Sunday, 26 July: Bus to Sligo and Visit to Glenveagh Castle and Gardens

We’ll be leaving Derry this morning and returning to Ireland.  After a short bus ride across the border into county Donegal, we’ll visit Glenveagh Castle and Gardens.  This site has a local connection to Geneseo – the gardens that we’ll be visiting were planted by Cornelia Wadswoth Richie Adair, who was daughter to Geneseo’s General James Wadsworth (Cornelia was born and raised in the village).  There is a lot of history behind the creation of Glenveagh Castle, so be sure to read the required coursepack, which recounts the story of the 19th century evictions that led to the creation of the estate.

After lunch, we’ll get back on the bus for the drive to Sligo.  You’ll check into your accommodations at Yeats Village in the late afternoon, with plenty of time to get rested and cleaned up for the evening banquet that opens the Yeats International Summer School.

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3 Replies to “Sunday, 26 July: Bus to Sligo and Visit to Glenveagh Castle and Gardens”

  1. Some stray thoughts after visiting Dublin and Derry. In Dublin, the people continued to be as friendly as they were in Galway. No one is hesitant to give directions or opinions on pubs or restaurants. I Derry, this has not entirely been true. Our group seems to have gotten a few more stares, and people in general seem less approachable. I think the fact that Derry is not exactly a tourist destination in combination with Derry’s complicated and violent history are responsible for the city’s somewhat more distant or cold feeling. However, one of the very few conversations I had with a citizen in Derry was extremely friendly. A few of us entered a liquor store on Saturday night and had an excellent conversation with the clerk at the counter. He talked about how much he wanted to visit America, and asked us some surprisingly sensitive questions that almost seemed naive to us. He asked about politics, gang violence, and racism and race relations. We had a brief discussion comparing Catholic/Protestant relations in Derry to race issues in Sligo. I made the comment that it is a similar situation, except that in the States, the divide is more visible. His response surprised me. He believed that religion in Derry, while not strictly visible, can be sensed in a way. Clearly he does not have some sixth sense, so I assume he is really referring to the way one presents oneself to others. He also said that he didn’t care about religion. This reminded me of what Cope and Doggett said about Jim the bus driver, and how he would have never said that 15 or 20 years ago.

  2. The castles have really been creeping me out, to be honest. I have a certain ambivalence about them because they are quite beautiful–especially Glenveagh–and, it is fascinating to experience the opulence in which the elite lived (and still live, though I await the day that the state offers tours of the old decaying Trump estate and gardens), and some of the decor and gardens are exquisite. I’m mainly disgusted by the castles though–especially Glenveagh–by the way they project a tone of valuing wealth, and in Glenveagh, by the way they push the historical context–what the castle is built on–to the side.

    At Strokestown the tone was a little better, less valuing wealth and more direct discussion of its absurdity. I think the historical context at Strokestown helped–it was fitting to put the famine museum on the grounds of the estate, as the estate was built on the conditions that created the famine, and the estate directly contributed to and benefitted from evicting its tenants. As a result, the tour of Strokestown estate was connected to the people upon whose exploitation it was founded–even if the Strokestown tour did sometimes uncritically praise the opulence there, and look nostalgically at the height of the estate.

    Glenveagh was different: the focus was on the castle itself, and less on the evictions the castle was built on. The tour gave the Derryveagh evictions two explicit mentions: one during a priming video that left the brutal evictions conspicuously disconnected from the castle itself. The video discussed the wealth and glamor at the castle, the famous people that attended gatherings there, the Picassos hanging on the walls—but it was uncritical to a fault, and failed to make the connection that the land had to be cleared of tenants for the castle to be built. The tour was more of the same: a brief mention of fact that the evictions took place, but no analysis of the larger context for the immense wealth disparity between the castle and the evicted tenants.

  3. Last weekend we visited Derry, which was an interesting contrast to the Republic of Ireland. I remember my phone receiving “you are now roaming” messages and being confused as to why- foolishly forgetting that I had reached the UK. Nonetheless, there was a lot that I enjoyed about Derry (besides the low prices). Both my parents and my brother have spent time in the UK and I have visited London before, so I was excited to see similarities/differences. Of course, British flags were everywhere, along with a Tesco at pretty much every corner. But I loved being able to see some Irish culture mixed there, too. We saw live music at night (after eating dinner at what felt like the British Applebee’s) that we danced to, and even had an interesting conversation with one of the waiters. He referred to the famine as the “Irish Holocaust,” as well as expressing a heavy anti-English sentiment. I had never seen that opinion first hand before. I had gone to Derry anticipating a “less secure” feel, especially after reading Conroy’s “Belfast Diary,” but I still felt safe nonetheless. I would have to say that touring the murals of the Bogside Artist’s was my favorite thing in Derry. Being able to get a first hand perspective on the people who selflessly made those paintings as a way to remember the violence was something that I had never seen before. Additionally, I saw numerous “Free Gaza” or “Free Palestine” stickers and murals in Derry (although I saw quite a few in Dublin and Galway, too). This inspired me to write my paper topic on the Penal Laws that the British enforced on the Irish, and contrast it to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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