Kiltartan—in Ireland.”

July 27. Stories of shootings and burnings by the military always. To-day Mrs. Scovell coming in, says houses were burned in and near Kinvara last night.

Arabella (Lady Gregory’s sister) wrote from Galway, 21st: “At 11 o’clock last night the maids heard shots at a distance. They say it was the police attacking Lee’s pub. over the way which is decorated with a line of Sinn Fein colours, and that they knocked at the door, (besides firing at windows,) and Miss Lee who was alone in the house, her brother sleeping elsewhere, (to hide, possibly,) had to come down in her nightdress to let them in, they then helped themselves to drink. I hear the bullet marks are there but have not heard the other side yet. Probably they got some provocation, in any case it was a savage act.”

She writes, 23rd: “Glad Richard was away last night for, at 11 o’clock, firing, at 11.15 a great crash, probably a lot of shots, but it sounded like a wall falling. The postman said a house nearly opposite Deasy’s fish shop has been fired into. It is next door to Walsh’s pub that had been attacked the night before and belonged to a man who left Brennan’s Drapery and set up a drapery of his own and had “Outfitter to the Republicans” over his door. A raid at Post Office (in this street) to-day. Two armed men with rifles, soldiers, were standing at the door. I do not know if they found anything, probably not, as Brown (Postmistress’s husband) has gone out of the country and probably took his papers. He is a Judge of the Republican Court.”

And again, 25th: “Last night J. Lee’s pub, nearly opposite here, was raided. The house was empty as the old sister and little niece who were there when it was attacked before now sleep elsewhere. Lee has not slept there for some time. The lower windows were well fastened so a ladder was brought and they got in through upper windows, broke up things, set taps of bar and spirits running and stole chairs which they threw out of top windows. We hear The Galway Express office has again been entered and everything broken up. They were a whole day at Queen’s College but it was a legal military entrance. What kept them so long was that Doctor Walsh refused to open the safe, and they gave him till 5 o’clock. I did not hear if there was anything found there. Doctor Walsh was arrested but let go again as they had no evidence.”

Sept. 11. Terence MacSwiney’s long dying makes me suffer. I read the service for “a sick person,” though there seems but little chance of his recovery, night and morning, and have ordered the Abbey to be closed should he die, but that is little to do.

Sept. 28. Yesterday evening I came home. I had been told that Feeney’s house in Kinvara had been burned in the night—the Sunday night—and we passed by the ruined walls in the town. A little farther, at the crossroads, there was another ruin—McInerney the smith. His house had also been burned down in the night by soldiers and police. He and his family had found shelter in the cart shed. It seemed so silent, we had always heard the hammer in the smithy and seen the glow of the fire. And he was such a good smith. I remember Robert used to send his hunters to him. “One of his sons was said to be secretary to a Sinn Fein Committee.”

To-day Malachi Quinn came to ask for sand for the building up of Burke’s house at Ballymacwiff—burnt also by military and police. They had come to look for one of the sons and he was not there. Then they told Burke to take whatever money he had out of the house and then set fire to it. First I said I must ask Margaret’s leave for the sand and wrote to her. Then I tore up the letter and gave leave. There were children in the house, Malachi has taken two of them to his. They say Gort would have been burnt on Saturday by drunken soldiers arriving from Ennistymon, but three of the old police restrained them.

Sept. 30. I was quite ill, could not sleep or eat after the homecoming—the desolation of that burnt forge—and all one hears. Edward Martyn’s beautiful little village-hall burnt down. C. Griffin says on Monday night two lorries of military came into Gort “firing and shouting, and the people brought out their furniture from their houses expecting the burnings to begin.” “Black-and-Tans and police and military” burned Burke’s house. “An officer with them. But are there any gentlemen among them?” Griffin takes their part, says it brought tears to his eyes when five bodies of policemen were carried through Gort, one only twenty-five. Terrible on both sides, but it was in Clare they had been shot. Police say they were fired at near Ardrahan, but not wounded or killed—that was the excuse for the Sunday burnings.

Oct. 4. Volunteers here about land, but only wanted to know details, acreage, etc. . . . I asked about the Black-and-Tans, if it was true they drank; they said, “Yes; they arrived drunk and drank in most of the bars while they were there. They stole in Gort many things—a bicycle and such-like—and would have done more but we have a good District Inspector who kept them back.”

Oct. 5. John Diveney took my letter to McInerney. They told him the attacking party had come about midnight and had begun by firing into the kitchen through the windows, but that they thanked God there was no one there. Then they broke in and dragged the boys out, ordered them all out and poured oil about and set fire to the house. One of the soldiers had told the wife to go back and save her money and clothes and she was going in, but a policeman dragged her back. They had saved nothing at all.

Oct. 9. Yesterday afternoon Anne had a fall from Black Pony, who shied at the sight of Catherine picking berries in the bushes. Poor little Annikin, her elbow looked bad and I sent for the doctor; he came and said it was dislocated. He had brought, as I asked him, chloroform and gave her some sniffs, and she did not feel the setting and is better to-day—but we have put off going back to Burren and she needs much care. He was at Athenry when our messenger got to his house, and didn’t get here till 9.30. He said he had been held up at Clarenbridge while a party of Black-and-Tans went through the village, firing indiscriminately into houses. In one house they fired up through the ceiling. They ended by going into a public-house, drinking eleven glasses of whiskey and throwing down a shilling as payment. He spoke of the “reprisals” when Burke’s and McInerney’s and other houses were burnt down—“There was no ambush of policemen, there was not a shot fired at one. One of the police who went to Drumhasna that night told me that when they got there they saw three men walking in the fields. They followed them, trying to come up with them. On the way they found in a quarry two revolvers, that might have been left there by anyone, for there are many hiding their weapons now. Then they fired at the three men, there were no shots fired back, that was all the firing. There was no ambush. That was all the excuse they had for the burnings.”

He has just been again this evening to see Anne. When he came down he said, “Those Black-and-Tans that were in Clarenbridge went on to Maree that is a couple of miles further. They dragged three men out of their houses there and shot them. They are not dead, they were wounded. I was sent for to attend them. Then they set fire to some of the houses and burned them down.” I asked if anything had happened there, if these were “reprisals,” and he said, “Nothing, except that a good while ago, last year, a policeman was disarmed there but not hurt.” He said, “I used not to believe the stories of English savagery whether written or told. I thought they were made up by factions, but now I see that they are true.” He said also, “They are savages—they are out for loot. In Galway they went into Whelan’s Medical Hall and took a fancy to a Kodak, but it was £5 and they said that that was too dear. In the night they came back, broke the window and took it. And the next night they brought it back broken and took another. I told Whelan he ought to make a public complaint, but he said, ‘They would break in every night of the week if I did that!’ ”

Gort is quieter. Glynn says, “It is the police are the worst, they are always drunk now they have nothing to do.”

The Black-and-Tans had superseded the R.I.C.; on the other hand the keeping of law and order was more or less maintained by the Sinn Fein organisations.

Oct. 24. We were at church—a congregation of five. A strange Litany astonished me, then Mrs. X. sent a copy across. I tried to join in and indeed might have, but it was so manifest that the crimes of murder and superstition and other sins prayed against were set down as those of Ireland that it seemed almost an exoneration of “those appointed for the government of this land.”

I am reading Garibaldi’s “Defence of the Roman Republic”: very comforting because many a praise of Italy’s fighters and martyrs taken from its contents could stand as justly for ours. “Men who would have been called to make her laws and lead her armies and write “her songs and history when their day came, but that they judged it becoming to die there in order that her day should come.” I go on saying daily the prayers for the Lord Mayor to Him “with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, after they are delivered from their earthly prisons.”

Oct. 26. Mrs. X. called, stayed some time talking of “country newses” from the English point of view, then incidentally said, “The Lord Mayor is dead—there has been a wire.”

I said, “He was a brave man.”

She gave a superior smile.

I got up and opened the window and spoke of Catherine’s copybook and didn’t sit down again, and she left and I looked at the hills for a while, towards the west. “It is not a little thing a man to die, and he protecting his neighbour.”

Oct. 30. Yesterday Punch had a caricature of “The Irish Volunteer Army,” that degraded type that helped the bitterness in the Land War and before. I felt the Lord Mayor had not given his life in vain if only to contradict that, for his portrait must be also in those Dublin papers, they say in all the American ones.

Nov. 3. Arabella writes, “The milk girl says a young woman was shot yesterday at Kiltartan by a lorry of passing military—it seems dreadful—they are very careless with guns.” Then Ellen told me it was Malachi Quinn’s young wife who had been shot dead—with her child in her arms. Ellen says her mother’s house, near Athenry, was broken into by military the other night; she was made to get out of bed, but was not assaulted. Poor Malachi Quinn, he had trouble enough to bear and was sad last week when he came to see me. . . .

The Doctor says it is dangerous now to be on the road, and it was dangerous to stay in the house at night.

Nov. 5. We came back from Burren, late, for rain had kept us back. John had been the two nights at Malachi’s house—says the little children said, “Mama’s asleep.” Malachi was in Gort when it happened—they sent for him—Marian had been there also, says “you could take up the three little children in your arms together”—and there was another coming. There were eighty-nine cars at the funeral. “Burning would be too good for the Black-and-Tans,” John says. Tim says they have been firing continuously as they pass, his sick daughter cannot sleep. “The day they killed Mrs. Quinn they had fired at Donoghue’s house as they passed and killed some fowl—it is to show their authority,” Tim says. They say now that it was not done by them, but the dying woman herself was the witness—told her mother and the priest that she had been shot by the Black-and-Tans. “They fired at Callinan’s house as they passed on, and broke the windows. The old police in Gort are ashamed of them. They stopped a man the other day turning up the road and robbed him of £50; he had just sold calves and was bringing it home.”

“Malachi cannot stand alone—has to be led ‘linked.’ They were so happy, they had just got in the harvest, just dug the potatoes and threshed the corn and were ready for the winter.” Nov. 6. A letter from poor Malachi in answer to mine. “My God, it is too cruel.”

Nov. 9. Malachi Quinn came to see me looking dreadfully worn and changed and his nerves broken, he could hardly speak when he came in. There had been aeroplanes flying very low over the place all day, and as he came from Raheen one had swooped and fired three shots over him. He believes they shot her on purpose—they came so close. He was so fond of his wife, “she could play every musical instrument.”

Nov. 18. The children were in the wood cutting sticks and heard a great many shots close together. Swift told them it was the Black-and-Tans.

I was so angry at the official report of Eileen Quinn’s shooting—beginning “the enquiry was open to all but few chose to attend it.” I had heard that none but the family and the witnesses were allowed to it and I asked the Archdeacon after church if he had heard it and he said, “No, no one was allowed in but the witnesses. I sat outside with ——.” I forget whom.

Nov. 20. Dr. Foley here yesterday. The family of the girls violated by the Black-and-Tans wish it to be hushed up. There has been another case of the same sort in Clare—but there also it is to be kept quiet. Peterswell has been undergoing its reprisals.

A man the Doctor had long known—an old Land Leaguer—had come to the dispensary to have his back treated. “I think there was hardly a worse scourging given to our Lord—the whole back black and blue with bruises and the blood drawn in some places.” Other men there were beaten: “one thrown on a dung heap—a Black-and-Tan put one foot on his face to press it into the dung and another on his stomach. And then he and others treated the same way were thrown into the village well to wash themselves.”

“There is an old man of seventy living at the side of the mountain. He had come down to the village and went into Hayes’ public-house. He had 18/6 in his pocket—a Black-and-Tan came in and called ‘Hands up!’ He put up his hands and the Black-and-Tan took the 18/6 out of his pocket and walked out with it.”

“I am told no one but witnesses were allowed into the Quinn enquiry. The President of the Court looked like a gentleman and was well-mannered, but after the first he had nothing to say, an officer with a dark countenance and a Scotch accent took it all into his hands and the other seemed afraid of him. The Archdeacon sat outside on a bench, with Father Considine. The Head-Constable was in the house while Mrs. Quinn was still alive, but asked for no statement from her. It is their custom to do that even when I told them a patient wasn’t fit for it.”

I was just sitting down to write this when “Mr. Nevinson” was announced and came in, with a Dr. Watson. He is writing for The Daily Herald. They had just come from Scariff where those four young men were shot in trying to escape the day before yesterday. He is certain they were not trying to escape—the shooting was on a bridge, where they certainly would not have been—he is sure they were shot in cold blood. They stayed the night—pleasant visitors as we talked of many other things—and it is a great relief to my mind that these horrors are being made known by so competent a writer.

He said, “Those Nation articles of yours have been of the greatest use.” I said, “They are not known to be mine,” and he said, “Oh no, but I know.”

Dr. Foley told me some of what he had said to me had been recognised by a friend of his. He said I was welcome to tell all he told me, that it ought to be made known. But he thinks if the Black-and-Tans hear I am doing this, revenge and loot may bring them here.

Nov. 15. Una Pope-Hennessy writes about Terence MacSwiney: “You could not see the face of that man in his coffin without feeling the most awful moral wrong had been done—it overwhelmed you.”

Nov. 18. Arabella writes from Galway that there had been a raid in the University and some students who had not saluted the flag there were made to do so. The paper says, “forced to uncover while the National Anthem was sung.”

Nov. 22. I began to compose a letter about getting compensation (!) for poor Malachi Quinn. He had been on Saturday evening to ask me to help towards this. I had consulted the Archdeacon after church and he did not think it possible because it was not “malicious injury,” and said “the bullet if fired in the air might have come perpendicularly down and struck her.” (I said it was odd if the fowl at Mrs. Donoghue’s next door had also been perpendicularly struck.)

Nov. 23. Esther says the Black-and-Tans have been very busy round Athenry; many young men—three friends of hers amongst them—were dragged out and whipped with a thong. Her sister’s house was raided one night, in search of two young men, but they weren’t there. They have told the mother of one of them that if her son is not given up her house will be burned. She reports no trains running at Athenry—and rumours of “great killings” in Dublin. To-day we have no post save one card from Galway—no paper. “There was great firing on the road last night,” the maids frightened, “30 shots a minute,” M.J. said.

Nov. 24. That news of the murder of officers in Dublin is terrible—and of the firing on the crowd. We seem to have grown used to the taking from their homes and shooting the young men of the countryside by “uniformed men,” but these killings in Dublin seemed more terrible for a moment, yet they are in the same list, on the same basis.

Marian went to pay the bills in Gort yesterday. They told her the Highlanders had come there and had “done bad work the evening before, beating men, driving them before them, following them even into the chapel, till the Clerk locked the door. All the shops had to be shut—no one was allowed to go into a house after it had been shut unless he had a key—man or woman.”

Peter Glynn to-day says to me they are a “bad crowd—they beat women and children as well as men, with the butts of their rifles.” The postman told Marian this morning that the officers of the Highlanders told the people last night it would be on their own heads if anything happened, as the men “are let go free to do what they like for their last evening in the town.” So everyone left the street and shops and houses were all locked.

Nov. 25. Mr. F. motored from Galway yesterday. He began, “What do you say to the murder of the Dublin officers? When I read of it I saw ‘red’—I wished to go out and kill someone.” And so on. I said it had made me feel sick with its horror and that it was perhaps from its being nearer one’s own class, and perhaps to me the Gresham surroundings, where I sometimes stay, that made it into a vivid horror and shock—and after a while as we talked I said perhaps those whose own sons or friends or kindred had been seized at night and dragged out and shot would feel their tragedy more terrible—though in substance it is the same. And I quoted my King Brian, “Death answering to Death like the clerks answering one another at the Mass,” and to myself I wondered why the English should claim the monopoly of the scarlet vision. I told him also of that old man scourged at Peterswell. He said he thought the floggings worse than the murders. I said they were worse, for the characters of those who inflicted them—a shot might be fired in the heat of passion, but it is always a question if even schoolmasters, even parents, can be trusted where beating is concerned, and now the weapon in the hands of the stranger, and those coarse men let loose to flog who they would, strangers to them, and often innocent of a crime—must be brutalised by such actions. He agreed or seemed to and spoke fairly enough against reprisals and in favour of a settlement.

To-day we hear Father T. has had a typed threatening letter (although the Chief Secretary had spoken with approval in Parliament of his sermon against crime); his protest against Mrs. Quinn’s death and his evidence have given offence. Nov. 26. I went to Gort to have my signature witnessed by the Commissioner for Oaths. He said Father T’s letter ordered him to leave the town within twenty-four hours. I asked about the Highlanders. He said that on Monday night some of them who had been drinking had gone through the streets beating those they met, with their rifles. Hogan, the solicitor, has been arrested in Loughrea. Michael came back from Gort. He passed a lorry with “four boys from Gort in it, military with them, and a lorry of police behind, and flags flying.” Peter says that the Scotch are still in the town, they “wouldn’t be as bad as they are but their officers are bad—letting them get drunk and beating all they meet. To be beaten on the back, and the neck, and to have a prod of a rifle in the head, a man might as well be dead. There could be no worse happen out in Turkey. I don’t know in the world what to say to the world—it’s a holy fright.”

Dec. 3. Whispers on the countryside tell of anxiety, Marian tells me, about the two Shanaglish boys who were taken away and have not been heard of. And the men who took them—military or Black-and-Tans—came back with them to Coen’s in Gort, and bought a rope.

Dec. 4. J. says it is feared there was “bad work”—that the two Loughnane boys from Shanaglish were done away with. “A man, MacGill, took notice where a lorry had turned on the road, where it was narrow, and had knocked down part of the wall. He wondered to see it broken and looked behind it and there were two boys lying, their heads near one another, and dark clothes on them. He went home and it was three days before he could rise from the bed. He told others and when some went to look there after, the bodies were gone and no word of them.”

Dec. 5. The Mason here says the Black-and-Tans have come back to Shanaglish, after two days, looking for the Loughnanes, said they had escaped, and everyone believes they were done away with. “It is drink that urges them.” He saw the lorries leaving Gort the day Mrs. Quinn was shot, the B.-&-T.s in their car firing, and two of them were lying back “lifeless, as if drunk.”

Dec. 6. J. says, “There was news brought to him last night that the bodies of those two Loughnane boys were found near Murty Sheehan’s cross roads in a pond that is back from it, towards Ballindereen. It is said they had no clothes on them, and had the appearance of being choked. It looks very bad, but those Black-and-Tans can do what they like, and no check on them. Look how the Head-Constable was afraid to take a deposition from Mrs. Quinn before she died and he was in the house.”

Going to the woods with J., he says, “At my dinner hour I met two boys from Shanaglish. It is true about the Loughnanes. Friends had gone to the place where they were found and saw the bodies and they knew them although they could not be sure what way they met their death. The flesh was as if torn off the bones. God help the poor mother! There is one sister but no boy left in the house.”

Dec. 7. Marian hears the two Loughnane boys could not be recognised—that the bodies looked as if they had been dragged after the lorries. “When the men in the lorry came to Coen’s shop for the rope they took a bottle of whiskey too and when he asked for payment all they did was to point a revolver at him. The bodies were brought home last night. When they passed through Gort at six o’clock the dead-bells were ringing. God help the poor mother, that is a widow!”

Father T. has sent in a notice that any sick calls in the night-time are to be sent to the other priest for he himself will be fired at if he goes out. He knows why they are threatening him and will tell it by and by.

J. says, “The two funerals passed last night going to Shanaglish. I don’t know was the mother there, but the sister went to see the bodies after they were found. She could not recognise one of them but when she saw the other she called out that it was her younger brother. It is not known for certain how they met their death. There are some who say they were burned. For Murphy went out into the pond after they were found, to bring them in, and when he took hold of the hand of one of them in came off in his hand. They are giving out that they had to do with the Castle Daly murder, but it’s strange that if they knew it was boys so far off, they burned the houses that were near.”

M. says, “It is said when they were taken they gave impudence to the Black-and-Tans. It will never be known what way they died. There is no one dare ask a question. But the work they are doing will never be forgotten in Ireland.”

Dec. 8. Marian, having been at Mass, says lorries packed with military are passing. “Those boys there were winnowing at their mother’s house when they were taken, they had been looked for before but had been away, but came back. It is said the mother came to Gort Barracks and asked where they were and was told they were safe in prison. Another whisper is that the police or soldiers came back a day or two after they had taken them and said they had escaped, asked if they had come home.”

Swift doesn’t know how they met with their death but says “those Black-and-Tans are a terrible class. One of the old police in Gort said to me the other day as I went to draw my pension, pointing at one of them, ‘That is what we have to put up with now!’ The standard reduced, little chaps of 5 foot 6—and with no character. There are two in Gort that were sent up from Kilcolgan where they were suspected of having stolen £120. Filling their pockets from the people in the name of law and order.”

M.J. says, “That plumber that comes here told me he heard one of them say he was put in gaol for seven years for killing his wife but had only served two of them.”

Tim and Glynn working in the garden tell of the Loughnane boys. Tim says, “It would break your heart to see that funeral, the two hearses and the poor mother between them. She came from her house but she could not recognise her sons. She had come to the barracks before that, looking for tidings of them, and some say she got none and some say she was told they were at Renmore Barracks, and the next day she got tidings they were found. Some say that one of them was bayoneted through the heart. Such a thing could hardly happen in savage lands out in Turkey.” J. says, “There was an enquiry at the Barracks yesterday and we heard nothing since. It is hard to know what happened. There is no one dare trace or tell.”

The Independent gives Mr. Henry’s “printed reply” in Parliament, that “he was informed they escaped from custody and had not since been heard of.”

Dec. 13. The basket-maker says, “Yes, and children, too, they searched and a few nights ago they looted Crow Lane, going in and bringing away even clothing. They are a terrible class, we are haunted by them killing and burning and looting, whipping you off in the dead of night. Look at what they did to those Loughnane boys—and one of them come but lately from school—tying them with a rope to the lorry and burning them. And they burned Kilkelly’s barn after, because it is there they were waked, burned it to the ground. And on the Holy Day they were looking for the other Loughnane, the comrade boy, that dreamed where they were to be found, and they said if they got him he would never be at the inquest to give evidence. Worse work they are doing than ever was done by Cromwell.” (For I was told it was a cousin of those boys who dreamed their bodies were in the pond—and when one of the searchers put down his hand into the water he clasped a dead hand.) “It is the District Councillors they are looking for now—at Ballyanee. And up on the road they went to Donohoe but he was not there and they said they would call again.”

Dec. 15. News to-day of the burning of Cork.

Dec. 16. Coen says, “There are some of them leaving Drumhasnan now and coming to Ballylee. There were provisions being sent there to-day. It is likely to bring prisoners; they will find more facilities there, to bring them over the bridge and drown them in the river. For Drumhasnan is, as Cromwell said, without a tree for hanging or water for drowning. A bad class—for it is not drink that urges them—it is cruelty.”

Mr. F., motoring us to Galway, says, with pride, that fifteen officers of the Guards have volunteered to come as privates among them. I say if they have come to stay it would be an improvement to have at least gentlemen.

I see in The Times of 14th the Martial Law Order: General Macready’s “Great Britain has no quarrel with Irishmen, her sole enemies are those who have countenanced, inspired or participated in rebellion, murder or outrage”! General Tudor in the same paper, calling for recruits, “draws attention to the magnificent service which is being rendered to the Empire by the Auxiliary Division of the R.I.C. . . . their influence has been of the greatest value. With their comrades in the R.I.C. proper they are lifting the terror of the pistol from the people of Ireland.” This after Croke Park, Cork, the Loughnane brothers. Arabella says Doreen’s (her nurse) fiancé had suggested that Mrs. W. should get a permit from the Black-and-Tans.

“What for?”

“Oh, to keep them from raiding the house.”

Dec. 24. News of the invasion of Aran and three men shot. In Synge’s Playboy Peegeen Mike says, “If I’d that lad in the house I wouldn’t be fearing the loosed khaki cut-throats or the walking dead.” And the Lord Chamberlain’s Censor had ordered this passage to be cut out “together with any others that may seem derogatory to His Majesty’s Forces.” It is likely those forces are being spoken of this Christmas Eve in Aran in yet more loaded words than even Synge’s fancy could create.

Dec. 26. Father Considine preached yesterday advising the people to keep no money in their houses, “and don’t be telling me you must keep enough to run the house. If it’s taken you’ll get no satisfaction.” The Wren Boys have been here—four sets of them—not very well up in their lines about the Wren but all singing “The Soldier’s Song.”

In certain country parts of Ireland it is the custom on St. Stephen’s Day for boys to go from house to house carrying a bush decorated with coloured rags, and a dead wren. They sing and collect pennies. I heard in my youth that the custom originated from the fact that a wren sang blithely on the Cross at the Crucifixion and therefore was punished. But I believe it is a myth that goes back to pre-Christian times. The custom still persists in the Isle of Man and in certain parts of Western England. Mr. W. Walter Gill, in his Second Manx Scrap-Book, devotes nearly a hundred pages to the subject.

I quote a few verses of the ballad. Like all the best ballads it has numerous variants.

The wran, the wran, the king of all birds,

St. Stephen’s Day was cot in the furze,

Although he is little his family’s grate,

Put your hand in your pocket and give us a trate.

Sing holly, sing ivy, sing ivy, sing holly,

A drop just to drink would drown melancholy.


On Christmas Day I turned the spit;

I burned my finger: I feel it yet.

Between my finger and my thumb

There rose a blister as big as a plum.

Sing holly, etc.


A cock-sparrow flew over the table,

The dish began to fight with the ladle—

The spit got up like a naked man

And swore he’d fight with the dripping-pan;

The pan got up and cock’d his tail,

And swore he’d send them all to jail.

Sing holly, etc.

Margaret back from church says Miss Daly told Captain Turner what I had suggested about leaving out “God Save the King,” on the ground that it turns our minds to politics when it should be turned to religion. And he said, “If you do, that is very simple. I would order it on again!” Arabella writes that Dillon said in joke to a countryman coming to his shop, “Have you brought me a turkey?” and he said, “If you want turkeys it’s to Lenaboy Barracks you must go—it’s there they’ll have the queer Christmas dinner!” Marian says, “Why wouldn’t they, going into houses and taking sucking-pigs and whiskey and everything they take a fancy to and walking off with it.”

Jan. 5, 1921. Curley the Piper here—had been ill in the workhouse at Portumna, but was well treated except in tea. “Did you hear talk ever of the fair-haired tea?” But he had complained to the doctor and he had ordered the nurses “to put a colour on it” next day. “The Black-and-Tans are queer hawks, you wouldn’t like to be under them any hours at all. The less of them is the best. But I was in a herd’s house—a well-off house near Lord ffrench’s—and they came in and searched the house and brought the man away. In the night-time heard a great beating and hammering at the door and I knew what they were by the nature of their talk. I lay shivering, stretched in my little bed, but they heard me moving and did no harm. They asked me who I was and I said a poor dark man, and they asked did I carry a gun and I said I did not. They had brought a great many bottles of whiskey from some house in Ahascragh and they put them on the table and were drinking them, and they asked me did I like whiskey and I said I did not, but I’d take a little, for I was shaking with fear of them. And they filled out the full of a tea-cup and put it on the dresser and told me not to let the cat get at it, and they went away.”

Jan. 25. Yesterday with the children to Roxboro’, a very pleasant glimpse of the old home—though a little sad to look from the garden at the mountain-side, now sold. Arthur says there are poachers and timber-cutters coming in, but that there is nothing to do—no law to appeal to; he agrees that the Sinn Fein Courts were wonderful in keeping order. We passed the blackened walls of the Howleys’ House—the woman, J., does not know where are the two boys “on the run.” To-day Mr. McNichols, the Horticultural Instructor, came to give advice about pruning and said how much improved the garden was since his last visit. He is trying to get the farmers to plant more fruit trees, but they are not inclined to, in this time of unrest. He himself was anxious to be back in good time lest he might meet a lorry. He told of a day on the Headfort Road when a lorry stopped whenever it met a young man on a bicycle, and each time pulled the cyclist off, strapped and beat him, then put the bicycle under the wheels of the lorry and went on. He spoke in horror of the Loughnane case; thinks it the worst and most brutal of them all.

Jan. 29. Basket-maker here—says the Black-and-Tans have left Drumharsna, “a bad class—they hunted by night and by day, and with the wind of the word they would have set fire to many a house in Gort, but the D.I. kept them from it, and they had to content themselves with taking what they could, and destroying any picture of Pearse, or any ballad.”

“It’s time for me to go on with my ballad collection.”

“It is not,” he says. “To find one on you they might whip you away.”

Jan. 31. Peter says, “They are gone out of it now and time for them. Killings and burnings, homes destroyed and families scattered.”

Feb. 4. Yesterday, coming down with a bad cold, Murphy the mason asked to see me. Captain Blake’s (the Resident Magistrate) car had run into his cart and the mudguard was broken, and he has been asked to pay £12.5.6 for the mending. He had pulled his cart to the side of the road when he heard the motor, but it dashed on in the middle as is the R.I.C. habit. I gave him a letter testifying to his good character and industry, for with four acres (until Lisheen Cranagh was sold, when he bought a few more) he brought up his family with what he earned as a mason. He says the Black-and-Tans came one night and carried off a new bicycle of his son’s from an outhouse. It had cost £16. He put in a complaint to the Head-Constable but got nothing. Feb. 13. Mr. Johnston said the Black-and-Tans are back at Gort “on a visit.” And to-day, going to church, John tells me they burned several more houses near Kinvara—for no known reason. Mr. F. said he had dined with the officers at Ennis and they had abused the Government for not giving them their way—that is, letting them shoot fifty S.F. men for every one shot by S.F. He tried rather feebly to take their part, but Mr. Johnston said, “There are very bad lads among the Black-and-Tans.”

Feb. 14. Mrs. Watts, 13 Birch Lane, Longsight, Manchester, called. She is on a mission to find out what is going on. We had a talk and she stayed to lunch, and I then sent her to see Father Considine, as I would like her to see the mother of the Loughnane boys, and he might manage it. Tim says, (and J. the same,) “The B.-and-T.s arrived on Friday at Burke’s, Ballyvaughan, near Kinvara. Three or four boys were playing cards there, they took them out and beat them cruelly, knocking down a wall on one of them and breaking his arm. It is not certain if they burned the house; he believes they did. J.D. says Mrs. Quinn’s house, near the same place, was burned the same day with all its furniture, and that £80 hidden in the pillow of her bed was found and taken away by the invaders. No reason was given for the attack.”

Mrs. Watts says she has been looking for a Unionist to put the other side of the case but hasn’t been able to find one!

Feb. 19. Mr. F. here last night and says there has been a great scare—a bomb thrown into Eglinton barrack-yard, the explosion caused a panic. But it was thrown by a Black-and-Tan who came back drunk and was indignant at finding the gate closed. There is a bad feeling between them and the military. They burned a house down because the two boys are said to be out-and-out Sinn Feiners. But the old man, their father, had not been mixed up with it, and the military are angry because he used to supply the mess with chickens. March 2. All quiet here, but J.D. says, “A lady has been staying at Lally’s Hotel who went about, to Shanaglish and to M. Quinn’s and other places, and the police arrested her a couple of days ago and took her away.” He thought it might have been Mrs. Watts, but she had left the day after she was here. I asked again about Mrs. Quinn’s house at Caheraboneen. He says the young men were stripped naked, thrown down, a heavy stone put on their backs to keep them from moving, and then flogged—“they will never be the better for it and no one knows what it was for.” They had taken her money before burning the house. The R.M. “has a bad name. He will let poor Patrick Murphy off nothing. He came in his motor a few days ago and followed him to Lisheen Cranagh and asked did he pay the £12, and when Murphy said he was a poor man he said, ‘You’ll be a damned deal poorer before I’ve done with you—for I’ll make you pay every penny of it.’ ”

March 5. J.D. back from Gort says, “All the men carried off by the Black-and-Tans, the full of a small field, were brought up to Peterswell and a sergeant who had been wounded in the Castle Daly ambush was brought around to look at every one of them, but he could not identify anyone and so they were let go free. The Black-and-Tans were in Gort till evening, a very bad-looking troop, with little ribbons hanging from their caps and faces not shaved since Christmas, and nothing could be more drunk than they were, staggering about the street and letting their rifles drop out of their hands. If these had brought any prisoners with them they never would have reached Galway alive.”

March 17. Came up on Tuesday, and Robinson met me and came to tea. He had been to Limerick lately and one of the Carnegie Librarians told him she had been in the Courthouse, where Sinn Fein prisoners were shut up. She heard suddenly a noise that alarmed her from the prisoners’ room, and called the assistant who went in and found Black-and-Tans had broken in: one was holding a lighted match by the light of which he and others were kicking the prisoners. No one seems to have hope of the Government making efforts for peace—the hanging of the six last Monday is a bad beginning of the week.

March 20. Old Niland to-day says, “Bartley Hynes that was living up the road from Kinvara to Galway had his house burned, and the furniture and the hay and corn, by the Black-and-Tans. And there is a woman, an O’Donnell, over there in Peterswell, and she having but the one son, and they pulled him out of the bed and brought him abroad in the street and shot him, and they brought her out that she’d see him shot. And she took the son in her arms and he died in her arms. About twelve days ago that happened. They didn’t give no reason at all for what they had done. At Stanton’s house, up from Kinvara, they took £20 worth of a pig and threw it into the lorry and brought it away; and fowl they took and they burned the house, a fortnight before Patrick’s Day. It’s for robbery they are out and for killing. They were firing on Gort four nights ago, about forty shots around the street, and a bullet went by Pat Lally’s ear as he came out of his gate where he was watching ewes. They are like wild animals that come from some place, or savages out from some island. Look at the way the rates are gone up, that the less man that will have land will be the best man in the end. What way can they pay them? It was in the prophecy of Columcille that a man would pay twice but he wouldn’t pay the third time; and that he’d shoot his cow in the door before he’d give it up to them. In Cromwell’s time there wasn’t half as much done because they hadn’t the way of doing it. What was Cromwell’s army only walking Ireland? But now with their lorries there’s not one of them has to walk half a mile. And what can the Sinn Feiners do? It’s as good to be standing on the ground firing stones at the moon as to be trying to knock rights out of the Government, unless that America might come at them. And if America would stir and go out against them, sure the Japanese are watching themselves.” March 22. Power says, “The name of the Black-and-Tans will go from generations down the same as Cromwell. Out in Shanaglish they burned a picture of the Redeemer—‘Is this another Sinn Feiner?’ says one of them, and he pulled it down and threw it into the fire.”

Peter says, “The town is filled up with police and Black-and-Tans these last days. In dread they are something might happen at Easter and they have a notice put up that if anything is done the town of Gort will blaze. But there might come some change, for in England gentle and simple would seem to be wishing for peace. There was a schoolmaster in Kilchriest brought out from his house and beaten because he was teaching Irish to the children.”

April 1. Malachi Quinn was here this morning, very dissatisfied with the £300 compensation for his wife’s death, and is going on with his claim for malicious injury. He says his yard was fired into by Black-and-Tans again on the 19th February, and another day they shouted as their lorry passed the house. He had been in Galway the other day when a policeman’s funeral was going through, and as it passed the people walking in the streets were “welted with ashplants and the old people knocked over like rabbits.”

Regan said, “They talk of a gang of murderers, but the whole youth of the country is in it.”

Marian, telling me of the state of Limerick, (she has just come back after some weeks in the county), says there is no doubt at all that Lord Mayor Clancy (as well as O’Callaghan) was murdered by the Crown Forces. Everyone loved him, she says. “He taught Irish to the children in the school and if he met a child on the road would get off his bicycle and speak to it. The young men are put against walls and struck on the head and often go with bleeding wounds to be attended to in the hospital.” She was pointed out one who had never belonged to any organisation and had been treated like the rest, “his head cut open.” “That dance at the Guillamores’ house was for a fund for the boys ‘on the run.’ They had a password coming in and a spy came in one of the Auxiliaries, and when he did not give the password at the door a shot was fired and then the destruction began.” She was told of one young man, somebody like the Loughnanes, very little had been left. He had been run down by bloodhounds sent after him.

May 17. England. This morning I said to G.B.S., “I am happy to find that in spite of having travelled through the ages in your play I was still able to say my prayers.” He said, “There is bad news in the papers, but Margaret is not hurt,” and told me of the shooting of Captain Blake and his wife and the two officers, and then I saw a telegram for me from Margaret, “sole survivor of five murdered in ambushed motor.” It was a bad shock, the thought of the possibilities . . . and then though she is safe, thank God, it is impossible to know how it will affect her outlook and the life of the children and, through them, of mine. I was quite broken up—went into the air for a while, and then when I came back kind G.B.S. made coffee for me and spoke comfortably and wanted me to stay, but I thought I might be wanted at Coole and must get to London. Then he offered to motor me up, but I wouldn’t let him waste his morning, but accepted the motor, and on my way sent a telegram asking Margaret if I should return. But in the afternoon an answer came, “No need. Many thanks.” I thought she might want to leave Coole at once. There are two letters from her here at Rutland Gate, about land worries.

Lady Gough came to see me this evening and while she was here Fritz Huth Jackson came in. He said he had been told at the Bank of England of a Black-and-Tan officer who was a “holy terror”—a very harsh and violent man, who had gone over “to make it hot,” and was bound to find trouble. He had boasted that he would take the blood of Michael Collins.

May 22. I had on Friday a letter from Arabella, who had seen Margaret and gave more details about the killings—terrible! And on Friday a letter from Margaret herself . . . all seems crumbling, yet I will not leave Ireland and will try to hold Coole for a while at least that the darlings may still think of it as home.

May 23. I dined at the Huntingtons, meeting old Putnam and Lady Bonham-Carter and Shane Leslie and Lord Grey. I told Lord Grey of having written to Roosevelt long ago what he had said about him, and that the answer had come from Roosevelt in hospital after he had been shot at in the election, and that he had been pleased. Lady Bonham-Carter said she had had a letter a while ago from that lady who had been arrested at Gort, because the police searching her trunk had found a private letter to the Bishop of Manchester telling of the state of the country, and had lodged her in Galway Gaol.

June 7. Coole. Peter hears the Black-and-Tans have gone up to Chevy to make their camp there and that “they went around the country between Gort and Peterswell and took the men out and beat them.” Tim says, “The lorries passing are terrible. And there was a dog in one of them—a big black dog.” J.W. went to Gort for the post—rode—at 5 o’clock and isn’t back yet. 8.30. Marian hears our woods are to be searched for “boys on the run.” 9.30. Marian hears from Johnny Hehir that all who were met on the road were taken away to fill trenches.

June 8. J.W. returned. Says he had just been to the Post Office and had the letters in his pocket when the barrack gates opened and “a great troop of them came out, military and Black-and-Tans. It seems as if the police are out of it now, and it is the military who are in command. They said I was to come with them to do some work and I said I had all Lady Gregory’s letters in my pocket, but that didn’t save me. They took every one they met, about forty in all, bringing them out of the shops or from the streets. There was one little man of a chemist—a delicate little handful of a man—and they brought him out, but it would have killed him to come along with us and when we were brought to the barrack those that were behind managed to shove him out at the back and he was the only one that escaped. They put us in the lorries and brought us past Lough Cutra, and there were two sheep killed on the road, the lorries running over them. We came to where there were three or four big trees cut and thrown across the road and trenches dug in it, and we weren’t long moving the trees, but the trenches were very long and we had to go into the bog filling them up. But they didn’t mind if it was a stone of no size you would bring back with you, they were good-humoured enough. They kept us at it till dark and we got nothing to eat.”

June 10. Lord FitzAlan’s speech at Belfast reported in The Times of 8th. He confesses that “crimes, horrible crimes, have been committed by members of this force,” (the Black-and-Tans,) and says in excuse that “this force was hastily enlisted and hurriedly set to work without proper discipline.” The first time an official has confessed to this.

An aeroplane passed low to-day, firing shots. J. says, “We didn’t know what the military were until Sunday week, when the roads shook with all lorries going up and down. And there’s more of them to-day bringing up the mountains quarters of beef and quart bottles of whiskey and barrels of porter. No market allowed. There was a man yesterday brought in a few potatoes to sell, and they were being weighed, and the military came and stopped it and said there was to be no weighing, and locked up the weighing-house. The streets of Gort are full of them, some good and some bad, and half the small shops ruined with the people not being allowed to come into the town.”

July 11. Lady Fingall tells me of the ill-treatment of young men by the military in Mayo, told her by Sister Bernard of the Foxford Industries. They were stripped naked on a bridge, beaten with rifles, indecently treated and then thrown over the bridge into the river. They escaped alive but with what memories! She went to Lord FitzAlan and an enquiry was insisted on. General Macready was present and the facts were proved. He said at the end to the officer who had been in command while this was done, “You were wrong and in any future case of the kind you will be dealt with severely.”

Aug. 20. Yesterday rather gloomy; no news of possible peace.

Aug. 24. Anxious this morning. Robinson wrote that he heard “Childers was despairing on Friday.” But to-day’s paper is more hopeful.

Guy came back with me for the night; is afraid there will be war, “doesn’t see how De Valera can eat his words,” and is afraid of trouble here. But I had been brought a message after the ambush saying “as long as there was a Gregory in Coole they need fear nothing.” MacI. was grateful for what I “had thought fit to do for him the time the house was burned,” and besides that “it was from Dublin they had got word of my help.” (I suppose the Nation articles.)

Sept. 6. To-day’s paper and yesterday’s keep one anxious, the Cabinet Council at Inverness to-morrow, the English Press cross at De Valera’s vague answer. Yet Lennox Robinson writes:

“I was at the last public meeting of the Dail—one’s heart had to go out to De Valera, he spoke finely with tremendous sincerity.”

But the Kinvara oyster-woman, speaking of last winter, and hoping such a one will not come again, says, “Wasn’t it a woeful time!”

Sept. 16. Yesterday early to the Abbey. We are to put on Revolutionist the succeeding week. Later, I went to see Molly Childers, and sat with her and the boys at their lunch. She said she was “more than ever hopeful,” yet I thought her, and young Erskine, rather in a low key of hope. She praises De Valera’s absolute unselfishness and honesty, says Michael Collins is a fine man with a good head, and magnetism. Yet she is uneasy lest they should ask too much of Lloyd George and bring about a break. She says what the leaders fear is that if the English Forces (and these will, especially for aerodromes, be very large) are kept in Ireland there will later be another outbreak, and they want a lasting peace. They are full of plans, are for prison reform, so many of them having suffered in prison they know the bad results of the present system. Robert Barton had been put in a punishment cell and for a month on punishment diet, bread and water, and, every third day, porridge which was “rotten,” and he could not eat, so that meant a day’s starvation. He had led a strike “down tools” because the Irish alone among prisoners were not allowed to speak either to others or each other, although this was allowed to the lowest criminals.

Alas, I am afraid there has been little or no prison reform! A political prisoner told me a few months ago, “We are still under the regulation of 1832.”

A beautiful moonlit night here by the sea. This morning it is a shock to see the conference at Inverness is cancelled, De Valera claiming to represent “a Sovereign State.”

Sept. 18. I proposed to Yeats that we should go and see “A.E.,” and we found him at Plunkett House and he was more cheerful. He says De Valera’s claim to “a sovereign country” means the repeal of the Union. Ireland had been made by the Act of 1785 “a sovereign country” independent of Westminster. I begged him to get the Bulletin or some other Sinn Fein voice to say this, for the English would be less alarmed at “pre-Union Status” than a “Sovereign State.” He thought this possible and said he would speak to some of them he was to see in the afternoon. He believes there will, should the settlement come, be for five years at least a wonderful Government of integrity, and thinks very highly of the leaders. Michael Collins had been to see him, to talk of economics, and he thought him very straight, a powerful mind, “a tall handsome fellow with a sense of humour, a very good head and memory. He keeps no notes, but if he has promised to be at a meeting two months off there he is at the appointed moment.” He is writing, or has written, an article for The Manchester Guardian, putting the whole matter on a higher plane.

Sept. 25. Yesterday afternoon we drove to Tulira and Edward Martyn sent them up to the Castle with Owen and let them play the organ in the hall and gave us tea and was very pleasant. He is not very hopeful of a settlement, he never is hopeful, but he praises the leaders, De Valera and MacNeill and Barton especially. And indeed one feels more pride in being represented by them in England than by the British Cabinet in Europe! He says George Moore is really angry about Miss Mitchell’s life of him, and told him “Boyd is to do the official life,” but Edward says “that will make no difference, Miss Mitchell’s will always be the real one accepted, she took the only possible way of dealing with you, treating you as ‘Mon ami Moore’.” Edward is sorry he didn’t build a theatre twenty years ago, and “put the key in his pocket.”

Oct. 1. Went to a very satisfactory rehearsal of Lord Mayor and A Serious Thing. As I came out Ella Young told me De Valera has accepted the conference invitation.

Harris thinks the new Government when it comes in will have great trouble with the Labour question, that Larkin will come back—they will have influence in America to get him out of Sing-Sing. He says, “I saw him being brought to trial. He was wearing a slouch hat and a long sort of frock-coat and was smoking a cigar. And all the way from the Custom House to the Court House there were people eight or nine deep along the streets pressing to take a look at him. They thought of him as a god.”

Keller is disturbed at the prospect of a new Government, thinks land business will be no more, and “doesn’t know what line to take.” He had lunched at the Wicklow Hotel the other day, and seen a young man at one of the tables, on whose words all the others were hanging, and who when going, and presented with the bill, took out a handful of notes and threw one to the waiter with a great air. He asked who it was: “Michael Collins.” I said to Michael Dolan he seemed to be Dublin’s “fancy man,” and he said “That is the way with the hunted man.” I had asked Dolan if our new actors were Sinn Fein and he said, “Is not everyone Sinn Fein now?”

Keller said he had asked Hogan, just out from a meeting of the Dail, what he thought would be the future of the country. He said he believed that within three or four years of independence “there would not be a ballad heard, all thoughts would be turned to economics.”

Oct. 4. This morning I got to the Mansion House and saw the Lord Mayor and read him my statement. I said I had very much on my mind those unfortunate interned prisoners kept shut up, untried, winter coming on, and that they must feel it all the more at this time of excitement. He said at once, “That is just what I have had in mind for some days.” I said I saw in the papers that the leaders will not ask for their release as an act of grace, and I thought perhaps some outsiders might be of use in doing so. He thought this possible. I asked if representative names, perhaps of Bishops, on a petition or letter to the papers would be of use.

He said, “No, not Bishops.”

I said, “I meant Protestant ones.”

“No,” he said. “We have done very well without the Church all this time and we don’t want to bring it in now.”

I asked if Horace Plunkett’s people could be of any use as he is a little sore at being left out. And he has secretaries and organisation. And I said that when conscription was threatened I had myself got a few writers to sign a letter against it for the English papers.

He said, “I would do it straight off, but that now the Cabinet is sitting I would do nothing without consulting them.” I said that was just my own feeling, we must do nothing without their authority. This also he will let me know on Thursday.

Oct. 6. Went to Mansion House and the Lord Mayor brought in Alderman Cosgrave, Minister of Home Affairs, who said my letter about the Lane Pictures had been considered by the Cabinet but they think it better not to take the matter up until the Peace Treaty is being made in detail. I said as I was going that I had never seen De Valera and would much like to see him, even from the window, when he comes as expected at 3 o’clock. The Lord Mayor said “God help you!” and I asked why; and he said, “I oughtn’t to have said that,” and murmured something about idols. I said I didn’t make an idol of him but I had been fighting his battles, and he said, “Oh, I know that.” But then he called out “Here he is coming in!” and hurried me to the doorway he would pass through to the Cabinet meeting, and as he came in said, “Lady Gregory—President De Valera.” I said I was just going to his old constituency, West Clare, and he said he had never had time to go up there since after his first election, and I said they were very proud of having him as a representative. The Lord Mayor said, “Lady Gregory was wishing to see you,” and I said, “You have been so often in my prayers I wanted to see what you looked like.” And indeed I liked his face, good, honest, with something in it of Lincoln.

Oct. 18. Mr. Scovell now speaks of the Sinn Fein Government as if certain, and without animosity, just as all must be, a little anxious. Pride must have a fall and I had been rather proud of having lent the Theatre and Players for a Sunday performance for Republican Prisoners’ Dependents, and rather expected a word of acknowledgment, but the Independent gives the speech of General Mulcahy, Chief of Staff, I.R.A., at the performance, with his words in large type, “It seems to me that we have been deserted at the present time and all through the fight put up in the country by our poets and by our literary people.” I wonder if he has seen Yeats’ poem and “A.E.’s” on Brixton Prison, and his pamphlets (my Nation articles not being signed don’t count). I heard Lloyd George had said “Talking with De Valera is like talking with Oliver Cromwell.” So last night, reading Lord Rosebery’s speech on Cromwell, I looked for the affinities. Perhaps they are in this passage:

“A man who combines inspiration apparently derived from close communion with the supernatural and the celestial, a man who has that inspiration and adds to it the energy of a mighty man of action, such a man as that lives in communion, on a Sinai of his own, and when he pleases to come down to this world below seems armed with no less than the terrors and decrees of the Almighty Himself.”

Or this:

“On the field of battle he is a great captain, ready, resourceful and overwhelming [De V. had but a barricade to hold but held it to the very end]: off the field he seems to be a creature of invisible influences, a strange mixture of a strong practical nature with a sort of unearthly fatalism, with a sort of spiritual mission.”

Nov. 10. Talking to Atkinson. He says the Dail, re-organising the teaching system, is going to strike out drawing, thinking it sterile, and this he says it is, as at present taught. But this Exhibition (of Vienna children’s paintings) may show them how children can learn to express themselves through it, and he agrees with me that they may take a national pride in trying to emulate Austria. He is also touched with and struck by the national stir of the mind. And later at the Abbey I sat and talked with Larchet while I had some tea, he said he had been working very hard of late, the Dail employing him to draw up a method he believes will teach music to children in the easiest and most natural way. Then Casey, the author of The Crimson in the Tricolour, came in, and I had a talk with him about his play, and when I said we could not in any case put it on now, as it might weaken the Sinn Fein position, to show that Labour is ready to attack it, he said, “If that is so I would be the last to wish to put it on.” And he is a strong Labour man, and is collecting names to sign a message to Larkin in Sing-Sing.

Nov. 29. Robinson has written gloomily of the reports from London and that Smith-Gordon is back in Dublin and doesn’t expect to have to go over again. And this is the day of the Ulster meeting of Parliament—God and America help us! Robinson wrote that the Ulster Players have filled the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, even lessening our audience, and he asked them to tea to meet our Players, and for all their good reception, or because of it, they said that if we came to play in Belfast we would not escape with our lives!

Dec. 4. It is not known yet if De Valera will be at the meeting or what is the prospect of peace. “There were a great many lorries yesterday, with soldiers, going the road to Galway,” and “to-day, after Mass, the Volunteers, the strange ones, that are at the camp, thirty of them, marched together from Mass but didn’t speak to any of us.” I put up a basket of my best apples to be placed in De Valera’s motor, had he come, but it is uncertain.

Dec. 5. X. says of the meeting: “We waited a long time for De Valera, not knowing would he come or not, and such a gathering of Volunteers was never seen, men and officers. The officers are mostly strangers from Clare or from Cork, you would know them by the accent. He came at last and was well guarded with seven cars of Volunteers. He didn’t speak more than about fifteen minutes, first in Irish and then in English. No word about peace but that war was being forced upon us, and that all we had to do was to stick together and obey our officers, for they were all men he knew and had tried. His voice was good but he looked very pale and wasted with the ways he had gone. As to the disturbance, there came two lorries from Gort with military, and they stopped at the gate of the field where he was to go in, and the boys didn’t like that, for when De Valera’s car came, and there was no room for him to get in, they went and told the military to go back, and they turned away then. It was after he had spoken that an officer came and said to our officer, Reynolds, ‘I don’t like what those four men up there are doing. Go up and take some others with you and send them away, and be sure you search them first.’ He spoke sharper than we do and we knew he was a Clare man.

“Reynolds went up then, and some others with them, he had his revolver and a shot-gun as well, and we could see them go up to two military officers and they told them to come along with them, and searched them and brought them away, eight of them taking charge of the two. They went quiet at first, but one of them got very headstrong and didn’t want to go on. After that we were let move about and I went next the Mall. Then the two officers were brought up and put into one of the lorries and they brought them to Kiltartan, but one of them stopped and whispered to two soldiers that were standing abroad in the Mall, as if to send a message to the barracks. And when those two soldiers had gone as far as Molloy’s house our men went after them and brought them back, but then let them go. The two that were brought to Kiltartan were put in the strange woman’s house, and they asked the Volunteers what right they had to bring them there, and they said they didn’t know, they were but obeying orders. Then the one that had been headstrong said he was obeying orders, he was a detective, and had been ordered to keep a watch on De Valera and follow him wherever he went.

“After that there was a noise heard of lorries, and we all knew well that noise on the Kiltartan road, and when it was heard their captain did what he ought not to have done, he ran out and down by the chapel and over the wall where there is a big drop, and going over it he broke his leg. It is long he had been on the run before. But the two privates stopped there with the prisoners, and the Black-and-Tans and police got out of the lorries and took the prisoners away and went to look for the captain and searched Mrs. Hanlon’s house, but they could not find him. Then a great troop of lorries, military and Black-and-Tans, drove into Gort, and at the turn of Crow Lane they let off shots that would knock the heart out of the people.”

Jan. 8, 1922. I was getting ready for church when Anne came up to say the telegraph boy was coming and was calling out that the Treaty is ratified. I ran down and got Lennox Robinson’s telegram. Such a relief! The little boy had fallen off his bicycle with excitement on the avenue and had shouted the news to the maids coming from Mass and they had cheered. He said, “This is the first time I ever was sent with a message, and I brought the best message that ever was brought!” and I gave him a shilling in addition to his apples. Mine had been the only message to Gort, and had been given out, everyone delighted except the poor Bagots who foresee the vanishing of officers. We met a motor-lorry leaving Gort in charge of one soldier and I said to Guy, “There is the army in retreat!” And we went to the barracks after church (where I said the General Thanksgiving with a full heart) and got Richard’s gun and cartridges back again.


The first part of this section, “Politics,” ended with my telegram to Lady Gregory telling her of the ratification by Dail Eireann of the Treaty between Ireland and England, signed in December 1921, which provided that Ireland should have “in the Community of Nations known as the British Commonwealth” the status of a Dominion, under the title the Irish Free State, and subject to an option in the Six Counties of Ulster which had been established in the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, Northern Ireland, to vote themselves into the new State if they so desired.

Twenty-six counties of Ireland became practically independent, but not quite, and within six months Ireland was involved in a Civil War. The Treaty was accepted by the majority in the Dail Cabinet. The minority, however, included Mr. De Valera, and he proceeded to split Sinn Fein on the question of the very vague oath of allegiance provided in the Treaty to be taken by the members of the Irish Free State Parliament. The split developed very rapidly and very bitterly with a correspondingly rapid deterioration of public order, and was taken advantage of by irresponsible people all over the country, so that the Journals of this period are filled with accounts of grabbing of land, driving of cattle and general confusion. These doings are merely of local interest and I do not record them, but from June 1922, when actual Civil War broke out, I record Lady Gregory’s political memories rather fully. As it will be seen, she herself says her feelings grew more and more Republican. Her mind was always independent. Like a good Irishwoman she was always inclined to be “agin the Government.” It might be Lord Aberdeen in the Viceregal Lodge . . . her heart was always with the young revolutionary man. On the other hand she had to think of the Abbey Theatre and the Lane Pictures, and so couldn’t dare to break with authority. This section ends when Mr. De Valera and his Party accepted the Oath and entered the Dail in 1927.


Jan. 11, 1922. I went to Plunkett House and had tea with “A.E.” and Miss Mitchell. He had been at the last big debate at the Dail, thought Griffith’s speech extraordinarily fine, did not think he could have spoken with such fire and on such a high level. De Valera, he thinks, “has a simple nature and mind and is not well able to assimilate the tangles and arguments with which he is loaded by his following.” Mme. Markiewicz, delightful in private life, has always high spirits, (“hoyden,” put in Miss Mitchell,) but loses her qualities on the platform. He had a very interesting talk with Frank Gallagher, who is against the Treaty and wants to keep republicanism alive, because he thinks there is danger of the young men losing their idealism, their soul, if this idea of freedom, of a free nation, the most spiritual they had ever attained, is lost in mere industrial and material undertakings. He said so pure and spiritual a force had never been attained in this country. “A.E.” says that it is as science can set free the energy contained in the atom that this spiritual force can be liberated by the breaking of material interests. I told him of John Shawe-Taylor’s fear long ago that when land purchase was obtained idealism might be quenched—“I thought to-day,” he had once said when he had ridden over to Coole, “when the houses look so comfortable, the haggards so well filled, will they be able to keep any enthusiasm for anything beyond that?”

“A.E.” had been to Belfast lately, says the new Parliament is a nest of jobbery and extravagance. Barbour, who had been an enemy at the conference, has now come round and is quietly working at a scheme for unity. Some man he knows who went back to the North when it set up for itself now writes begging that he may be given work anywhere in the South. He says there is great confidence in Michael Collins; that Mr. Douglas, of the White Cross, says he has “more intellect and more humanity” than anyone he knows. And of Smith-Gordon, “a cold mind absorbed in economics,” says he at first disliked him, thought him rough and overbearing, but now says, “he always turned out to be right,” and thinks him “one of the biggest men in Europe.” And Mrs. Duncan says Lavery told her (when speaking of the Gallery) that he is the one to get things from the Government, they have such an immense opinion of him. “A.E.” read me some humbugging verses he had written to Stephens, one on his “Take me” poem to De Valera, and one by which he cured Stephens of his constant irreverent and patronising allusions to God, one ending by telling God He might come and sit on his knee “and call me James.” He has never mentioned the Divinity in his poems since then.

Then to Smith-Gordon at his Land Bank and he promised that if I would send him a letter about the Lane pictures, he will put it into Michael Collins’ hands, for as Lavery thinks the Cabinet won’t refuse him anything, he may as well ask for the pictures.

Jan. 13. I went to see Molly Childers in the afternoon. She looked troubled but, with someone there, didn’t talk politics, but asked if there was any play coming on at the Abbey that would interest or amuse Erskine. When her visitor had gone she spoke with some bitterness, not of the insults to Erskine, but of the Treaty. “It is the first time in the history of the world that a sovereign nation (Ireland) has given up its sovereignty, except the Boers, and that was only when all of their people who were left were in concentration camps.” De Valera had been to see her and she spoke of his great nobility and honesty; she said also that no one is bound (in this she meant the people of Ireland) by a treaty imposed by force as this was. I said as I was going that we must always be grateful for what she and Erskine had done in helping Ireland, and that I was very sorry for the discourtesy shown him. She said there had been verses against him in the Freeman that morning, but Bobby said, “We don’t mind those things, we like them,” very stoutly. I am sending him places at the Abbey for next week; Lord Mayor would interest both him and his father.

Jan. 14. On the way to the Abbey, just over the bridge, there was a great crowd. I asked what was going on and a young man said, “It’s the Tans,” and some motors passed containing them on their departure! There was no booing or applause, just a sort of delighted murmur, a triumphant purr.

I had been to see Edward Martyn in the afternoon in his warm little flat; very crippled, but more cheerful than I had seen him for a long time, at the exit of the “Tans.” He is all for the Treaty and blames De Valera’s doings here as much as he had admired them in America. He will listen to no excuse, says “he is jealous of Griffith.” “I met him in Gort at the time of his Clare election. I was doing my marketing and he and another (I forget who) had come to hold a meeting there and I talked to them in their motor and I said, ‘You will get on all right as long as you hold to Griffith and keep with him,’ and I saw a shadow pass across their faces.” I spoke of De Valera’s honesty and his belief that he is doing the best thing for Ireland, but he wound up as he began, “It’s all jealousy of Griffith.” He says Collins made an inspection of the Volunteers all through Ireland before he went on the London mission and came to the conclusion that we were not in a position to fight. When they brought the signed Treaty back, (and this I heard from others,) no one in the Cabinet made an objection. But suddenly, some days later, De Valera sent his protest to the Press. He says of course the police knew Collins by sight, but what could they do? He would walk down Grafton Street but he always had an escort at hand and if there was an alarm and he blew his whistle a hundred men would appear, and while a scrimmage was going on he would be far away, “and what could an army do against a man like that?” He had begun as a Gaelic League organiser in Kerry. And now he is being followed by detectives.

April 2, Easter Sunday. Kilteragh. John Dillon and Professor Henry came to lunch. Dillon looks impressive in his old age—an El Greco type—and talked all the time, stayed till 4.30, very interesting all he said. No news from Dublin but he had been awakened in the night by a burst of firing that lasted some time, but has not heard what it was. And as he left Dublin the streets were lined with Republicans awaiting the funeral procession of one who was shot accidentally—or while trying to escape—by Free-Staters. He takes a gloomy view, hates Griffith—“a liar,” thinks better of Collins “because he knows nothing about him;” has seen a good deal of De Valera after the Mansion House Conference, doesn’t think him honest (the first I have heard say this) but not so dishonest as Griffith. De Valera had asked him to join them when he proclaimed his Republic and set up Dail Eireann, “but I said, you cannot fight in open war, you must end by organised murder and I will never countenance that.” As to the state of the country, “the curates are all gone mad and the bishops have lost authority, no one cares for them. I cannot foresee the future of the Church. There must be bloodshed before all this trouble is settled, that accursed English Government knows that and will not interfere, wants to see us disgraced in the eyes of the world. They will most likely put Sir Henry Wilson in authority in the North with 20,000 English troops and 50,000 Orangemen. Then when there is an excuse they will come over the border; the I.R.A. will not be able to stand against a regular army. Whenever the trouble in Belfast slackens Sinn Fein sends men to stir it up again to keep it going. The Belfast Catholics would be ready to go into the Northern Parliament but the priests won’t allow it. Devlin would have gone in but the priests would have prevented his election. Craig told me he wished to come in with the South but he couldn’t get support at present.

“It was the executions after the Rising that led to it all. If the leaders had been kept in prison until after the war a settlement could have been made and accepted. I was shut up in Great George’s Street for three days by the Sinn Feiners, and the first day I got out I was told there were going to be executions, and we went to the Viceregal and found Wimborne there, and Lady Wimborne, holding a rifle, and ready to leave. He promised to do his best and said, ‘I have been disgracefully treated, I was told nothing, I have no power.’

“Then we went to General Maxwell and I protested against the executions, and he said, ‘Mr. Dillon, these men have shot English soldiers and I have come to Dublin first to put down the Rebellion.’

“ ‘But the Rebellion is over now.’

“ ‘Yes, and I am going to punish the offenders, four of them are to be shot to-morrow morning. I am going to ensure that there will be no treason whispered, even whispered, in Ireland for a hundred years.’ “ ‘You have been trying to do that for years.’

“ ‘Well, I am going to do it now. There will not be a whisper’.

“I went back to Wimborne and he promised to do his best. Next day I heard the four men had been shot in the morning and I went to him. He was very angry, said, ‘I dined with General Maxwell last night and he promised that only two should be killed.’

“Then I went over to Westminster and when I saw Asquith he said, ‘I am going over to Ireland.’

“ ‘What on earth are you going for?’

“He said the wires had been cut and he was going to see what was going on.

“It is well he did go, for the military were having their way. They had made a list of fifty for execution. Then it was cut down to thirty-five, but Asquith stopped them. It was to please the military, leave had been given for these.

“I saw Lloyd George about it too, and I said, ‘Maxwell is a brute.’

“ ‘No,’ he said, ‘he is not that, he is an ass’.”

April 5. A priest came to tea. He is for the Free State but cautious, and says De Valera has a great name still among the people. He spoke of the Black-and-Tans and a young man they suspected of having been in the Headford ambush. They found him by opening a letter in the post, and took him to Oranmore and shot him, but not dead, tied him to a lorry by his feet and drove off. His mother went to ask for his body at the barracks and they showed her the feet but there was no head. It was only by his boots, he says, that one of the Loughnane boys was identified by his sister. It is not known if they were burned when they were dead or living. Joyce, the schoolmaster at Barna, was suspected and they wanted to get something in his handwriting. A deaf “dummy” called at his house, wrote a note asking for a drink of water, then asked some question that Joyce wrote an answer to and this the “dummy” carried off to the barracks. April 10. Yesterday after church our carriages hadn’t come and I walked to meet them with the Lls. And when we came to the turn to the Barracks I said, “How things have changed! I am going to the barracks and you turning away.” I went to ask about some prisoners. I had not been at the barracks for years. The reception rooms looked very smart, done up, perhaps, by its last inhabitants, the 17th Lancers. Lieutenant Leonard was there and a Captain Burke, very good-looking, very smart in his new uniform. Both very kind.

I went to the garden. J. says, “We have the frost banished, the rain has it bet,” and a few drops turned to a shower. Then I spoke of old Neiland’s story of the theft in Gort and he says that wasn’t the way it happened. “It was the two officers from Gort that went to Ardrahan ere yesterday and took the money for dog-licences from the Post Office, about £30. And yesterday three motors came from Galway with Republican police or whatever they were, to get it from them again.”

“But what about the man that climbed the wall and swam across the river and was fired at?”

“That was Captain Leonard that put you into the carriage on Sunday.” It’s very hard to know what’s going on. Peter, as usual, is down on De Valera and says, “it is his men are doing all the robberies, where he has no money to pay them.”

April 13. Gresham Hotel. At breakfast the papers are filled with De Valera’s denunciations of Griffith and Collins, and his assertions that only those support the Treaty who are in dread of the “immediate and terrible war” threatened by England. This will not help his cause in the country.

April 18. At the Broadstone Station Frank met me. He says Roxboro’ has been raided, the guns taken away, but a promise they will be returned when done with. Arthur wrote him a bare statement of this. He had heard from someone else that they had got to the cellar and had drunk too much. He said, “You will be safe because you are popular. We are fair game, but you are known to be always on the side of the people.” But it is not the I.R.A. I am anxious about, but miscellaneous thieves.

April 21. Coole. All peaceful and quiet here. Free State Army is in workhouse, Independent Army in the barracks.

April 22. Mike back from Gort yesterday; just missed hearing De Valera speak; Mr. Harry Boland was speaking, saying “the Republic would give them everything and the Free State gave them nothing, and that we have the English beat and well beat.”

“There was a crowd of women around them. De Valera was sitting in his motor and Stevenson along with him; very few men, the men were passing by doing their own business, it being market day.

“There’s not a father or a mother or a married woman or man but is against him.”

The Bagots said Lady Clonbrock was sitting in her motor outside the door at Mount Talbot when the raiders came there. She refused to get out when they demanded the car so they lifted her out and she had to go home in a carriage drawn by a work-horse. Katy had written that the raiders at Roxboro’ “behaved well, for them; did not come into my room or disturb the children, not as they behaved at Mount Talbot,” and the Bagots say they were very rough there, dragged Mr. Talbot across the hall though he was ill, and that he is now in a Dublin nursing-home and his wife has died from the shock. Mrs. Mitchell heard Roxboro’ had been raided again and a motor carried off. I asked the Archdeacon if we ought not to protest against the Belfast killing of Catholics, but he had already done so in the name of the parish, adding it to some resolution.

April 30. I read Yeats what Robinson says in his letter. “ ‘A.E.’ is very disheartened, wants someone to write a play about how the generations for 700 years fought for the liberation of beautiful Cathleen ni Houlihan, and when they set her free she walked out, a fierce vituperative old hag. I feel almost inclined to write the play and leave Ireland for ever the day before it is played, but I really feel more optimistic than ‘A.E.’ ”

May 3. Frank writes, “Roxboro’ was commandeered yesterday. Both house and lands, including livestock; the I.R.A. are to pay the workmen, servants, etc., I suppose by selling the stock. Arthur and family came up yesterday and are crossing to England.”

It is a shock, Roxboro’ seemed so safe and permanent, and now they may never come back. The papers say the I.R.A.s are Irregulars and that they demanded it for refugees from Belfast.

May 5. Postman says, “the Truce is signed,” but no details. Arthur writes, “The buildings have not all been retaken, only Custom House and Bond Stores (Millars), but the Free-Staters have ordered the others not to stir out, so they are in a sort of way interned. It is said Free-Staters have taken Roxboro’ from Republicans.”

May 6. But the Truce is only signed for four days. No news of Roxboro’, but Connacht Tribune says Arthur was handed a paper saying the place was taken because he is “a Freemason and Unionist,” (he isn’t a Freemason,) and that Woodlawn house and estate have been taken on the same grounds. But it is empty of furniture and Lord Ashtown is away.

May 7, Sunday. To church, and Guy was there from Lough Cutra and came back to lunch. He had arrived in Dublin on Tuesday, drove to Kildare St. Club but found it occupied, though a young man on the steps with a rifle told him there was a room he could use if he was a member, but luckily he didn’t as all members were excluded later in the day. He went then to the Shelbourne, found Arthur and Kathie there, they told him Katy and the two children had left for England two hours before the raiders came. They were prepared, as after Mr. Bradshaw had been raided they thought their turn would come next, and had been packing and hiding away valuables and whiskey. When they came they were quite civil but handed Arthur a paper saying his house as that of “a Freemason and Protestant” must be given up to shelter Belfast refugees (but no refugees seem to have arrived there). He asked them not to occupy the drawing-room and they agreed. They were allowed to take their personal luggage, but Kathie was carrying a Waterford-glass jug she valued away from the drawing-room and one of them met her on the stairs and said, “Oh no, young lady, that won’t do,” and made her put it back again. Arthur went to Whitney and Moore, and they, or Frank, got in touch with Hogan and he sent orders to the regular I.R.A. in Loughrea not to allow any cattle from Roxboro’ to be sold. And Arthur had just received a letter from the intruders asking him for a cheque to pay his workmen!

Bank robberies go on, and my name for Rory O’Connor is “Rory of the Tills.”

May 23. Arabella writes from Galway, “A Protestant farmer a few miles from this had land, stock and house seized. The Free-Staters sent and had them restored, said ‘We are going to deal with the land ourselves and don’t allow others to interfere.’ ” So that looks like the return of law and order.

May 28. Arabella wrote yesterday: “While nurse was putting me to bed we heard cheering and a band in the street. Nurse and Sarah rushed to the hall door and saw a large mob headed by a man dragging with ropes the statue of Lord Dunkellin from Eyre Square, some sitting on the statue as if they were on a sledge. The cook from the rectory passed and told the maids she had been in the Square, a great crowd there.” A Councillor made a speech, after which they dragged down the statue. They went towards Grattan Road, probably to throw Lord Dunkellin into the sea.

I asked Leonard about this. He said, “It was madness. It was done by the Labour Party.” I said they could have sold the statue (Foley’s) probably to Lord Lascelles for a large sum. And I told him I had read so many of Lord Dunkellin’s letters to my husband, they were colleagues in representing the county, and the letters were full of interest in Galway—anxiety to have the Packet Station there, and to help constituents. He said again, “It was madness.” He says the robberies now are by ordinary thieves and that they are getting them in hand.

June 29. A smart-looking man came at 3 o’clock, Captain V., said he was an ex-serviceman. I said, “How did they come to take you into the forces here?”

“They couldn’t do without us,” he said, and that he belonged to a farmer’s family on the Clancarty Estate. He had sent my letter on to Ennis, which is H.Q. for Burren, last night.

When I said Mr. Yeats had gone to Dublin he said, “Dublin! He won’t get there. There was a bridge destroyed, near Mullingar.”


“To prevent Dail forces passing.”

Then he said the Dail troops had come with artillery to the Four Courts, in Dublin, and had given the troops there an hour to surrender. They did not surrender, and the building has been “pounded” and fourteen killed, many wounded, but it is not taken yet. A terrible story!

July 1. Peter says the Gort Barracks were not attacked last night, because Captain V. had to take troops to Limerick; there is fighting going on there, and many lorries passed the road last evening taking troops there; that is what the horses were listening to. Half the men have been brought back from Lough Cutra. No papers or letters except from Galway, but rumours that the Four Courts have been taken and Rory O’Connor, the leader, taken and lodged in gaol.

July 8. Going to church I saw a cloud of smoke over the town from what was left of the barracks that could burn, the walls only standing. The Archdeacon spoke of “this destruction going on” in his sermon, in a very broken voice. And, outside the door, Bagot said the Irregulars had been given forty-eight hours to clear out. They removed what they owned, or what they could, and then set fire to the barracks; a bomb burst at 1 o’clock. Houston, very much upset, said they had then gone on to Lough Cutra, throwing down the wall along a part of the road that they might not be followed, had gone to the Castle where the Free State troops are, had fired about thirty shots at the windows and shattered them, “a sort of sham fight,” then gone on, it is said, to the mountains. John had gone to look into the barrack yard, said there were heaps of petrol tins lying about, and that all the people are very angry, “they are done for now.” And he was told they had burned the barracks at Ardrahan, Kilcolgan, Oranmore, and in Galway the Renmore and Eglinton barracks. The Gort people are so angry, “because if the wind had been in a bad quarter, if it had blown from Loughrea, the whole town would have been burned.” But he hears a number of the Irregulars at Loughrea laid down their rifles and said they would never fight again against their own countrymen. The Gort men are said to have gone to the mountains, to Chevy Chase, and that they will “make ambushes.” I am so thankful there seems to have been no bloodshed or loss of life.

“One part in Gort are angry at the burning and another part are proud of it. You wouldn’t know what to say.” A woman says that “some of them that come to the counter, and that wouldn’t be given charge of a cat, talk as if they would take over the whole country.”

July 14. Father Considine and Dan D. came back and told their story. Someone said the Connemara boy’s young brother had been eager to join the Free State Army, but as he pressed it they said the elder one who was willing to stay at home might go in his place. And when the news of his death came out the mother cried out to the young brother, “If it wasn’t for you he wouldn’t have gone!” And the boy said, “If that is so it is best for me to go and drown myself,” and he went out, and the mother was distracted, not knowing if she would find him alive when she got home. (Feb. 1924. Poor woman. I was told a little later that she but went home to her bed and died before the week was out.) July 15. This morning as I came down Marian said, “I think there will be letters, Mike saw the mail car coming, with Free-Staters in lorries protecting it.” And in half an hour Mike Lally appeared with a great bag of newspapers and of letters, and a whole salmon, from Arabella, from Galway. The first English letters or papers for over a fortnight, and the Independent of 12th, with some earlier ones. Not many real letters, one from the darling children of the 5th, one from Wilfrid Blunt, one from Clara Jackson at Aix, but a quantity of circulars, advertisements, seeming so futile, so superfluous just now. Mike, coming from Gort in the afternoon, said to-day’s paper had arrived there, a few copies sold at sixpence each, but he was not quick enough to get one. (J. tells me Mike said it was in a motor the papers were brought, and he seeing the people crowding round it, and having a gloomy mind, fancied it was a funeral, and that there was “a dead man in the car,” and kept on the other side of the street; and when he found out his mistake all the papers had been sold.)

July 16. I was told there had been bad work in Gort last night. “Some boys that were going home from the Town-hall where there was card-playing had noticed three men hiding behind trees near the railway bridge, but went on home. A little later shots were heard and then volleys. Then there came knocking at Lally’s door and they were in dread to open it, but Mrs. Lally put her head out of the window and asked what was wanted, and men there shouted, ‘The doctor. Send out the doctor.’ And then they said Republicans had fired on Free-State men that were passing by the railway bridge and two were wounded and one was shot dead—a boy from Connemara.”

This is terrible! I found Yeats here and he said he had expected it; that Childers had said the other day “the ambushes have only begun,” and that he has foreseen this settled policy of making government impossible so that the English will have to be called in, and then all Ireland will unite against them. H. said about twenty Republicans had joined the twenty or thirty in Lough Cutra yesterday. And Mike says that “ere last night he met a young fellow in uniform on the Lake farm that asked him the way to Lough Cutra and if he could get there without going through Gort, and he told him the way. He might have been bringing messages or orders.” I knew that some might be killed in fighting, but I did not think one would kill another in that way in cold blood.

Going to church I was told Edward Martyn had lent his motor to take a man who had gone out of his mind to Ballinasloe Asylum, and that at Ballinasloe the motor was taken and Owen, the chauffeur, left to come back on foot. I heard also that the Free-Staters had cleared the Kiltartan road, but there has been an attempt to cut another large tree to fall across it, “but it was the same cross-saw they had used at the Natural Bridge when they tried to cut a tree to keep the sheep washing to themselves and it stuck in the tree in the same way. It is well known who they are that did it.”

July 17. It is said the shooting on Saturday night was by Republicans in revenge for one of their number that was shot by young M. and that they had meant to wreck his house, but it was watched by Free-State men, and he himself taken to Galway Gaol, and his father has gone away. The poor Connemara boy who was shot was only twenty-two. The Republicans who killed him “were well protected behind the railway bridge and some say one of them was killed and that his comrades were seen going to the coffin-maker. But it is hard to know, and nearly the whole of what you hear is lies. These Republicans are a terror, tumbling houses and knocking bridges. There were fifteen of them at first Mass yesterday. Why didn’t the Free-State men bring them away to gaol?”

J. says the funeral of that Connemara boy passed the road this morning, three motors. “Father Considine went with it. And the mother was there, a woman with a good grey shawl; and a grey-haired man that should be the father.” I am told terrible news, if it is true. The Connemara boy had been “carried to the end of Crow Lane and put in the motor and the flag wrapped around him and they gave him the last salute.” When J. was in Gort he heard nothing of it, and the motors had not come back. But later he was in N.’s house, and a little girl came in from the town for a drop of milk, and she said only Father Considine and Dan D. had come back from the funeral, and had brought news that they went by Craughwell and whatever road they could till they came to Clarenbridge. And there was bad work there and fighting, and Captain V., that had gone with the body, was killed. (This not true.)

Aug. 15. Came to Dublin on Wednesday. A bomb had been thrown at Free-State troops passing close to the Abbey the afternoon I arrived. “A.E.” is more cheerful, thinks a better time must come and that we should be ready to take up our work; thinks there may be a great intellectual awakening. Harris is gloomy, the big business houses hard hit by the strike. Lord Lascelles has given up the idea of coming to Portumna, and Lord Kenmare may be driven to leave “though it will break his heart to leave Killarney.” Furniture vans engaged for nine months ahead are taking goods from the country to England. De Valera is said to be “out now as a leader,” and a Republican told Harris “Childers is the man that understands war.”

Aug. 23. I read a letter from Robinson written Monday night, this is Wednesday. “Collins is safe, absit omen, and dined at Kilteragh on Saturday. He came in Lady Lavery’s train, or rather she in his, for she is his abject admirer. The Shaws were there too. G.B.S. was in great form on Sunday afternoon.”

Later. John brings back from the Post Office news of Michael Collins’ death—shot at Bandon. “You have bad news to bring to Coole, her ladyship will be in a great way,”—and indeed it was a bad blow, my hopes had been so much in him, and he had been so good about Hugh’s pictures. I was stunned. I could not stay in the house but went and sat in the garden for a long time—found at last a little comfort in Mulcahy’s fine call to the army.

Aug. 28. The morning of Michael Collins’ funeral. Then I hear, “The Republicans are glad. A.F. was glad telling of it, and T.S. said, ‘Isn’t this a great victory!’ But four of the Free-State men and their captain that were in the house were in a great way and they said, ‘The next time we go out we’ll shoot to kill!’ And one, F., a great Republican, said, ‘I’d sooner have the British back again.’ The Republicans think that if they got the Republic they would have no more rent, rates or taxes to pay. They are sure of that. One Miskell’s farm has been taken from him, or the most of it, two hundred acres, walled around, and he forbidden to put any more stock on it. He complained about his turf being cut, and they drove away fifty of his cattle then. Some say it is because one day the Republicans went into his house and asked breakfast, and the wife gave the worst breakfast they ever got in any place, and they said it would be a dear breakfast to them. Skim milk they got.”

Sept. 24. J. says he was talking to Clarke, the Lough Cutra steward, who told K. that a fortnight ago he was beaten and two of his ribs were broken. He was standing in the yard chatting with the gardener and turned to go to his house, and when he had gone a few steps three men came up, gave him a sudden blow on the mouth that knocked him down. Then the others, “strangers, low-sized men,” beat him with the butt of their rifles, breaking his ribs. It is said he was supposed to have given information that led to some arrests two months ago. He does not know what to do, to go away or stay. It is very hard for them to hold on at Lough Cutra. A great deal of timber is being cut and taken away. Mr. Bagot, hearing this story, said, “You must have some sort of charm at Coole that keeps trouble away.” I, hearing this, said I hoped it might last.

When I got home Marian came out, much excited, to say “some Volunteers’ Hall and another, had come and taken a car and harness; said they were sorry but were ‘under orders’, for a secret purpose, and would bring it back at 6 o’clock.” They were taking the best car, but she told them “it had been Mr. Robert’s, and her ladyship would not like it taken,” so then they took the old one. They said something about a “review” and that they would not object to the oath to this King in the Constitution, but would not take it to his successors, or so she understood. But K. says those he heard talking last night said the Ministers’ salaries were too high and that if the Republicans can beat them there will be no more rates to pay.

Sept. 25. At 9 o’clock last night a rat-tat-tat at the door. Marian asked if she should open it and I said “Yes,” and went down. There was a man I didn’t know. He said he had brought back the car and was sorry to have troubled us, but they were “under orders for a review.” I said I hoped it was not for an ambush and he said, “Oh no,” and said then it was all right, as they had asked and not taken it without leave. But now I hear they went to Peterswell Races and that it was probably only for amusement.

Oct. 6. I was in the garden superintending apple-picking when Mike came to say he had come on a man cutting young trees in the quarry plantation. He had fled on seeing him and J. sent a cart to bring in the trees that had been cut. Just then four boys with sacks came to the gate to ask for apples, little Fahy and Killeen and two other boys. I let them all fill their sacks with apples and their caps with damsons and then I went to the yard and met the cart, seven young ash cut and three sycamore. Just then we heard a motor and I was startled by seeing a man in uniform holding a rifle come into the yard, three more in the motor. He was a Lieutenant F., of the National Forces, a Clare man now at Gort, and had come to ask for “about half or a quarter of a stone of apples to make cakes.” Such a mild request from such a warlike apparition! I brought them all into the garden and they filled their pockets satisfactorily. I showed the Lieutenant the young trees cut that he might be a witness. Mr. Johnston came later and I consulted him about prosecuting, as the Lieutenant had been vague about Courts, and he said there will be no Courts we can go to until January, but I should get a solicitor to arrange that the case will be taken up then. Quite an exciting afternoon, so many visitors.

Nov. 11. This afternoon at 4 o’clock I went into Browne & Nolan’s to buy some carbon paper. One young man behind the counter called to another, “Is it true about Childers?”

The other said, “Yes. It is official.”

I asked what it was and they said, “Erskine Childers has been taken.”

Half an hour later there were a great many little boys running about with the evening papers but not calling out anything, not even “Evening papers” as usual, though I fancied they ran with some excitement. I went into Gogarty’s for tea. I told him what I had heard about Childers and he said it wasn’t likely, and he felt sure Childers would never be taken alive. I said it could hardly be true as the newsboys had not called it out, “but perhaps they were afraid to,” and he said, “That may be.” At Harcourt St. Station I bought a paper, and it was true enough, in large headlines. It gave me a strange feeling, almost of dream, that silence and witness of the boys, whether it was through fear or their own sympathy with the Republicans.

Nov. 27. At Gort Station I opened the paper and saw that Erskine Childers had been executed. A shock, for I had but seen him in his home life, with Molly and the boys. I sent her a telegram of love and sympathy from Athenry.

I went out to Kilteragh, lunched with G. Heard. McGreevy came to tea and Mr. Norman to dinner. We talked much of poor Erskine Childers. I had thought of asking the boys to Coole for the Christmas weeks. But Norman said they had last week in some house spoken of their father’s execution as certain, “but it doesn’t matter—the Republic has won—it will be given into at once.” Poor boys! Norman is afraid their mother will bring them up in hatred. He had been working to save Childers, and Molly had sent him a message that they did not wish for anything to be done by friends, they would not accept it. “A.E.” had done what he could, writing to Cosgrave and others. Norman had known him very well.

Heard, asked when he had last seen him, and he said about three weeks ago, had not indeed seen him but had recognised his voice calling out his name from a dark corner of the street. Heard said he was just a mathematical proposition, plus bravery. They think he wanted to be taken, felt there was no more to be done. Norman hears he came out on the landing when the Free State men were coming up the stairs and lifted his revolver to fire at them, but a servant in the house flung herself across him and he could not fire nor could the others. He thinks the execution was illegal and unwise. Yet when they discussed what could have been done they said the prisons are so full and so often broken from that they must have seen the difficulty of keeping him there; and there is no law that can enforce banishment. Norman is afraid hatred will grow, sees no hope. Heard says he believes we grow like what we hate. Yet they say the Government are themselves threatened men, under sentence, have their food brought to them in their offices.

Norman says De Valera has shown no statesmanship at all. He fears a small secret society will now take rule. Someone has heard that it was the Army that insisted on the execution, Childers being the brain of the Republican Army. Norman says De Valera is in Dublin, was all but taken at Haddington Road and also at the Suffolk Street office the other day, when he hadn’t time to put on his coat, left it behind him, and hears he would not now avoid arrest, has been seen walking about. Norman said Childers had seen “A.E.” three weeks ago, had denied having destroyed the viaduct, but said he had consented to the cable being cut “to test feeling in America.” They are also afraid there will be trouble over the Boundary Question, Bonar Law being pledged to Ulster, and that may lead to a break with England after all.

Dec. 9. The papers bring news of Rory O’Connor’s and Mellowes’ execution as “reprisals.” That seems the worst step yet, the deliberate approval of reprisal. And a train set on fire near the Broadstone, passengers in it. I hardly think the children can come home.

Dec. 11. This morning I was told that trees had been cut and thrown across the road to block it between Dooley’s and Diveney’s gates. I wondered the Free Staters had not come. “Who would tell them? Whoever would tell them would be shot.” So, there being a market at Ardrahan, carts and cars have been coming round by our avenues. Someone in a motor, coming to the house to ask which turn to take, gave me the Independent with an account of Deputies’ houses in Dublin being burned; children rescued from two, but one in hospital with burns. It makes one sick at heart.

Dec. 22. George Yeats (Mrs. W. B. Yeats) had heard at Gogarty’s the Government could no longer refuse to release Miss MacSwiney when a resolution asking for it was sent from Cork by Michael Collins’ sisters and Mrs. Mulcahy. And that a big offensive is threatened for the 6th December (ratifying of the Treaty). Also that they will not state the crimes of the four men executed, because then revolvers would be carried by those who have no criminal charge against them. Two of those executed were criminal looters, one had been a spy in the Government Offices and had betrayed the journey planned for Michael Collins; the fourth was the man who had shot (when robbing a public-house) Cosgrave’s uncle dead. She hears also that St. Helena has actually been borrowed for the prisoners.

Little Anne Yeats welcomed me. She had shouted the other day “Sacred Heart!—the cat’s eating the canary!” and the maids rushed in just in time to save it from the cat’s mouth. But Anne is especially indignant because she says the cat had already had its tea. Jan. 22, 1923. Yes, those three have been taken to prison, it is said, for the robberies that have been taking place. The six from a farmer on the road at Raheen gate, and robbery from a house at Crannagh and other houses. Some men were given “a beating” for these same robberies. I felt horror at the beatings, feeling there ought to be some trial or evidence, but X. says, “There’s not one of those that got it this time but deserved it, they had all a hand in the bad work.” But this method was brought in by the Black-and-Tans.

Jan. 23. These floggings on my mind. I wrote to Yeats in protest. The young men taken away were flogged as well as those left “with a thonged whip.” I was not surprised to hear Hogan’s house at Kilchreest has been destroyed. Hatred must grow—“death answering to death through the generations like clerks answering one another at the Mass.”

Jan. 29. Marian says the account she has heard of the floggings—no doubt it has grown—is that they were lashed with “the cat,” a whip made of steel as used to be used. And that their shrieks could be heard in Gort.

Jan. 31. The month ends gloomily, for to-day’s paper tells of the burning of Palmerstown and the blowing-up of Kilteragh, where I had enjoyed such pleasant days, and the kidnapping of Senator Bagwell.

Feb. 2. Free State soldiers yesterday made a great clearance of cattle—even goats—put on Murphy’s land and other land about Gort, “that the owners hadn’t been able to put a beast of their own on these two years.” A beginning of law and order.

Feb. 19. Yesterday I went to see George Yeats, just come from London. She had been round to see Mrs. Gogarty with some message and had found her crying, having just seen in the papers that Renvyle had been burned down. They had met Gogarty at a party at Lavery’s a few evenings ago. A servant coming in had let a glass fall with a crash and every Irish person of the party had jumped, so said Lavery. Yeats is to be back to-morrow. While I was there, about 5 o’clock, the armed guard arrived to stay the night. I went on to tea with the Hydes. He is depressed, sees no light, criticises the Government, but when I would not join, saying they are certainly doing their best, he agreed and says Cosgrave keeps them together by a sort of bonhomie. And that things are hard for them, they ought to have shot the officers at Sligo who looked on while the station was burned, but they can’t trust the army. In Mayo battles the firing is into the air, neither side wishes to hit anyone on the other. They want to keep both armies going, one side gets pay, the other loots. But in Kerry they want to kill.

June 12. Mrs. Green came in. Says the discontent of the Pressmen (who have left Dail and Senate in a body and will give no reports) is due chiefly to their not being allowed inside the tea-rooms and to the draughtiness of their place in the room. She complains of the hard narrow seats in the Senate and the dullness of the speeches. She said there would be a troublesome time before the elections. And Yeats, when I told him, said, yes, he had been advised not to have his pictures back yet awhile. They are rather afraid the habeas corpus trial may be in favour of the prisoners if it can be proved there is “not a state of war” in the country, and that they must be released. And it is known they have made plans for taking up arms again.

June 17. Home yesterday. Yeats with me, a quiet journey, and all here looks well and peaceful. All has been quiet, the only trouble that Athenry robbery and the execution of young Murphy—only 23. One says the gang were Republicans, another says they were a land-gang, getting money to stock land they were about to seize from Lord Ashtown and wherever they could get it. One of the three, a young man from Crannagh, has not yet been taken. M. says a young fellow came here about ten days ago, looking starved, asked for food. She brought him out bread and butter and milk, and had some coppers in her hand to give him, but saw his clothes were good; and he asked for nothing but when he had eaten went away by the yard. She had heard since a description of the Crannagh man and thinks it was he. A terrible fate, wandering in fear of death.

June 28. Tim here. He says Murphy and the other were “put down in a hole with all their clothes on them and their boots and not a coffin to keep the clay from them. The Black-and-Tans did nothing so bad as that.” But I reminded him of the Loughnane boys.

July 18. Marian, back from her fortnight in Limerick, says, “They are all Republicans there,” and a bad time is expected this winter. But that the prisoners are angry with De Valera and some of them say they will shoot him when they get out. “Mugs for us in the gaol, and he drinking his tea out of a tea-cup.”

Aug. 16. This morning a rumour that De Valera had been arrested at Ennis. And then Paddy Cahel coming down with some money for trees he had bought from Margaret told me he had gone to the Ennis meeting yesterday, and De Valera had spoken for about five minutes when the Free State soldiers came in an armed lorry and made their way to the platform, firing some shots as they came, and took him. He went quietly. There were, he thinks, ten thousand there. There were a few hurt or wounded. (It is just as Yeats said of the English Government in 1916, “helping the prisoners to make their own ballads,”) arresting him then, though he had been walking about in Dublin and could have been taken easily enough there or elsewhere.

I am sorry De Valera was not let at least time to state his case. He began by speaking against violence and the killing of brother by brother. I feel more than ever a Republican “without malice.”

Aug. 23. W. B. Yeats here yesterday. I say the fault of the Government is this hatred of the Republicans they show in their speeches. He says it is justified or at least excused by the information they have had from America that it is to be said, in case of a Republican defeat, that the elections were not carried out fairly, and assassinations are threatened. But with the Republicans saying the prisoners are flogged or tortured they have probably the same hatred. And so, I said, they work on two parallel lines and will never meet, and I think if they had left De Valera alone as long as he is at all inclined to stop the killings, there would have been a possible chance for the lines to come together.

Aug. 27. Polling Day. I have decided not to vote. I think not from indolence but because keeping out of this election leaves me free to join those Republicans “without malice” I hope to see organised. And it is my quarrel with the Government that they did not allow De Valera to make that speech declaring his policy. I think it may probably have been on those lines and the foundation of peace. If all should join to ask for the abolition of that insincere oath it would hardly be refused. And if Ulster is coming in there is little or nothing to quarrel over.

Father O’Kelly from Kilbecanty and a Father Hehir and Miss Power came to see the place and I brought them to lunch. Father O’Kelly a strong Republican. I gave him my views about Ganmolais League and read what I had written in 1919 about Dominion Home Rule.

He said when he was leaving, “I think if you had voted it would have been for the Republicans.”

I said, “No, because I have no surety they will cease doing violence.”

He is afraid of the country growing apathetic if we wait for the Colonies to become Republics. But we agreed that the abolition of the Oath would probably bring both sides together. And who wants it?

Sept. 2. Republican successes yesterday up to 37. And even in May, when I spoke of their probable gains and their strength, Yeats (founding his opinion on Government news) said “De Valera won’t have more than six,” so confidently that I did not ask whether he meant votes or members! I still think it best the strength of Republican feeling has to be acknowledged, it may be the foundation of some compromise—yesterday I thought “friendliness,” but a Sinn Fein manifesto was published saying the new members (it looks as if they mean to go into the Dail) will vote against the “murder Government” on every question. My mind and hand still on my play, I keep wondering what Christ would do if He were here now, and it all seems to go back to “love worketh no ill to his neighbour,” and the forgiveness of your brothers’ trespasses.

Nov. 10. Dinner with Lennox Robinson at the Metropole: Yeats and I, Mrs. Green, O. Esmonde; who talked most of the time, amusingly enough, giving an account of the Imperial Conference, where Ireland was placed beneath India and beneath Newfoundland.

The King, at the reception, where he had given his hand woodenly to the other representatives, came trotting across the grass to shake hands warmly with the Irish, and said, “Cosgrave ought to be here.” He had said to John MacNeill, hearing there had been delay in arresting de Valera, “a great pity the whole batch of them were not kept locked up in 1916 and there would never have been all this trouble,” forgetting that MacNeill was one of those locked up! He is anxious for an invitation to Ireland.

We went on to the Abbey to see John Bull. There had been some talk about the hunger-strike, Esmonde saying the Government would not yield. And this is Yeats’ view. I had some talk with him after we came home, the first time I had seen him alone, and again this morning. He says the Government cannot give in. That if they had let Miss MacSwiney die when she began it this new hunger-strike would not have begun, but they had a sentimental feeling for her for her brother’s sake.

We talked a long time this morning. I had had a bad night and thought it over a long time, and had come to a determination of writing to the papers about it, asking that the crime or accusation against these four hundred men remaining on strike might be told out, that we might know if consenting to their suicide is in accordance with the conscience of Christian nations and the law of God. I meant to go and consult “A.E.” about this. But Yeats is violently against any protest, says it is necessary to the stability of Government to hold out; says they cannot publish the accusations because many are on suspicion, or as they think certainty, but they have not evidence that can be given.

I ask if that might not come under an amnesty at the conclusion of the war, for the Government themselves signed death sentences during it. But he says no, and he says the Government cannot publish the real reason for the detention of this thousand, they themselves are in danger of being assassinated by some among them.

I asked if they could not, on their side, try to get rid of the Oath; that would do away with the real cause of trouble, the keeping of Republicans out of the Dail. He says they cannot in the present state of English feeling, it would be useless to ask for it, and besides we may probably want English help in getting the Loan. And the Senate can make no move in the matter; indeed, Senate and Dail and Government seem as helpless as the prisoners, and the war of bitter words goes on. He says there is a split in the Government, two parties, and this nearly broke it up a while ago.

There have been serious army scandals. One of the worst, the case of two girls, Unionists, daughters of a doctor, brought out of their house in their nightdresses and lashed with belts. Kevin O’Higgins, to his credit, demanded the exposure and dismissal of the culprit. But in consequence of this one, all Kerry has gone Republican. All so sad and unsatisfactory and, I think, humiliating.

Nov. 11. I went to John Bull matinée, acting very good indeed; audience small, the Republican order against amusements accountable and we shall hardly cover the week’s expenses.

Went on to Jack Yeats. Found him with McGreevy and a silent man who I found later was Tuohy, the artist. Then Lennox Robinson came in, said he wanted a word with me, and we left together. He said, “Can we not do anything about the hunger-strikers? Write a letter perhaps.” Strange, for I had not spoken to him of my own restless night or my talk with Yeats. So we walked and planned and at last went into the Arts Club and wrote a letter, he the body, I the last sentences that we thought might do. We thought Stephens and Jack Yeats might join in signing it. He called in Cruise O’Brien from another room to ask if the Independent would put it in. He thought so; made one or two slight alterations, thinking it showed a slight prepossession against the Government; then I came back to Merrion Square.

Later Lennox Robinson telephoned that Jack Yeats had refused to sign, “he is much too red to do so,” and asked if we should still send it on with our own names and Stephens’, who has agreed. I said, “Yes.” It may perhaps bring letters or suggestions from others and possibly save some lives. Then I told Yeats what I had done and proposed leaving his house for the hotel, as he might not approve. He would not allow that, and after talking for a while thought perhaps we had done right. Of course, one won’t have any gratitude from either side. But I slept better.

Nov. 13. Our letter, Lennox Robinson’s and mine, in Independent and Irish Times this morning, with no comment:

“Sir,—Are the Government and the Republican party playing a game for prestige and power with human lives as counters? Does each side consider the game to be worth the stakes? We (and, we are sure, thousands of other Irish men and women agree with us) believe that from this contest no victory can come to either party but that the only certain loser will be Ireland herself.

“Sooner or later one side or the other must give way, for it is inconceivable that obstinate pride will allow hundreds of our fellow-countrymen to die. To save—not the Free State or the Republic—but the fair fame of Ireland we plead that both sides should give way now, before life has been sacrificed.

“We ask the Republican Cabinet to order the hunger-strike to be abandoned on condition that the Government gives an undertaking to put on trial immediately the men now on hunger-strike. If the Government refuse to do this we ask them to tell us with what crimes these men are charged. We need assurance from both sides that the deaths of these men are in accordance with the conscience of Christian nations and the Divine law.”

Yesterday afternoon I went to Bushy Park Road to see Molly Childers. I had not seen her since just after the signing of the Treaty, when she had been so violent. It was sad coming to the house where I had not been since Erskine’s execution; they had been so happy and proud in their possession of it, after the little Chelsea flat. She looked well and pretty and calmer than before; began by saying she had no animosities now. I told her I had written a letter she would probably object to, but it was with a good purpose. She said at once she objected to the demand to the Government to try these prisoners, “they would not accept this.” I said it was very unlikely the Government would offer it, (did not tell what Yeats had said as to that,) but that it was necessary to make some proposal that might lead to bridge-building. But she was vexed. But then she grew quiet and talked of the hardships in gaol, declared the strike had not been organised but came from within, and says it would not be possible to call it off; they are determined to go on to death. She spoke a good deal of Ernest O’Malley and he had written her a letter saying he was quite resolved and quite happy.

I went then to consult Mrs. Green. She is sympathetic, but says she knows very strong pressure has been put on the Government to yield, but in vain. They are afraid of being assassinated. What keeps them safe now is the knowledge that they would retaliate on those in prison, as they did on Rory O’Connor and Mellowes (and of that vengeance and retaliation there seems no possible end!).

Nov. 14. This morning I went to see Lady Arnott and gave her a message from Mrs. Childers. She was touched and said she would do what she could to help, but that The Irish Times has no influence with the Government, because it has not always been friendly to them. I spoke of my hope of getting English opinion round, and she agreed; and that these men who are not giving in are at least brave men. She, herself English, does feel the heroic element in the strikers who are giving their lives for an ideal. So I went away rather comforted.

Then to see “A.E.” He, of course, sympathetic but rather in despair of the Government. (Mrs. Green said, “That poor little Cosgrave has been so scolded and warned by his colleagues he is a mass of nerves.”) He asked how I liked what he had written in The Irish Statesman. I said I very much liked his article on “The Squandering of Irish Sentiment,” but that now I think he has said enough about the Government view and the faults on both sides, and ought, as I had written in my letter, write with “the conscience of Christian nations and the Divine law” in his mind, for he has influence in England and ought to put the pleas for release on the highest ground, and he agreed to this. Then we spoke of the abolition of the Oath, but he says Douglas thinks it impossible. But he will get Douglas to write an article on it in the next Statesman, and that they may draw out some possible solution.

Robinson came in rather low. Jack Yeats had been violent over the letter, said only a Britisher would sign it, and someone he had met said it would be a cruel thing to bring any of those men up for trial. But I was assured there was no chance of that. Mrs. Green scoffed at the idea of De Valera being tried, (Mrs. Childers had said there is great danger of it and of his execution). She says they are keeping him shut up lest his own party should kill him! I said it does seem as if they were making a Queen Bee of him, waxing up his cell.

Nov. 16. On Monday night “A.E.” and Lieutenant X. were with Yeats. I looked in but didn’t stay. Yeats said they had talked of the prisoners. X. said they were not on hunger-strike, were being fed. And that the stories of ill-treatment are not true—gave instance, thinks it “likely only half a dozen men will die.” Dreadful, I think, even if that half-dozen were not of the bravest. It is the abolition or altering of the Oath that would save all and make peace possible and an alternative Government. On Wednesday before leaving I went in to see “A.E.” and say good-bye. He has written some paragraphs for his Statesman, says there is a murder gang on both sides, and that the Government have executed or killed over ninety men since the split. I don’t know how many the Republicans have killed.

Nov. 21. The papers did not come till this morning, and tell of the first death among the hunger-strikers, Barry. A terrible responsibility on those who encouraged them and those who will not concede anything to their weakness.

Nov. 24. The papers to-day say the hunger-strike is over, thank God! A defeat for those who supported it, but if the Government will now show magnanimity, it may lead towards peace. And if the Loan, now offered, can be subscribed in Ireland, there will be more hope of getting rid of that stumbling-block, the Oath.

Dec. 4. I have been reading the last four Sinn Fein numbers, looking for some ground of meeting, but they were barren of all but anger with the Government and bitterness against Collins, especially, among those who had accepted the Treaty. And Mulcahy is held personally responsible for the death of some prisoner. I am sorry, I wish the wound could be healed. Yet one is touched by the portraits and letters given, of boys, Cassidy, Fisher, Gaffney, Twohig, executed a year ago, Nov. 17, 1922. And of others executed Nov. 30, 1922. They look so young and the letters to their mothers go to one’s heart—“I send home the mouth-organ to you for Paddy,” “Dear Mother, do not worry over me as I am proud to die for Ireland,” “Do not be angry or bear any malice or hatred.” Erskine Childers’ letter and portrait also. “Died Nov. 24th, 1922.” “I have been told that I am to be shot to-morrow at seven.” And all for that wretched Oath.

Dec. 12. Forgiveness! Father O’Kelly, a Republican, has been here to lunch and spent the afternoon, and we talked of this—of the possibility of the two parties in Ireland coming together. I asked what hope, and he said, “Just what you said yourself, the only hope is in the Oath being so altered that the Republicans can come into the Dail.” He thinks there are probably conversations going on with De Valera about this. Yet he thinks De Valera, when released, may be set aside in favour of some less restrained leader. I asked if any released prisoners had come back to Kilbecanty. He says several. That some, most of them, say they were not badly treated, but others complain. But there are others who are very bitter. And the great mistake of the Government was the execution of the men who were in prison, Mellowes and the others; that will not be forgiven. He is anxious, is afraid of reprisals, and that the arms in the country are a danger, will perhaps be used in armed raids. He agrees with me that employment now would be the best hope, and the Dail hereafter. But he thinks the Government have great courage, one must admire them for that, though it is said now that their reason for keeping so many prisoners in is fear for their personal safety, they keep them as hostages (just what I had been told in Dublin).

I told Father O’Kelly one should not be more angry with Government or Republicans than with different sections of one’s own mind, tilting to good or bad on one or the other side, in many questions besides this.

Dec. 24. Almost all the prisoners from this neighbourhood have been released and are said to be looking well. O. says, “I was sitting behind the two boys at Mass and the one that had been working at home was thin, but the other had a big poll of flesh on him, and a red jaw.”

Feb. 22, 1924. The plumber, mending the pump, said how quiet Gort is now, the trouble over. And I, feeling that though the Republicans are beaten they are not won, said I hoped good feeling would come and, now the fight is over, they will all shake hands, and he said, “That’s right.” But, later, typing my diaries of 1922, the shooting of that Connemara lad and of the others at his funeral, I felt more doubtful of a swift forgiveness in the face of such bitter memories. The Dublin executions were more conspicuous, but it is the countryside that remembers.

July 25. De Valera’s release was announced in the papers the day I went up to Dublin, and Stack’s, and others. I am so glad. There did not seem to be much excitement and he has made no important speech yet.

After his release from prison in the summer of 1924, Mr. De Valera became convinced that, under the new circumstances, the policy of abstention from the Dail was a futile one. He determined accordingly to initiate a movement on constitutional lines and to enter the national parliament with his colleagues. This departure, with the launching of a new organisation, which aimed at the abolition of the Oath, brought many recruits to his ranks. And at the General Election of June 1927 he won 44 seats against the governmental party’s 46—a result which showed the turning of the tide in his favour.

June 13, 1927. The elections so far show a loss for Government, though the Ministers, the best of them, Cosgrave, O’Higgins, Blythe, Hogan, are in. Sergeant Breen thinks all De Valera’s men (not himself) will go into the Dail, taking the oath, but then clamour for its removal.

June 25. Election weeks well over, and nothing exciting at the opening of the Dail. De Valera and his men just walked into the building and out again. (But now, June 30, 1928, the paper tells of the uproar in the Dail yesterday, “Amazing scene in Dail. Twelve hours’ sitting. The debate on abolishing the Referendum. Deputy Frank Aiken suspended,” and much bad language used. But that is better than leaving the country to be governed by one party only, and the coming-in of De Valera will work for good in the end.)



Lady Gregory was not surrounded by a great circle of friends but the few she had were near and dear and the friendships went on for many years. She deliberately held herself aloof from Dublin “Society.” Her Theatre was a People’s Theatre, a National one, and she would not lay herself open to an accusation of snobbery, of trying to enlist the fickle sympathies of the important and the rich. She visited, before the Treaty of 1921, the Viceregal Lodge on only one occasion, to fight (and beat) Lord Aberdeen on the subject of the production of The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet. Great courtesy was shown to her and to Yeats, (I quote her words,) “The kindly offers of a cup of tea; the consuming desire of that cup of tea after the dust of the railway journey all across Ireland; our heroic refusal, lest its acceptance should in any way, even if it did not weaken our resolve, compromise our principles.” No malice was kept by the Aberdeens and she was begged a few years later to dine at the Lodge and was assured that her name would be kept out of the papers: she refused. Years later, when the Free State was established, she would lunch with Mr. Healy the Governor-General and, later still, stay there with James and Josephine McNeill and delight in their hospitality and the beautiful house, and the exquisite view to the Dublin hills. Her friends in Dublin were, of course, the Yeatses, with whom she frequently stayed. Then her friends were the entourage of the Abbey from Sara Allgood down to the charwomen, and “A.E.,” James Stephens, Lady Ardilaun.

One great friendship of her life was with Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, and she often stayed with him in his lovely Sussex house, Newbuildings. But though there is a great deal about him in these Journals he is by this time old and ill and worried by domestic difficulties. There are interesting memories of his views on English poetry, but they belong more to a Life of him than to her life.

In later years her best friends in England were Bernard and Mrs. Shaw, and I think I have recorded almost every word of her memories of them. He had been a firm and faithful friend of the Abbey from, perhaps, the day Yeats and Lady Gregory rejected John Bull because they had not an actor to play “Broadbent.” That may have been a mistake but, years later, the amende was made. Blanco Posnet was censored in England. “The Directors of the Irish National Theatre, Lady Gregory and Mr. William Butler Yeats,” (I am quoting Mr. Shaw,) “rose to the occasion with inspiriting courage. I am a conciliatory person, and was willing, as I always am, to make every concession in return for having my own way. But Lady Gregory and Mr. Yeats not only would not yield an inch, but insisted, within the due limits of gallant warfare, on taking the field with every circumstance of defiance, and winning the battle with every trophy of victory.”

She stayed frequently with them in their country home, Ayot St. Lawrence, and I begin this section with memories of her visits to them, but they will crop up later here and there: indeed, it is a section of her Journals very difficult to segregate.



Nov. 19, 1916. Ayot St. Lawrence. I lunched with the Shaws at 10 Adelphi Terrace, Mr. and Mrs. Parry there. She was Miss Gertrude Bannister, who had been turned out of a school for being Casement’s cousin; but this had led to her marriage so it was all for the best.

There was some talk at lunch of Spiritualism. G.B.S. said his mother had been very much given to table-turning, and that a spirit used to come who gave his name as Matthew Haffigan—a name he has used later in John Bull, and who was a most awful liar. They tried to verify some of his statements, and they were always false. His mother, however, went on quite happily. G.B.S. himself became an adept at cheating at séances and gave no belief to anything in them. He says his mother’s real love was for gardens, that if he were run over by a dray she would say, “Oh, poor fellow!” but if a beautiful rose had been crushed she would go out of her mind with grief!

We came on here, in snow, but the house is warm and bright with fires in every room and pots of chrysanthemums. They told me of Clutton Brock’s lecture on art. G.B.S. says he is in the hands of a little Morris gang, and says what he is told without understanding it. He was asked questions after his lecture and crumpled up. He had abused “machine-made ornament” and G.B.S. got up and asked whether he meant by that machine-made or machine-duplicated ornament. He said he didn’t know, and G.B.S. said that made all the difference because a machine is capable of making beautiful ornament, (he interpolated a description of one which can form ornament by sand subjected to musical vibrations,) but the duplicating of ornament is a very different thing, and that the work of the Kelmscott Press is largely machine work, there is only one copy of each book, the Chaucer for instance, which is from the individual hand, all the rest are duplications. Then a lady at the back of the room stood up and asked Brock whether it was not a fact that what made the Kelmscott Chaucer so great was its being the product of one man. Brock said he didn’t quite know—perhaps Mr. Shaw would say. Shaw said that the type had been invented by Morris, and the drawings were by Burne-Jones and that they had been reduced to proper size by Catterson Smith; and that perhaps Chaucer himself had something to do with the book—and then the lady sat down. He says Morris began by trying to get dyes as pure and bright as on a pack of cards, but that they were not as permanent as the intermediate tones which he had to adopt, but it wasn’t because he liked them best. He was indignant one day with a lady who came to look at things in his shop and said they were “too bright.” He said, “If you want dirt, ma’am, you must go and look for it in the mud.” Manners were not his strong point. He was called from his work one day to see a Bishop who wanted to give an order for stained glass and insisted on seeing Mr. Morris himself, and he burst into the shop saying, “Where’s that bloody Bishop!” G.B.S. sometimes said to him, “You ought to put a gas engine here,” and he would generally do it. And he said once, “What do you want with wallpapers—the best thing to do with a wall is to whitewash it,” and Morris said, “You are quite right.” He was outgrowing his own early ideas but his followers stuck to them. Clutton Brock had protested against the Victorian habit of bedding out, and especially denounced lobelia, saying people only grew it to show they had a greenhouse. “Well, lobelia doesn’t need a greenhouse, it is an annual and sowed from year to year, in any little frame or shelter, and it is a lovely shade of blue, the rarest colour in flowers.”

Last night G.B.S. read me a story he had written. He had been asked for one for a gift-book to be sold for the Belgian Children’s Milk Fund, and had refused, saying the Society of Authors objected to these gift-books. But the lady came again to say she had got leave from the Society to print it if she gave them a percentage. He was quite taken aback and said he hadn’t promised it, but in the end sat down and wrote it straight off. Then the lady brought it back in a few days to say she wouldn’t put it in the gift-book, that Mrs. Whitelaw Reid had offered £400 for it to put it in the New York Tribune. So the Belgian children will get plenty of money for that. He read it aloud and it is beautiful and touching, about a child and the Kaiser. He says his idea was to show people that the Kaiser is not quite a demon. I told him “Raymond” in Sir Oliver Lodge’s book said there were books as yet unwritten on earth stored up “on the other side” to be put into some writer’s mind, and I believe that one of these was the origin of his story. He read also the first part of a play, very amusing, The House in the Clouds, but says he doesn’t know how to finish it, it is so wild. He thought bringing my “fresh mind” to bear on it might be a help. (This was Heartbreak House.)

March 3, 1919. To Ayot St. Lawrence. The Shaws in the train but didn’t see me, I being third and they first class. G.B.S. first attacked me about public schools, (having been reading “Joan and Peter” and “Loom of Youth,”) and denounced Harrow and wondered we could send Richard there, they learn nothing but to hate classics and all knowledge and their mind closes up. I said that had not been the case with the two Harrovians, my husband and Robert, which left him (G.B.S.) rather weakened.

Last night at Lamer he gave an account of a wonderful and fantastic play he is writing beginning in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve, with Lilith who finds a lonely immortality impossible to face and so gives herself up to be divided into Man and Woman. He read a scene in it (on the pier at Burren) about a thousand years in the future with the Irish coming back to kiss the earth of Ireland and not liking it when they see it.

Talking of . . . having joined Stephen Gwynn’s Middle Party, he said, “A man who is a failure is always popular, because he always justifies all the other incompetents.”

Nansen talked of Irish folk tales, said Irish literature was the chief influence on Sweden in old days, and these tales on their stories. He had always been struck by their fantasy, the hero, who was angry, (Cuchulain,) having to be cooled in five succeeding baths. I gave him “Gods and Fighting Men,” finding a copy here I could borrow. (I got another to replace it.)

I was telling him Mr. Blunt’s experience of the Spanish Court, the standing for hours while the fat Queen had her hand kissed. He said, “It was just the same while I was Minister here in England. We had to stand and watch the ceremony for hours. The Dutch Minister all but fainted, and we were all tired out.” We talked of forms of Government. He says, “Kings will never come again and Parliamentary Government has become unworkable. In Sweden just now there are three equally balanced parties, and no one will join with another, so no legislation can be passed. Democracy seems the solution, yet America is not ideal and has a constitution no one can make head or tail of.”

He spoke a little of an adventure at the North Pole when he saw all his belongings swept away, nothing left him but a chronometer and a penknife, and expected his death but was saved, and how well he had slept on the skins of three bears they had just killed, so thick and elastic with blubber. He had slept for 44 hours from 6 p.m. and was puzzled when he awoke to see the sun still in the west.

Mr. Garrard made us laugh by telling us how he had asked Lady Cunard if she had ever seen Wagner conduct! G.B.S. says he has given Nansen a “vivid account” of me, and had especially told him of The Image as a play that would be appreciated in Norway.

At lunch Cherry Garrard was here. I told G.B.S. that I had heard the cheerful little ticking of his typewriter like chickens picking their way out of the egg, and had listened with joy as I used to do when I heard a purring from Yeats’ room. He composes on the typewriter from shorthand notes. I asked what he thought of the Pelman System. He says, “People are paid to write it up.” They had written asking him, offering him £50 to write on it. He had replied that they had offered a friend of his £100 and he was much hurt at their offer to him. They wrote back that they knew he did not care for money, and had merely offered this “as a sort of postage,” as he paraphrases it, and offering him £200 or anything he liked to ask. He replied that he thought of asking them for a sum of money in return for not writing on it. But that he is already paying fees for two people, (his Secretary and an Australian soldier who had written asking him to do so,) and would wait till he saw what the effect is.

Last night talking of influences, Nansen said one of the chief influences on him had been reading Brand when he was about sixteen. It taught him strength of will. We talked of Prohibition. G.B.S. says the wives of working-men won’t like it because it is easier to housekeep so as to satisfy a drunken man on a smaller sum than to satisfy a sober man on a larger sum; and women say their husbands come in morose and out of humour if they don’t get something to drink.

G.B.S. read me his play beginning in the Garden of Eden. The first act a fine thing, “a Resurrection Play” I called it. The second, two hundred years later, an argument between Cain, Adam and Eve, the soldier against the man of peace. I told him I thought it rather monotonous, an Ossianic dialogue, and he said that he thought of introducing Cain’s wife, “the Modern Woman,” or perhaps only speaking of her in the argument. I said even that would be an improvement as Cain is unnecessarily disagreeable and one could forgive if he is put, by aspersions on his wife, in a passion, for one can forgive where there is passion. It is like drunkenness—“Ah, you can’t blame him, he was drunk,” when a man has cut your head open. He laughed and agreed or seemed to.

Nov. 9. I came to Ayot St. Lawrence. G.B.S. met me at the station and motored me home, the light flashing on the narrow lane and the hedges, still brown and yellow and bronze. The house full of comfort and fires. He had just been writing a review of Chesterton’s book on Ireland, read aloud a good deal of the book in the evening—the review will be better. Talking of the Dublin statues, he says he had, when a child, a dream one night that he went out and went through the garden, and at the end of it opened a gate and saw the sky all filled with wonderful light, and in the centre was God. And he was in the form of the statue of William III in College Green. He is very indignant at the King’s proclamation, (a lying proclamation, too, because we are still at war,) ordering all work to cease for two minutes on Armistice Day. He asked what I thought and I said I thought it dreadful, I felt it an impertinence. We who love our dead will think of them as ever, and those whose work is hindered and have none to care for will think impatiently. But I am sorry he sent his message to the Daily News calling it “tomfoolery,” it will be misunderstood. He meant the “tomfoolery” of the King stopping factories and upsetting business by his royal word. He says he was in such a rage about it when the Daily News request came that he wrote it hastily.

Nov. 10. Yesterday afternoon G.B.S. drove me to Cherry Garrard’s in the afternoon and left me there for a while and came back for me. After dinner I read some of the memoir—he thought it a very good opening, “a very promising memoir,” but that there ought to be more about Hugh’s childhood. And he was struck with what Hugh had said to Duncan about “possessing” the pictures he gave to galleries, and his hatred of waste.

He talked afterwards of what Wilfred Blunt had written of William Morris and of his being without love for anyone, (except the invalid daughter,) and said it is so often with men immersed in their work, they have no room for another strong affection. The first time he saw Mrs. Morris it was a shock. She was lying full length on a sofa, her long limbs covered, and looked death-like—like clay. He was trying the other day if he could remember anything she had ever said and could not, except that one day when he had taken a second helping of some pudding, she said, “You seem to like that pudding,” and when he answered “Yes,” she said, “There is suet in it.” That word, aimed at his vegetarianism, is all he can remember. One evening Morris came in to where he was—I forget the place—with an air of terrible depression and seemed under an intolerable trouble, but said nothing. After a while G.B.S. said, “I wonder why you don’t, at your Kelmscott Press, print The Pilgrim’s Progress, and, as he hoped, Morris at once started up, threw off his depression, became excited about the idea, saying how he would like to do it, how it could be carried out; his interest in his work had driven away whatever thought oppressed him. He thinks “Sigurd” a very fine poem indeed, and spoke of his (Morris’s) “beautiful prose,” but says people didn’t think much of what he did because he did it too easily, just as they don’t think as much of a singer whose lovely voice comes out easily as of someone who shouts till he bursts a blood-vessel.

I told Cherry Garrard that G.B.S. had been giving such wise advice and he said, “I always find out what Lady Gregory wants and then advise it—that’s an easy way to get a reputation.”

March 20, 1920. G.B.S. came a little after 4, hoarse from a cold and lecturing, and going on to another lecture. I was sad at his having come, but in a few minutes Birrell and Tony, whom I had expected later, came in, and Birrell was delighted to see G.B.S., didn’t often come across him, and he and Tony had been to Pygmalion and talked of it, and G.B.S. said how troublesome Mrs. Campbell had grown; he had three times at rehearsal had to send her out of the theatre, and the other actors didn’t like the way she treated them, telling one that no one with such a face as his had any business on the stage.

The sale of pictures also he talked of, and how the high prices for Old Masters are given by the same men who take boxes at the opera and send their wives there plastered with diamonds just to show their solvency.

May 5, 1921. This morning, he said he had sent for an old novel, his first, that had never been published, that is wanted for his collected edition. He was not able to get his first novels published for a long time. “Love Among the Artists” (I think) was at last published in a Socialist review merely to fill up space. All the novels were refused both in England and America. He thinks it was because he came at an unlucky moment. Stevenson had just published “Treasure Island”. The Education Act passed in 1870 (?) had taught people to read, and publishers who had been putting their capital into George Eliot, etc., found to their surprise that a story that in my boyhood would have been published in the Boys’ Penny Magazine was what the public really liked. Macmillan and Chatto & Windus read my novels and said they would like to hear from me when I had a new one, but didn’t think these good enough. “Cashel Byron” was founded on a friend, Beatty, who used to take me to boxing matches. My ideas of property were very vague. I think I gave my heroine a fortune of £40,000 a year from about sixteen acres. I offered Man and Superman to Murray, but he wrote back refusing it, saying that while recognising the talent of the work, he found it “subversive of all the principles he upheld.” (Very right of Murray!)

At dinner Shaw said he had been at the tragic performance of Henry James’s Guy Domville at St. James’s Theatre. “It began very well with very good dialogue, but the second act was very bad, a drunkard behaving in a stupid way, pouring glasses of wine into flower-pots, treated more as a novel. And just at that time audiences were in a booing habit. But the tragedy was that Henry James only came to the theatre at the end to ask how the performance had gone, and someone said the audience was calling for the author and dragged him on the stage, and he found the booing going on, though I and others clapped as loud as we could, for it was disgraceful behaviour and not more than half joined in the booing. Next day I wrote for the Saturday Review a violent attack on this. So did Clement Scott. He was a Catholic. Alexander came on the stage but did not act as he should—he was almost apologetic, he ought to have told them then they didn’t deserve a decent play and he would never give them one again. The first night of my Widower’s Houses, I came in to see half the house applauding, half booing, but I didn’t mind. And I have never felt nervous at the performance of my own plays. The only times in my life I felt really nervous was at the Opera in Dublin when my mother sang—though she always did well, yet I used to suffer from anxiety.”

May 28. Yesterday I came to Ayot St. Lawrence. Charlotte Shaw had advised my coming by 4.15 train, but being Whitsuntide, Tiny persuaded me to go by an earlier one to avoid the crush, so I waited at Hatfield for a couple of hours and the time passed pleasantly enough as I went into an antiquarian’s shop, bought a brown stoneware flask in the likeness of Lord John Russell, with “The Spirit of Freedom” on it. Then the owner, Mr. Speight, showed me his wares, and gave me tea in a charming summer parlour. He had begun dealing simply because he owned a house opposite to the one he lived in, and thought he might as well utilise it. G.B.S. and Charlotte came to meet me, he back from his Scotch lecturing; had immense audiences. I asked what his moral purpose was in speaking to the Scotch—what he was doing for them. He said he wasn’t doing them any good, that was the worst of it. He had gone to lecture for the Fabian Society of Edinburgh, and when in Scotland some time ago he had had an audience of working-men and tried to help them; now he had a paying audience of the well-to-do; but he must have set up that Fabian Society for ever and ever.

He is pleased that Heartbreak House has had a good run to a steady house in America. After it had been accepted, the producer, a man with a German name, wrote to him many compliments, but saying he found it necessary to make several cuts. G.B.S. sent a cable saying he was returning the £500 he had been given in advance, as he would not allow this. The answer was, “Producer sacked. Play proceeding,” and no cuts were made. He says you must either have a light play to go a couple of hours or one that will take at least three hours and that the audience will remember through their lifetime. Methuselah is to be played in three nights and a matinée, and no one may take a ticket for one performance only. Yesterday he had a cheque from Spain to his astonishment, the first money he had ever had from there, it was for “the inevitable Pygmalion.” A collected edition of his works is coming out at £1 1s. a volume and he is writing prefaces, giving his autobiography in that way, all that need ever be told of him. Now that his mother and sister are dead, there is no one to be annoyed, and he can tell the tale of his father’s drunkenness. I say it was his father’s dreams when he had been drinking, which speech failing at the same time would not let him tell out, that are being expressed by him!

We have been for a motor drive. I asked if he was ever nervous lecturing. He said not now, but at the beginning his hands used to tremble so much he could hardly hold the notes (just like me at my lecture for the Theatre at Fagan’s on Thursday!). He used the same lecture all through Scotland, quotes some preacher—Whitefield—“No sermon is any good till you have preached it forty times.” At Newcastle, having an hour to spare before the train left, he had remembered Bewick had left his collection there, and rushed to the museum and found the beautiful plates of birds and made some notes. Some names he had not known as “night-swift” for the jay. He says little owls that have been introduced to this neighbourhood have driven away or killed the nightingales. These owls fly both by day and night, and at night, hearing only the nightingale’s song, they make for them.

In the evening I read Aristotle’s Bellows to them. Both liked it. He said, it was a wonderful thing, “homogeneous, like a poem,” and the language richer even than before—that if it is published with Dragon and Jester (which he remembers from my reading it two years ago) it will make a wonderful book.

Jan. 20, 1922. I lunched at 10 Adelphi Terrace, G.B.S. and Charlotte and Massingham.

I asked G.B.S. when he would come back to Ireland, but he said, “No. I’ll not go. I would be treated as the common enemy.” I said De Valera had promised to join the others against a common enemy, so he might come to unite the two parties. He said, “I am growing fonder of England now, as Napoleon grew fonder of France than of Corsica because he had conquered it. One always loves the country one has conquered best, and I have conquered England; they hang on every word from my lips.”

Shaw had gone to lecture on Ruskin (as the chief and original anarchist) soon after he had written a review of Inge’s “Outspoken Essays,” and was amazed to hear that the Dean of St. Paul’s had insisted on coming to propose the vote of thanks. He did it badly, stumbled and said a few words of deep depression and melancholy. But he wrote a nice letter afterwards and said that his shyness had been so great he had not been able to say what he thought, “but like all animals in captivity I appreciate kindness.”

Massingham (delighted at this) had heard Inge preach in St. Paul’s; he read his sermon, but he could not listen to every word. He said in it that perhaps St. Paul had never seen Jesus and also that he could believe in the Resurrection, but that the Ascension was impossible because one knew that heaven is not in the air, but as the disciples believed it was, he had made it appear to them he was going upwards.

After lunch Massingham spoke of India; has heard that the Prince’s (the Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward VIII) visit was a complete failure, that his very handshaking qualities had been fatal there and shocked the people he meant to impress. G.B.S. agreed and said different countries should be differently treated, and in some it might be necessary to make an impression by cutting off the heads of a hundred men. I told of the Dublin attorney long ago, “I don’t think much of Spencer with his bows and politeness. Give me Abercorn, scowling at you over his beard as if you were dirt!”

Massingham thought they ought, if they wish to keep India subject, have executed Ghandi. I said, another leader would arise, and he said, “No. You can’t so easily replace a saint.” (Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, when I told him this, said, “Yes, he is a saint.”) G.B.S. said they ought to have built a sort of Eiffel Tower and put him in the top where he could not be expected to address the people. I said he would have been as dangerous there, as dangerous as the Mahdi was in the grave from which he was dragged. Massingham hears from his authorities that India has no more use for England, has learned all it has to teach; wants to be left alone. He and G.B.S. agree that it will go, and the Empire is breaking up, and that Ireland has taught her methods, invented by her so successfully, to the other countries in revolt.

G.B.S. talked after Massingham had gone of his own poverty. Says they are living much beyond their income. He is now publishing his own books and his last two years’ profits come to £29! And half the small theatres don’t pay and from the large ones he has to accept bills instead of ready money. I said the Abbey might lift up its head, and he said “yes” and that some provincial ones pay. But Methuselah is selling very well indeed, especially in America, and I told him he must go to lecture there.

May 19, 1923. Came down to Ayot by a train an hour too soon, the taxi having found the road clearer than the one to Waterloo did. So I walked about the village, and then G.B.S. came in his little car. He had telephoned in the morning that Charlotte is in bed with a cold, and asked if I was afraid of infection. I said I was not, but of being in the way, and he said I might put that out of my head, so I have come. We went into the church at Hatfield and he showed me the tombs of the Cecils; the great Elizabethan in white marble, a sharply cut refined face; the last Lord in bronze.

The sexton came and talked, told us what a great man the last was, “It is not yet known how great,” and I had just said to G.B.S. that he would be chiefly remembered by his cession of Heligoland to the Kaiser! The sexton had once spoken to him, at the railway station, had said the train was coming, and he had said it was “a minute late,” and this is a treasured memory.

G.B.S. drove me home and talked of his Joan of Arc play. He has not read Mark Twain, is afraid of being influenced by him. He has read a little of Anatole France and is reading the evidence at the trial, it was published some years ago. He does not idealise her as Mark does, and defends the Church, “it didn’t torture her.” I think there will be something good about the English soldiers. He tells me that Lawrence, who fought in Mesopotamia, had been to see him, is an extraordinary man, very small, living as a private in the army, having resigned his command, and has written a wonderful book, has had five copies linotyped, and lent him one. “It will be one of the great books of the world. He describes every blade of grass and flower and noxious insect, and all the fighting and the terrible crimes of the Turks and the terrible vengeance he and his men took on them. He has not a religious mission like Gordon but must have a touch of his nature. His brother is a missionary in China, or wants to be one, and his mother has the same desire.” He thinks (G.B.S. hears) that all his family will die out because they are all mad. The Government did all they could for him, finally gave him a post in the Colonial Office, but he resigned and enlisted and for a while it was not known where he was. His comrades knew but would not give him away.

May 20. He showed me in the evening this book, and I read a few sentences and said, “It seems as good as Doughty,” and G.B.S. said, “Lawrence is a great admirer of Doughty.” This probably gives him his style.

G.B.S. had been working at Joan without talking of it, but the other day Drinkwater came to see him and remonstrated with him for having omitted to acknowledge his Cromwell which has “a most laudatory dedication to me.” And Shaw had said, “ ‘As you are writing about historical characters I had better warn you that I am writing a play on Joan of Arc.’ So next day it was in the papers, and I have had letters from every actress in the kingdom asking for parts, and a distressed one from a manager who had commissioned Binyon to write on Joan. But he does not seem to have begun it.” As we were going upstairs he showed me a letter he had written in the Literary Supplement on “Printed Plays” in which he says of me, “Some writers have a natural gift of writing dialogue and need no training, and the first that come to mind in a literary sense are Molière, Goldsmith, Chesterton, and Lady Gregory.” Good company to wind up the day with.

To-day talking of Frank Harris and his faults, “If you will ask him to dinner and put him next a cocotte he will talk to her of nothing but Jesus Christ, and if you put him beside a duchess he will talk to her as no one else would but to a cocotte. Yet he never shows respect to meanness. George Moore, on the other hand, though his success is a triumph of industry, never does homage to what is highest.” It is curious, he says, that the most indecent writers just now should be three Irishmen, Harris, Moore, and Joyce. I think it is reaction from the Catholic teaching.

G.B.S. says he chose Joan of Arc because of Bernhardt and others having played so many parts turning on sexual attraction, he wanted to give Joan as a heroine absolutely without that side. And this he emphasises in the first scene, though keeping her charm.

In all the revision of novels and business letters of these last years he had felt as if his imagination had vanished, that he was “done.” And now in the discovery that he writes as well as ever he has grown young again, looks better than for years past, though complaining of aches and pains from sawing wood, to which he had taken for exercise.

I am reading the Lawrence book, it is enthralling, each sentence rich and complete.

Charlotte says Lawrence was a Don at Cambridge. He had been taken with the idea of nationality, of each race having its own, and had hesitated whether to take it as his mission to help Arabia or Ireland, but chose the Arabs.

He had come to lunch with the Shaws while (as he still is) a private, but dressed extremely well, and although he said that a couple of weeks ago he had been washing plates for the sergeants’ mess, she could hardly believe it because his hands were so well cared for. He was charming, but one hears of his thrusting away approaches of friendship with some rudeness. He was disillusioned in Arabia because of Feisul’s brother spending and distributing among friends money that was intended for the war.

G.B.S. told me he had given leave to Mrs. Campbell to publish his letters because she had overdrawn £2,000 at the bank and would have been in great trouble for money, and the publishers promised or advanced it for the book chiefly because of these letters. But she had deceived him, saying that Barrie’s and Burne-Jones’ and other letters were to be published also, and that had not been allowed.

May 21. We have been to Cambridge. Lovely day and a wonderful drive over the smooth roads, not a stone on them, and through hedges and rows of elms and old-fashioned villages. Charlotte is still laid up and could not come. Cockerell met us at the Fitzwilliam Museum and showed us its riches. It made me jealous for the Dublin Gallery, so many donors giving it fine things, and new rooms being built. G.B.S. has given it one of the three John portraits painted at Coole, the Ezekiel one.

Then we had lunch at “The Bull,” ordered by G.B.S. Mrs. Cockerell there too, and a daughter of De la Mare. There was a good deal of talk of Lawrence and his book. Cockerell says it (the book) is to be kept secret, but G.B.S. says, “when Lawrence goes into a secret place it is in the limelight. If he hides in a quarry, he puts up red flags all around.”

Cockerell had first met him on Doughty’s business. Doughty has been in a very bad way for money; has a wife and two daughters. Lawrence had said he could get him on the Civil List, knowing Balfour and Lloyd George and the rest. But on the day the last Civil List was announced it contained many names that no one had ever heard of, but not Doughty’s. Cockerell had been to see him that day and found him and his wife looking blankly at the newspaper. Then friends put their heads together, and knowing he would not take money directly, they made up £400 and offered it for the MS. of one of his poems to put in the Bodleian, and he accepted it with delight. And at Cambridge, Cockerell set to work to collect the same sum, and was within £150 of it when one day a shabby-looking Don came in and said he heard there was a subscription on foot. Cockerell nearly said he didn’t take guinea subscriptions, but the Don asked how much was wanting, and when he heard it was £150, said, “I’ll give that.” Cockerell thought he might be touched in the head, and went to consult the Head of his College who said it was all right, he was very generous and liked doing things like that. And then Lawrence did succeed in moving the Government and the Civil List.

May 23. G.B.S. just before I left read me a new scene he had written in the morning, the Relief of Orleans, in a scene between Joan and Dunois and a boy. “The wind,” long waited for, comes and is shown to the audience by the waving of the pennon. I said if I had been writing it for “Kiltartan” I would have made the little boy sneeze. (And when I was going, after the play was put on, G.B.S. said, “You will have your sneeze.” So I did!)

July 24, 1926. G.B.S. writes to ask if I remember his reading to me a little play about “a ruffianly young Italian nobleman disguised as a very old, cackling, whistling friar—I threw it aside as silly, but I am going to pack a volume of tomfooleries with it, (it is not as bad as some of them,) and a question has arisen as to the date of it. Do you happen to remember whether it belongs to the Augustus John visit or another? I didn’t date the MS. and can find no clue.” But I do not remember it. He says also, “The Labour Party is dining me publicly on Monday, my birthday, as a political demonstration. I have refused all other celebrations. Germany threatened a Shavian orgy. The British Government shows its sense of the occasion by refusing to allow my speech to be broadcast.”

I have quoted, in writing back, that saying of Montaigne about old age that “its advantage is that it enables one to make a more courageous and disdainful use of life.”

Oct. 28, 1929. G.B.S. told me he had given one “talkie” to show how it should be done, and later he had been asked to do two more at £800 each, but had refused. Was he right? The vessel of ointment came to mind that could have been sold for so many coins to give to the poor. But G.B.S. has his own conscience and I dare not judge it—he is so wonderfully kind and does all on principle, not impulse. So very kind—only he held out against writing an article for The Spectator supplement that Dulanty wants for St. Patrick’s Day. I want it, because it would repay Dulanty for his energy about the Lane pictures.

Jan. 11, 1930. I am just putting away in my “Authors” bookcase some pamphlets given me by G.B.S. from time to time and signed by him the other day at Ayot. He wrote in his interview on the Irish Players in America (1912):

“Reading this last item some eighteen years later, I feel I owe some sort of apology to the Clan-na-Gael and the late John Devoy. Their balderdash was all that I have described, but their contention that England would yield to blood and iron and fire, (applied to country houses,) and never to parliamentary action, has been most unfortunately borne out by the event.”

In “Peace Conference Hints”: “They were not taken.”

In programme of The Apple Cart: “Lady Gregory and I saw this play together on the 18th Oct., 1929, and she liked it better than I did.”

In “How to Settle the Irish Question” (1917): “Lady Gregory shows me this pamphlet with its pages uncut (I have just cut them to save appearances) 12 years after its publication. It is interesting as a sample of the bad paper we were reduced to during the War.”


The Hon. Emily Lawless was the daughter of an Irish peer, Lord Cloncurry, and she inherited something of the prejudices of that class, but to match those prejudices she had as grandfather the second Lord Cloncurry, who was a friend of Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur O’Connor, and was arrested in 1798 and committed to the Tower of London on the charge of high treason. He supported Catholic Emancipation and was a friend of Father Mathew and Robert Owen. He spared neither time nor money to alleviate the distress of the Famine; he was a generous landlord and a lover of the Arts.

He died before the Land War but his grand-daughter Emily was brought up under its black shadow. The shadow shows itself in such a novel of hers as “Hurrish”, in which most of the Irish country people are depicted as treacherous, bestial, un-Christian. In another novel, “Grania”, a better book than “Hurrish”, she describes the Aran Islands. She went there first in the ’eighties and discovered them long before Synge did. Willy-nilly, landlord’s daughter though she might be, child of the Land War, she loved every stick and stone of Ireland.

She was very tall with red-gold hair, full of laughter and humour. An artist, a great walker, a horse-woman and a swimmer, diving deeply into the wild Atlantic and bringing to the surface strange sea-creatures and sea-plants no Clare fisherman had ever seen. She was a botanist and knew the small rare plants which only grow on the Burren rocks. But her real inspiration, the inspiration that is precious to us, came when she wrote of “The Wild Geese,” or of the equally defeated of the Elizabethan wars. She wrote a novel called “Essex in Ireland,” supposed to be a diary kept by one of Essex’s soldiers, and its language reads like an authentic Elizabethan document.


Nov. 26, 1926. Saturday. Looking through my “Authors” bookshelves yesterday I came on a little volume of poems, “The Point of View,” by Emily Lawless. I had quite forgotten she had given it to me, and read it through eagerly because of my great admiration for her “Munster Forest” and “Clare Coast” and perhaps above all for “After Aughrim.” But in this little privately printed volume I cannot find anything to care for. And in the letter from her, pinned in the book, she says:

“Oddly enough, I do not possess a copy of ‘The Wild Geese.’ I only have it in the rough old form that I called ‘Atlantic Rhythm.’ I never somehow liked the get-up of it in published form and had never meant to publish it at all, only to print it privately, as I have a very strong feeling that poetry should be either of the best or non-existent. Mr. Stopford Brooke kindly took a fancy to it in its old form and begged me to let him have it to publish, and I consented. Now a good deal of it has come out in various collections, including a big profusely illustrated volume of ‘Empire Poetry,’ where the poor old ‘rebel’ rhymes find themselves in very odd company. I am sending you a copy of a tiny booklet of ‘talks’ rather than verse, which I had printed privately a year or two ago and sold for one or two local causes that interested me. As you will see, most of them are genuine talks or letters, though one, ‘Kinship’, is more of the nature of a soliloquy. The matter is all that counts, and I wonder how far you will agree with it?”

But the streak in Emily’s family that led to the suicide of her father and sister turned to genius in her, in those few poems, perhaps in “Essex in Ireland,” which Gladstone, for one, had believed to be an authentic history written by its hero. “Hurrish” and “Grania” were artificial. She was young when I first saw her at St. Cleran’s, but she had no trace of the beauty of her mother, Lady Cloncurry, of whom it was said, I don’t know with what truth, in my childhood, that once when she went into the House of Lords the assembly had stood up in tribute to that beauty, perhaps a gift from the Sidhe, who inhabit the hill of Gruachmaa, at the foot of which was her home. Emily had then a hard decided manner. She turned on some man, as I remember, who asked more than once how long she was going to stay on that visit, with, “Pray, are you the Attorney General?” (I think it may have been in reference to the Tichborne case that was then filling the papers.) She had begun writing an article “On Bogs” then, which explained why she herself had cross-examined a shy young fellow-guest on the cutting and saving of turf. She is fortunate now in being remembered only by her best, those three fine poems: I hear Governor-General Tim Healy is very enthusiastic about them, having seen them for the first time in Lennox Robinson’s Anthology. I myself found her always gentle. We sat among the juniper bushes and rocks one afternoon at Inchy when she was staying here and she showed me a rock covered with small broken snail shells; the birds, she said, choose and use some particular rock for this work, do not break the shells here and there.

April 1, 1929. I read, and brought home to finish, Strachey’s “Elizabeth and Essex”—rather hard and thin compared with his biographies of later times but a warning to those ancient dames who imagine they can keep youth’s witchery. And when, last evening, I had read of Essex’s failure in Ireland, I took from one of the little drawing-room cases Emily Lawless’s “With Essex in Ireland” and read its opening, very good, I thought, in its reproduction of the writing—of the style—of that time. No wonder Gladstone was taken in by it. Emily Lawless’s real fame has but begun with her death, through those fine poems, “After Aughrim,” “The Munster Forest” and “The Clare Coast.” If she had lived to come back with Mrs. Green, who was one of her associates, (and far less gifted a writer,) and take a part in the rebuilding, she would have been a good helper in bringing courtesy, “the harpstrings”, into our harsh controversies. I but vaguely remembered her “Essex in Ireland,” and reading it afresh and with that invasion more clearly in mind, it seemed a terrible indictment: these armoured men with their cavalry and gunpowder hunting, killing, as if wild beasts, trying to exterminate the natives of the country, not theirs by right, at the bidding of Elizabeth. She, in our people’s tradition, “never took a husband or fasted for a man,” as Raftery puts it. The policy of Mountjoy, who followed Essex, was to “destroy every living speck of green, burn every roof, slaughter every beast,” and he made his conquest of Ireland. It was after she had studied the records that she wrote her “Dirge of the Munster Forest,” that calls witnesses—birds and beasts—for its destruction.

“Only bid one of all my forest clan

Keep far from us on this our funeral day,

On the grey wolf I lay my sovereign ban,

The great grey wolf which scrapes the earth away;

Lest, with hooked claw and furious hunger, he

Lay bare my dead for gloating folks to see,

Lay bare my dead, who died, and died for me.”

I wish she could have lived to see the comparative freedom of Ireland, its government by those who—though with none too much of goodwill towards the opposition—have all love for it. I rage at my own bitterness about Hugh’s pictures—now when I would spend my last days in peace and friendship with all.

April 6. Began to read “Hurrish,” Emily’s first novel. But I could not get through many pages. The dialect a dreadful mixture of “Oi” for “I,” (that, except from our Waterford Archdeacon Burkitt, I had never heard in Connacht.) Then the judgments on characters rather than letting them develop. And the patronising tone.

Looking in my autograph book, I found a note from Emily Lawless, written in 1913:

“I must send you one line to tell you how very much I admire your McDonough’s Wife. You may not agree with me, and I suppose others would not, but personally I like it far better than Riders to the Sea, or any of J. M. Synge’s plays. . . . Can anything be less Irish than the talk of the priest and the woman in The Tinker’s Wedding? As for the dialogue, it is of course a convention, but that we cannot blame it for, since all literature is a convention. Your own plays, no doubt, are more or less so, and certainly my poor old “Grania” was, as it was, merely an attempt to escape from the brogue, and all its tiresome and stale association.”

And she says she has paid her last visit to Ireland. I wish she could know that her memory is held dear through those three poems.


Lady Ardilaun was a daughter of the Earl of Bantry and married Sir Arthur Guinness, who was raised to the peerage as Lord Ardilaun in 1880. Naturally, the family had great wealth through their connection with stout. Lady Ardilaun lived a few miles outside Dublin, in a portentous and pretentious house, St. Anne’s, but with lovely gardens, which her nephew, Bishop Benjamin Plunkett, tended with the greatest care. It is interesting to note that Mrs. Plunkett “is very anxious to do what is right for Ireland by keeping up the place, 17 labourers paid every Saturday. But Mrs. Plunkett minds the loss of Society now her daughters are growing up.” She need not have been so worried. Her younger daughter married Viscount Milton and is now Countess Fitzwilliam; their English seat is well known, Wentworth Woodhouse, in Yorkshire, and in Ireland they have the model Coolattin estate in County Wicklow.


Sept. 17, 1923. An afternoon with Lady Ardilaun at St. Anne’s. She will give help to the Abbey if we need it. She is a lonely figure in her wealth; childless and feeling the old life shattered around her. Macroom Castle, her childhood home, burned, and, a desecration she feels more, the Free State soldiers in it have put a roof over a part. “So I have not even my own ruins.” She laments for Ashford also, now a barrack, and for the loss of Society and “those nice young officers who used to write their names in our book,” and she speaks with violent despair over Government, and its opponents. “Our class is gone, and who is there to replace it?” Yet she has stood her ground, taken a house in Dublin for the winters, and brings friends to the Abbey on Saturday afternoons, and has given several concerts or musical afternoons. She is grande dame all through, and her welcome touched me, she took my hands and kissed me. Her lovely garden is, she says, the one thing that keeps her there. When she spoke with despair of the country, I said it was from outside our help must come, a spiritual influence to do away with rancour, and she said, “Oh yes, there must be a forgiveness. Monks must go through the country and preach.”

Oct. 23, 1924. I went to Clontarf to see Lady Ardilaun and her garden, was to have been there at 4 o’clock, but Lennox Robinson’s visit delayed me. We went straight to the garden, even now a wonderful display of flowers, dahlias chiefly, and roses. I said she ought to ask the Players to see it, they would enjoy it so much, and she said Yes, she will next summer, if she lives, and give a party for them. She finds solace in kindness, showed me in a glass-house a quantity of geraniums in pots that are grown for poor women of the tenement houses who come to tea sometimes. She gives them each a pot to take away. A party of them come next week, and on another afternoon there come patients from the Incurables’ Hospital; she has engaged a cinema for each day, Charlie Chaplin, and some others they will like. And I found from what her cousin said, she has just given a wireless to their rector’s wife, who has almost lost her sight, that she may have something to cheer her evenings. I stayed so long, talking of the Abbey at tea, Lady Ardilaun so interested in all the Players, that it was dark when I left and I missed my way on the paths and after wandering for some time had to come back and ask for a guide, and the butler gave me his pantry boy and I just missed two trams and didn’t get to the Pillar till 7 o’clock.

Nov. 24. Dublin. Tea with Lady Ardilaun, pleasant being in the bright flower-filled house. She lamented the change in London, the Royal Garden Parties, “You and I remember what they used to be, and now! one of the Labour Ministers came in a tweed coat and the King himself spoke to him about it; said he could not say anything to his guests as to what they wore, but he could and would to his Ministers.”

Nov. 30. Yesterday was wet. Worked at Bourgeois Gentleman and wrote letters. Then to Abbey matinée; good stalls; the play went well. Lady Ardilaun had a party there and took me back to tea at 42 Stephen’s Green, a pleasant change, the house full of beautiful flowers. And it was like a change of plays at the Abbey, from my intercourse with what I may call progressives, Jack (Yeats) and the others last night, and the actors in the Green-room, all living in a world that is alive, and these others in a decaying one. A sort of ancien régime party, a lament for banished society. The Bishop’s wife talked of the burned houses “and if they rebuild them they will be burned again. And if they are not burned who will want to live in them with no society? And all we are paying in postage! And the posts so slow in coming. . . .” Lady Ardilaun herself, very good and bright, loving our Theatre and gathering what scraps of surviving friends she can, yet angry with the people—all “bad.” But in practice she is kind and if she lived in the country I am sure would help them. She says there is no chance of any young man of our class getting employment in the future. Some relative of hers had given up a foreign appointment and come back and knows languages and is very well fitted to be a consul or foreign representative, but he could get nothing from the Government and one of the questions asked was, “What did you do in the war?, the war against England?” But an old gentleman, whose name I forget, (I think Stoney,) was louder in his regrets, had been to the Castle, now occupied by lawyers, on some business, and recalled with grief the nights when the ballroom was filled with company. “If you gave a dance then you had only to send a note to the Barracks asking forty or fifty or whatever number of officers you wanted. Now who is there for our daughters to dance with?” (True enough that.) “And the Governor-General gets £37,000 a year and what is there to show for it? The Cadogans had only £20,000 and entertained so splendidly.” I said I had only been once to the Viceregal Lodge in those days, to see Lord Aberdeen about Blanco Posnet. “Oh, Aberdeen, he wasn’t much. But the Cadogans! Now the town is peopled with ghosts. It is sad to see the empty houses as you walk about Fitzwilliam Square. The Arnotts’ the only house that exists in Merrion Square!”

Dec. 19, 1925. I grieve for Lady Ardilaun’s death. Last night I dreamed of her showing me the flowers—roses—in a strange garden—then leaving me there. She was so good to the Abbey, so full of interest in it. And to the end so handsome, so erect, still keeping some of the beauty I remember long ago. One day she came over with a party from Lough Cutra and I gave her some scarlet cactus dahlias, then a novelty, and she held them to her face as she walked. She, Mrs. Jack Gardner, Enid Layard, Duchess Adeline, great ladies, in the first rank of any I have known.


James McNeill was born in County Antrim in 1869, and had a distinguished career in the Indian Civil Service. He was particularly interested in the Co-operative Movement there, and also undertook very special duties in the West Indies and Fiji, in connection with Indian immigration. He resigned from the Civil Service and returned to Ireland in 1915. He was Chairman of the Dublin County Council in 1922 and High Commissioner for the Irish Free State in London from 1923 to 1928, and from that year till 1932 Governor-General of the Irish Free State.

He was a man of extraordinary dignity and charm and intellect, and married an Irishwoman as charming and intellectual as himself. He died in 1938.


June 19, 1928. The McNeills sent their car to take me to tea at the Viceregal Lodge. They were alone and it was very pleasant being in that fine room with its pictures and flowers: they are so sympathetic about the Lane pictures. They asked if I would come and stay sometimes, and I hesitated, said I would like it if I did not offend any of my helpers; said I had called at Cosgrave’s office yesterday though only his secretary, Banim, was there, to whom I said I thought it right to “leave a card” on the President as I had been having a little flirtation with De Valera! But I’ve written now to Mrs. McNeill saying I should like to come some time, not to the big parties perhaps, but at a quiet time. I like them both and they might be helpful.

Oct. 8. Viceregal Lodge, Dublin. I managed to get here, having been engaged for so long, on the 4th, Thursday. It has been a very pleasant change and outing. Lord and Lady Buxton and their daughter, Alethea, fellow-guests, so pleasant, he so much in the mode of old friends in London long ago, in the Grant Duff, Alfred Lyall, Arthur Russell, Walpole time; cultivated, caring for Memoirs, for Trollope, Thackeray. Then Lady Buxton anxious to see and show the nice little girl the “pictures, Gold Ornaments, Book of Kells, ‘A.E.’ and Gogarty,” and this we managed except the Book of Kells. I have not the run of Trinity! I telephoned and got Bodkin to meet us at the National Gallery and he was splendid, a really brilliant expounder of the pictures there. And Hugh’s gifts and bequests seem to dominate the walls.

I settled with “A.E.” to bring them to his office on the Saturday afternoon—and it seems to have been his “day” for others came in and he discoursed. They were delighted. The gold ornaments are wonderful. It is long since I had seen them, and the Municipal Gallery, though we had to hurry through it, full of beauty. I had asked the Governor-General to invite Gogarty, and he asked him and Mrs. G. to his Saturday dinner list, a big dinner. Sterling and his wife, from U.S.A., very cordial. Blythe talked to me about his prisons and the poverty of the books he was given. He had at last a surfeit in, I think, Portland, of Mrs. Henry Wood, and wrote on his cell wall “Give me no more women’s books.” He had been in nine different gaols. Cosgrave sat next me at dinner, the first time I had met him outside business, and he came and sat with me after dinner also, tells me poor Lord Mayor O’Neill—who was so kind long ago I used to say I hoped he would go on being re-elected until he became automatically President of the Irish Republic—is very much broken in health. Mrs. Cosgrave told Lady Buxton of the agony she had gone through when her husband was in U.S.A. One of their boys had an illness and was in some danger and she knew if she cabled this to Cosgrave it would upset him terribly, but if the boy should die without his having heard of the illness, it would kill him.

On Friday evening, after the guests had left, the Governor-General told us mysteriously that Lord Lascelles and Princess Mary would be here to breakfast at 8.30 in the morning: a telephone message had come. It had not been thought they would come through Dublin on their way to Portumna. So we were called early and I had taken my bath and begun dressing when a message came that a fog had delayed the crossing and they would not be here until 9.30. I sat sleepily in the drawing-room reading “The Constant Nymph”—I had never come across it before—liking its spirited beginning. Then heard a bustle and looked for somewhere to hide it, thinking (having got on to the next chapters) that it might shock the Princess. Only slender ornaments about, but I propped it against the wallpaper, the same dark red as the book. Then some bustle and the door opened and the travellers came in; I, as it happened, the only one in the room, so I made my little bob to the Princess. She answered questions, without any lighting-up of eyes or face, about her journey. Miss Kenyon Slaney, the lady-in-waiting, on the contrary, smiled widely at every remark. Then the Buxtons came in. I talked to Lord Lascelles for a while, couldn’t see any likeness to the distinguished old Marquis of my childhood, or Dunkellin’s good humour and marks of good living. I told him of the packet of Dunkellin’s letters to my husband that I had spoken of to the last Clanricarde, who had told me to “chuck ’em in the fire.” But I had sent them to him, and didn’t know if he had done so.

But Lord Lascelles said, “No, they were in a packet marked as some others were, ‘To be burned,’ but I didn’t burn them, I read them.”

I was glad, and he said, “Some of them were very improper.”

I said, “I know that!”

Then we talked of Lord Dunkellin’s statue that had been broken up and cast into the sea. He had seen it, had been in Galway before that catastrophe. At breakfast he and Lady Buxton chatted about his relations, but the Princess sat silent between Governor-General and Lord Buxton, each making some remark to her at intervals to which she listened without moving her head, barely opening her lips. Lady Buxton walked with her in the garden afterwards and they went to see a beech tree she had planted there on the King’s visit, and it had grown more than the foreign specimen he had planted, and that pleased her, perhaps even elated her—for Lady Buxton said, “She talked intelligently about gardening.” So then they went, the papers say, “in an armoured car, bullet-proof, the windows non-splintering.” But Mrs. McNeill says, “Such nonsense, our old car, just the same as any other. But it’s just as well they think it is bullet-proof, they won’t trouble to fire at us whenever we go out in it!” So the visit passed off well, to the Governor-General’s great relief. But he was not so next morning having heard that the Lascelles have settled to come back through Dublin and another visit might not go off so well. However, they are safely at Portumna, and an illustration in the Irish Times shows them talking to Curley the Piper, or he talking to them more likely.

I was asking the Governor-General last night (the Buxtons had gone and he and I dined alone) about his connection with the revolution. He said he had settled down quietly when he came back from India and had become interested in what was going on, but “I had not taken much part in it until after 1916 when my brother was put in prison. Then I began carrying messages for them. I was not suspected and could carry papers from one to another. I had a little house, with a cook in it and a boy who was allowed to go out sometimes in the evenings. Suspicion fell upon me and one day they came and searched the house. They found nothing much, and would have gone away, but I had a chattering old cook. They saw the boy’s room and asked where he was, and found from her (what I had not known) that he had not slept in the house for a fortnight. That increased their suspicions and they carried me off to gaol. I was put in a cell with two others. We were each given a ‘biscuit,’ that is a leather cushion with holes in it to sleep on, but no coverings and no sanitary conveniences. I was kept there for some time. But I had given the warder a sovereign when I came in, and a tip here and there, and became popular and they gave a good report of me and I was released. After that I saw the mother of one of the prisoners. She was in a terrible state of anxiety, for she wanted him to know of something that had happened in the house and had no means of doing so. So I went back to the gaol and asked leave to go up, said I had left something in my cell. They let me up, even left me for ten minutes with the prisoners, and I was able to give the message.” On Monday I went up to see Banim at Government Offices. The President came in and I told him McNeill is not well pleased at the message having come that the Lascelles will return to Dublin on their way back to England. Cosgrave put down the bag he was carrying and walked up and down saying, “They’ve no sense. The English have no sense!”

I agreed, having had Abbey experience that if a danger play had a tranquil reception the first night there is always likelihood of a demonstration the next. And I think Maud Gonne and Mrs. Skeffington would get out their black flags to wave if they had a second chance. As it is, there was some slight booing at the arrival, promptly suppressed, but few had known they were coming.

The young A.D.C., Captain O’Doherty, I talked with for a while. A nice young fellow from Donegal; had just bought two greyhounds and exercises them in the Phœnix Park; loves the Abbey and especially The Workhouse Ward. He took me to the Broadstone yesterday in the Viceregal car and carried my rug to the 3rd-class carriage.

I said, “Are you shocked?”

But he bent down and said, low and seriously, “I travel 3rd class myself.”

Feb. 18, 1929. Coming back to the hotel, we found the Viceregal car at the door to take us to the Lodge—a surprise for Catherine (her grand-daughter)—she was delighted! And there we had such a kind welcome. I asked if she might see the conservatories and Capt. Sullivan, A.D.C., was sent for to show her those and the dogs. One or two people came in to tea, and when they had gone and she had come back, the McNeills took us through the reception rooms first and then right through the house. I told them it was there Catherine’s grandfather had learned his Latin lessons from Lord Wellesley and was given that stick of sealing wax with the advice, “Always get everything out of the public you can”—just about a hundred years ago!

I asked the McNeills to come to tea at the Standard Hotel. I said I would ask some of our Players to meet them. I told Catherine I would ask Miss White (of Alexandra College) to bring her, that she might help with the tea. So I wrote this morning invitations to McCormick and Barry Fitzgerald, Miss Crowe and Miss Delany. And T. C. Murray as a playwright and “A.E.” and then Frank Gallagher and his wife (a suggestion only!). And then came a special messenger with a letter from Miss White saying she had just heard Catherine is to attend a confirmation class, 4.30 to 5.30, so couldn’t come! And that “Canon Crozier will be concerned if she misses it,” and “if you like I will explain the circumstances to Canon Crozier but he will, I know, expostulate strongly. . . .” This was an upset for me and I know what a disappointment to poor Cat—and I wrote to Miss White but without much hope. And to-day I feel very tired and my courage flagged! But after 6 o’clock another note came saying she finds Cat is not to be confirmed this year! I am glad of that also. The Gort church is not just the place for her to begin receiving the Sacrament—a child among her elders—no one near her in youth.

Feb. 22. Viceregal Lodge. A change of scene! Three days ago my tea-party at the Standard a success. I am writing in my sitting-room so fresh and bright with its white walls and chintzes, my bedroom opens from it. Such a comfortable bed! and the Chippendale wardrobe Catherine and I had noticed the other day as we came through. And from the windows I see the formal balustrades and garden beds—the trees of the Park beyond—and when now and again the mist lifts there are the Dublin hills. I am lying on the sofa as I write, am not very strong yet, but much better, for last Monday my strength seemed ebbing, I lay on the hard sofa there most of the day.

And on Tuesday it was with an effort I had arranged the room for my party—three tables with white cloths, extra chairs, some cinerarias, and daffodils from the gardener (rather grudging), and a great many plates of cakes, hot cakes, sugartops, chocolate, ornamental, freshly made that day—the Standard shines in cakes—also ham sandwiches, this being the Players’ evening meal. The Governor-General and Mrs. McNeill came in good time with Capt. O’Doherty, the A.D.C. I put the Governor-General at one table with Miss White and Miss Delany and T. C. Murray, and Michael MacLiammoir, who is in charge of the Galway Gaelic Theatre. All my party workers, the Players, the Head of Alexandra College, “A.E.,” Bodkin, Director of the National Gallery. (But Frank Gallagher and his wife, “under the circumstances,” would not come!)

Catherine worked hard at the teapots, gave six cups to G.-G.! Hester Plunkett also works hard to qualify as a Player and got on so well; and such a buzz of conversation! “A.E.” went to Mrs. McNeill’s table, McCormick on her other side—not an idler in the room! for Mrs. Bodkin has house and children and delicate husband to look after. I had at last in the interests of the Abbey (some of the Players being wanted for rehearsal) to say we must move on to the Gallery, before its closing time at 6 o’clock. And there Reynolds met us and he and Bodkin showed off the pictures, looking as before so lovely in the new lighting. Miss White left in such good humour that I asked if I might take Catherine to the play, Look at the Heffernans, at the Abbey, and she gave leave. And Cat, much delighted, went up to see Miss Delany behind the scenes. And at the Gallery Mrs. McNeill had asked me to come to the V.R. Lodge for a rest (needed more than she knew!). So here I am, in all this luxury, great kindness. But in the first evening a telephone message from the Abbey that McCormick was too ill to play his part, it had to be read, and what were we to do next week—he could hardly be ready for the new play, though he may be for this evening. So I am glad I was within reach. Going in the V.R. car next morning, I was able to do my business quickly.

Mrs. McNeill came in to tell me there were guests coming to lunch—Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey; he had been representing us in Paris but has been replaced and has not yet got a new job. I found him quite pleasant as he is interested in theatres, had seen G.B.S.’s Joan of Arc in Paris, and says everyone there asks about the Abbey. Mrs. McNeill also said, “the new Chief of Staff” is coming, General McKeon.

I said, “Sean McKeon, the Blacksmith of Ballinalee?”


“Oh, I am so delighted—he is in the ballads and on the postcards—I’m so glad to have a chance of meeting him.”

So before lunch I had my little chat with Dempsey and at lunch with his wife, and afterwards with Mrs. McKeon. She told me she had first seen him when he was in prison, she had taken cigarettes to him and other prisoners. But when she offered them she found he never smoked cigarettes! But after his release he and her brother were great friends and so she came to know and marry him. She told me of an attempt he had made to escape. He had sawed through the bars of his window little by little, with great difficulty. He had filled up the holes made with soap, all was arranged for his escape, when he was suddenly changed to another room upstairs—a bitter blow! But she thinks it was for the best for he would have had to get through a large yard, and pass sentries, and would probably have been taken.

I had a long talk with him after lunch. He had once, at Mullingar, made his escape and got away through a long street—was just at the end of it when two armed soldiers met and captured him, shooting him through the breast. The bullet lodged in his back, next to the skin. He was put in a car, hands tied, legs tied, a Black-and-Tan sitting on his chest. The bullet caused agony. It was another time, when he was taken and being moved to Dublin, to Mountjoy, that an officer sat beside him as he lay tied up, with a revolver close to his ear, and orders to fire if there should be any attempt to escape. And he knew there was to be an attempt to rescue him. But as it happened the ambush planned was late, or some mistake was made, and his car went on without attack.

I remember that at the time of the Truce or the Settlement there was great difficulty in saving him from execution. And the Governor-General told me later that some British officers, determined he should not escape, came to the gaol, I think Kilmainham, with an order, apparently official, to the Governor to let them remove him. But there was some slight error in the order and he was suspicious and would not obey without a further order.

He seems to have no animosity against the Black-and-Tans. “It was natural when one of them broke into a house or shop and filled his pocket with jewellery and showed it to the others that they should wish to do the same.” I asked if he had felt the fear of death during that drive with the revolver at his ear, and he said, “No, I was prepared.”

He and his wife live now at the Royal Hospital where I used to stay with the Lytteltons! Such a change of scene—more than half empty—no old red-coated pensioners eating their Sunday dinner.

June 9. Yesterday’s Times has an aggressive special article (from Healy, of the Irish Times,) on “National Anthem in the Free State,” and the Governor-General having refused to attend Trinity College Races because the “Soldier’s Song” is not to be played on his arrival. I think he is right in not placing another stone in the hands of his rivals and his and the King’s enemies. Mr. Dooley’s Afghan at the Olympic Games comes to mind again, “I don’t know the name of that chune, but it is mighty like the one they played the time they were chasing my grandfather down the streets of Cabul!” And unhappily this attack from that quarter on the “Soldier’s Song” will make the change impossible for the present to “Let Erin Remember”, I think the favourite, of those possible.

And the same correspondent tells of our Bishop, Patton, declaring that the teaching of Irish for one hour daily in our schools is a “practical tyranny,” and that “Mr. Blythe’s threat of a ‘jack-boot policy’ had attained to what a great Irish orator once described as the ‘sublimity of insolent ignorance’.” Poor Bishop! that lunch with the Lascelles must have turned his head or at least further weakened his poor mind.

The trouble about the National Anthem was all caused by a stupid man on the Boat Committee who tried to force it on. The Provost and other responsible people, Yeats believes, would have found a way out but for the Irish Times getting hold of it, and getting it into the English papers. Yeats had said at a party at Lady Lavery’s, “It would only be sung for a royal king and King George is not royal.”

As to the National Anthem, I have (later) been pleased with some verse in Dublin Opinion—I don’t know who they are written by—called “Tut-tut.”

I called to see the Provost in his great big house at Trinity,

And I put my wet umbrella in the big umbrella stand,

And looking down into the hall, to find out who was in it, he pushed

Out his head a bit too far and, faith, I caught him grand.

I said: “I know you’re busy, Sir, with science and theology,

And all the other subjects of the Education rut,

But all I want to know is, why in this historic college ye

Don’t want to play the Soldier’s Song?” He only said, “Tut-tut.”


I said, “Sir, to refuse to play what the King’s Representative

Suggested should be played seems most disloyal to the King,

And I am sure His Majesty will grievously lament it if

He hears of it at all; which is, of course, another thing.

It’s you ought to send the King at once a strong apology

For the stiff slight (vicarious) you have upon him put.

How otherwise can loyal men with decency acknowledge ye?”

He twirled his waistcoat button and remarked again “Tut-tut.”


I said, “Your lads must think that if the Band played Kearney’s masterpiece

The ghost of Queen Elizabeth would walk across the tiles,

All hot-foot from the tomb in which she takes her alabaster ease,

To save the pile she founded from mephitic Irish wiles;

I’m sure that you’ll forgive me for quite a little verbal bandying.

But, sir, you once had students here of quite another cut,

When Emmet and poor Hamilton and Co. were Napper Tandying

A hundred years or more ago.” He only said “Tut-tut.”

(The Author is “Paul Jones,” the brilliant editor of “Dublin Opinion.”)

Dec. 3. My last evening at Viceregal Lodge. Mrs. McNeill had asked the Mulcahys to dinner. I had long wished to meet Mulcahy because of the words he had spoken over his dead friends more than once, that had beauty and simplicity. But meeting him the day I came to lunch at the Lodge and met Lady Aberdeen and the Welsh philanthropist, he had looked gloomy and was silent. But this evening we had a long talk and I liked him very much. He spoke with simplicity and without rancour of the struggle. He told me many things of great interest, but I am afraid to write them from memory because the day before I had read through another story of that time by Charles —— (he also young and going through dangers) and I am afraid of mixing them up. But I hope to meet him again. The past, in this later struggle, has been with the young on both sides.


A Dunsany, of Dunsany Castle, Co. Meath, and uncle of the present Lord Dunsany, he was an M.P. for County Dublin, and was the most prominent figure in the organisation of Irish Agriculture, the first Vice-President of the Irish Department of Agriculture, and a founder of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. He built himself a beautiful house, “Kilteragh,” at Foxrock, Co. Dublin, which was burned in the Civil War. He made it a centre of hospitality for workers and artists in Ireland, and it was as one of the Carnegie Trustees when Lady Gregory joined the Carnegie Advisory Board that she used to stay with him.


April 16, 1922. Kilteragh. I asked Sir Horace Plunkett if he ever thought of writing his memoirs, and he said two publishers wanted him to do so, but he didn’t feel that he could, “I know nothing of literature or music, I am interested in nothing but my work.” I said people wouldn’t want to hear details of his work in a biography, they know roughly what he has done, and anything necessary could be put in an appendix.

I said, “They will want to know what sort of man you are and how you came to do it.”

“Oh, but I am only interested in my work.”

Then I asked him how it came to him and he said, “I left the University, having managed to take a Second in History. Then I became agent to my father for a while. Then a doctor said that both my lungs and my elder brother’s were affected and that our only chance was to go for a while either to South Africa or to Colorado. He chose South Africa and he died on the way home after a painful illness—the consumption had attacked the knee. I went to Colorado. I bought a waggon and a pair of mules in Denver, and I went on a ranch. When my health was quite recovered I came home. My father had died and left me independent. I had always wanted to do something for Ireland, and having leisure I looked for what I could best do. I saw that farming was the chief industry, but that all the energy of the people had gone into tenure, into getting the land, and not to making the best use of it. I found that in other countries, abroad, the best methods had been brought into use and that they ought to be introduced in Ireland, and I tried to work for this. Then Dillon and the Parliamentary Party were down on me.”

I said, “Because they thought that would distract the thoughts of the people from the political side.”

“Yes. That was just it. I could not have done it had I not been a wealthy man. I had Anderson as secretary for many years. I spent eight dreadful years in Parliament. They were necessary, but I did not like the work there. And the hardest work was taking those long drives, (I had reminded him of them,) to hold a meeting, and then no one turning up for an hour, and perhaps very few then. After a while the Development Committee, with Sidney Webb and others, helped and gave me a grant. That Society is all I care for. And now, to-day, I get a letter from Anderson objecting to the economy scheme we had drawn up, reducing the expenditure to £10,000 a year. He says we must spend £15,000. And someone else writes we must not spend more than £8,000. No, I am not self-sacrificing, it has been my great interest, all I cared for. You are right in saying that if it must end this would be a good moment for it to make its bow—for the curtain. But there are many in Ireland whose hearts are bound up with it who would suffer very much in seeing it fail.”


Constance Markievicz was a daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth, of Lissadell, County Sligo. She married a Polish Count. She died in 1927. “Con” to her friends, “the Countess” to the thousands of friends among the poor of Dublin, for she was universally beloved. She commanded the Insurgents in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, in the 1916 Rising. She was sentenced to death by court-martial, but the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. She was released in 1919. She was the first female M.P. in the British Parliament, but did not take her seat. She established the Irish National Boy Scouts and was prominently associated with Mr. James Larkin.

In this generation she will be remembered in the hearts of thousands of Irish people, but perhaps will be remembered for a hundred years to come in Yeats’ poem “On a Political Prisoner.”

She that but little patience knew,

From childhood on, had now so much

A grey gull lost its fear and flew

Down to her cell and there alit,

And there endured her fingers’ touch

And from her fingers ate its bit.

or, more beautiful still, the poem he wrote “In memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz”:

The light of evening, Lissadell,

Great windows open to the south,

Two girls in silk kimonos, both

Beautiful, one a gazelle. . . .


July 18, 1927. Poor Mme. Markievicz also gone. Her funeral on Sunday was made a Republican demonstration. I knew her in her Castle days when she was rather a jealous meddler in the Abbey and Hugh’s Gallery. But her energy found a better scope when she took up the Labour movement, and then a more violent outlet in 1916 when she fought with the Boy Scouts she had trained, against the English troops, and was imprisoned. I remember one evening when I was coming from some hard hours’ work at the Abbey I felt tired and jaded on the tram. And then she got in, tired and jaded also from some drilling of her “Fianna,” and I felt drawn to her. There was something gallant about her. We were each working for what we believed would help Ireland, and we talked together. Once, later, I saw her, I again having some work at the Abbey, going there, and the traffic was stopped because of a procession coming down O’Connell Street. I asked a little boy what it was and he said, “It’s the Countess.” And then I saw her standing up in a wagonette, cheered as she passed, for she was on her way home from England where she had been in prison. That was the last time I saw her.


Feb. 27, 1925. Reading last night George Wyndham’s account of the extraordinary enthusiasm in Dublin for the King and Queen’s visit in 1903. I don’t remember clearly anything about it, and there had been, I think, a lack of enthusiasm at the old Queen’s visit during the Boer War. He tells of no ungraciousness or opposition at all. “Eleven miles of bunting and cheering crowds . . . every window and housetop was packed . . . they cheered me a good deal and the Land Bill and Wolseley and Bobs.” And again, “For three miles to Trinity one roar of cheers and frenzy of handkerchiefs . . . they lift their hands to Heaven to imprecate ‘God bless the King,’ as if adjuring the Deity to fulfil their most ardent desire and His most obvious duty . . . the people became nearly delirious. They worked themselves into an ecstasy and all sang ‘God save the King’.” This but thirteen years before Easter Week, but twenty-two from to-day, when the cheering is for the released prisoners. More dignity, I think, in this. Some vulgarity that is want of thought or of sincerity in that.

March 3. Still reading George Wyndham. I marked a sentence, Wyndham to Belloc, “I should like some day to tell Chesterton and you what a lot of smashing I had to do to get that Act (the Irish Land Act) made.” And I see in a not over-friendly review by A. G. Gardiner in The Nation, “He had one moment of brilliant triumph when as Irish Secretary he carried through his great Land Purchase scheme, and seemed to have the reversion of the Tory leadership easily within his grasp,” and blames Balfour for “permitting him to be sacrificed . . . swept away before a tidal wave of suspicion and panic in his own ranks.” But it was John Shawe-Taylor (Lady Gregory’s nephew) whose Convention made the way clear for that Act, and he who carried it through, laid down that peace between landlord and tenant that we feel the benefit of now. March. I finished the book last night; a sad and sudden end—yet he would have suffered much in the next year. I incline to think that his early marriage, happy though it was, into that luxurious life at Saighton and Eaton was the wrong turning. He loved the land of England, the people who tilled it; he began in that short possession of Clouds to bring his imagination and energy into that practical work of making it almost sacred soil, a happy countryside for all who lived on it. Earlier possession might have given him his energy to the happy outlet it did not find in politics, except for that short Irish time; his roots would have space to grow, he was in a flowerpot at Saighton. And literature might have become his expression, with politics and art. Yet one cannot wish kind old Percy to have gone sooner; he used to be very sympathetic about Egypt, though at the end he was uneasy about money, even to taking a bus instead of a cab, and before a bus was recognised by his contemporaries. Mrs. Wyndham was wonderful in her charm and beauty and grace, more beautiful, I think, as she grew older. When she came to meet our Players at Queen Anne’s Gate she seemed to bring radiance into the room.

I remember Yeats telling me he had in his youth been asked to Clouds to see, I think, some Blake drawings. But he did not go, because, though he had enough money for the journey, he hadn’t enough to tip servants. It was a pity. I think he and George Wyndham would have been useful to each other.


Mrs. “Jack” Gardner was one of the great personages in Boston, and from the moment we arrived there in 1911 was one of the firmest friends of the Company and of Lady Gregory.


April 5, 1926. Wrote to Mrs. Towle to-day thanking her for Mrs. Gardner’s Life which she had sent me. It is of extraordinary interest, that one little woman making so splendid a collection and housing it so splendidly, for Boston. There was something of Hugh Lane in her and I wish they had met. She was “a great lady,” one of the few I have known. Lady Ardilaun was one. Enid Layard was more the perfect wife, the friend. Duchess Adeline Bedford was one, but I knew her less well. Mrs. Gardner has left a more enduring memorial than any of them in Fenway Court. I had not heard of her when a few days after I had arrived in Boston I was at lunch when I was told “Mrs. Gardner” had come to see me, and when I did not immediately reply the waiter said “Mrs. Jack Gardner!” but before I had time to go upstairs another message said she had gone. And that evening at the Plymouth Theatre she came round to my box, small, erect, treading lightly, disdaining the assaults of age (I think she must have been then seventy or over). She was full of praise of the Players, and I felt at once it was not an acquaintance I had made but a friend.

I often saw her later in her “House Beautiful,” the Venetian Palace that seemed as if left by the ebbing of the sea on a lonely marsh, although so close to the city. Inside there was Venetian splendour as in the Doges’ day. It was not for herself she had made and enriched that palace, but for the city that was her heir. I liked to come there sometimes in the midst of business and sit with her in one or another room, or go alone from one to another as I used to do in La Capello, or in Lindsay House, with that other lover of beauty, Hugh Lane.

I heard of her death in the same month I heard of the death of yet another art lover, John Quinn. He had come with me once, on a short visit to Boston, to dine with Mrs. Gardner. He had never met her or seen her palace and I was happy to give him that pleasure. We were let in at the little postern door. An old man opened it and we were taken up flights of stairs to the little living-rooms and had dinner there. Then she showed him the great rooms and the pictures, and then she took us to the Opera, where we saw the memorial she had put up to the members of the band of the “Titanic” who had played on until the sinking of the ship. Once Mr. Shuman and his daughter were to take me to Thoreau’s Walden and she proposed coming. A delightful day, the drive, the woods; at lunch I was to have my first meeting with green corn on the stalk. I remember with what enjoyment she nibbled hers, enjoying the “outing.” She had not known the Shumans but through me, and asked them to her house the next Sunday—I felt I was repaying something of their great kindness in this.

She told me of her visit to the Vatican, to the Pope, her Worth dress, her long string of pearls. To her surprise he had asked her to a private audience. It was to ask some questions about education in America that she could give any full answer to. But she had knelt for a long time on his footstool, and he had fingered her pearls all the time as if liking their touch. The biographer does not tell how finely she behaved when she was forced to pay $30,000 on the pictures she had imported. Her husband’s family had offered to pay it but she refused, sold her diamonds of which she was very fond, and lived with great simplicity to the end. Melba had been singing to her one day just before I came in. Whenever I came back to Boston there was the same warm welcome. Last time she wanted me to stay with her. I wish it had been possible. Brookline, her country house and garden, beautiful also. But Fenway Court the best.


John Kells Ingram was a distinguished scholar and political economist, but chiefly famous for his ballad, “Who Fears to Speak of ’98,” When I published my “Golden Treasury of Irish Verse” I was forced by his executors to publish a note stating that it was written when he was a tempestuous young man. Here is the note: “The poem entitled ‘The Memory of the Dead’ was published in the ‘Nation’ newspaper in April 1843, when I was in my twentieth year. . . . Some persons have believed, or affected to believe, that I am ashamed of having written it, and would gladly, if I could, disown its authorship. Those who know me do not need to be told that this idea is without foundation. I think the Irish race should be grateful to men who, in evil times, however mistaken may have been their policy, gave their lives for their country. But I have no sympathy with those who preach sedition in our own day, when all the circumstances are radically altered. In my opinion no real popular interest can now be furthered by violence.

Dublin, 1900.

“John K. Ingram.”

April 15, 1929. Looking through my autograph books, I came across, loose at the end, a note from Ingram, author of “Who Fears to Speak of ’98,” a strange poem of liberty for a Professor in Trinity—Professor of Greek and English Literature. It had been written in his student days. I think Davis must have moved him. His note revives a memory of my excitement at meeting him (in May 1899). It says, “I have not at all forgotten that I had the pleasure of being introduced to you by Mr. Lyster at the National Library,” and tells of being unwell and unable to go out. I had almost forgotten this and it came back to me. I could see him before me, standing, talking a little, and I myself talking with some emotion and he with a gentle reminder that the poem had been written a long time ago—as it were in a previous epoch. I am so glad to have his note. I put it at first in the page with Emily Lawless’s photograph and one of her letters. But now I have put it in the page with a letter from Pearse; though both so gentle, both stirred national feeling deeply—one with that rebel poem only, the other answering its call:

Through good and ill be Ireland still,

Though sad as theirs your fate,

And true men be you, men,

Like those of ninety-eight!

And thinking over these I could not turn to other reading than my second Ballad-Book—poor doggerel enough made for the street-singers, even after the Easter Rising, but coming into greater dignity as the bitterness of tragedy increased.


Lady Gregory perfectly describes Mrs. Phillimore, her intelligence and her intensity, and she did settle for some years in County Wicklow, in a beautiful but terribly haunted house.


March 18, 1926. A pleasant little outing to-day: lunch with Mrs. Phillimore at the Carlton, and then to the Moby Dick film, wonderful the sea-effects, waves dashing, and the great whale showing its lashing tail sometimes. The love story spoiling it a bit, but I suppose necessary.

Mrs. Phillimore told me of her life. She is from Down; her father was a merchant and made great riches during the American War. But he drank and lost money and at his death they had not much, and she and her sister, Socialists, went to live in the East End and work among the London poor. Then she married Bobby, Lord Phillimore’s son, but his parents didn’t like it, “I was nobody, and their friends thought me odd. They were kind but not warm—but then some woman had spoken against me, saying I had been obliged to marry in a hurry, and Lord Phillimore went to her and made her withdraw the lie. They were not pleased with Bobby either, his Socialism, and he was not wise in things he said before them, and if I kicked him under the table to stop him he would ask what I was kicking him for. And he would walk about the farm and go up to London in his dirty boots. They were not very nice to us.

“But we were invited to Hawarden and stayed there for five days, and when we were leaving Mr. Gladstone, saying good-bye to us in the hall, said, ‘I understand and entirely approve what you are doing and your reasons for not going into society, and I will write and tell your father so.’ And he wrote, and that had a very good effect; they thought the sun rose and set in Gladstone. Then in the war Bobby got blood poisoning in hospital. He was ill for two years and then he died.”

She is selling her large house in the country and hopes to live in Ireland, but doctors say she must not live near the sea. Her book about the Gospels, that came out in The Nation, is having a big sale in America. I told her I hadn’t liked it, thought it a paraphrase of the Gospels that I do care for, and that G.B.S. had said, “Yes, yes, I don’t care for it because we were brought up on the Bible, but these English were not.” I liked the chapters of St. Paul that had come out much better, and she says she will continue them, but that the Editor of The Nation didn’t care for them so she stopped. All rather pathetic and I felt drawn to her.

June 22, 1928. Mrs. Phillimore’s car for me, and a drive of a couple of hours through lovely Wicklow, to Kilmacurragh. Such peace and comfort here! It seems as if the burden of months, of years, has fallen off or is near falling now all these big men have taken up the Gallery question, and I can depart in peace! A hundred years ago my husband, twelve years old, had his home in the Phœnix Park, and was to represent the city in Parliament a dozen years later. Now, I, his widow, am working for Dublin, for Ireland. If he had not given me his name, his position, I should not have had so good standing: I like to think of this.

I read detective novels in those last evenings alone at Merrion Square until they got mixed up in my mind and I couldn’t remember who was innocent and who was criminal! Here this morning I’ve been sitting in an armchair in the drawing-room, reading Mrs. Phillimore’s book on the Carpathians—very pleasant reading—such a rest!

She has been doing all she can to help the McNeills, going to their receptions and their lunch to the Labour (English) people. We both wish there could be simplification. Some visitors curtsey, (Lady Aberdeen had given a very sweeping curtsey,) others don’t, from shyness or as a protest. I wish it could be done away with. When I first went to see Tim Healy at the Viceregal Lodge I told him I was past the age of curtseying. Mrs. Phillimore and I agree in this, and in wishing the “Soldier’s Song” could be changed for a better air, perhaps “Let Erin Remember,” as National Anthem.


Mr. Gallagher has kindly supplied me with the following facts about himself:

“When I first met Lady Gregory I was busy as a free-lance journalist. I had been many years in journalism, beginning on The Cork Free Press, the paper William O’Brien published in Cork. I went from Cork to London as a parliamentary reporter for the same paper and came back to edit it. After the Rising I came to Dublin and in 1917 rejoined the Irish Volunteers, which, in a modest way, I had helped to establish in Cork City. In Dublin I spent the next seven years as an official of Dail Eireann and a soldier of the Revolutionary Army. Both activities were ‘illegal’ and the years brought a succession of imprisonments and a number of hunger-strikes. Hence ‘Days of Fear’.”


July 5, 1928. C. E. Lawrence writes: “Yes. John Murray is publishing the Frank Gallagher book. It is my doing so far as the original impulse is concerned, for although I hate the whole attitude of those extremists I felt that the sincerity of the record and the psychology of his imprisoned and hunger-striking state were not only of interest but were compelling. It is a truthful record of inward feeling and a sort of heroism. Besides, I like the thought of a house so Conservative and British as this launching such a book. I wonder what Irish house would have the courage to issue a volume as extreme on the other side. The book records his impressions and experience day by day.”

July 6. Reading Sinn Fein, I had written August 1st, 1924, “I found among its bitter, barren columns an article by Frank Gallagher on the individual, calling for individual examples among Republicans of ‘a clearer, more just, more spiritual life. Our whole hope and inspiration from the past is based upon what individuals have done and have inspired others to do’.” And writing now to C. E. Lawrence I have copied this and said, “I think the writer of that had something in him of your Luke.” I am going to send him “Pilgrimage.”

July 18. Frank Gallagher writes, “Murray was very nice about my protest. He apologised at once and has redrafted the notice. Of course I have made no objection at all against his saying that the English people will cordially disagree with the views expressed in ‘Panic’ (it has since changed its name). The note which I will not agree to is any condemnation either directly or indirectly or by inference of the author or his opinions. The English readers will not like the ‘political’ side of the book but it is the human side which makes the book, and, with Murray, I think the English reading public is broadminded enough to appreciate humanity no matter what kind of hat it wears. I hope that the critics will be kind to me. Happily one never thinks of them until the eve of publication, otherwise who would write?”

And he says of my Kiltartan History Book, “it is giving me many a joyful half hour.” (And I had felt it had been too frivolous a gift for one who must, one feels, have come with “singed cheek” from that ordeal.)

So waking before daylight the thought came that I might perhaps write a review of the book for The New Republic to help it in America. And this idea growing kept me awake for a long time. And to-day I have looked back through the diaries, not sure when this hunger-strike began, but to find when Terence MacSwiney’s was, for I thought I must have put down something about it. And so I found, what I have typed and may use, the words written in October 1920: “I go on saying daily the prayers for the Lord Mayor to Him ‘with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect after they are delivered from their earthly prisons’.”

Nov. 13. I tired myself, perhaps foolishly, on Sunday and yesterday writing notices of Frank Gallagher’s “Days of Fear,” no, not foolishly, for it is a beautiful heart-stirring book—but I might have perhaps done better with less effort. I sent the longer notice to Putnam, U.S.A., asking him to get it into New Republic or some other paper. The other to Leonard Wolff for The Nation, telling him to use the scissors for it; too long. I have had no practice in reviewing. I wrote, as a postscript to my letter to Wolff, a remonstrance at his belittling of Doughty in the last Nation.

Dec. 2. On Friday evening there was a good audience for Lear. Governor-General (and Capt. O’Doherty), Bryan Cooper, Mrs. Plunkett, Lady Gormanston, and others “of the classes” in the front row. I was later than usual, two trams having rushed past the Standard Hotel without stopping, and I was rather fidgety as I thought I ought to be at the Abbey to receive the Governor-General. However, it was all for the best. Starkie had been there to do manners for the Directors, and the play not having begun I was able to talk a little to James McNeill and the others. And then I went to the next row, where I had kept places for the Gallaghers and myself, and sat between them. He is very happy over “A.E.’s” article. I told him “A.E.” judged, by my description which he had asked for, that he, Frank Gallagher, was the man who had told him once in an argument that he would not, under certain circumstances, hesitate to shoot those against him, and, as “A.E.” believed, included himself. But Frank Gallagher denies this, and indeed looks too gentle in his happiness about the review to even have thought of using force against anyone. I told him I feel strongly that “David Hogan” must write all the fiction in future, and F.G. only sign the best work. He had his Gaol Journal still to write, or rather publish, and, I think, some bits from his newspaper articles. He said I seemed “very down on Hogan,” but I think understood when we talked on. I told him what I believe: that “Days of Fear” will be one of the great books of the world. Sometimes I think this is an exaggerated estimate but when I read a page or two—heart-stirring, heart-rending—I believe it again. I showed him and his wife what Lawrence said in a note I had just received: “I have absolute confidence we did a right thing and not an unprofitable thing in publishing Gallagher. I hope he likes Old England a little better for this circumstance.” And they were touched and asked me to thank him.

The Starkies called for me in the Plunketts’ car to take me to St. Anne’s for lunch. A musician there with them, Myra Hess, who is to play at a concert to-morrow—very charming. And as we walked through the house after lunch we came to Hester’s room where there was a piano and she sat down and played and played, for Starkie, but to our delight. It was wonderful how her fingers ever got on to the right notes! And at the last she asked for an orange, to show a composition of her own, and put it on the notes, and sometimes ran it up and down, and at times struck it, making a chord, and all in harmony. A wonderful performance.

Dec. 15. Last evening I read again Frank Gallagher’s fine defence of William O’Brien and attack on his biographer, Michael McDonagh. Looking back on that time I feel how much the dignity of political—of our “Rebel”—prisoners had been raised since the time of O’Brien’s imprisonment, in the Land League days. I don’t know if he was right in refusing to wear the prison clothes—feeling has so changed that those London dinner-table jokes about “O’Brien’s breeches” would not now run. Frank Gallagher and others have made an end of that poor humour. Wilfrid Blunt wore his prison clothes in Galway Gaol; his portrait in them is the frontispiece to his prison sonnets, “In Vinculis.” Terence MacSwiney’s self-sacrifice, that going to death through hunger, killed derision. Frank Gallagher in his “Days of Fear” has made the very facing of it noble.

I have known other prisoners. On that large photograph upstairs Arabi the Egyptian has written in Arabic that is translated: “This is my portrait in the days of my imprisonment and my distress and on it I have written with my own hand—I offer it to the gentle and noble Lady Gregory to remind her of what has befallen me.”

And to leave tragedy: young Brennan comes to mind, arriving here from prison, and his answer when I asked if he had been frightened when brought into court before the Judge: “I was not, when I saw a letter in his hand, and Coole Park written on the top of the paper!” For I had indeed written on behalf of mercy.

At lunch-time the post came and opening The Nation I saw my review of “Days of Fear.” For the first review ever written by me, as far as memory goes, it is fairly good.

Feb. 6, 1929. Opening a re-directed letter with languor I found in it a little card from Frank Gallagher. It pleases me very much, for I had been disappointed—had been excited about my first review, and rather proud of it, and hearing nothing, save Lawrence’s word “helpful,” I thought it had failed to be helpful, and that his word was but from kindness. His letter says: “Have just finished symposium of best lines from the reviews of ‘Days of Fear’ for Harper who is publishing in New York on Feb. 15. . . . From your fine notice in The Nation, which I have also sent in its entirety to Harpers, I took the words, ‘a beautiful heart-rending book.’ I know when they appeared I intended writing you my thanks for them particularly and also for the whole review. They strike a note about the book which I have wished the reviewers to notice more than they did. That is the charm in ‘Days of Fear.’ All remark the terror but only three, including yourself, spoke of the book as beautiful as well. Indeed your line which I have used in the collection of best lines is the best of them, I think. . . .” Then noticing he was sending it to Harper I remembered that I had sent the fuller, less restrained copy of the review to Putnam in New York, and that there might be some awkwardness, some offence given to Harper if Putnam should send it out. I could only scribble this fear on a card, not very legibly, for Frank Gallagher. But next day I was able to write a letter to the old Major (Putnam,) and enclose it to be sent if he (Frank Gallagher) approves. When one is ill or as weak as I found myself uneasiness grows to anxiety, and a slight discourtesy, or the fear of one, to a monstrous size.

Feb. 13. Blythe scoffs at “Days of Fear”—has not read it himself except a few extracts in a review. He says he went on hunger-strike himself—that there is no suffering in it—one just lies there without pain. He had suffered very much for the first four days or five because he had thought they were bound not even to drink. And his tongue was clinging to the roof of his mouth when he found his mistake. Then he seized a big jug of water that was beside him all the while and had a long, long drink.

March 3. There has been beauty in the last day or two. On Friday afternoon a visit to the house where I had once gone to visit shy, gentle Jane Barlow, her stories, fading now, were so welcome then, kindly, refined, not refined gold but mother-of-pearl, gently shining through the Land League gloom. That house at Raheny has other tenants now—the wife gay and gentle, the husband, Frank Gallagher, proud and happy in his home, in the success of his book. Days of peace now for both of them; their welcome very kind. I had been paid £3 by The Nation for my review and had kept it, not feeling I could spend on myself what had been gained through the record of such anguish. And suddenly remembering how many letters he had found necessary to write before the American edition was published, and also Richard’s Christmas present to me, an envelope filled with stamps, I had, before setting out, gone to College Green Post Office and laid out the whole there—£2 twopenny, 15 shillings one penny, 5 shillings halfpenny—as a little greeting gift. And this amused and, I think, pleased them. He is working very hard still, at stories chiefly, under the David Hogan name, though believing he could do better work than these—“I am a writer, I make my living by writing.” And he is proud of a fine old inlaid bookcase he had bought with £20 advanced on “The Challenge of the Sentry.” He asked if I thought he could succeed in writing a novel. I hesitated, then said I thought yes, if he went deep into character like the Russians, Dostoievski and Tolstoi. But these he had not read. A happy peaceful hour or two.


Thomas Cobden-Sanderson was born in 1840, he went to the University of Cambridge but left without taking a degree. He was called to the Bar but hated it. He married a daughter of Richard Cobden and affixed the Cobden to his own name. He loved handicraft and in 1893 gave rooms to William Morris in Upper Mall, Hammersmith. He learned bookbinding and founded the Doves Bindery and later the Doves Press which produced beautiful—and very expensive—books. He had a lovely distinguished head, a head that seemed to “run” in people of his type and age. He died in 1922.

In connection with the submerging of his type in the Thames, he wrote years before in “Cosmic Visions”: “To the bed of the River Thames, the River on whose banks I have printed all my printed books, The Doves Press bequeaths the Doves Press Fount or Type, the punches, matrices, and the type in use at The Doves Press at the time of my death—And may the River, in its tides and flow, pass over them to and from the Great Sea, for ever and ever, or until its tides and flow for ever cease—then may they share the fate of all the world and pass from change to change for ever, up upon the Tides of Time, untouched by other use.”


Feb. 20, 1919. Old Cobden-Sanderson of the Doves Press, and his wife, had come to lunch. They spoke much of William Morris. They had been to Paris with him and Mrs. Morris and one of the girls, all the women in æsthetic dress, and when they went out of the hotel and called for a cab not one would take them and they were mocked at in the streets. In the Louvre among the pictures, Morris had said, “I look on all this with the eyes of an upholsterer.” He had a way of talking without looking at the person he was talking to, and yet he saw all that was going on. He had a hot temper. Once in Venice, when he was limping with a gouty bandaged foot, he went into a glass shop and ordered a great quantity of the commoner sort of glass for his works, such a quantity that the shopkeeper was incredulous, thought he was joking and followed him to the door talking and gesticulating. And at the door a crowd of boys gathered and began jeering at him and the ladies in strange attire, and Morris was angry and stamped his foot, forgetting it was the gouty one—and then was furious indeed.

Another time he went to Burne-Jones’ studio and found a suit of armour which Burne-Jones had hired to paint a knight in, and not having a model had intended one of his maids to wear. Morris insisted on trying it on, and strutted up and down very much pleased with himself. But when he tried to take it off, it was too tight and he couldn’t, and stamped about in a terrible fury for some time till exhausted. He didn’t care for anyone, but was afraid of G.B.S.—used to ask anxiously, “What does Shaw say?”, but W.S.B. (Wilfrid Scawen Blunt) thought he did perhaps care for the delicate daughter.

Fairfax Murray used to lunch sometimes with Burne-Jones, who said, “Whenever he is here the conversation is sure to turn on bow-legs,” for he was bow-legged.

Then I went to the Doves Press down little paved alleys and found Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson full of excitement, having been asked to go and see Madame Markiewicz next day, she was just out of gaol and was holding some receptions in London.

Upstairs the old man was sitting tranquilly in a quilted white dressing-gown. He showed me with great pride his little rooms, the windows looking out different ways on the river, so that he can see sunrise and sunset. It is the old Doves Press house and there is a sloping ceiling in the small room, but there is noble work to be seen there, books of his own printing and his own bindings, his splendid Bible, and Poems of Shelley, and Swinburne’s “Atalanta.” One book, a not well-printed one, by Karl Marx, is beautifully bound. Morris had asked him to put the loose leaves together, and he had put the most beautiful binding he could make and had given it back as a present. “It was sold at Morris’s sale and at a price we could not reach, but it was bought and given to my wife by Bain, the bookseller.” He had tried in all the bindings to put something symbolic, but not too openly symbolic, of the contents—the brand in “Atalanta.”

He showed me the only case he has kept of the type of the Doves Press. “I could not bear to think it should be used by the other man (Emery Walker), and although it was in my contract I would not let him have it—let him go to law with me if he will! I took these cases out night after night, though it was tragic, there was a comic element, and I had to avoid the water bailiffs and the policemen. And one by one, for they are heavy,—feel them—I threw them over the bridge into the river. Once, instead of falling into the water, the case lodged in a mud bank, and day after day I went and looked at it, fearing discovery, but it was still there. But one night a high tide came and carried it away.” (When I told Yeats he said, “That must be the reason that Emery Walker can never bear to hear Sanderson’s name mentioned.”) It seemed to me a very tranquil sunset and that he had brought some noble beauty into the world.


May 25, 1927. Dr. Hector Munro came on Monday to talk to a few women and two men on “Auto-Suggestion,” and afterwards when he asked for questions some lady asked if rheumatism could be cured thereby, and he said that that had been done. Then I showed him my wrist and said, “I used to have beautiful hands, and to-day when I went to buy a pair of gloves I asked for ‘the largest,’ and when they offered 7½ I said ‘that will do’.” He said, “They can be cured,” touching the wrist. Then after they had gone he said, “You have done so much for me (I don’t know how except that he is reading “Visions and Beliefs”) that I would like to try to do something for you,” and so these three evenings he has given me treatment. He tells me to sit or lie in an easy position and lay down the hands and relax the muscles. Then to make a picture in the mind of myself quite well and free from pain or swellings, and try to drop off to sleep. His idea is that as the child is formed in the womb or its features determined by some idea building it up, so if we fix our minds on the ailing body as a body in perfect health, it will change by degrees to that (“as ye believe so will it be unto you”). He tells me of cures he has seen and believes this mode will make a revolution in medicine in the next twenty years. But my poor wrist has been enlarged so long, (one sees the beginning even in Kelly’s portrait,) that I found it very hard to “get a picture” at first. Then, half asleep, I saw myself beside a river, standing on rocks and someone that I thought was an angel came and said, “We must not let these hands go as they are across the river,” and touched them, and I saw more life coming into my body and energy. . . . I can recall this image now when I am quiet and close my eyes. (Now, in 1928, reading this, I see my hands and wrists are about as slender as ever.) I did not go on long with that effort; yet however it may be, I have been wonderfully free from rheumatism for a good while back. I am not sure it may not be from not having too much time to think about it, but however it may be, I have been taking a cold morning bath, which I had given up years ago because it gave me stiffness and pain. And even my hands are better. I can put on my sapphire ring though afraid to keep it on just yet, But I have not been thinking about the poor body at all, but rather, since my Passion Play, about the possibility of living in heaven while yet upon earth, and I must say with some success and an increase of charity and serenity—but that it is not a fair trial when the children are my only companions and so good and gracious as they are.


The Hawthornden Prize for the year 1926 was awarded to Sean O’Casey for his play Juno and the Paycock.


March 9, 1926. Yeats wrote to-day about the Hawthornden Prize to be given to O’Casey. And when O’Casey came he asked if he ought to accept it; he had refused to send a copy of Juno for the competition or inspection. I said, “Certainly. It is a compliment and the £100 will buy a good many new trousers.” (The papers tell of his having pawned his best pair for 5/- just before the London success of Juno.)

March 10. A letter from Robert Lynd to-day about the Hawthornden Prize: “A literary prize for young writers, we are awarding it this year to Sean O’Casey. Lord Oxford is presiding and giving the prize, and we are anxious that you should be present on the platform and speak—and the longer the speech the better.” I have consented though I know I’ll repent and suffer miseries—but probably enjoy it in the end.

March 12. Last night at Juno—it went splendidly—wonderful the turns, changes of mood in it. Sean O’Casey was in the hall at the end waiting to see me, surrounded by admirers. Altogether it was an exhilarating evening. I was excited, began thinking of my speech for the prize-giving, got, I think, an idea and an outline, and anyhow couldn’t sleep.

March 23. To-day Sean O’Casey came to lunch and we both set off a little before 3 for the Æolian Hall. I paid the taxi for I said it would be a great pity to break his £100! There were a great many people upstairs. I was introduced to the Swedish Minister, he couldn’t stay for the prize-giving but had come with the Oxfords and wanted to tell me how much he had liked Workhouse Ward when he had seen it in Dublin. And I reminded him that (as Yeats had told me) he had admired Robert’s picture at the Gallery, and he said, “Oh yes, so much,” and that it had some quality akin to the Russians.

Then the platform, and Lord Oxford made his speech praising Juno and the Abbey Players. Then my torture—a little confused in the beginning, the sequence of one of my sentences, but then got on well enough as to matter. But I didn’t deliver it well, the hall too large to be intimate and not full enough to speak to as one man. However, it seemed to be liked and Sean was pleased, thought my account of his working days all right. He was called up to receive his cheque from Lord Oxford in a sealed envelope, and being asked to speak he had made first a little speech in Irish and then just simple thanks in English, very successful. Squire made a rather long, semi-jocose speech then, and a photographer let off his camera with a bang.

March 26. In the evening after I had come back from the Æolian festa, and was resting, a letter came from the Daily News by messenger asking if I would write an article on the Theatre and playwriting and Sean O’Casey for their Saturday number, in which they like to have a special article. They called me up on the telephone to ask if I would consent to do this. I said I felt too tired to think of it, but might have more courage in the morning. Telephone said the Editor had heard me speak and was very anxious for it. I asked what payment I might expect, (calculating about £5,) and the voice answered, “We thought of twenty guineas. Would that be satisfactory?” I could not help laughing at the preposterous amount as I answered it would, should I decide to write. Margaret was indignant when I told her, said if I hadn’t laughed they would probably have given more, but I would not have had the face to ask it. Next morning I decided to make the effort and consented and got to work. Very hard to get anything down on paper—at home I’d have had some old lectures or letters to help me. However, I struggled on and then the Editor himself rang up and said he would like 2,000 words instead of 1,700. I said I found it hard enough to get the lesser number and asked if I might use some of what I had said at the Æolian of O’Casey’s history. He said, “Rather!” but I must put it in other words. I said of course I should do that as I had not written it then but spoken. So I set to work again and worked all day.

Then I had to search for a typist to copy my article and at Army and Navy Stores found a very nice girl and dictated article and she typed it and transfer for half a crown.

March 27. The Editor of the Daily News rang up, “to compliment you on your article, exactly what I wanted.” I had got the 2,000 words. So I felt relieved.


Curiously, there is not a great deal of interest about Yeats in her Journals. She says somewhere when she is preparing her memoirs that looking at his old letters to her they are all about theatre matters and facts, now out of date and not interesting. “Not like the letters I see him writing now with deliberation, laying down his pen and continuing the letter next day and perhaps the day after.” They were so close-knit in fellowship and work that it was hardly necessary for her to record accurately his speech and thought.


Nov. 16, 1924. A telegram came from Yeats telling me he has been awarded the Nobel Prize. I am proud and glad of this triumph for I believed in him always and was glad he “never made a poorer song that he might have a heavier purse.” In these twenty-six years our friendship has never been broken.

Dec. 1. Some nice words in an article by T. P. O’Connor about the Nobel Prize, “It is impossible to mention Mr. Yeats without adding something of what he and Ireland owe to the unselfish, devoted and unconquerable woman who has helped him and Ireland towards the great literary renaissance of modern days.”

March 11, 1925. (Staying with W. B. Yeats.) O’Casey came last night. Yeats’ “Monday,” also “A.E.” and Mr. Jewell and Alan Duncan and Gogarty dropped in late. (In London, when he lived for years at Woburn Buildings, Yeats was at home every Monday evening and it was a well-known meeting-place for writers and artists. He kept up the custom when he came to live in Dublin.) It is supposed to be for men only, and might be better so. Anyhow, the talk was rather scattered, the Mutiny, hashish, whether Darrell Figgis did or did not write “The Return of the Hero.” O’Casey, sheltering by me, interested me most. Yeats explained that the long debates and delay of the Fishery Bill in the Senate had all been caused by the Minister for Fisheries. Casey asked if he had been dismissed and could not understand why not, when a labourer would have been turned out of his job. Someone said he had given good service before the Treaty, and Casey said, “Nothing can be done until this Government is out and we have a Government with no one in it that has ever fired a gun. We can abuse them then.”

When Gogarty came in he did not find a congenial audience and talk flagged. I got him to talk of his escape from his kidnappers by plunging into the Liffey, for Jewell’s benefit—a little “story” for him. When the others were talking of hashish, Casey told me he had been all but shot in the Rising. He had taken no part in it, but a shot had been fired from some house he was in or near, and the soldiers had dragged him out and were actually raising their rifles to fire at him—“I felt in a daze, just from instinct I said a prayer, was certain death was there. But someone fired a shot that just missed their captain, and they ran to see where it came from, and I ran for my life through the fields and escaped.” He thinks the Rising was “a terrible mistake and we lost such fine men. We should have won freedom by degrees with them. And Parnell’s death was a great misfortune, he would have got Home Rule, that would have been a step.” He is studying pictures now, has bought some books, but knows so little about painting, he wishes lectures could be given. “And if the employers cared for us workers they would sometimes arrange for an afternoon at the Galleries, or an evening at the Abbey for the men.”

It was an interesting evening, I enjoyed hearing different views after what Yeats calls, in another part of his article, “the laborious solitary life.” He is very kind, and would ask politicians and officers to meet me but thinks I don’t care to meet them, and that is true enough. It is the creators that I like best to meet.

Oct. 30. Yeats has advised the Stuarts to appeal to the Pope as to the morality of Lennox Robinson’s story. I have just written to George Yeats thanking her for having given me harbourage last week in that storm. Willie wants to stir it up again but I wish he would let To-morrow take care for the things of itself. He says he is sending it his amended “Cradle Song” for its next number. I say it is time for a baby to appear after all the preliminary preparations. He hears the Provost, returning furious to Trinity, got the wrong Professor and the wrong Professor’s wife “on the carpet.” Horace Plunkett is vexed that he doesn’t write for the Irish Statesman, but “he doesn’t know the trouble it gives me to write an article of that sort.” I remember his writing to Dunsany in the same way, and Dunsany answered, “the spade said to the rake—dig’.”

Nov. 3. Yeats talking of his work and of the consciousness outside ourselves from which knowledge comes, and which he believes will lead to another revelation, perhaps not for another two hundred years, he thinks will not be so spiritual, so outside the world as Christ. I say perhaps more like Buddha and he says, “Yes. That is the antithesis ‘they’ use Christ and Buddha.” He had been interested in psychic things when about 17, but was frightened and the “influences” as it were seizing him, and gave it up. Then, later, Mme. Markiewicz, then unmarried, took him to a séance in London and then he found he need not fear them. But he did not take up the exploration again, “until I read your book.” That is the folk-lore I was collecting from the people.

Reading “Phineas Finn” to Yeats in the evenings we had his first effort to speak in Parliament (that Birrell had said was so wonderful, written by a man who had never himself been an M.P.). I asked Yeats how his speaking had begun, and he said he had become used to it in the little theosophical societies he belonged to. But his best lesson had been from Mme. Blavatsky. He had (like Phineas) prepared a speech with great care, had then written it out and read it to the assembly. It was received in dead silence and he felt that not a word of it had been understood. Mme. Blavatsky had called him over, said, “Give me the manuscript. Now you go back and say your say about it.” He did so, with the greatest success.

When we read about Mr. Kennedy keeping Lady Laura in such order, not allowing her to see anyone or to read a novel on Sundays, I said, “What ought she to have done?” and he said, “What Jack said Masefield ought to do, come home drunk and dance a sailor’s hornpipe on the table.”

Nov. 10. Yeats, looking at the “Golden Age” Kathie had given me for the children, says he once met Kenneth Grahame coming out of Henley’s office and asked Henley, “Have you been correcting his style?” and Henley said, “Why, no,” seemed satisfied. But he had asked because he was told Henley had corrected the style of one of Henry James’s early stories and that H.J.’s screams had filled the office and the paper had come to a sudden end.

Nov. 11. Talking of novels, Yeats said Jane Austen and Richardson had written only of the upper classes. “Dickens changed all that. Then came Thackeray, half and half, and Trollope half and half. Then Henry James who went back to fine culture of fine characters, there can be no good literature without praise.”

Lady Londonderry has written to him, the letter came to-day, asking where she can get “an authentic portrait of Cuchulain,” as she wants to put up a statue of him in her garden! A letter from an Australian also, enthusiastic about his speech at the Tailltean banquet. He says he prepared it very carefully, though knowing he would speak less well, with less fire, but to get a good Press report. Tim Healy spoke afterwards and after that said to him, “It is a hard thing to have to make the first speech. I have never done it in my life in Parliament or elsewhere. My plan has been to wait and attack the fellow who spoke first!”

Nov. 14. Last evening The Times Supplement had come and I read Yeats a review of Herbert Trench’s poems, which roused him to indignation. “That’s all nonsense. What they want is technique. Trench can’t write. If he could have been with us at the Rhymers’ Club long ago he might have done something. That reviewer praises Hardy as a poet, they all do that when they know nothing about poetry; they like Hardy because he has not technique, they feel he is still a novelist. That man talks nonsense about Shelley. Very little of Shelley will last for, say, forty years. I know, for I was reading him the other day. There are about twenty pages of exquisite beauty that will live for ever. Keats has a larger proportion, he has better technique, but there is very little that will live, say, of Tennyson—about the same, twenty pages. Browning? I think there will be about the same of them all. He applauds Whitman; he likes a preacher, he picks him out because he is all preacher. I remember my father telling me Keats was a better poet than Shelley. I didn’t believe him then but I know what he meant now, though I care more for Shelley. But these critics ought to think more of the writing. They have given up God, they shouldn’t give up perfection.” Well, he practises what he preaches; is working over those old poems as if for a competition for eternity.

May 23, 1926. Yeats has read me his Resurrection play, very good, I think, direct and leading up with a strain of expectation to the “beating of the heart.”

May 24. Back from Church and working at the waking of “Dave” from his vision. And I hear Yeats “purring” next door, and he has just come in and said, “I meant this to be a poem of Christianity and it has come like this:

“Another Troy must rise and set—

Another Argo’s painted prow

Drive to a flashier bauble yet.

The ancient kingdoms are appalled,

They dropped the news of peace and war

When Virgo and the Mystic Star

Did to the fabulous darkness call.”

I finished yesterday the rough draft of my play, in dialogue, but haven’t read it over yet. On one of his last days Yeats seeing me writing asked what I was working at. I said, “A play, but I mustn’t mention it to you because it is a peasant play. It is on the Index.” For he had been saying, “Dublin won’t stand any more peasant work.” So he laughed and said no more. But I am in no hurry to get it acted, only to get it right. He is very well, walked with Mr. Ross to the Natural Bridge yesterday and saw him catch two trout.

Talking of his own plays, he said, “I have never made one in sympathy with my audience except Kathleen ni Houlihan, and that was you and a dream.”

Aug. 28. I got up my courage and read Dave to Jack Yeats and Casey, but it had a tepid reception. My creative time may have passed. And my hearing is worse, I lose a good deal of talk when not addressed to me. But Jack and his wife enjoyed their visit and seemed happy all through and Casey seems happy as ever, with woods and books, and I am glad Coole still gives so much pleasure.

And the darlings are well. I was at Burren yesterday for Anne’s birthday, celebrated in advance that she might have a party, and they were very merry, playing outdoor games, and Anne liked her ten little cakes and the ornament for the top—figure of herself shooting a pheasant with a rabbit sitting up and saying, “That’s right, dear; always aim high.” Church to-day; just a dozen. Sally Allgood writes wanting the Theatre to pay off £200 she owes, or help her with it. Poor thing, we can’t do it and I am troubled about it!

June 17, 1927. Yeats read me his poem, the Woman section fine but rather difficult to understand in one reading. I said his poetry is like the Bible, the beginning, Wanderings of Usheen and Countess Cathleen—as easy as the Book of Moses; then the more reasoning ones, and now the Book of Revelation that has to be interpreted. He says he sometimes gets a thought and ascribes it to another—he had been quoting from Gentile, “the world is so incredible that we go about touching it with our hands to convince ourselves that it exists.” But now he has been looking for it in Gentile’s book and can’t find it.

June 20. Yeats met old Putnam in London and said, “Mr. Putnam, you were my first publisher, and you told me I did not know how to spell. And I still do not know how to spell.” And then they got on very well. He says, “Mrs. Phillimore belongs to the generation of reasoners. When I said I could not read Bertrand Russell and said I might as well make love to a woman with a bald head, she said, ‘But why could you not make love to a woman with a bald head?’ ” and was prepared to reason it. He says, “They sent me an invitation signed by thirty to the Trinity College dinner, so, though I had refused, I did go. I spoke chiefly on the Lane Pictures. About our tradition I said, ‘Berkeley was the first to say the world is a vision; Burke was the first to say a nation is a tree. And those two sayings are a foundation of modern thought.’

“At some house where I lunched they were speculating as to what Lindbergh thought when he was coming over the Atlantic. A millionaire woman said he probably thought of a line from some American poem, ‘on a sea of rapture.’ I said, ‘No, whatever a man in that position thinks of, it is not rhetoric. I am an imaginative poet and I know.’ ” He thought he had offended some writer who was there, but next day his hostess, bringing him a super-chocolate box, told him this man had said, “I have only in my life heard two good talkers, Shaw and Yeats.”

We have been walking in the garden, rather worried by Taddy perpetually rolling a croquet ball and expecting us to pick it up and throw it again for him. I said, “That is what bores feel, they go on rolling a ball feeling sure if they roll it long enough someone will pick it up for them,” and he likes that idea.

July 3, Sunday. Desmond Shawe-Taylor here, a dear bright boy from Oriel, full of interest in books and drama and writers; and merry with that, romping with Catherine who had seized him as a playfellow, there being but six years between them. But when Yeats is here, as he has been the last two evenings, Desmond is at his feet seeking knowledge or at least opinions. And I had the Warrens and Yeats to dinner, to hear his music, and Yeats and George last evening, but that was consumed with talk. Theocritus was spoken of, and Desmond said he had often thought his lovely book ought to be put in a Kiltartan setting. Yeats said, “Yes, Lady Gregory must do it. It will be published by Dun Emer.” That sounds like pleasant work. And I want a pleasant new interest, for I think I must go to Slattery again, something wrong on the poor left side. But death seems so much an easier thing to face than an operation—could but the poor body keep till then its sanity.

Jan. 28, 1930. A good day altogether. In my letter to G.B.S. I copied Yeats’ rendering of Swift’s epitaph, for G.B.S. has said when I spoke of them, that a translation might be very fine. He wrote them here on a half sheet of paper:

Jonathan Swift is at the goal,

Savage indignation there

  Cannot lacerate his soul,

Imitate him if you dare,

World estranged man for he

  Saved human liberty.

And then another:

Jonathan Swift’s in port,

Savage indignation there

  Cannot lacerate his heart:

Imitate him if you dare.

World-besotted wanderer, he

  Served human liberty.

(I liked the first best, Yeats the second.)


James Stephens, author of “The Crock of Gold,” “Here Are Ladies,” and many other lovely stories and original poems and translations from the Gael. When Lady Gregory meets him he is Secretary to the National Gallery of Ireland.


March 29, 1919. James Stephens came to tea and talked and played with the children. I said it was strange that children now seemed to be born with a liking for tomatoes, which we had to acquire, and he said, “I have good cause to remember the first time I tasted one. I had come out of school and was walking with three other boys and at a fruit shop we saw for the first time a strange scarlet fruit. We looked and looked and—well—we each stole one, we could not resist it. The owner saw us and ran out, and we ran and ran, and then a big policeman joined in chasing us. The other lads were getting away but I had short legs and I saw I would be caught, so I determined that whatever happened I would taste the tomato, and I took a big bite. But at the queer horrible taste I stood stock still and could not move, it was such a shock to me. So they caught me and cuffed me, but not very hard, for the shopkeeper knew who we were.”

He sang charming little French songs and gave the children rides on his back. He wants to do a big story of the wooing of Finn, but is resting after the creation of Tuan MacCarell and is steeping himself in “Gods and Fighting Men.”

April. I went later to Marlborough Road and called on Jack Yeats and his wife. He is in better spirits, is having a show here and one in London and showed me a reproduction in “colour” of a donkey—has had several letters about it and is getting £50 for it. He told (we were speaking of the Lord Mayor’s [Laurence O’Neill] good qualities) how, when the joint expedition to Maynooth at the conscription time was starting, he (the L.M.) was determined to make Dillon and Healy come together. They were standing apart from each other, Dillon glowering with his arms folded, and he said to Healy, “All the motors are now filled and I must ask you and Mr. Dillon to go in the only one left.” Healy said, “I’ve sometimes had to eat crow in my lifetime and I haven’t liked it—but if I have to eat crow again I’ll do it!” and so they went off together.

I went in the evening to hear Stephens read some of his new stories. I said, “What a fine house for him to live in,” when we came to it (in Fitzwilliam Place). But we had to go up, up, up to a flat in the very top. A nice room, simply furnished, Mrs. Stephens there, and T. Bodkin and a young man, “who had been in the Post Office” (at the Rising). I asked him if he had shed blood or had his been shed, and he said his had not been shed.

Stephens read the opening of his Tain Stories, Tuan MacCarrell, who is to tell the tales. I thought it extraordinarily fine, the changing from tired and decrepit man to stag, to hawk, to salmon, with their joy in earth, water, air. And he has made even the coming of Parthalon and the passing of his people living and fine, remembered by the lonely man who had outlived them. He sat, as “A.E.” says, “quite like a little gnome, wetting his finger at his mouth to turn each page, his face lighting up with the glory of his tale.” He read “Becfola” also, but that is but a fairy tale and I cared less for it. Yeats repeated his Madame Markiewicz poem, and a Pearse and Connolly one.


Tailtin or Tailltean (now Telltown, in Co. Meath) is the hill near the Blackwater in that county where the Irish mythical hero, Lugh Lamh Fada, (Lugh of the Long Hand,) who was King of Ireland circa 1600 B.C., instituted public games and a fair. The fair and sports took place annually on 1st August. They continued to be held down to the twelfth century. He instituted the festival in connection with the commemoration of his foster-mother, Tailte, the daughter of a king of Spain.

The Games were revived in 1924 under the presidency of Mr. J. J. Walsh. A feature of the Games which was not athletic was the attendance of a number of distinguished visitors who were there by invitation.


Aug. 9, 1924. McGreevy wrote about the Tailltean. “There was a great night at the Abbey on Friday. There was a red carpet outside, which excited Colum so much. And the Persian Prince, and the Papal ladies, and the Marquis McSwiney, and Mr. Healy’s nice Colonel O’Reilly, who looked after them well. Fair-haired, Free-stater and all, as he is, he looked the most Irish thing imaginable.”

George Yeats, here yesterday, says all went off well, (and about £3,000 was made on the Games,) except that Gogarty’s “distinguished visitors” and McSwiney’s Papal ones didn’t amalgamate, there was some friction between him and the Marquis. And the Dutch Minister having gone off by himself to explore, returned late to the Viceregal Lodge and finding the gate closed proceeded to break the lock, and a sentry rushed out and would have fired at him but just in time recognised some mark on his hat. And at the Viceregal dinner party that the Yeatses were at, the Governor-General suddenly stood up when they were in the middle of dessert—raspberries and cream—and proposed “The King!” However, they all stood up, including John McCormack, who had said before he would not do so. And a dignitary of the Church stood up after that and said a very long grace, in the middle of which the band outside struck up “Annie Laurie,” but he went on with it, and Lady Lavery giggled. Colonel O’Reilly was invaluable, and at a lunch at the Shelbourne, finding the visitors had come with ordinary hats and were due at some function afterwards, he went off in a motor and brought top hats. Yeats has gone to London to get Ricketts (in Shannon’s name) to design robes for the Judges. Chief Justice Kennedy was so taken with the idea that he persuaded Cosgrave to allow this.


July 20, 1919. London. Mr. Goldman had been all day dashing about in motors bringing in voters for the election. Some other helpers came in after dinner, a Wesleyan clergyman, a Labour representative, a garage keeper, and other business men. The Wesleyan said that Mrs. Booth was a saint—a Saint Catherine—you felt in the presence of sanctity when she came into a room, and if she put her hand on your arm you were conscious of it for days. He did not think much of General Booth except that he was a great organiser.

But Mr. Goldman told me next day that they had been on a ship going to the Cape with many emigrants on board and Church of England clergy going for some mission, and that the exhortations of these had left the poor anxious emigrants cold, but General Booth’s address had comforted them and filled them with courage.

One of the others, as we spoke of Gladstone, said what a help Mrs. Gladstone was to him. He had been at a great meeting at Glasgow and the G.O.M. wanting to read something he had brought could not find his eye-glass, and Mrs. G. had jumped up and tried the back of his neck, and at last, at the end of about five minutes, had fished them up from under his coat, at which the whole assembly cheered, it had made a success of the meeting.

Rudyard Kipling came to lunch with his wife and daughter and I liked him, he was friendly and unaffected and we had Roosevelt for a theme, he spoke of his truthfulness and courage. I had liked very much his “Greatheart” ballad on him, and we went on to speak of “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” he thinks Greatheart “one of the finest characters in fiction.” He loves also the Holy War. As we talked of America I said “Queechy” and “The Wide Wide World,” read in my childhood, had given romance to common things—doughnuts and apple-pie and cheese—when I went there. He had also read these in his childhood, and also “Little Women” and “Little Men.” He had loved Aunt Judy’s Magazine but hated the “Sunday at Home” which I had loved and where I had got my interest in Polar travel through Sir Leopold McClintock’s voyage. (And years after, in my London life, I had found myself sitting at dinner beside Sir Leopold whom I had imagined of a bygone age!) He said one could not think too much of the influence of the books read in early years, and quoted someone saying, “Give me the first six years of a child’s life . . .”

He did not talk of the Empire, but wondered why people who could live in those glorious countries, Canada and South Africa, ever wanted to come back to England. Mrs. Kipling, I think, used to feel exhausted after an hour of Roosevelt’s society. She said Kipling had been to see Wilson but was not at all pleased with him, “all jaw and froth, thinks he knows everything.”

Nov. 18, 1929. Reading Henry James’s Letters—very charming reading—yet, near the end of the second volume I begin to wonder what was wrong with them, there is an unsatisfied undercurrent either in my mind or in his, in spite of his pleasant surroundings and the work he liked and his many friends. I think it is that he being severed from his country, was, as it were, sterilised—not “in the pedigree” of his nation, as was his brother and Howells and Chiltern and the rest. And he might have found more sap and substance among his own people, a new people whose soul has but been imperfectly revealed. He has found such wonderful subtlety of expression, and wastes it, I think, on what often seems at the best a fly sucked dry; it is the web that interests one.


For personal reasons I should have liked this subject forgotten, but an editor must not let his personal feelings impinge on his matter. It is an echo of Lady Gregory’s fight for The Playboy, for a play she did not like—but she liked the author. Here she is fighting for a story she disliked and an author, myself, whom she didn’t particularly care for. But in each case she was fighting for liberty of thought.

For the reader a few words of explanation are necessary. Andrew Carnegie, American millionaire, spent a great deal of money in Ireland and elsewhere on libraries and organs. A Trust was formed to administer his benefactions and Sir Horace Plunkett was the Irish member of the Trust. In 1915 I was appointed Organising Librarian to try to revive small rural libraries in Counties Limerick and Kerry and to supervise new buildings in Newcastle West and Dingle—libraries which the Trust was obliged to build.

Then the Trust’s policy changed; instead of buildings they turned their attention to books and proceeded to establish and finance (with the help of a local rate) county libraries, that is to say, centres for the distribution of books through schools and similar institutions. To help them in their work an Advisory Committee was formed in 1921. The principal members of the Committee were: The Most Rev. Dr. Bernard, Provost of Trinity College; Rev. T. A. Finlay, S.J.; Thomas Lyster, Librarian, National Library, Dublin; James Wilkinson, Librarian, Carnegie Library, Cork; Lady Gregory; Dermod O’Brien, P.R.H.A.; Thomas O’Donnell; George Russell (“A.E.”), and Lionel Smith-Gordon. Sir Horace Plunkett, as Trustee, was an ex-officio member. I was Secretary and Treasurer. From 1915 to 1924—the year of my dismissal—£32,000 passed through my hands.

In the summer of 1924 friends of mine—the Stuarts—started a little paper called To-morrow; to this I contributed a short story called “The Madonna of Slieve Dun.” I had written it in 1911 in New York. Years later it was published in an American periodical and caused no comment. When my friends asked me to contribute to their paper, which dwelt on religion and philosophy, I thought of this little story and sent it to them, never dreaming it would raise such a storm.

I like to see that when the battle was over and she and I had been defeated, I say that “their victory is only a temporary one,” and that “the Libraries will go on.”

In 1935, the last year I have figures for, the number of books issued in country places was two million nine hundred and twenty-four thousand.

I begin this memoir with an occasion at Sir Horace’s house when two of the Scottish Trustees visited Ireland for an important Conference.


July 11, 1921. I had set out yesterday to go to Dublin for the Carnegie Committee meeting. Robinson brought me from the Gresham in a taxi and I found as fellow guests (at Kilteragh) Lady Fingall and the three Scotchmen: Sir John Ross, (over 80, humpbacked and infirm but with a sympathetic mind and “would like to live longer, things are so interesting,”) Sir William Robertson, who I haven’t talked to but Sir Horace Plunkett says is an entirely ignorant and uncultured man, and Colonel Mitchell, a rather pedantic man, who had been in the war for three years. These are the three Dunfermline men into whose hands Carnegie confided his millions for the good (according to their lights) of the United Kingdom. Sir Horace says the Committee that works with them is yet more ignorant and is especially prejudiced against Ireland, and he has instructed me this morning, before breakfast, that we are not to oppose them but to try to get what money we can, and have the spending of it left to our judgment—libraries, of course, but he talks of other uses as well. I try to cling to a library for Galway, in connection with the University, and with branches through the country. However, at breakfast I happened to tell of the good work done by the Sinn Fein Volunteers and Land Courts before the military dispersed them, and they seemed interested and Sir Horace said afterwards, “That was a good beginning.”

July 13. I talked a little with Sir Horace Plunkett’s Secretary, Mr. Heard, a thoughtful-looking, gentle man, (Lady Fingall calls him “Martha,”) and looking always as if he was being led to execution. At dinner Sir H. asked who I would like next me, and having, I thought, done my duty by the delegates, I chose Smith-Gordon, of whom I know nothing except that he is a Sinn Feiner. But in talking of tree-planting, I found he is head of the Sinn Fein Land Bank, and he says Barton is over the Forestry Department of Dail Eireann, and that they will look into the matter of our woods if I send them the facts when they get to work. He has been teaching History at the University of Toronto, and we talked of the choice of books for the libraries. He agrees about Trevelyan’s Garibaldi books, and would like, “if they could be put into any intelligible language,” to give Meredith’s “Vittoria” and “Sandra Belloni.”

And this led us to style, and others listening, I told Sir John Ross that it would be a fine thing to reprint North’s “Plutarch,” which one can only get or not get in the expensive Tudor edition, (I paid £8 for mine; the one I gave Robert,) and which is so much a finer translation than any other. He was interested, but Robertson, of course, and perhaps wisely, is inclined to oppose all he doesn’t understand, and that is a great deal. Lady Fingall thought he hadn’t been paid enough attention, (I think because I hadn’t chosen him next me,) and walked up and down with him while he told his stories, laughing at their points and emphasising these by poking her arm (this he did to me the next evening when I was the sacrifice!).

On Monday morning we motored to Plunkett House, first, to see the Co-operative Library. The Librarian, (Miss Marks,) who spoke excellently on the matter, looked familiar to me, and I found it was she who had played Sibby so well in The Dragon. Then the meeting. I was placed next to Lyster, who at once began a résumé of Irish history and was telling me that most of our woes derive from the abominable character of George the Third, when I had to turn my back on him, proceedings having begun.

I was the only woman: Hugh Law, Father Finlay, “A.E.,” David Barbour, Dermod O’Brien, (who was drawing a sketch of me,) and a nervous little man next me—I discovered towards the end—the Librarian of the burned Cork Library, begging for £100 to make a temporary shelter for the books until a new building could be provided. A reasonable request, but Sir William Robertson refused, was very bullying and domineering and sneered at his want of a definite plan and would only consent to the request being referred to the London Committee next Friday. I found the poor man, Mr. Wilkinson, after the meeting, actually trembling with rage and disappointment. He said he had found it hard to keep his temper, (so had I, and, I think, others,) and he told me in confidence that it was difficult for him to explain the want of a definite plan, but that wooden military huts had been offered, but could not be accepted from the military, but that now with the peace it is possible they may be accepted, which would help things on. Later I spoke to Colonel Mitchell and he at first thought the grant impossible; then came back to say I might write a personal letter to Sir John Ross. I did this in the evening and talked to him, and he promised to help. But in saying good-bye to Sir W. R. I mentioned it, and he flew out at once, “I can’t do it. I never heard a worse case. No definite plan.” I was sorry I had spoken, but in the morning thought (as usual) it had been for the best.

Sir Horace, more courteous, played golf again. I asked Sir W. R. how it had gone and he said, “Oh, I let Sir Horace win a game, he is like a child, so pleased when he wins, it’s a pity to disappoint him!”

My own unfortunate good manners led me to sit on a verandah with Sir W. who told me stories of himself and Carnegie, and was just beginning, “Mr. Carnegie on one occasion at Skibo introduced his housemaid to the King.”

“Oh,” I cried, “Mr. Carnegie himself on our first meeting told me that!”

“Oh, did he! It was the first time, I suppose, a housemaid had ever been introduced to a King. ‘Mary,’ Mr. Carnegie said . . .”

However, I turned it off and learned with satisfaction that Carnegie had not left him anything, (nor to Sir John, whom I wouldn’t begrudge it to,) and that what rankles is that he left money to John Morley.

July 15, 1924. George Yeats came for the night, getting Ballylee ready for the children. I asked her about Lennox Robinson’s story which the Dublin printers had refused to print in the Stuarts’ new paper, Tomorrow. She says the Talbot Press had already refused to print it in his book of short stories; then he sent it to The Nation which refused it because it was indecent and dealt with rape. Now he writes indignantly to the Irish Statesman and says, “My friends who have started Tomorrow believe in the immortality of the soul . . . the purpose of this paper is the overthrow of the unbelievers . . . the question is the gravely serious one of the freedom to believe.” But it is not belief the printers and The Nation objected to, but his way of supporting it. I said it would be hardly necessary to display the immortality of the body as an argument for the immortality of the soul. She—though she didn’t support me when I told him so—is sorry Willie is writing for them, says everyone will recognise the manifesto as his, though he doesn’t believe they will, and that he has given them his Leda poem and a fine thing among his other poems in the Cuala book, but is, now it is known it goes into Tomorrow, being spoken of as something horribly indecent.

Sept. 23. Yeats says the Stuarts’ little paper Tomorrow caused a great sensation. It was rumoured that the Government intended to suppress it. He went to see Blythe who said Cosgrave had really thought of doing so, not because of anything said in it, but because some man, a German who is anti-Church, has written saying Lennox Robinson’s idea of the foundation of Christianity in his story is probably the right one, and Cosgrave is afraid Robinson is a disciple of his and is trying to pervert the nation. However, the next number is to contain an article in favour of giving over the cathedrals now in Protestant hands to the Catholics, and that will puzzle them.

Oct. 17. A letter calling a meeting of the Carnegie Committee to “consider what action should be taken in consequence of a letter of resignation from Father Finlay calling attention to a publication by the Secretary.” This is Lennox Robinson’s story of the girl imagining herself another Madonna. I haven’t seen it or the paper, (Tomorrow,) and think both unnecessary and mischievous, and had told Yeats so, “Setting fire to your neighbour’s house to roast your own pig,” I had thought of the Abbey only, but now it is the Carnegie as well, and may probably interfere with its work.

Oct. 22. Dublin. Came here yesterday by early train for the “urgent and important” Carnegie meeting. Yeats met me at the Broadstone and took me to 82 Merrion Square. I went in to 84 after a little while to see “A.E.” about the meeting. He had a visit from Father Finlay in the morning, who told him of having sent in his resignation to the Carnegie Committee because of the article published by the Secretary, Lennox Robinson, in Tomorrow—“could not continue association with him.” Dermod O’Brien had also been in and told him Lennox Robinson intended anyhow to resign in June, doesn’t find enough time for his own work, so they are inclined to think he might solve the matter by resigning now. “A.E.” hated the story, and also one in the same number about black men and white women written (not in her own name) by Mrs. Curtis, the wife of a professor in Trinity. “A.E.” is unwilling to face a “fight with two Churches,” for the Provost, by Father Finlay’s account, is as indignant with the story as he is. “A.E.” wouldn’t object to the fight if it was on a good ground, but doesn’t feel we should fight on this. I came back and told Yeats. He was furious at the idea of letting Lennox Robinson resign. And George Yeats said he had only intended it vaguely, hadn’t decided even for June. Then McGreevy came in, said he has no intention at all of resigning. He and Yeats went in to see “A.E.” and had rather a row. Yeats came back excited and said he had said too much.

This morning to “A.E.” again and with him to the Carnegie meeting. The Provost read Father Finlay’s letter and said he had obtained a copy of Tomorrow, thought that story very offensive, also Yeats’ “Leda,” “so unlike his early poems.” Also another story in the same number, “one must speak plainly—it is about the intercourse of white women with black men.” He had written to Dunfermline calling attention to Lennox Robinson’s story, and Colonel Mitchell had answered that they would take no action until they knew what view the Dublin Committee took of it. Then there was discussion. He asked us all in turn to give an opinion.

When it came to me I said we all had the Carnegie scheme at heart and must do anything possible to keep it up, “but I do not think it a possible thing to dismiss the Secretary who has helped our work for over nine years so well, and that with a slur on his character.” The Provost said, “There is no question of dismissing him,” crossly, and would give no hint of what action should be taken beyond asking Father Finlay to reconsider his decision. We all agreed to that but feeling sure he would not.

Mr. O’Donnell was Lennox Robinson’s chief champion. He said, “I was brought up in the County Kerry, among Catholics. I am a Catholic, an Irish speaker. I never knew a Protestant until I was grown up and came to Dublin. My sisters are pious Catholics. I read them that story and they thought it a beautiful story.” The Provost listened with suspicious toleration and some surprise.

After endless talk a resolution was proposed by the Provost asking Father Finlay to reconsider his intention of resigning and saying, “we consider the article unfortunate and deplorable.” I asked this to be amended to “the publication of the article,” saying that was all that concerned us, we had nothing to do with what our Secretary writes, but objected to an article, that might give offence, being published. He would not at first alter it, put it to the vote and it was passed by one vote, but he consented to put an amendment making the alteration. “A.E.,” who had approved of the alteration, now could not make up his mind which side to take, and the Provost said it was not necessary for him to vote, and he didn’t. But then the numbers were equal and after a little “A.E.,” voted for the amendment. (He could not make up his mind, all hung on him, then he seemed confused and asked what the amendment was. I said, quoting the Provost, “the milder form,” and then he said, “I am for the milder form.”)

The Provost, very cross, spoke again against the paper and “especially that horrible story about the blacks.”

I said, “That is said to have come from Trinity.”

“Impossible,” he said.

Someone whispered him it was a professor’s wife. He looked at the paper and said, “There is no such name among our professors.”

“It is signed in her maiden name,” said someone. He jumped up and went away evidently intending to have the writer’s blood. But she is said to have run away, so he will find only the unoffending husband who has been writing a history of ancient Ireland.

I kept them from cursing the article itself, because I fancy the Provost means to ask for Lennox Robinson’s resignation at the next meeting, perhaps threatening his own, and I didn’t want the meeting to commit itself against the story. Cosgrave had been prepared to prosecute the paper but sent it on to O’Higgins, Minister of Justice, and he refused, saying, “the prosecution would merely represent the moral attitude of a certain people, and place, and time.” Very good.

Very tired after all this. Had some tea, (it was 2 o’clock when I returned,) and stayed in. Willie much delighted with the account but wished he had been there; he would have begun by an attack on the Provost for having written to Dunfermline before consulting the Dublin Committee.

Oct. 23. A sleepless night, worried by the echoes of that meeting. Yeats says the proper thing would have been to attack the Provost on the demerit of the article, and also that it was quite out of order to put the resolution before the amendment. He would have made a row had he been there.

Lennox Robinson came in for a few minutes, said, “You made a splendid fight.”

I said I had done very little, the resolution was not good. I had only stuck to “the publication of the story, not the story itself, being denounced.”

“But,” he said, “O’Donnell says you were wonderful and that none of the men were any good at all. He is full of admiration of you.”

I said, “I think the Provost will resign if he can’t get you dismissed.”

He said, “Yes, he told Smith-Gordon as he went out that if Father Finlay resigns he will do so.”

He thinks we should then make the Head of Maynooth chairman. It would be very good having a Catholic, I think, this being a Catholic country, we could get his point of view.

Nov. 19. The Carnegie meeting—I had dreaded it, but it was easy in the end. “A.E.” in the chair and he read the Provost’s letter of resignation, (giving no reason,) and wrote, or induced L.R. to write, an answer begging him to reconsider it. And that put off further trouble until the next meeting, two or three months hence. L. Robinson read Father Finlay’s letter giving his reasons for resigning. I thought it an astonishing one, have asked for a copy. I wanted to send someone, perhaps Smith-Gordon, with the resolution to the Provost, to explain to him that the paper which caused all the mischief, Tomorrow, is now practically extinct, as it is going to become a Republican paper, and thus cuts off Yeats and Lennox Robinson and other “intellectuals” from it, and it from theology.

But there was no enthusiasm for coaxing the Provost. Smith-Gordon refused to go and said anyhow the Provost would never rejoin after Finlay’s letter. For he had said to him after the last meeting that, “when a clergyman of a Christian Church took the view Father Finlay had done, he felt he must go with him, and see eye-to-eye with him.” I said, “If the Provost intends to see eye-to-eye with the Catholic Church he is not a Protestant.” They all burst out laughing and agreed, but Smith-Gordon said he had not actually used the words eye-to-eye but only equivalent ones. Wilkinson, the Cork Librarian, said it didn’t matter whether we had clerics on the Board or not, “the people want the books and will have them.” He showed me the figures for Cork, but I cried out at so much fiction, because they can always buy that in the little cheap editions and do so, and I said I didn’t see why we supply, for instance, Ethel Dell. A good deal of history is read, and I believe that should head the list if we reduce the mass of worthless novels.

Dec. 26. Lennox Robinson writes, “I have been awfully busy and worried. The Carnegie situation has resolved itself into the suspension of the Committee and my dismissal. It’s a complete victory for the obscurantists but only a temporary one, I think, as even within the last ten days the County Councils of Clare, Cork and Monaghan have passed resolutions asking for county schemes, so the work will go on. I am awfully sorry that all your work at that horrible meeting in October has resulted only in this. I blame people like Dermod O’Brien who were for placating the Church at any price—as Tom O’Donnell says, ‘the most priest-ridden people in Ireland are the ex-Unionists’.”



Hugh Lane was born in 1875 in County Cork, his father was the Rev. J. W. Lane, his mother Lady Gregory’s elder sister Adelaide. Hugh was a handsome but delicate boy caring nothing for sport, interested instead in pictures and ornaments, and his childhood was broken and unhappy, his parents unsuitably married; they finally separated.

Before he was 18 it was necessary that he should begin to earn a living. Lady Gregory says:

“I went to consult an old friend, Sir Charles Robinson, the Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures, and through his advice and introduction Mr. Martin Colnaghi offered him employment for a year, giving him twenty shillings a week and an indefinite position in his gallery. Hugh was overjoyed when the offer came. His mother was also pleased. She had faith in him and had written to her mother before his work had even begun, ‘In a few years Hugh will be making his thousands.’ He hurried to London sooner than he need lest one day’s learning should escape him, and he wrote in high spirits of the first meeting with Mr. Colnaghi and that they were ‘in sympathy in preferring the old painters to the new.’ But disappointment came, I think, to each of them. He was given a clerk’s work to do, and Colnaghi grumbled at his bad handwriting. . . . It was soon plain that Colnaghi did not much like him, it may be he thought, as some of the dealers used to say later, ‘Lane’s not a dealer, he is a damned amateur.’ ”

Lane’s mother was right. A few years later he had set himself up as a picture dealer. He had an instinctive flair for recognising a painter’s work or indeed any masterpiece in art. Though he had lived very little of his youth in Ireland, his thoughts always turned back there. The National Gallery of Ireland and the Hibernian Academy were starved in comparison with the grants made to the National Galleries and the Schools of England and Scotland. To show Ireland’s importance he determined to hold in Dublin a Loan Exhibition of Old Masters. (I quote Lady Gregory.) “There was, of course, no money in its purse to pay for packing and carriage and insurance, perhaps not even for postage stamps. He had made some thousands by that time, he would take that burden upon himself, he would take all the risks.” He begged and borrowed from all the great houses in Ireland. The Exhibition was outstandingly successful.

But for Lane it was only a beginning; he started to dream of enriching Ireland’s National Gallery and creating in Dublin a Gallery of Modern Art. He was asked, in 1904, to organise an Art Collection for the St. Louis Exhibition; at the last moment the project fell through but the pictures he collected were exhibited in London’s Guildhall and from that Exhibition came Dublin’s Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. Or, perhaps, it also arose from the fact that there came into the market the Staats-Forbes collection of Constables, Corots, Monets, Pissarros and other continental artists. They were exhibited in Dublin. Lane badgered his friends, badgered his acquaintances, got money here, there, and everywhere to purchase pictures, and the Exhibition of French Impressionists in London in 1905 excited him to further efforts. In the following year Royalty visited Ireland. Lane badgered Royalty, and the Prince and Princess of Wales (afterwards George V. and Queen Mary) had to buy and present five pictures to Dublin’s new Gallery.

His career was meteoric; it reads like a Balzac novel. Spending nothing on himself, (except perhaps on his clothes, for I always remember him as immaculately dressed,) lunching on a bun and cup of tea, living in his lovely house in Chelsea, he would not afford a fire in his bedroom, though downstairs there would be hanging a noble Titian, (which he afterwards sold to America for £25,000,) one of the most lovely Goyas in existence, and other pictures worth thousands of pounds—nor would he afford himself a taxi. In 1909 he was knighted.

A temporary site for the Modern Gallery in Dublin was obtained in Harcourt Street. It was not very suitable and Lane pressed for a worthier building. Sir Edwin Lutyens designed a startlingly original gallery bridging the Liffey, there was an idea for a gallery in Stephen’s Green or in Dublin Castle or behind the Mansion House. Rancours arose and in a moment of pique Lane withdrew his “conditional gift”—thirty-nine continental pictures—from the Harcourt Street Gallery and sent them on loan to the National Gallery of London. In his will, 1913, he bequeathed them to that Gallery.

But in 1915, before sailing for America, he altered his mind and wrote the following codicil:

National Gallery of Ireland

H. Lane.

3rd Feb., 1915.

This is a Codicil to my last Will to the effect that the group of pictures now at the London National Gallery, which I had bequeathed to that institution, I now bequeath to the City of Dublin, providing that a suitable building is provided for them within 5 years of my death. The group of pictures I have lent to Belfast I give to the Municipal Gallery in Harcourt St. If a building is provided within 5 years the whole Collection will be housed together. The sole Trustee in this question is to be my aunt, Lady Gregory. She is to appoint any additional trustees she may think fit.

I also wish that the pictures now on loan at this (National Gallery of Ireland) Gallery remain as my gift.

Hugh Lane.

I would like my friend Tom Bodkin to be asked to help in the obtaining of this new Gallery of Modern Art for Dublin. If within 5 years a gallery is not forthcoming, then the group of pictures at the London National Gallery are to be sold, & the proceeds go to fulfil the purposes of my Will.

Hugh Lane,

3rd Feb., 1915.

Alas, his signature was not witnessed!

Coming back from America three months later he was drowned in the torpedoing of the “Lusitania” off the Old Head of Kinsale, almost in sight of the Irish rectory in which he had been born.

I have greatly abridged the Journals dealing with the Lane Pictures controversy, so many deal with appointments here and there, with telephone conversations—of little importance now. I hope I have kept enough to show Lady Gregory’s untiring efforts to give effect to what she knew was her nephew’s intention, and there is something heroic and pathetic in this old importunate widow begging at this doorstep and at that. Waiving all her political feelings, to-day it would be Carson, to-morrow John Redmond, T. P. O’Connor, Augustus Birrell, later Cosgrave, Ernest Blythe, Eamonn de Valera. I have confined myself mainly to those entries which give her personal opinion on the distinguished people she button-holed.

There are two portraits of Lane in our Municipal Gallery, one by Mancini showing him sitting on a sofa, febrile with an exciting background, the Lane that was the friend of Royalty and of the Peerage, the flashy Lane. The other is the Sargent portrait, the “dreamer of dreams.”

A friend in Dublin, writing to Lady Gregory, says:

“It has become more personal to me since the last time, (as I heard it was,) that Sir Hugh was in the Abbey Theatre. I did not know his appearance, but remarked to my friend that there was something very unusual and beautiful about the personality of the young man in the seat right in front of me, ‘he did not seem to belong to this world,’ and, soon after, he turned round and I saw his wonderful eyes, I could never forget them. I asked an attendant who he was and she told me, but my friend and I came away from the theatre very sad for we both knew that we would never see that beautiful face again. I do not think anyone ever made such an impression on me.”


Oct. 1916. I had written a letter to Lord Curzon asking if I could see him about the Lane pictures. I took my note first to the Air Board and saw Paul Harvey, who said I had better leave it at Curzon’s house, as he wasn’t there that day, had several important functions, a debate in the Lords and a Committee on something else. He said Curzon thinks a great deal of his position as Trustee of the National Gallery and will put off any war business if there is a meeting there. His account of Curzon is that he is really a clever man, he has never met anyone so quick at seeing the weak point in a case (my poor statement!). They don’t like him in the Air Office, however, because he is very inconsiderate, very lazy and very untruthful. “We don’t mind his telling lies but we mind his thinking that we believe them.”

Lord Curzon’s answer was cold; in succeeding years Lady Gregory considered him to be one of her most dangerous opponents.

T. Bodkin had been here one day and told me none of the Trustees know anything at all about pictures. Langton Douglas, the new Director, is an unpopular man but areal expert. He is indiscreet and Holmes told me he had written to the Trustees of the National Gallery, London, asking if they were getting a Continental Gallery, as otherwise the pictures would come to us. They were indignant, said it wasn’t his business to write or theirs to answer him. It was this, I think, that caused the idea of a Continental Gallery to consolidate. Yeats was told as a secret they had been given money for one. Douglas says Duveen told him they were going to build an addition to the Tate for it. Alec Martin thinks Duveen has probably given the money himself. Alec Martin is very sympathetic and doing his best. He wrote to Robbie Ross proposing that English artists should sign a protest saying that honour should lead the Trustees to give up the pictures. Ross didn’t answer but met him later at lunch at Adye’s and then he said, “he could not, as a beneficiary under the will, write anything.” Hugh left him £100 and this is his gratitude! Martin told him that that was the very reason he should write.

Oct. 30. I wrote to Sir Edward Carson, stating the case and asking his help. He answered yesterday. He doesn’t seem interested and I don’t want to force myself upon him. So yesterday evening I telephoned from Festus Kelly’s studio, where I was having tea, to ask if Lady Leslie was at home, and as she was I went to see her—in such pouring rain!—knowing she knew Carson and his wife. She was very nice and said she would do what she could; that she would send Sir John to see Carson at once.

A few months ago, when Lady Leslie heard that I was editing these Journals and writing the Life, she wrote to me:

“How tenacious she was about Hugh Lane’s pictures. I remember her trudging in the rain in London to come to see me, as she thought that I, being a friend of George Curzon, would be able to persuade him to hand over the Collection to Dublin. Her umbrella dripped all the time on my best Chinese carpet—and George Curzon refused to give up the pictures.”

Nov. 2. Lindsay House, 10 Cheyne Walk. I have been here three weeks on the business of trying to get the pictures out of the Gallery here for Ireland—troublesome business—ups and downs, waiting for other people and so on.

First, I wrote a statement of our case and asked for signatures to support it in case of publication—very few—two writers, G. B. Shaw and Yeats—two politicians, Redmond and Carson—one Irish artist, Orpen. All of these have given theirs.

It was hard to begin. Parliament was just opening—Birrell, who I had looked to for help, was away. Still one must do something for a beginning, so I went with Yeats to the House of Commons, asked for a Dublin Member, Alderman Byrne, who Mrs. Duncan, the present Manager of the Dublin Modern Art Gallery, had written about, saying he was most zealous about the pictures and anxious to help me. After a long search he was found. He was amiable but preoccupied, jumping up to greet friends, and interrupted me once to say a reporter of the Irish Independent “was looking very hard at me” (a paragraph appeared next day telling that Lady Gregory had been seen in H. of C. in earnest conversation with Mr. Byrne accompanied by her secretary—Yeats!). Then he read the statement and said he would get Redmond’s signature and Carson’s—and all the eight Dublin Members!—a shock, but hard to refuse as it is so much a Dublin question—the building is, anyhow. So I went off, leaving the statement with him, and like Ali Baba adding chalk marks to the doors of Baghdad, I wrote off to “A.E.” and Horace Plunkett for their names to help swamp the Dublin M.P.s. Both gave their names willingly.

Then I wrote to Bernard Shaw and he came to see me and began by saying he had told me when he first heard of the matter that it was hard to get butter out of a dog’s mouth. However, when he read the statement he thought the case a very strong one, and signed. I asked if he would write in support if it should come to a fight. He said he had nowhere to write now, that he has quarrelled with The New Statesman and taken his name off the list of directors. However, he might write in The Nation, if Massingham will take it, but papers are very shy of him now.

Nov. 12. I went to call on Birrell and ask if there was anything I could do before the National Gallery Board meeting. He was very cheerful, said he could not imagine the Trustees holding on to them. He had spoken to many people, including John Morley and Lord Courtney, and all said the same thing. That it was inconceivable. Very tired at night. Lady Leslie had called to tell me she had been working up Lady Carson about the pictures and also that the Duchess of Connaught is very anxious to meet me.

Nov. 28. Went to House of Commons to see Redmond. Yeats came with me and after a wait Redmond’s secretary rushed out in excitement saying a seaplane had been seen over London and a bomb had fallen in Eaton Square and one on the Palace Theatre and at Victoria Station and in the Brompton Road. When I told Redmond the Trustees gave as an excuse for wanting to keep our pictures that they would be safer here than in Ireland he laughed and said, “And a bomb has just fallen within a quarter of a mile of us.”

Nov. Sunday I went to Birrell’s but he was away, so I went on to Lavery to propose, as Garvin had suggested, his going to the King. Garvin had said, “Lavery can do anything with the Royal Family.” He was very sympathetic but said the King would be of no use, had no ideas and would only send him to someone else; the Queen might possibly do something. He showed me the picture he is painting of Casement’s trial and a letter from Casement to a cousin asking who is that man who is taking sketches in the jury-box. “From the disfavour with which he looks at the Judge, I think he is in danger of being had up for High Treason.” He says he means in future to give as many pictures as he can afford to Ireland.

And indeed he did, as the room in Dublin’s Municipal Gallery testify and the beautiful collection in Belfast.

But in spite of her “trudging,” nothing definite was accomplished, but on January 27th, 1918, she wrote to her son Robert, then on the Italian Front:

“The Public Meeting I had been working for is to take place the day after to-morrow at the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor in the chair, to ask the Government to return the Pictures. . . . It will be wonderful if we get them back—I shall feel, ‘now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace,’ if they come. Oh, what a happy world it might be with you back and the war at an end.”

But Robert Gregory was dead before that letter reached him.

Sept. 8, 1918. I went to Dublin on Abbey business. I went to the National Gallery to see Hugh’s bequest, the pictures by Old Masters from Lindsay House. I stayed there a long time looking sadly at the Goya and at the Rembrandt I used to look at so often when I came in late and tired to Lindsay House, there was such sunshine in the face, and the Titian “Courtier,” and the rest. Hugh’s portrait by Sargent was hanging in one of the rooms, lent by the Municipal Gallery. Sargent had told me how Hugh had gone to him for a drawing but he had painted him instead, he was so interested “in the nobility of his face.” It looked very sad and tragic. The eyes seemed to follow me, seemed to reproach me for not having carried out what he had trusted me to do, the bringing back of the French pictures to Dublin.

Oct. 28. About three weeks ago I saw in the Irish papers that the Lane Picture Committee had gone on a deputation to the Chief Secretary, Mr. Shortt, and had had a sympathetic reception. It had not given any sign of life for a long time, and I thought had probably been moved by my having gone to the Attorney-General, and the Corporation having moved its resolution, reaffirming its decision to build a Gallery. The week before last I had a postcard with announcement that a meeting of the Committee would be held Friday, Nov. 18th.

Nov. 21, Monday. I had a letter from Mr. Atkinson saying that it had been stated at the meeting that Mr. Shortt had proposed that they should submit the matter of the pictures to arbitration and that the Attorney-General who was present had seemed to approve. That after some discussion the Committee had directed their Secretary to write to the National Gallery Trustees, proposing to leave the question to the arbitration of, say, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Balfour and Lord Grey.

I was aghast and wrote to Atkinson, remonstrating.

I also wrote a vehement letter to Yeats, protesting against this sacrifice of all the work that had been done. For, I said, suppose the arbitrators gave it against us, that would be irrevocable, we could never ask for the pictures again.

I received next day, but not in answer to this, Yeats’ account of the meeting, which alarmed me still more. But I hoped that when he received my letter of protest he would take some steps to have the mischief undone.

But on Thursday, 24th, I heard from him: “Atkinson had called to show me your letter. He did not know what to do as he has been directed by the Committee to write to the National Gallery to propose arbitration. At my suggestion he is writing to Sir Edward Carson, and if his advice is against the arbitration proposal, will summon the Committee again.”

I was at breakfast with the children when this came. I turned quite faint and sick. . . .

This seemed to me even worse, for Carson might quite likely be glad to get out of his promised support of a Bill, a troublesome business for pictures which he doesn’t care about. I had been wretched ever since the first letter and would have gone to Dublin, but didn’t like leaving the children when there is influenza about. However, now I saw nothing to do but to pack up and leave by the 1.30 train.

I had again a sleepless night, this business seeming too hard, and no one very helpful at hand. Yeats seemed to have lost his interest in it. But I just thought of telephoning to Foxrock, where the Shaws were staying with Horace Plunkett, to ask if they would be in town during the day, as I should much like to see them before 4 o’clock. The answer was that they would come between lunch-time and 4.30. So I went and did business at the Abbey during the morning and bought some sweets for the children, and sat down and waited, so tired that I had just dropped asleep in my chair in the reading-room when I heard a friendly laugh, and there was G.B.S. and Charlotte.

I said I wanted to consult him and he at once sat down and gave his attention to my story, and before I had gone far he exclaimed, “Monstrous folly! Arbitration would be fatal!”

Such a relief! However, when I told him of the terms of the question to be submitted he said it was skilfully written and might not exclude legislation as far as equity went, but that in asking a question as carefully as you like you can’t dictate the answer to be given and it might be so worded as to make a further opening of the matter impossible.

I said, “Oh, if you would come to the meeting!” and he said, “I should have no excuse for meddling.”

I saw then that he would come, and said, “Yeats is already coming, and if you do you will be like Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses, and indeed I want that support.”

So he promised to come and a great burden fell from me and I said, “I had been so miserable and had prayed—now who says prayers are not answered?”

And I had even sufficient detachment of mind to tell him how much I had enjoyed a mot of his I had heard that day—“The Allies don’t like Wilson’s terms but are afraid to say so. They remember the old story of St. Joseph coming to the gate of heaven after an outing, and St. Peter refusing to let him in, and his saying, ‘If you don’t, I’ll take out my wife and child, and you’ll have to shut up heaven’.”

Feb. 17, 1919. London. Birrell and his son came to tea. I didn’t bother him much about the pictures, but he said Sir Robert Woods was the best to leave it to.

Feb. 18. Yesterday afternoon I set out in fog and rain to the House of Commons. I sent in a card from the barrier but had to wait some time. There was quite a mob there such as I had never seen before, of common-looking people who had sent in their names, I suppose friends of the new Members. The policeman guarding the door called out to them several times not to press so close and block the entrance. I was standing aside a little way off and after a while Sir Robert Woods came. He had not been given my card but as it was 4 o’clock, the time I had fixed, had come to look for me and took me inside the lobby where we could sit down.

But he had done nothing. He said a Bill was impossible at present or until after March 31. He had not seen Carson, he saw nothing to do. I said the matter was urgent as the enemy are not idle. They will be laying the foundation-stone of their Gallery some day and getting more and more a vested interest in the pictures, and that we should give them some public warning. He said, “You had better put an advertisement in The Times doing that; saying a Bill is to be brought in.” I said, “How can we do that without knowing there will be a Bill?” He said he was a stranger there and would not be much in the House, was going back to Dublin at the end of the week. Indeed, he had a hunted, bewildered look. I had seen him a fortnight ago on his own drawing-room rug, triumphant at having been elected, certain we should get the pictures, “on the justice of our case.” Now he is restless, uneasy, a new boy at school and evidently wanting to be rid of the matter. However, he jumped up and introduced me to “Mr. Henry” who passed and who I didn’t at first recognise as the Solicitor-General. He was amiable, expressed sympathy, but “no private Bills possible.”

Then I sent in my card to Sir James Craig, who Carson had referred me to when I was last here, but I had never seen him as I was just then called away. He came, very pompous and forbidding, Ulster accent. He began by saying that he had at the time Sir E. Carson turned us over to him had several interviews “with your amiable friends, (Ruth, Shine and Yeats,) but none of them had made any effort to do anything.” I said, “You have not met me before, and I am not amiable. And we have done something, we had an immense public meeting at the Dublin Mansion House, calling for the return of the pictures; and the Dublin Corporation has publicly reaffirmed its decision to build a Gallery for the pictures. Its not having done so was made the chief point against our claim. I myself saw Mr. Duke personally and pressed for a Bill. He said private Bills were impossible, yet he promised to see the Prime Minister about it. The Lane Picture Committee went to Mr. Shortt, he put them off in the same way. Then he went out. Now I have come to know what Sir Edward Carson will do.”

He was a little more amiable then, but when I asked what he would advise us to do, said, “You should draft a Bill.”

Sir R., “How can that be done? I can’t do it. I know nothing about it.”

Sir J., “There are plenty of scriveners at the bottom of the steps who will do it for you.”

Sir R., “But I don’t know the technicalities. I am a stranger here.”

Sir J., “Oh, they will lend you a hand.”

I said our preparing a Bill would not get us any further. Sir E. Carson had promised to bring it in, and we must know if he held to that. He said of course it might be useless; that it could only be brought in by Government consent and that the Trustees’ representative, Lord Curzon, being in the War Cabinet, could prevent it. However, all he could say was that if we brought in a Bill he would do all he could to influence the Government to help it. He could not himself do it, being in the Government, and so he went.

March 3. To continue about the pictures. G.B.S. was really very good, for Mr. Garrard asked me if we were going to get them, and I said I hoped so, and I told him that G.B.S. said they were appreciated by more people in London. “But,” I said, “George IV, when very tipsy and entertaining a deputation from Cork, had news that the Italian Government was sending him some casts of statues, and in his good humour made a present of them to the City of Cork. Probably very few people visited them there, but one poor boy did and was influenced by them, and so became our great sculptor, Foley; and so it might be if we had the pictures in Dublin, even if many visitors do not visit the Gallery.” “But I,” said G.B.S., “I am one whose whole life was influenced by the Dublin National Gallery for I spent many days of my boyhood wandering through it and so learned to care for Art.”

July 23. Atkinson sent statement, mine, with marginal index by Sir R. Woods’ suggestion, but writes, “a mistake in the date was inserted by him,” which is important. I am glad he has sent it off, it is certainly better than Bodkin’s! This may have been my last statement of the case after so many! (Nov. 1921—alas, no! Feb. 1924—alas, no! April 11, 1928—alas, no!)

Aug. 30. Last Wednesday I was sitting in the Theatre watching the rehearsal of The Saint, and the author, Desmond Fitzgerald, came in and sat near me and we had a talk. I asked if he had written much, and he said, “Only when I was in prison.” (He is Sinn Fein member for the Pembroke Division.) He said he had been chained to De Valera as they were taken to the English gaol. I told him my sympathies were ever republican, but that, such is the irony of Fate, I am praying for the health of Carson, because he is working for the return of the Lane Pictures to Ireland. He said, “Then we must all pray for Carson’s health, for I remember when I was living in Paris the thing that seemed to interest the French in Ireland more than any other thing was the possession of those pictures. They used to say, ‘is it really true that Dublin has the Renoir, the Manet?’ ”

Sept. 29. I opened The New Republic of Sept. 10 a few evenings ago and saw there was an article on Renoir, and thought I would not read it so late, for it would touch on that harassing matter that so often disturbs my sleep. But yet I turned to it, and my eye fell on the last sentences, telling how congratulations had been sent to him by Irish “artists and amateurs” when his “Parapluies” was hanging among the Old Masters in Trafalgar Square. I have kept the number and will have it printed in the Dublin catalogue should I be still living when the pictures are restored. But, as I feared, my night was troubled by those “tiger thoughts”—dismal rambling, horrible thoughts or dreams. The National Gallery I used to feel pride in, and where pictures bequeathed by my husband still hang, seemed to have turned to be no better than a thieves’ kitchen.

The Trustees should have belief in my word and my opinion. When the case of the Layard Pictures was going against them they asked for my evidence, and I, having been much at La Capello with my husband, a Trustee, and Sir Henry, our host, a Trustee, and Sir Frederic Burton, the Director, was able to write that, having heard much talk of Gallery matters in the presence of the very pictures in dispute, could say with absolute certainty that they were destined for it. And this statement was thought of some value, for when later I was in New York a copy was sent after me, and I was asked to swear to its truth.

The best hours of a day were given to this, for the British Consul to whom I was directed to go had an address not to be found in any telephone book. That there was a telephone in the outer office I knew later, for a clerk was discoursing through it of some dance or party of the night before, while I waited on a bench at the door like a suppliant. After the oath was taken the suppliance was on the other side, for I was asked to pay some fees that had through my taking it become due. I had in my pocket but enough to pay my fare home through the city, but poverty sharpened my wits and I remembered a word in the covering letter which lay on the table, and pointed out that he, the Consul, was better equipped to recover the money from the true debtor, the British Treasury, than I.

And as to the fate of the Layard Pictures, it bears upon our case. The moral right was with the Trustees, there was no doubt in the mind of anyone who had known the testator and spoke honestly as to his intention to the last that they should go to the Gallery which had been one of the chief interests of his later life. But legally, though without doubt by the accidental omission of one word in the will, the word “family” before “portraits,” the Court inclined to think the case would be lost. It is in Hugh’s case the converse; the legal right is with the National Gallery, the moral right, the intention of the testator, on ours. To redeem the pictures for the Nation, the Treasury paid a sum of money to the covetous heir. It may perhaps in like manner bring back the Trustees to honesty in our cause.

Oct. 24, 1920. Very tired that Wednesday evening, and at 9 o’clock a knock at the hall door, and I opened it, Kathleen being out, and got a telegram asking if I could attend at the Irish Office at 10.30 Friday morning, re Lane Pictures—which the Cabinet is to consider that day. An anxious night—and on Thursday morning I sent my answer that I would attend. And then I set to work with cutting books, etc., to make my case again about the pictures, and in doing so I saw that all the enemy’s efforts to prove that Hugh makes the building of a gallery the test and touchstone are upset—or rather recoil—through his going to Mrs. Duncan on his last day in Dublin and urging her “to get the Corporation to give me assurance,” to the effect that they would build a Gallery on any site.

This morning (Friday) I set out before 10 and got in good time to the Irish Office, Old Queen Street—had to look for it as I had never been there before. I was asked to wait a few minutes and then an Irish-looking young man appeared, and took me through another room to a third where was Macpherson, dark, severe-looking—dark hair brushed straight back.

He seemed troubled and said, “The Trustees are going to fight.” He said, “Here is their statement—they make a very strong case—I don’t know how I am going to meet it.”

He began reading about Hugh’s treatment in Dublin, etc., but seeing it was a long MS., I suggested his beginning where Hugh made his will as we don’t dispute anything before that.

So he skipped to it and we soon got on to the codicil, which they don’t deny was written by him.

I went on with the case. I was relieved to find there was nothing of the “new facts” they mentioned in their letter after the Mansion House meeting. It was just the old sea-serpent done up again—“He had expressed his interest in the making of a London Gallery with so many of his friends including Witt, Aitkin and McColl.”

Then I interrupted and took out my paper of selections—pointed out that there was never any promise—they have no documents but the one in which he especially says he will make no promise. Also I showed him how McColl had juggled his dates—writing as if his 1914 conversation had been in 1915, and then giving my point that suppose he had made the final building of the Gallery a test, he had on his last day in Ireland charged Mrs. Duncan, the Curator of the Gallery, to urge the Corporation to do it.

He was very much taken with this and indeed with all I pointed out—read the codicil again carefully, and at the end said, “I am myself absolutely convinced he intended this codicil.”

March 20, 1921. Dublin. In the evening I saw Literary Supplement, audacious untruth signed “X,” (Witt, I should think,) that Hugh at the time he left for United States was “bound by promise to Aitken and McColl to leave the pictures to London if a Foreign Gallery was built there.”

“Bound by promise” is new, and the condition they used to claim was “in whichever city most appreciation was shown, the test to be the foundation of a Gallery.” It made me feel sick and shaken. And at first I wished myself home where I have the cuttings of the old controversy.

A dreadful night! First I saw no one to write but myself, and that seemed horrible—drawing a new controversy on me, and if I quoted anything from the book I would be supposed to be advertising it. Then I thought Yeats might write—but he is so far away—so I began making notes for a letter to send him. Then, in bed, I thought “A.E.” might be better; I got up and made notes for him. Then later—or earlier, for it must have been the morrow morning—I thought we must have two letters—one quoting from the old letters of Aitken and McColl from Yeats, and a fiery one of moral indignation from “A.E.” I got up and made more notes. In the morning to Gallery—and there were the cuttings I wanted!

Then to “A.E.” rather bewildered at the sudden call. And Horace Plunkett came in, rather cross at finding him talking with me—he had co-operative business on his mind—and in a distressed manner fell back on Miss Mitchell. But “A.E.” will do it and have it for me to see on Monday morning before I go. Then to Abbey and good Lennox Robinson had been to National Library and copied bits of McColl’s article in XIXth Century giving their case away, so I sent this also to Yeats.

Oct. 16, 1922. A letter from Reynolds of the Municipal Gallery asking advice about a statement he is to draw up for Cosgrave about the Lane Pictures. I wrote to him, and for him, and for Yeats to see him. Then I sat by the lake at sunset and watched the wild ducks pass northward against the sunset sky, sixty-four in all. Then the first star came out and I heard the Angelus bell.

June 1923. Willie (W. B. Yeats) had occasion to write to the Governor-General on picture business the other day, and not knowing him personally began the letter in proper form to His Excellency. But the answer began, “My dear Boy, come and see me whenever you like in ‘the bee-loud glade’,” and was signed “Tim Healy.”

To-day, W.B.Y. has a letter from Miss Harrison making a “last appeal” to him to come and see her (about the codicil) “for the sake of those nearest and dearest to you, come,” or some such words. I thought it dangerous, and made him show it to her brother, who with much reluctance has promised to see her about it, says he has not seen her for months and that whenever he has any discussion with her he “wants to bash her head.” Lennox Robinson says she told him straight and plain that I had forged the codicil. Very self-denying of me to put in no bequest to myself.

Aug. As I was working again at my play, Yeats appeared bringing a telegram—to W.B.Y., “Official and private. Lane pictures will be returned to Dublin very soon. Bracken.” (His new London friend.)

Oh, what joy! I had never been so low about them, Healy’s speech, as reported in the Independent, had seemed feeble. And the new Tate addition is being given paragraphs in the papers which say, “Sir Hugh Lane had bequeathed his pictures as a nucleus,” and I could think of nothing to do. All little worries vanish away.

July 16, 1924. This morning The Irish Times with an abridgment (evidently) of Lord Carson’s speech and a spiteful little article professing impartiality but not keeping to it. The Independent gives a fuller column of his speech, very excellent, he has made full use of the evidence I gave him. But I felt over-excited and terrified now the battle is coming, and wondered how I should get through the days and nights. So it was a relief when by mid-day post Yeats’ letter came saying he had seen Curtis and that a full statement will have to be written out for Cosgrave to send in, and he suggests my coming up for this. But I am still more terrified by Curtis having said, “I do not know what the result will be but you will get a final decision.” So I will go up to-morrow morning, and have already been working at a statement.

July 21. 82 Merrion Square. I came up Thursday morning. Was going to the Russell, but Yeats met me at the train, made me come here, happily, for I can do the work so much better than from an hotel. I had wired him from Athenry to make an appointment with the Governor-General and at 3 o’clock we went to the Viceregal Lodge. Healy kind, but said we must have Counsel, suggested Sir C. Russell. I asked if the Government would pay necessary expenses. He could give no answer except that of course they ought to do so. He is cross with Cosgrave who did not come to his dinner to the Archbishop or to an important dinner at the Shelbourne where he was expected, so would not write to him but said we should see Duggan, ex-Minister, who has a very good head. He took us to his office, where the telephones are, one out of order but he sat at the other for a very long time trying to get Duggan and entertaining us meanwhile with anecdotes of Isaac Butt. Then at last he said we had better go to the Government Offices and he would tell Duggan when he got on to him to expect us.

At Government Buildings, (Merrion St.,) Duggan was said to be at the other side—Dail part. We walked through the endless passages and enquired for him. He was not to be found. Then we saw Desmond Fitzgerald who undertook to find him, but after a long search came back to say he had been told in his office he was “with the President and Senator Yeats and Lady Gregory!” John MacNeill came and talked for a while, and we sat and waited till at last Mr. Duggan came, and took us through many passages to an empty committee room. He seemed very quick and clear-headed. When we asked for Counsel to take up the case, he asked what the value of the pictures is, as the President might have to defend expenditure on them in the Dail, and Yeats said he would write to Ricketts (and he did so in the evening). Duggan promised to see the President and let us know the result next morning. W. heard nothing from Duggan on Friday, and having spent the morning waiting, and my head too tired to work up the case, I spent the afternoon in the newspaper vaults of the National Library, looking for our enemies’ letters, the statement of their case when in the autumn of 1916 our fight began. So must sit and wait. However, a telegram came from Ricketts, “Approximate value of pictures well over £100,000.” I packed and went out, a cup of tea and bread and butter my lunch, to do a little necessary shopping. But first I went up to Stephen’s room in the National Gallery and asked him to take me to the Director’s office where I had last seen Hugh. The desk or writing-table is just where it was, next the window, it was from there Hugh had written to me. And as I sat in his chair I thought how impossible is the presumption that he did not believe the codicil to be legal. For it was in one of those drawers he had put it, it is there it was found, and if in that last week when he had said to so many that he had decided Dublin should have the pictures, would he not, had he intentionally left it unwitnessed, have called a witness in? Or if, as the opponents say, he meant to give London the collection would he not have destroyed it and left the will to be carried out? It is impossible to believe he had in the first weeks of April forgotten the document he had written so fully and with such care in the first week of February.

Sept. 4. A good journey but expensive, Perrin by mistake having taken a return 1st class ticket; it is the journey to London by night that needs some comfort, not the return. Belgravia Hotel: rain and mud. Yeats and Mr. Doyle, of the Corporation, and Ruth (Hugh Lane’s sister) came at 3 o’clock and we went through the case. Rather a shock to hear our enemies are not to be examined till October, so there will be no decision till then. And who knows what Government may then be in office? (Typing this, Jan. 23, 1925, the decision has been made, but we have no news of it yet, a long, long waiting.)

Sept. 7. Sunday. On Friday we met at the Colonial Office. I first, Yeats last. As I had prophesied, we had to wait a bit while the Committee had their own talk. Then I was called in. They did not stick to the terms of reference, went through the case, his intentions and disappointments. They were all kind, the Chairman, Wilson, charming in manner and appearance. They kept me for just an hour. I think I said all I wanted to say. They said they would call in Ruth; would have allowed me to stay but I thought it better to go. I asked them to let Mr. Bird’s messenger, who had come with the original codicil, to show it and go, as he would be wanted at the office, and they agreed, but did not seem interested, said they had seen the photograph. They did not keep Ruth long, asked her chiefly about the will and the handwriting and her having charge of all at Lindsey House. Then Yeats; and while he was there, Ruth was sent for again, that was to talk about his having made preparation for death at the time he wrote it. As Ruth and Yeats were coming out there was a burst of laughter, Yeats having said that if it would make it easier to get back the pictures, “I dare say we could raise a riot.” They sent to ask, as we were going, if I had any last word to say, but I only called out, “I hope for good news.”

Oct. 31. Yeats writes, “Bracken has come and gone. Curzon said to him, ‘I did not want to give up those pictures but I find that I must.’ Curzon then told him that the Commission would decide, he thought, that they were to be given back on perpetual loan, as the difficulties of bringing in a Bill were too great. I brought him over to the President and got him to repeat his story. President said he would consult the law officers, or rather, I asked him to do so and he agreed. If the loan is accepted we must see to it that the loan is truly perpetual.”

I have written Yeats that if we get the pictures to this side, of course, we will never let them go back. But it is an ungracious way of giving them up after all the eight years they have kept them from us.

Nov. 2. Terribly anxious now we are in November. “Early in November” the Committee will decide about the pictures. I think a defeat would kill me or at least “bring down all the years upon me.”

Nov. 4. Afternoon post yesterday brought Kiernan’s letter, saying he had heard “a disquieting rumour” that the decision of the Committee was against us, and had then, at the Colonial Office, heard the Commission have not made up their mind and “have summoned another witness”—I am afraid not on our side or we should have heard. This is “disquieting,” indeed, though I had suffered so much these last few days, an oppression that seemed to foretell disaster, (as on the day of Hugh’s death,) that it was almost a relief to hear there had not been a final refusal.

April 17, 1925. At 4.30 the meeting of the Advisory Board of the Municipal Gallery, the first I had attended. I had brought a statement of what I had done of late with copies of Lutyen’s letter about Curzon’s change of front. Only Atkinson, Reynolds and Mr. Briscoe there. He talked without ceasing, would hardly listen to my statement, kept saying, “We are getting the pictures, great things are being done,” and I didn’t know if he was vapouring. But when I had read in my letter to the Prime Minister that I was willing to agree to a loan of the pictures if we could not get the Bill passed, though the Bill would be much better and would prevent confusion between the National Gallery and the Municipal, Briscoe said, “They are the property of the Corporation. They will never let the National Gallery get a hold of them.” Then he said the Corporation were about to call on the British Government to return them, and that the London Irish are preparing to march on the Tate Gallery with placards, “Give us back the stolen pictures.” I felt this spirited action was much more heartening than Cosgrave’s and Tim Healy’s lukewarmness. And so Yeats thought when I told him.

June 20. Yesterday morning a letter from Brown, telling us the Report had been sent over. A shock after all our hopes. I turned quite faint and lay on the sofa for a while; then felt something must be done and wired to him and to Yeats that I would come up at once and probably go to London, for I thought Carson should be stirred up. But on the way and in the long wait at Athenry I felt that it is from this side the business should be done. Our Government should write pointing out that the Commission had gone outside their terms of reference, and protest against this. Yeats met me at Broadstone and took exactly the same view. We got Lord Glenavy on the telephone and he said he would be free to see me this afternoon, and I am to see Sam Brown this evening. All the morning working through documents—I had gathered up what I could before leaving Coole, and Yeats had some there. And he has written me a letter putting his view forcibly, to show Glenavy, saying, “Their claim seems to me exactly as if the Forty Thieves were to say they had a right to their treasure because they had been to the trouble of digging a cavern to contain it.”

I got back tired and in the evening Mr. Brown came in—said, “The Report is very injurious to our case—will make it very difficult.” I said we must frame an answer at once, for Cosgrave to write, indignant at their straying outside the questions asked them, and without telling us they were doing so. And we must make a strong national as well as ethical claim. He agreed and said he would get hold of the Report in the morning and bring it to me to see and then to Glenavy.

So before 7 o’clock this morning I awoke with my mind at work, and then I got up for pencil and paper and wrote notes for a protest against their saying it was “on the assurance that such a gift would be in perpetuity it has secured the gift of a gallery in which the pictures are to be housed.” And I worked at this from breakfast on till mid-day when Brown came in with the Report, an entirely unjustifiable one. So I worked on and dictated my notes to a typist and Yeats took them to the Club at the appointed time. Brown said, “There is no hurry about sending the answer, for the Colonial Office says they will not publish it till our answer comes and we can make the excuse of John MacNeill being away on the Boundary matter.” I had decided in the morning to go straight over as soon as Cosgrave’s answer was written, to see Carson and get his opinion and know what he would do, and T. P. O’Connor, if we wanted parliamentary help. And when he said this I was delighted and said it was a relief, that I need not go, and Yeats also seemed glad. But later I thought we had been foolish; the London Press are wanting the Report from the Government and it has been sent, “confidentially,” to the London Trustees and is sure to leak out, and we shall be put on the defensive. I believe we should get to action at once and that I had better go over after all. But so tired. At last I’m keeping quiet this afternoon, and after a little Plotinus, reading a detective book. But Sam Brown is to come again in the evening and I’ll talk it over with him. Such a burden—that I thought had rolled off! But it is better to fight than sit still.

June 30. Ayot St. Lawrence, in peace and luxury! Yesterday evening at 6 I went to Carson, very anxious and strained. I had arranged papers and case over and over again. He was alone in the drawing-room and first I gave him the copy of the Report. He read it and said just as we thought, they had gone entirely out of their subject. He also criticised their parliamentary reasons or assertions, that a private will had never been interfered with by Act of Parliament—he said, “It has often been done. It was done also in the case of Queen Victoria. I had a hand in that and her will before me; it was to get rid of some provisions about the upkeep of Osborne that would have hampered the King. But,” he said, “it would be difficult to get a Bill through the House, either Commons or Lords, without strong support—stronger than we are likely to get.

“But if it seems to be necessary I will bring in a Bill. I will fight it. I will make a row. But we must try other means first, we must try to get at the Cabinet. We had better begin with the Colonial Office. I know Amery very well, better than anyone else in the Government. He and I and —— (I forget who) used to dine at each other’s houses regularly once a week all through the war. I see Tim Healy is coming to London soon to attend some dinner. I’ll get him to come with me to Amery. Everyone likes Tim. I like him myself very much. We two will go together.” Then, later, he said, “I’ll try to get James Craig to come with us. That would have a great effect.”

He thinks, of course, the Commissioners’ judgment that Hugh believed the codicil to be legal a very strong help to us. I am to see T. P. O’Connor and try what Peers he can get at, among Trustees or Government or elsewhere. When I thanked him he said, “I am doing this entirely because of my admiration for you—for the way you have fought this matter—this Trojan fight, these ten years.”

It is strange that in the negotiations which led up to the establishment of the Free State in December 1921, Lady Gregory did not press for a condition of that settlement being a return of the Lane pictures; in the Treaty of Versailles, works of art were returned by Germany to Belgium. But during the Black-and-Tan war her mind was so occupied with its terrors that the pictures rather faded out of her diaries. But then in 1924 a Commission is appointed to determine facts about the Border between the Free State and Northern Ireland. Professor Eoin MacNeill represented the Free State and Mr. Fisher was appointed by the British Government to represent Northern Ireland, and in the “scrabble” Lady Gregory thought we might get back the pictures and I think we might if the matter had not been overlooked, more important things cropping up.

Nov. 26. Wrote to T. P. O’Connor and T. M. Healy re Lane pictures; hoping in this Boundary scrabble we might get them as a means of stopping our mouths.

Dec. 31. St. Stephen’s Day, after the Wrenboys had come, I went off to Dublin for the Abbey’s 21st birthday. Mrs. Costello was in the train with me, and I talked of Hugh’s pictures, told her what had been done up to this, and said I thought the President ought now to make a move. We talked of a deputation, but finally that evening after the Abbey performance she brought John MacNeill to me and he promised to make an appointment with Cosgrave for me. So next morning, Monday, I received a telephone message saying he would see me if I came at once. So I went to Government Offices, found Cosgrave alone, told him I had last seen him at the Mansion House, when he was in the Cabinet of the then Dail, and the Lord Mayor had brought him out to see me on this very matter. He had promised to help when needed. I read him Healy’s letter and Carson’s.

He said, “You must not think we have forgotten the matter. We spoke of it a little while ago. But we have not quite done with the Boundary yet. There is some business to settle about Income Tax—this is confidential. We shall be bringing it over to London within two or three weeks and that will be the time to speak of the pictures and settle the whole thing together.”

This sounds good and I applauded it and said (remembering his old word, “of course, we must give them a present if they ask for it,”) that we must remember we could have no partition in this matter, that we must take Sir James Craig’s formula, “not an inch” of canvas should be kept from us, and he agreed. He said he told me this (about the Income Tax still to be settled) in confidence. But Blythe told Mrs. Costello and Perrin all about it in the evening as they went homeward in his car after the Round Table dinner! I feel very satisfied now that it will be carried through even if I should die to-morrow.

June 12, 1926. Birrell writes a nice letter saying that he is glad the pictures are looking westward and that they certainly ought to go and go quickly, though as a neighbour of the Tate Gallery he would miss them greatly for they took the taste of the Sargents out of his mouth.

June 15. Second post came while I was at the door and I opened a letter from “X”:

“I wonder if you have heard anything bad about the pictures. There appears to be very bad news but it is ‘secret’ here. . . . I have just found that Mr. Amery wrote to the President stating that the Cabinet has decided that it must accept the conclusion of the Wilson Committee that it would be improper to interfere with Sir Hugh Lane’s will by special legislation; that an assurance has been given the Cabinet by the Trustees of the National Gallery that they will lend Dublin a substantial number of the pictures for a substantial period on the expiration of 15 years from the date when the pictures came into their possession, i.e. as soon as they are permitted by Section 4 of the National Gallery Act (Loan) 1883 to do so. Furthermore, if the Irish Free State Government accept this as a final settlement, the British Government will pass a Bill to amend Section 4 of the Act of 1883 so as to enable the Trustees to lend the pictures to Dublin at once.

“The President replied expressing disappointment very strongly and courteously indeed, and refusing on behalf of his colleagues and himself to agree that the proposed loan could be accepted as a final settlement of the matter, and expressed hope that the Cabinet may authorise the passing of legislation to enable the whole collection to be transferred permanently to Dublin. . . . I suppose in view of all this, unless the Cabinet here changes its decision, Carson’s Bill would have a poor chance of passing the Commons. The whole thing is very mean. I should like to know what you think about it and what you will do. . . . The matter is still in a certain sense sub judice as the President’s letter requires an answer from Mr. Amery and it might be well to wait till his answer comes.”

A hard blow! I was stunned—all had seemed to be going so well—and we are back to the old story—English interests must have ours sacrificed to them. One hates one’s own bitterness of feeling as much as the injustice itself. It was only, after a while, in the garden, that I felt some consolation and pride in the firmness of our own Government, and in having a Government to fight for us, instead of knocking at Chief Secretaries’ doors: only one, Macpherson, sincere and helpful. But Churchill, according to Ronald MacNeill, having “practically settled the matter” with Blythe when they really settled the “ragged edges” of the Boundary question; Baldwin “sympathetic” to T. P. O’Connor, and Amery the same to James McNeill. Nothing to be done at the moment, until Amery’s answer to Cosgrave comes. Then the fight again—that must never be given up though I shall not be in it for another ten years! I feel so many years older to-day than at this time yesterday! My stars have been bad, this trouble with eyes, and now apparent defeat after the long struggle and in sight of victory. Perhaps I have put too much of my life and energy into this, yet I don’t think I have neglected other duties.

Jan. 30, 1927. 82 Merrion Square. I came to Dublin on Thursday in a storm to try to stir up Gallery helpers: came here from the hotel yesterday. Sam Brown came in the first morning through a tempest. Said Cosgrave is very anxious and determined to get the pictures. I said we must have a decisive step taken here about building a Gallery before making another big effort in London. He said the Commissioners only hesitate about the cost, and want a public enquiry on the matter, to authorise them to build. I took him to the Gallery to see Lutyens’ design for Stephen’s Green, fine, but looks expensive with its pillared walls and façade. He says the Commissioners incline towards the Mansion House; they are determined to pull it down, “won’t have any more Lord Mayors.” He had meant to write to stir them up but as we parted said he would go and see them instead.

Yesterday morning he came back in good spirits, said they are determined to build a Gallery, but that a “public enquiry” is necessary at which opinions can be given, but there is no danger of any real opposition. This may, however, make a delay of perhaps a month. Yeats had told me, and I had written to S.B., that Ricketts in talking of our difficulties had said it is becoming usual where money is needed to build the necessary part of such galleries first and leave the ornamental part, façade, etc., until later, making a building first that will be adequate to contain the pictures. This might make the Lutyens design possible. We agreed to give up the Bridge design: he thinks there would be opposition and I don’t want the old bitterness revived—even its memory. S.B. went off to write a letter the Commissioners had asked him for. All this is very hopeful.

But I had warned Yeats that “the strength of a chain is its weakest link,” and that Lady Londonderry and her Committee would weaken us if they continue in their, or her, idea of accepting a part only of the pictures on loan—an offer we have refused from the very beginning. I will try to get Cosgrave to give a Government pronouncement on this, in a letter.

Feb. 19. Yesterday morning Sam Brown came in, had been to Cosgrave, having already sent him my letter “to digest,” and has had a satisfactory talk with him. Cosgrave is really anxious to make a move and his plan is to attack the Commissioners in the Dail, instead of the British Government. To urge them to begin the building of the Gallery without delay, “and we’ll get in the matter of the division of the collection at the same time.” That is excellent. Cosgrave, he says, is most anxious the building should be of stone, the same stone that is used in the rebuilding of the Four Courts and is of fine quality. He wants to give employment to stone-masons, whose trade has been dying out.

March 2. Cosgrave did not ask his question, (the Dail being taken up with the Liquor Bill,) but both Independent and Irish Times have good articles calling for the return of the pictures. But I have begun again typing copies of my diaries, and it is sad enough reading the entries of last March when I was in London, so full of hope. Blythe had taken up the matter with Churchill who had promised his support in the Cabinet, and McNeill, Secretary to the Treasury, had told T.P. the matter was as good as settled. And now twelve months after we are apparently still far from success. (And now typing this on April 28, 1928, all seems at a standstill—our waiting is for the Dublin Commissioners to undertake to build a Gallery that may be a new argument.)

March 21. Sarah Purser, who has, in our eleventh year of the picture fight, come in to help, and been useful in collecting Resolutions, came to see me and very rudely attacked me for not forcing on Carson’s Bill. However, I bore with her ill-manners as I have borne with so much, for Hugh’s sake. And I went to see Sir Philip Hanson who will be really helpful.

Nov. 20. I didn’t see Blythe but, what was better, Cosgrave’s Secretary, very sympathetic and understanding; and gave my case, that we must before the Dail breaks up have a decision made about building the Gallery. No use arguing in England until this is done. And as a first step, I asked if the President would now receive a deputation of the Friends of the National Collections, proposed before the elections and postponed on account of them. He took notes and asked me to see him again next morning at 11. So yesterday I was there. He had spoken to Cosgrave who is quite ready to help, has sent for Mulcahy and another Minister to consult as to ways and means. And he will receive the deputation, perhaps, next Thursday. Such a relief! and so different from these English Chief Secretaries with their bland side-tracking.

Dec. 1. On Monday I went to see the President, he was surprised to hear I would not be on the deputation next day, but I said my name was so associated with the fight that it was better to bring in new names.

He hopes we shall get the Gallery. But the Commissioners have hardened and say the country should bear a part of the cost. “So I’ve had Mulcahy (Local Government) with me and think we’ll get him to consent to give us a grant.”

I told him I had gone to see De Valera and what he had said.

Cosgrave said he believes there will be very little of foreign material in the building: “If it is built of limestone it will be practically all Irish and give employment to stone-cutters.”

He will be able to give no promise to the Deputation but will tell them how things stand. I gave him Hugh’s Life, which he had never read, and he was pleased, and as I went out said, “God bless you,” and I involuntarily put my hand on his shoulder and said, “You are a boy to me,”—he looks so small and innocent!

Jan. 10, 1928. Yesterday the Independent brought news of the London floods—very terrible—two maidservants drowned in River Court that had been Margaret’s house and where I had stayed—poor things! And then I saw that the Tate Gallery had been flooded and that there was anxiety about the Foreign Room as the water was so high in it they could not get in to see what damage had been done to the pictures. A great shock and I lay awake at night thinking with bitterness of the long refusal to give them up, that had been founded at the beginning in “Dublin not being safe” (during the troubled times). I thought of them lifted from the walls by the rush of water and knocked about, one against the other—then wrote to the Laverys and Alec Martin and Kiernan for news. But to-day’s Independent (The Times had been rather vague) says the Foreign Room had not been touched at all by the waters—the correspondent says he had gone there to enquire, and I hope this is true. If so, the flood may be a help. We can turn the tables about danger.

Jan. 14. The Laverys wired on Wednesday, “Believe pictures absolutely unharmed,” so I was happy.

March 7. Opening the Independent I read that Col. Howard Bury “asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the dangers to which pictures in the Tate Gallery are subjected by flooding, steps can now be taken to make a loan for an indefinite period of all the Lane pictures to Dublin?”

Mr. A. M. Samuel said that the Lane pictures are lodged in the Main Galleries far above any possible flood level—the question therefore of transferring the pictures elsewhere for safe custody did not arise.

Col. Howard Bury: “Does he not consider that the recent flooding was a judgment of God upon the Trustees of the Tate Gallery?” (Cries of Order, order.) The Speaker intervened.

Colonel Lambert Ward asked would it not be possible to sell those pictures to compensate the South of Ireland loyalists and thereby save the British taxpayer? The Speaker again intervened and Mr. Kirkwood shouted, “Look at the Black-and-Tans!” What a delightful little episode!

March 14. A rather annoying letter from Bodkin, grumbling about the permanent “loan” instead of a demand for simple legalising of the codicil. I’ve written him an explanation about Carson’s Bill and the scrivener altered it, putting in the word “loan.”

Col. Howard Bury writes that he does not intend to let the matter drop, “and though the authorities are adamant as yet, even a drop of water may wear away a stone.” For O’Connell, introducing his Catholic Emancipation Bill in Parliament year after year, spoke of it as “the yearly rattling of our chains in the hearing of the enemy,” and he, getting but little support then, won in the end. And the King, a previous George, didn’t, for all his threats, resign.

May 15. About 7 o’clock Philip Hanson came in. Said, “It is you who do all the work,” (though he is doing it now,) and had found that getting a Committee was rather difficult. Bryan Cooper wouldn’t join if Glenavy was Chairman and Hanson is now told his proposed Committee is not Catholic enough, so wants Reynolds who recommended Briscoe, while someone else recommends A. Byrne! And the enquiry is fixed for 20th June, the meeting for 17th. But happily Sam Brown is back again.

Oct. 30. The morning began well with the report of the Commissioners on the building of a Gallery. They find that a Gallery should be built, because of defects in the present one, because the want of a Gallery “is used as an argument against the return of the Lane pictures,” because the educational authorities believe it would bring students here, and because the pictures properly shown to the public would have an important effect on the general cultural level of the city and the country at large. (I began to feel like the prisoner bursting into tears: “It wasn’t till I heard my Counsel’s defence that I knew how innocent I was!”) However, accepting the estimate of £120,000, they “put their sting in their tail” by suggesting that subscriptions should be asked for and “the decision to build made conditional on the raising of a certain proportion by private subscription.”

Reynolds had yesterday run down the idea of Charlemont House as the site, which Hanson told me had been thought of and would be less costly than Lutyens design, which certainly I should like best, it having been Hugh’s desire. And Lutyens’ great name would help us. However, I went to see Bodkin at the N.G. and said—and he echoed it—that we must have no public dispute about a site this time. He is for Charlemont House, thinks it would be satisfactory, the fine front just used for prints and statuary, and a plain gallery for the pictures built at the back. He showed me, in the Georgian book of illustrations, how fine the frontage is, and the mantelpieces, etc., inside, and I said I would not quarrel with it or any site chosen. But he says it belongs to the Government and they may want to keep it, have offices in it now; though they may find room elsewhere in the new buildings, such as the rebuilt Custom House. So having told him I would accept it, if available, I went away.

Nov. 14. Sam Brown has just been here (in response to my note about the Charlemont House site for the Gallery). C. P. Curran had brought me back from the Abbey in his car on Monday night, and just as I was getting out, said, “Well, we’re all agreed about the site for the Gallery in Rutland Square—that’s a good thing.”

I said, “Agreed? I don’t think that is so. I only heard it had been thought of.”

“Oh! I heard you were for it.”

“No. I had but considered it, but am doubtful.”

And Senator Brown thinks it would be easier to get money for the Lutyens’ plan, and Gogarty says not a soul would go there, and that at some times in the day it is impossible to pass over the bridges.

S. L. Brown says it is quite out of the way, offered to escort me there in the tram that goes to Glasnevin! says one side of the Square is all tenement houses. Yet it is a fine house. But he said, as I felt, that the matter is one for the Commissioners and the Government, and that any discussion or mention of disagreement in the papers would be fatal.

Nov. 16, Friday. So he came last night and we talked it over again. He feels as I did when I had talked with Bodkin, that it is likely to be approved by the Government, (I had gone to Banim after my talk with Bodkin and sent him in to ask Cosgrave if we could be given the house in case we wanted it, and he said in answer he would go into the matter with his Ministers,) and that they will give the house instead of a grant towards a building, and more readily. Also, it would be finished sooner; and that it is a fine house, very fine. I think we both feel that it would be a hard fight to get the Stephen’s Green plan carried out. Of course, Charlemont House is quite out of everybody’s way except the tenement-house dwellers, and if they come to use it one of Hugh’s wishes would be fulfilled. I can’t without a pang give up the long dream of Stephen’s Green beautified by a beautiful building. And I believe we should have a better case for getting the pictures with that plan carried out. What we are all in agreement on, Brown, Bodkin and I, is that no rumour or disagreement should get into the Press, and for that reason we shall probably take the easiest path, of economy, which both Government and Commissioners will snatch at.

Lady Gregory never reached Lane’s Promised Land. The day before her last day she could look back on so many achievements; her brilliant son, indeed, was dead, but there were beloved grandchildren; she had been an invaluable friend to the greatest living poet; she still lived in her beloved Coole; her plays were of international importance; only it must have been a ceaseless fret that she had not discharged the debt laid upon her by Hugh Lane. But the chapter of the Lane pictures is not closed.



This final section of the Journals I am calling “Odds and Ends”. The dates are of little importance. What matters is her observations of Friends and Writing and Reading and Home.



1926. I’ve been reading the proofs of Yeats’ notes for his Diaries being printed by Dun Emer. Many nice words about me, bringing back the memory of those years of close companionship. I miss it. When I am too long without a friend at hand to talk with I feel, not lonely, but insincere—never speaking my whole mind. In London one touches now and then some part of a mind that is akin. Perhaps some day suddenly again a barrier will go down and I will have made a friend. I have felt near it sometimes with Sean O’Casey and miss him this time in Dublin.

Oscar Wilde said of George Moore, “He got importance in the country by bringing in grammar. He is trying to get it in town by bringing in the paragraph.”

1927. I had opened the study window before Yeats came down, and finding me hastily closing it, he said, “That’s the way with women—no doubt it was Eve opening the gate of Eden that let in a draught that made the apple fall!”

We must hurry on with the new coinage lest that unbeautiful head should be put on it again. Yeats has just gone to see the designs for the new coins. There was consternation yesterday when the Secretary to the Committee telephoned that some of the artists have put their names on the designs. Yeats being sure we should be attacked for either accepting or rejecting on other grounds than that of art if it were known they were aware of the designer’s identity. I suggested a bit of stamp paper being stuck over each name, and an order was sent this should be done.

Yeats very excited about the coinage. They had all agreed on the designs chosen.—they were far away the best. They did not know whose work they were until after the choice was made. There will no doubt be attacks because of the English nationality of the chosen sculptor, (they had never heard of him—he was recommended by the English school of sculpture in Rome.) But when the names were disclosed, alas, the Irish work was poorest of all.

Yeats says the Sister Superior over the school where Gogarty’s daughter is, said to her, “There are five bad men who are destroying Dublin: Russell, Yeats, O’Flaherty, Lennox Robinson”—stopped then—the fifth was evidently Gogarty!

1928. Yeats and George here. He is greatly combative over the Censorship Bill. I tell him we should proclaim it as a triumph for Protestants—we, keeping our intellectual freedom, can claim the Bill as a new guarantee of Protestant ascendancy—only we and the Censor will possess the knowledge of good and evil—the courage to taste or test forbidden fruit.

1928. Ellen Terry’s death. I am glad to have that recollection of her on the first night of Rising of the Moon at the Court Theatre, when there was such applause that I had to come on the stage and saw her standing up in her stall, clapping, clapping, her face full of delighted kindliness. And that a photograph of her as Portia, with its inscription, and a little letter in my book after some party on the stage—I forget what “. . . but you were not there and that was a great disappointment to me. I expected you all the evening. Well, well. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good and you were with others.” And that afternoon she came to Lindsay House, running in late because she had but just found a note from me and came instead of writing an answer—and she and Hugh met: two great courtesies.

1929 (Dublin, in hospital). On Sunday Sister Baptist had come and sat beside my bed. She asked a great deal about Sean O’Casey. He had come to their dispensary just about the time his first play was being rehearsed, Shadow of a Gunman, for some remedy for his eyes. He had brought a bottle for it. And he was vexed when some poor woman came for some stuff she wanted, and the Sister said No, she had not brought a bottle, she had been told before that they give the medicine free but they don’t supply bottles. Sean was vexed, and then he and the Sister went to the store where empty bottles are kept and they found one for her. He came in after that as a patient, though he had said at first he must watch the rehearsal of his play. Later, when he had got a little money from it, he sent her £2 for the Dispensary. She had liked him very much and wanted to know all about The Silver Tassie. And it happened next morning I had a letter from him, written to Coole, and I read it or some parts of it, to her, especially the account of his “kid” who “promises to become a Samson, for the Doctor says he never saw such muscles in a child’s leg before.” He imagines that there will be no transition period of creeping but that the youngster will get on his feet without delay. He hopes he may become a painter.

He says, “In the past few years my views of plays and production have radically altered. They were altering indeed when I lived in Dublin. Things in the Theatre here are improving. The big bosses have lost a lot of money, and many of the playhouses are being worked by actor-managers which I’m sure will result in a better expression of life and art on the stage.”

He thanks me for Gogarty’s “Offering of Swans” I had sent him. “It’s a pity Gogarty doesn’t let himself go, for he has it in him, I think, to put more fire into his work. He shouldn’t be so fond of storing himself in a Greek vase.” He has seen Augustus John off to the South of France, “looking as strong and as kingly as ever.” He had met James Stephens at Lady Londonderry’s—“he tells me that ideas are again floating into his head.” Sally Allgood also has written me of that party—“Poor old Sean looked very thin in his grey sweater. I left him in a hot argument with Lady Astor as to whether the ‘Kingdom of God’ was really within one.”

1929. Gogarty says the Irish Statesman is in difficulties still. He says the U.S.A. friends had given money, Cullinan £2,000, that has been spent—I think used by Horace Plunkett in advertising it. In digging up the ruins of Renvyle they have found Power’s bust of Yeats—all the better for its burying—green with antiquity.

Stephen Gwynn told me he had seen Sean O’Casey at Londonderry House. I said, “Yes. In a grey sweater.” He was surprised, and I told him I had heard it from Sally.

He: “Lady Londonderry said, ‘he is wearing that sweater because he thinks everyone will look at him. But men from the House of Commons will be coming in here in their sweaters and his won’t be noticed’.”

1930. The Times tells of old Major Putnam’s death. He took my first plays—the History ones—after Macmillan had refused them and has not lost in becoming my publisher. . . . The old major was so kind and cordial, and so forgiving that night I was to dine with him and arrived an hour late, the taxi man having put me down at a wrong door and driven off with the written address I had given him. I had to knock at door after door, asking for a Directory, until at last I had found one, and that the house I sought was but a street away. How kind they all were, and forgiving!


1924. I have been reading The Travelling Man, that the children are going to see given in a church in London—that is something new. And Belfast girls, “The Rose Patrol, 2nd Belfast Girl Guides Company,” write for leave to give Spreading the News “in aid of patrol funds,” and I am giving leave with some misgiving, not knowing who they are going to “patrol” against, but think it wiser not to ask. And Sinn Fein says, “I think Claremorris is going to give Rising of the Moon.” And the critic of the Gaelic Plays at the Abbey calls for The White Cockade in Irish. So I am glad (though fee-less!) to see my work hold its place in the life of the country.

Jan. 1, 1925. Alone, but happy. The children are in new surroundings at Lough Cutra this stormy wet day. My own thoughts last night sad, John Quinn’s kind presence in America gone; and Arabella’s love for the children and her interest in all that concerns us, and her Christmas and birthday hampers and parcels. Then Hugh’s pictures still in enemy hands, a long trial of patience and a long anxiety, and the fear of having to renew the fight under this anti-Irish Government.

But in spite of sadness I must not grumble at the past year, the children are so well, and so bright and simple and happy, but they are only here now for Christmas and whatever bits of the summer holidays they are not at Burren—that makes my life more lonely, and to them less necessary. And money, though only £7 under last year’s earnings makes me anxious—rates, income tax on land, labour, and those outside repairs before the household expenses begin. I’m afraid I must try to publish the Memoir, which I’ve grown cowardly about. But the home, once broken up, could never be restored. As long as the children are happy here, I must go on.

My work last year Brigit. And lately the Molière translation, and I’ve made the additions to the Kiltartan History. But none of these mean money “worth while”. I had a bad night, all these things in my head. But I have turned to my copybooks. Treherne says, “We should be all Life and Mettle and Vigour and Love to everything, and that would poise us.” And I had written there a year ago, “One day last week I thought how we had been always told to try to get to heaven; that should we not rather have been told to strive to live there, to bring it about us now.” 1925. A letter from O’Casey to-day: “Jim Larkin has asked me to write to ask you to permit him to play The Rising of the Moon in the Queen’s Theatre on Sunday next. The Union is holding a concert there and Jim would like to show the work of an Abbey playwright to many who have never been inside the Abbey Theatre.”

1925. Three cheques yesterday will help to pay Raftery and provision the house for Easter—£32 from Putnam (for England); Macmillan £3.13.6 for translations in Lennox Robinson’s Anthology; £12 from Miss Craig’s production of Mirandolina.

1929. Another good night, awakening sometimes but happily and without pain. And suddenly I seemed to get the play Dave clearly, a ragged woman coming into the house through a storm, faints, believes when revived that she is in heaven and brings the others something to the mind of “dwellers in that high country.” It seemed to flatten as I wrote it down this morning, yet I think it is the framework I want.

1926. Last evening I asked Yeats if I might read Dave to him, that I knew he wouldn’t like it but wanted his criticism. So I read it to him and George in her room. He said at the end, “I don’t like it. I don’t know what you mean to express. It is too long, too many characters, and the Woman, the Servant of Poverty, should be cut out altogether.” I was pretty well content on the whole because they both thought the Vision and the swift conversions possible—that was what I was most anxious about. So I can set to work again on it with courage.

Oct. 6, 1926. A good letter from Lennox Robinson this morning, with Dave. He likes it—“a triumph in so few pages to have created with such apparent ease and so much ‘in the round’ the husband and wife—the two servants—Dave.” Then he makes a very good suggestion, to put out the “Servant of Poverty” and give the saving message through Kate, “psychologically she is fitted for the part, at least I see her with a deep secret life of her own that she never dares to let her husband or anyone else see, but that she can reveal in the darkness to the hurt wretched boy.”

Such a splendid idea! I had felt Kate was rather wasted for she had taken her own line as I wrote and is worth a better part. And the Beggar was rather artificial. I have been through it, and almost all she says seems to come quite naturally from Kate. So I have worked all day in good heart. And I had been prepared for the worst because of his delay in answering. This makes me hopeful of Don Quixote.

1926. Yesterday evening I corrected my typing of the altered version of Dave and have sent it to Lennox Robinson for further opinion. I think it very much better with Kate as the “messenger,” and left her as in the old, showing a little pettishness and human weariness after her ascent to “those high countries,” and her message from them, which she had perhaps forgotten.

1926. Sancho’s Master back, but with a nice letter from Lennox Robinson:

“You have certainly made a play of it now . . . I think it should make a fine entertaining play (a big difficult production, God forgive you!). It may possibly fall between the two stools, the people who will want a jolly objective ending and the people who will call the objectiveness horseplay—but that criticism holds good of the book and it has held its place. . . . Anyway, congratulations.”

I had almost put it from my mind but this is a relief. I don’t think I’ll tempt my luck again, but I do feel this subject ought to make a big play. I’ll work—“tighten it”—again.

1926. Traherne says, “Your enjoyment of the world is never right till every morning you awake in heaven.” And sometimes that does not seem to be far away (it was this morning for I had had so little sleep) and the new maid has come and Marian’s temper flares out already.

1926. To my great surprise a cheque for five guineas from The Observer for my letter about Sir Henry Layard’s Will; the first money I have received (no, I think The Statesman paid me for an article) in this whole (Lane pictures) business. I don’t think I’ve even been given a postage stamp.

1926. Professor Baker writes from Yale with a card of invitation to the opening of their new theatre, “If it had not been for your visit to this country and my knowledge of what the Abbey Theatre had done with so little money, I doubt if the 47 Workshop could have come into being. Won’t you send us a word or two for the opening of our theatre which some day I hope to show you? It will make us very happy if you will.” So I’ve sent a cablegram of good wishes.

1928. I want fruit for the children, our apples, eating ones, being nearly at an end, and asked Millington to come to the Abbey and advise me—being Editor of the Farmers’ Gazette. He came but confessed ignorance. But Shields hearing my question said, “Tom Moran, who sometimes takes part in the plays,” is auctioneer at the City Fruit-market and would advise, and rang him up. So he came round and offered a case of apples and oranges at 1d. each. I had been paying 2½d. for these and 2d. for oranges. So even with carriage this should be a saving and should last till Easter.

Writing letters and reading to Margaret and housekeeping since my return. Perrin writes that we made £150 on last week—splendid! The spring flowers coming out, snowdrops and violets and primroses. There are plays waiting for me to read, but I have no work on hand. May begin some more articles, though dissatisfied with the last and afraid of becoming a “scribbler,” as Yeats warned me against ever doing long ago.

I have sent my chapters on the Breakfast-room to be typed, but am not sure if I like them or if I shall write any more. As I’ve just written to Huntington, I feel it rather a come-down writing articles instead of plays, creation in an inverse method to that of Genesis. But I can’t take to idleness of mind, one wants some creation going on in the background to keep it sweet and sane. I must begin some humdrum work and hope that inspiration may come. I took too much from work already printed in the Breakfast-room article, that could have been read elsewhere; yet a record of this house that is likely to be broken up at my death may be of some worth even to others besides the children. Of course I have the diaries to be typed, in part, but for that I must be near a typist to dictate.

July 5, 1928. No, I’m typing the last finished one now, tiresome work but can’t get them copied except by dictation and should go to Dublin for that. . . . But typing tires me too much now, brings a pain in the shoulders.

1929. French cables, “Golden Book magazine offers 35 dollars reprint Workhouse Ward. What will we do?” And eight and sixpence comes from Durban, S.A., this morning for a performance of Workhouse Ward. I think of that fourteenth verse of Proverbs xxxi sometimes applied to me, (for it was doubtful if my birthday should be kept on 14th or 15th of the month,) “She is like the merchants’ ships: she bringeth her food from afar.”

The “float” from Lough Cutra took away, with my goodwill, the dressing-table that had been my writing-table in Quansions long ago. I don’t remember having written anything at it except letters, possibly some bits of “Mr. Gregory’s Letter-Box” or of a diary. But in that little room at Queen Anne’s Mansions old and new met Lecky, Alfred Lyall, Yeats, George Moore, “Fiona” Sharp, even James Knowles, Grant Duff, Duchesses Bedford and St. Albans, Enid Layard, Flora Shaw, Edward Martyn, Willy Peel, Hugh Lane, Synge, Lord Carlisle, Sir Frederick Burton.


1923. In the evening, alone, I read, in the New Republic, Wells’s last chapter on Sanderson of Oundle and it stirred me. His theory of what a school should be and what he had made one seems to be akin to our dream, made to some extent a reality, in the Abbey. All working to create, a fine drama, fine acting, a theatre giving opportunity to every talent in it. And at the end Wells and Sanderson shared the belief that latent in men and perceptible in men is a greater mankind, great enough to make every effort to realise it fully worth while, and to make the whole business of living worth while.

“The Kingdom of God is within you.” Christ has said everything first.

1923. I found a note I had myself written after reading Inge: “I feel that neo-Platonism was a straining up towards God; Christianity the descent of God to man.”

1926. Final correcting of pamphlet proofs. I only ventured to skim the papers, and read a few chapters of “Bleak House” and then a page or two of Walt Whitman, but was excited by a line I had not remembered, “All music is what awakes from you, when you are reminded by the instrument.” That explains why music moves me, I who understand so little of it. I am “reminded.” It has often helped my plays. “. . . Will the whole come back then? . . . Does all sit there with you, with the mystic unseen soul?”

1926. Reading Ludwig’s book on the Kaiser. Could not sleep the whole night—the end was so terrible and tragic, that whole war—what good did it lead too? There is nothing of good to look at as its harvest. Guy was here to lunch and I asked him if he knew what had happened to the Kaiser when he entered Holland, after that six hours’ wait in an iron room. He says he went straight to a house—not a hotel (Guy was interned in Holland at the time)—but knows nothing only that there was great fury among the Dutch at his being allowed to come into the country—“What business had the Queen to help him just because he was a King?”—not much welcome for him there.

1926. Seeing Sir Rennell Rodd’s article in The Times saying Sir Edward Malet had assured him the Empress “was not responsible for the initial step of summoning Mackenzie,” (had been told this by Bismarck,) I looked up my MSS. and have copied my letter to Paul Harvey from Venice in 1887, giving the Empress’s own account, as told to the Layards by her and by them to me. As Huntington has written to The Times promising to have the passage modified, I’m sending him a copy, it seems so very explicit and gives me sympathy for the poor Empress. I think Bismarck must have wanted to get the credit for Germans, or the doctors may have deceived him.

Dec. 4, 1926. A letter from Huntington wanting me to send the Empress Frederick’s letter to The Times, “It seems to have great value . . . your evidence is first hand. Everyone is talking about Ludwig’s book and I am sure a letter from you would attract attention.” But I have answered him that I don’t want to write anything in the Press except on the one matter of the Lane pictures—but that he may if he likes send it himself, saying I have given leave.

1927. Lord Aberdeen has sent me his book of anecdotes, “Tell Me Another,” and I am in return writing down some for him, better I think worth telling. Some that come to mind I will keep for my own possible use. Mahaffy at the dinner table in Trinity, boasting of his intimacy with the Kaiser, “he asked for my photograph—autographed—when I was leaving,” and a pert young Don called out, “Did he ask for your finger-prints, Mahaffy?” Robert, hiring a horse at Oxford and saying he was well named Rocket as he would go off without the stick; and Marian, when I found her bringing in a few sticks one Sunday and said we had just been reminded in the sermon of the man who was put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. She looked taken aback for a minute, then said, “Ah, that was in the old God’s time!”

1928. I’ve been reading Sir William Butler’s Autobiography. His account of the death of the Prince Imperial justifies that in the Kiltartan History Book, and it brings to mind Mrs. Martin Harvey telling me that her father, a Spaniard, had been sent to break the terrible news to the Empress. She said, “When he went to her his hair was black. When he came home next day it had turned white in that terrible night.”

1928. Being idle, I have taken up Maurice Barres’ “Déracinés” to read and am happy in finding its idea in accord with mine, one’s feet in one’s own country or home—though one’s mind may be in the celestial sphere above—or at least rushing towards it.

1928. Took down Plutarch and read a bit of Mark Antony, and how a friend in want coming to him, he, having no money at hand, had sent for water in a silver basin, “and then having washed his hands found an errand for his man to send him out, and gave the friend the silver basin and bade him get money with that.” And of the great stir made in the house by his wife when she missed the basin, “so that to save the servants he had to confess.” He must have found wasteful pearl-making Cleopatra an exciting experience in contraries.

But then, some ballads sounding in the background of my mind, I took up the two books where I have collected them, and stayed till late, excited by them. I am going to begin writing about them by-and-by—was just going to begin now when the basket-maker came to the door. I gave him silver, (though a long way after Antony’s,) and ordered two little wicker stools for the garden. He had come back from Galway, says “I’ve an old veneration for Gort,” likes it better than Loughrea, though that is “a big town of houses.” Said of De Valera, “He’s a washout,” but when he heard my good word of him, said he had heard him speak at a meeting and “he had the brains and the right language.”

G.B.S.’s socialism leads one on. I read last night more than was good for my eyes. Being a worker myself my withers are unwrung, but it would be hard to get the wasters into the traces. A horse can only kick, can’t voice his excuses. If the joy of work begun, work completed, (I won’t say anything of the hard dragging of the plough at noontide,) were known, all the world with any ounce of energy would hurry to take its share. And just now my back aches after some hours of going through these old diaries, striking out what is not worth reading or might give pain.

1928. Reading again last night “Queed” sent home from U.S. with my note in it, “The best novel I have read in America so far.” I came to that fine chapter telling of the march of the veterans of the Civil War, and the passage taken from a magazine:

“It was in answer to some correspondent who called Lee a traitor, the Editor wrote five lines to say that while it would be exceedingly difficult ever to make ‘traitor’ a word of honourable distinction, it would be done if people kept on applying it to Lee. In that case, he said, we should have to find a new word to mean what traitor means now.”

And I was glad to think of the portrait of him here with his name in his own handwriting given to my husband, and to remember the excitement and gratitude of some American ladies we met abroad, at an hotel, when they found that he was “the Mr. Gregory who had stood up for the South in the English Parliament,” as indeed it was.

1928. Came upon a letter from Paris, December 1908, from W. B. Yeats. Says he had met at Maud Gonne’s place last night a friend of Oscar Wilde who told him a strange heroic story about Wilde. He died in great agony, thrusting his hand into his mouth to stop his cries. He was in great poverty, often without money for food, and declared that it was his wallpaper that was killing him. “One of us had to go,” he said.

1929. Reading Stonewall Jackson—rather skipping the battle manœuvres—but his character shines out—“that servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his sword.” His farewell to his troops is fine: “In the Army of the Shenandoah you were the First Brigade! In the Army of the Potomac you were the first Brigade! You are the first Brigade in the affections of your General and I hope by your future deeds and bearing you will be handed down to posterity as the First Brigade in this our Second War of Independence. Farewell!” I went down and looked at his portrait, a fine photograph in the Breakfast-room; a much finer head and face than the engravings show in the book. And I have taken down to look at again that “Piece of Flagstaff of Fort Sumter of Charleston sent with my compliments to Hon. Wm. H. Gregory, M.P. for Galway. The flagstaff of that Fort has already been shot down over forty-three times by the enemy’s fire since the commencement of the siege, July 10, 1863. G. F. Beauregard, Gen. S.A.”

1929. Yesterday evening at Lough Cutra I went down to the wireless room to hear the St. Patrick’s Day programme, chosen by James Stephens. Of a sudden a beautiful voice came as it were into the room—Sara Allgood’s—so clear, so rich. She gave the lament from Gaol Gate, and then “Wandering Aengus” and some other folk songs—all beautiful. And another fine voice, Fred O’Donovan, spoke very finely the dialogue from “Gods and Fighting Men,” between Usheen and Padraig—or part of it. And the whole wound up with Sally again—my translation of Pearse’s lines:

I am Ireland

Older than the Hag of Beara.


Great my pride

I gave birth to great Cuchulain.


Great my shame

My own children killed their mother.


I am Ireland

Lonelier than the Hag of Beara.

The whole of this such a contrast to that dreadful Liverpool performance—the “Old Sheebeen” and the like. Certainly some of us have had our desire in bringing back dignity to Ireland.

I went to see the nursery being planted in sawpit field—there and elsewhere 33 men employed to-day. And my own three and two of the Rafters who are whitening the face of the house. Splendid to see so many at work.

1929. Yesterday the New Republic sent 44 dollars for the review of “Days of Fear.” I sent it to the bank for lodgment, wanting to know how much it comes out at, and got a receipt for £9.0.7. Of course, it will, like the Nation fee, go to the author, through whose bravery and anguish, for Ireland’s sake, the book reviewed was created.

1929. Mrs. Ligget (from U.S.A.) told me at tea they travel in their own car, which they bought on arrival for £30, and they pitch a tent in some field at night and sleep there. As to food, they generally get dinner somewhere and for the evening have coffee or tea and bread and butter. They feel most the want of green vegetables, but have sometimes got cauliflowers which they eat raw! They are quite elderly, have no children. Rather touching, the spirit of enterprise so late in life. I gave her a little copy of The Travelling Man, the name at least appropriate!

And she had read H. Speakman’s book “Here’s Ireland.” Had never met him. I knew of his death, it had grieved me, and I was still more grieved when she told me he had taken his own life. She was told he had driven to the door of an hospital and shot himself there, but is not sure if that is correct. But I had heard the same account hinted at elsewhere, and it is supposed that, as he had some serious ailment for which he was ordered to hospital, he may have believed cure was hopeless, yet gone to the very door, that the poor body might be set out for burial and not give trouble to unaccustomed hands. I treasure his books and letters and grieve for his early death.

A review of De la Mare’s rewriting of Bible stories in Litt. Supplement says, “Could they be Englishised more nobly than in the Authorised Version?” It does not need the extracts given to prove they could not—surely not in the writings of that lesser Prophet I have been reading these last evenings.

I look back at The Times review, the quotation from De la Mare and see him quoted as saying, “In what other book are even natural objects made in the imagination so whole and fair? . . .” Then why in the wide world does he take its magnificence to fidget with, and tell of “the prodigious canopy of cloud that obscured the whole firmament.” I have not his “Revised Version” at hand, but I read aloud, to banish the sound of it—“The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were opened.”

1929. I went to Dublin and saw The Fighting of the Waves—wild, beautiful, the motion of the dancers, the rhythm of the music, the scene. The words lost, the masks hideous—yet added to the strange unreality. We might all have been at the bottom of the sea.

1930. I’ve been reading, had almost forgotten, Laurence Oliphant’s “Piccadilly.” I had kept a memory from girlhood of hearing of this man of fashion having suddenly left London and joined Harris’s settlement at Lake City in some new religious life. Then when we were at Therapia, after my marriage, staying with the Layards at the Embassy, he, L. Oliphant, had come there once or twice. He was on a mission to restore the Jews to Palestine or have it restored to them, but had failed with the Sultan who had been told prophecy laid down that the end of the world would not come until that restoration had taken place, and did not wish to hurry it. He was a handsome man, though looking worn, with straggling hair and beard. Then I remember him at a little dinner in London. There was a reception afterwards at Downing Street that we went on to. William said to me as we got there, “I don’t think you ought to come here after the way you have been speaking of Gladstone.” But when we went upstairs Oliphant was there and I whispered to William, “You see he has come, and you may have heard him say at dinner that Gladstone was the slave of his worst qualities!”

I had almost forgotten “Piccadilly,” long upon our library shelves, and found it very witty and sarcastic (I don’t think London now has fashionable drawing-room meetings for missionaries!). It is unjust at the end, its text, its moral comes: “The only kind of faith which is inseparable from life is a divine conviction of truth, imparted to the intellect through the heart, and which becomes as absolute to the internal conscience as one’s existence and as impossible of proof. . . . But theology has become an act of memory instead of a rule of life, and Christianity is reduced to a superstition, to live the life is his moral—suppose, instead of judging people who go to plays or play croquet on Sundays or dance, we tried to live the inner life ourselves . . . suppose that wealth and power appear equally contemptible to you for their own sakes, and that you had no desire connected with this earth except to be used while upon it for divine ends. . . .”

A high ideal, and one he had himself indeed tried to carry out.

1930. I have lost for a while and found to-day the lines from Plato I have kept in my purse for so long—“The soul’s own proper jewels—Temperance, Justice, Courage, Nobility and Truth.”

A poor night—through a quite unjust and untrue accusation. . . . I am still worried this morning but have just brought Plotinus down, to look for some sentence that may tranquillise and stay in my mind. And I have chosen this, about a “third order” . . . “those godlike men who, in their mightier power, in the keenness of their sight, have clear vision of the splendour above and rise to it from among the cloud and fog of earth and hold firmly to that other world, looking beyond all here, delighted in the place of reality, their native land, like a man returning after long wandering to the pleasant ways of his own country.”

1930. The sun is shining and I am happier this morning. But still I look at Plotinus—“We cannot think of something of God here and something else there, nor of all God gathered into one and nothing left void, everything fully held by the Divine.”

And the wireless keeps me in mind of this, the lovely sounds of music not somewhere in the world but, as it seems, everywhere—for those who are attuned to listen.


Jan. 8, 1925. The birthday went so happily; no outside guests to be had, yet we never had a merrier evening. The bonfire lighted well, and Richard and Anne raced after each other with lighted wisps, gigantic fireflies tearing about. And they all dressed up for dinner; had ransacked the camphor chests. I was but a “Spanish grandmother” with high comb and mantle and diamonds, and Margaret hadn’t time to dress at all when she had costumed the others. Mrs. Scovell came down in a “Du Maurier,” and I was sitting with her in the drawing-room when “Miss Persse of Roxboro” was announced, and a young lady came in with my ringlets, with my old Paris purple brocade (worn as I see in a photograph at Fanny Trench’s wedding and she is a grandmother!) and a fan; a very sweet thoughtful face and gentle manner. I was puzzled for a minute and only when the profile was turned I knew it was Richard! The gentle manner continued till towards the end of dinner when he suddenly seized and ate an apple in schoolboy fashion.

1925. Yeats asked me if I had ever thought of standing for the Senate. I said no, until curiously it had been proposed to me last night and I had refused. He said he would like me to be in it. I said I am not as young as I used to be and also that I am so much mixed up with Yeats and Lennox Robinson that I would not have a chance. However, later he said, “You would be very useful in the Senate. I’ll talk to Sam Brown about it,” so I left it. Not desiring, indeed, not liking the idea. But if I could be of use there, and am not likely to write much more “worth while,” I might as well earn the money and see more of my fellow creatures than of late.

July 4. The Independent of 2nd shows me among the “defeated candidates” for the Senate. It is well I had not set my heart on it; indeed, I disliked the thought of being mixed up in politics and wasting time during those dreary debates. And I am glad it was in Dublin I was defeated and not in the country. Most of those chosen are Dubliners. I had not let my mind dwell on the money side except a thought I could better help Richard at Cambridge.

1925. I am working a little through “Don Q”—making a scenario. But to-day a demand from Brennan for Income Tax (he has been trying to get from Margaret on land) £82.10.3 upsets me!

And then a blow. Margaret coming from Galway has gone through accounts with Brennan and finds I owe £82.10.3 income tax on Coole that I had not known of. I had paid all demands sent to me but this had not come to me but to her and she had never looked into it. And my balance to-day at Bank of England is £100 less than this time last year. I’m afraid I must send Putnam the Memoir.

1925. When Birrell said he had seen De Valera, a young man, playing the piano at school where he was at some ceremony, and I told him he had been mathematical master, he said, “Yes, music and mathematics always go together,” and that seemed strange to me. But thinking on “Quixote” yesterday, I thought that might also apply to a play, the balance of weight, the minute calculating of it in advance, (as they say, the dome of St. Paul’s was built on a sheet of paper,) comes into the building of a play, as does “music”—the balanced delight of sentences—of words.

1926. Yeats had been told by a Master of Foxhounds that the Prince of Wales had asked him at a St. Patrick’s Night dinner if it would be safe for him to go to Ireland and hunt. He had answered that H.R.H. would get “such a welcome as he never got in his life.” But that there are always a few unruly people to be found, and that it would be better for him at present to go to the North. To which H.R.H. answered, “I’m damned if I will.” He wanted two things: to hunt in Ireland and to run a horse at Punchestown. 1926. This is a fine day. I gave most of it to accounts; have spent over £500 this year on outside labour, etc., and taxes on land and rates, for second instalment of which I’ve just written a cheque for £66. But my head still keeps over water!

Marian just now in the excitement of taking extra maids for Xmas, Ellen and Ellie, set fire to the front of her dress, but I put it out and she was cheerful and said, “When a woman catches fire it means she’ll have a daughter!”

Typing my old diaries about the Civil War and the threatened break-up of the home—sad enough memories. Yet I was perhaps nearer to heaven in those anxious, troubled times than now when there are not the same strong emotions breaking the clouds of everyday life. I had written that two or three days ago, before this necessary rejection of Sean O’Casey’s play had shattered the mind’s content.

1928. At the Viceregal Lodge on Saturday the thought came to me that a hundred years ago, 1828, William, my husband, may very likely have been playing about in these rooms and terraces, a boy of twelve; the successive Viceroys so kind to him for old Mr. Gregory’s sake. He was certainly welcomed there by the majestic Lord Wellesley. As we went through the hall and banquet rooms, one of the U.S.A. Ministers’ wives asked if there was fine plate for banquets. Mrs. McNeill said, no, the Lord Lieutenants used to bring their own. I think I remember some note in Mr. Gregory’s pocketbook telling that the Duke of Northumberland’s was the finest. That is a pomp passed away for ever. One or two silver jugs, given by the Duke, may be all that remains in the country of those shining services.

A note just come from Mrs. Gogarty asking me to come and meet the Leslies to-morrow evening, but I’ve written that King Lear plays late, and the Governor-General, I find, is coming, and I had already invited some Fianna Fail friends and must make myself ready to be either a barrier or a bridge between them. 1928. I came home yesterday. On Sunday (at Mrs. Phillimore’s, in Co. Wicklow), a day of rest, I wandered among the shrubs, Australian flame tree, rhododendron, many shrubs that won’t grow on our limestone. And I read to the end of the Carpathian journey, it is full of open air, of strangeness, and there are many passages reminding me of “the binding” in our old poems, that hold philosophy and beauty. She is working at her second “Paul” book, and she talked of that and the “Unknown Disciple.” I wish to read it now, for I feel her point of view is sincere and reverent. And she does her work, not sparing herself though fighting against ill-health.

I seem to have some masculine attributes, for my invitation to the Reception of the Atlantic Flyers is addressed to Lady Augustus Gregory, and that to the Bodenstown celebration to “Lady Gregory, Esq.”

The darling children home to-day, well and bright and happy. Richard making little of having passed his exam.—Vassall in his report says he deserves great credit. He is at his wireless now, and they have been trying high jumps in the garden.

The joy this morning of a surprise present for Richard, the Morris-Cowley car Margaret and I have joined in giving him, £250. Geoghegan brought it from Dublin last night; Taddy started barking and Marian—thinking it was M.Q. coming in force!—came up to reassure me! It was locked in the garage for the night, and after breakfast Robert and Anne, sent to look for something there, couldn’t open the door, called to John who came and opened it. Then delight—speechless at first, then very vocal, and they came racing up shouting. The darlings, it seems as if one can give them more pleasure than they can ever have again, at least in the way of presents.

1928. I find a pencilled note written a while ago:

“If I had not married I should not have learned the quick enrichment of sentences that one gets in conversation; had I not been widowed I should not have found the detachment of mind, the leisure for observation necessary to give insight into character, to express and interpret it. Loneliness made me rich—“full” as Bacon says. Company gave me swiftness in putting thought into a word, a sentence.”

Those weeks of ill-health passing away, I am stronger. I feel I ought to write more than the letters that have tired my mornings. But I have said farewell to plays; and except the essay on the Library, have found no great joy in what I have written since. Yet I should like to use what fragment of life is left to me in something more than the typing and arranging of papers, that is tiring and without joy.

1929. I had taken a car from Gort this time. I never found the journey so beautiful, for it was evening, the sun setting behind Burren, the Connemara hills very soft and shadowy. No train to catch, no shops open, a most peaceful pleasant evening. The car driver, Walsh, had gone into the Theatre to see Rising but didn’t understand a word of it, (it was performed at the Gaelic Theatre in Galway,) but when we got home I ran up to the library cupboard and found a copy in English for him. I slept so well! I do like meeting workers.

1930. I think it is going through the diaries and the recurrence of disappointment about Hugh’s pictures that depresses me. But I know it is W. B. Yeats’ long illness that is the weight at the back of my mind. I wonder if I could help by going out there to give him the companionship he enjoys?

Jan. 25. Kind Mrs. Warren has helped me with a remedy . . . and I sleep well, oh, so well, better than for weeks past! I think she must have sent up a little prayer for me! So to-day I have come back to life and have divided primroses, etc., in the garden with Peter and corrected diaries con spirito!

Jan. 28. Richard writes he has “more or less bought a lovely sports car and would like his Savings Bank and Deposit money towards it; these will more or less make up the £275.” I hope it will be a happy purchase. I’ve got forms for Richard to draw out his deposits from the Savings Bank for his “lovely sports car,” God bless him!

March 5. Yesterday, the anniversary of my marriage half a century ago! So fresh still in my memory, the threshold of twelve such happy years! I looked younger than my age, so very slight—“she is a mere child,” Lady Halliburton delighted William by exclaiming. And Lady Somers begged him to take a supply of some forerunner of Bovril, I forget what, to sustain me on the journey to Rome and Constantinople!

1930. I used long ago to say I should like, I thought, to live until Richard’s 21st birthday. And it comes to-morrow. And I am here still in health and strength, and he is well and doing so well at Chatham! But it is a contrast to Robert’s coming-of-age, with the gathering of cousins and the big feast and dance for the tenants—Coole no longer ours. But the days of landed property have passed. It is better so. Yet I wish some one of our blood would after my death care enough for what has been a home for so long, to keep it open.

I sometimes think my life has been a series of enthusiasms.



Abbey Theatre, 51-126

“A.E.”, 194

Allgood, Sara, 85, 111, 331

Arabella, 131-2

Ardilaun, Lady, 67, 221-4

Ardrahan Church, 46

Arnott, Lady, 193-4


Bernard, J. H., 272-82

Black-and-Tans, 134-56

Blythe, Ernest, 81, 85

Bodkin, Thomas, 316

Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 80-3, 120

Brown, S. L., 36, 316-17


Carnegie Row, 272-82

Carson, Lord, 307-8

Childers, Erskine, 183-4

Childers, Mrs. Erskine, 130, 157-8, 168, 194

Cobden-Sandersons, 252-4

Coole, 11-50

Crowe, Eileen, 94-5

Curley the Piper, 43, 131, 148


Dave, 102-3, 263-4, 323-4

De Valera, Eamon, 26, 162-4

Dillon, John, 169, 171, 268

Dolan, Michael, 87-8

Donaghy, Lyle, 99

Doughty, Charles Montague, 212, 214-15


Farrell, Paul, 57, 59-60

Finlay, Rev. Thomas, 279-82

Fitzgerald, Barry, 60, 64, 98, 125

Fitzgerald, Desmond, 68, 296


Gallagher, Frank, 246-52

Gardner, Mrs. “Jack”, 240-2

Gough, Margaret, 13-50


Hawthornden Prize, 256-8

Healy, Timothy M., 268, 300

Hehir, Johnny, 40-1

Hess, Myra, 249


Ingram, John Kells, 242-4


James, Henry, 207, 262, 271-2

Johnson, Thomas, 69-70

“Jones, Paul”, 234-5


King Lear, 115-18

Kipling, Rudyard, 271


Lane, Sir Hugh, 47, 49, 283-317

Lascelles, Lord, 43, 227

Lawless, Hon. Emily, 217-21

Lawrence, T. E., 212-14


MacLiammoir, Michael, 115-16

MacNeill, Eoin, 70

Macpherson, Ian, 298-9

MacSwiney, Terence, 63-4, 136, 139

Markieviecz, Countess, 237-8

Martyn, Edward, 28-31, 159, 168-9

Mary, Princess, 43, 226-7

Mayne, Rutherford, 101-2

McCormick, F. J., 115, 118

McGreevy, Thomas, 269

McKeon, Sean, 232-3

McNeills, the, 224-35

Morris, William, 205-6

Mulcahy, Richard, 235

Munro, Hector, 255-56


Nansen, Fridjof, 202-3

Nevinson, H. W., 139


O’Brien, Dermod, 275, 278, 282

O’Brien, George, 87-92

O’Casey, Sean, 71-9, 86-91, 93-100, 259-60, 320-1

O’Donnell, Thomas, 279-82


Persse, Frank, 21, 40, 41

Persse, Kathie, 34

Phillimore, Mrs., 244-6

Plough and the Stars, 86-91, 94-101

Plunkett, Sir Horace, 65, 235-7

Pope-Hennessy, Una, 66, 139

Purser, Sarah, 312


Redmond, John, 290

Robertson, Sir William, 273-6

Robinson, Lennox, 55, 63, 64, 70-1, 84-5, 107-8, 191-3, 272-82, 323-4

Ross, Sir John, 273-6

Roxboro’, 21, 34-5, 42

Rummell, Walter, 98


Shaw, George Bernard, 18, 66-7, 199-216, 295-6

Shawe-Taylor, Amy, 29-30

Shawe-Taylor, Michael, 45, 47

Shiels, George, 124, 126

Silver Tassie, The, 104-11, 123, 125

Sinclair, Arthur, 101

Speakman, Harold, 32, 332


Tailltean Games, 269-70

Terry, Ellen, 319


Wales, Prince of, 336

Warren, Rev. Horace, 36, 79

Wilde, Oscar, 330

Woods, Sir Robert, 293-5

Wyndham, George, 239-40


Yeats, Jack B., 19, 191-2

Yeats, W. B., 37-8, 54, 62, 87, 89-90, 121-2, 259-66, 319, 323

Transcriber’s Notes

Hyphenation has been changed silently to achieve consistency.

Some quotation marks appear to have been omitted during typesetting. Quotation marks have been added, at what seems the most appropriate location, to achieve balance.

Paragraphs written by the editor have been offset slightly to distinguish them from the diary entries.


[The end of Lady Gregory's Journals 1916-1930 by Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory]