Posts Tagged ‘yeats’

Ireland: Past, Personal, and Historical

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Christopher Griffin has been a college instructor in Irish literature, poetry, and drama for more than 25 years, educating students from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Strayer University, and George Washington University. Christopher will be Study Leader on two of our 2010 Enchanting Ireland tours.

Clonmacnoise, the burial place of the last High King of Ireland. Photo: Christopher Griffin

Kilmacduagh, burial place of Griffn ancestors on the Galway/Clare border, near the Burren. Photo: Christopher Griffin

For me, traveling through Ireland is a journey back in time to my own roots, a sort of “remembrance of things past.” Each time I return to Ireland, I feel like Oisin coming back from the “Land of Youth” (Tir na nOg”). Oisin’s former home felt both familiar and strange to him, since St. Patrick came and changed it utterly while he was away.

I grew up in Gort, in south County Galway near the Clare border, so I like to think of myself as from “real Yeats country,” near his one-time summer home, Thoor Ballylee. My grandfather was the housepainter at Lady Gregory’s home at Coole Park, where the noted dramatist hosted the Irish Literary Revival. He brought Lady Gregory news of “the Troubles” in the Gort area during 1919-1923; he is quoted in her journals.

During our tours, we will visit the Aran Islands in Galway Bay for a taste of the old language and culture. Gaelic is still spoken as the first language on these fascinating limestone landscapes dotted with pre-historic ruins, but my Irish has become a bit rusty. Our trip to the land and sea of Galway will be a sentimental journey into the ancient past. (more…)