The Dining Room at Coole and the Summer of 1900

By Peggy Doherty


Coole House during the Irish Literary Revival


If one thinks of Coole House during the Irish Literary Revival, then the picture would be one of writers, going and coming, immersed in writing plays, poetry and prose during the day, and in animated discussions in the evening. These discussions happened very often in the dining room, the chairs of which are held by the Kiltartan Gregory Museum, having been kindly donated by the Irish Literary Scholar, Dr. James Pethica. All the while, Lady Gregory encouraged and nurtured her guests, giving them rooms in her home to create their work and then the freedom to roam the Seven Woods for inspiration.


The Summer of 1900


In her biography of Lady Gregory, Judith Hill paints a picture of life in the summer of 1900: ‘Yeats settled into his third full summer at Coole in July, and Augusta, more than secure in her position as his patron and the linchpin of the Revival, eased herself into extended hospitality as writers, artists and their wives migrated from London and Dublin, bringing an invigorating combination of effervescent lightheartedness and purposeful, often collaborative, work…The older artists worked alone in the mornings, walked or fished in the afternoons (Yeats often went out in a boat to catch fish) and gathered around the fire in the library in the evening where the fruits of the day’s work were discussed and conversational

wit was prized. They all came together at dinner when Yeats or Russell would dominate the conversation.’


If only the chairs could talk


Yes, if only the chairs could talk, what a vivid insight into the minds of Ireland’s cultural revolutionists we would have! Come, see them this summer at the Museum, where the guides can bring these and other stories to life for visitors.


25th Anniversary of the Kiltartan Gregory Museum


120 years on from that summer at Coole, the Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary this August. Details to mark the event can be found on Facebook and on our website: www.kiltartangregorymuseum.org


Sources consulted:

Lady Gregory, An Irish Life by Judith Hill.


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