By Peggy Doherty
When Lady Gregory was presented with this cup on St. Patrick’s Day in 1913, she was near the end of her second tour of the United States with the Abbey Theatre. Unlike the previous trip, there had been no trouble over the Playboy of the Western World! The cup was given as a token of appreciation by the ‘Plays and Players Club of Philadelphia’ and is engraved as follows:
To Lady Augusta Gregory From Members of The Plays and Players Club Of Philadelphia In Appreciation of Her Great Work for Dramatic Art March 17, 1913
One can only imagine her delight at being recognised in this way by an American drama society. Her devotion to her own theatre and its actors was at the centre of her goal, which Colm Tóibín in his book, Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush, states was to ‘establish Ireland’s ancient past as part of its present culture and to produce contemporary Irish masterpieces in an Irish theatre.’ This devotion is further commented upon by Lennox Robinson, editor of her journals:
‘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.’
‘Her chicks’ were her Abbey players, and Lady Gregory revealed her feelings about them to a New York journalist during her first tour of America:
‘I think they realise that their strength lies in their unity and their interdependence on one another. They are almost like a family, anyway. They never have acted in any other company, you know. Their experience is wholly limited to their experience with each other and under our management, and they seem to feel that they are a little community of interest that must hang together, at least so long as they wish to be players: Then, too, we are all working out something together, and the members of the company are as much interested in their work as the playwrights and directors are in theirs. Perhaps that is why we have been able to do what we have as quickly and as well as we have – we all work together.’
New York Daily Tribune, 26 November 1911
The Kiltartan Gregory museum was grateful to receive this cup from the family of Catherine Gregory (Kennedy) on Catherine’s death in March 2000. It is just one of Lady Gregory’s personal items available for viewing in the museum when it opens!
Lady Gregory, the Woman Behind the Irish Renaissance by Mary Lou Kohfeldt.
‘A Repertory Theatre’ in Lady Gregory, Interviews & Recollections, edited by E.H. Mikhail.
Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush by Colm Tóibín.
Lady Gregory’s Journals, 1916-1930, edited by Lennox Robinson
Twenty-five years ago, the Kiltartan Gregory Museum and Picnic Park was officially opened by President Mary Robinson, with Lady Gregory’s grandchildren, Catherine and Anne (“Me and Nu“) in attendance. Since then, the museum has attracted thousands of visitors , due to the hard work and dedication of the Kiltartan Gregory Cultural Society and its volunteers.
The attractive adjoining Picnic Park, featuring a copper beech tree planted by “Me and Nu“, has been a venue for celebratory picnics, music, lectures, launches and leisure activities over the years. In the past year, it became a place for families to walk, kick a ball or have a coffee at one of the picnic tables. A specially inscribed stone seat to the memory of Geoffrey O'Byrne White, great-grandnephew of Lady Gregory also features.
Now a quarter of a century on, the car park is in much need of re-surfacing, the toilets need repair, and because of temporary closure in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, the Society is in great need of your help.
Thanks to the generous donations of Cllr. Geraldine Donohue , Cllr. Joe Byrne and Cllr. Gerry Finnerty, we are halfway towards achieving our fundraising goal! Thank you for your support by clicking on the image or on this link that brings you to to our Idonate page to donate once off or why not set up a monthly donation.
We look forward to welcoming you back to Kiltartan Cross in the brighter days of summer when hopefully the COVID clouds depart.