Yesterday I went out to look for the site of Bowen’s Court. I probably should have prepared more before I went but I knew its position, in terms of Mitchelstown and Fermoy and Mallow (formerly named Moyallow). I knew that the house had been dismantled (and the stones removed) and I knew the story of the hawk and the position of the demesne below the Ballyhoura Mountains. So, in glorious sunshine we turned off the N20 at Ballybeg (note the name in terms of Brian Friel‘s decision to set most of his plays in a fictional town Ballybeg = small town in English) Abbey (ruined) and drove around the small roads, choosing turnings which would keep us not too high and not too low in terms of the position of the house. I think I understood why Elizabeth Bowen so loved the place and why she wrote that enormous, irritating but oddly addictive book about it and its history and her family history. I also thought of Emily Lawless and how her family had supported “their peasants” through the famine. One of the Bowens instituted a programme of road building to give work for starving families. Were we driving on one of these roads? I saw a delightful road with grass growing up the centre but my partner rejected it; he wanted to get home for the Chelsea match (another disaster of this frustrating season). As we drove we listened to Far from the Madding Crowd and Hardy’s description of Dorset countryside and representations of rural communities and conversations between working men, provided a perfect backdrop. No time to read that day, other than The Guardian’s excellent obituary of Brien Friel. My favourite line in this article is a quotation from Friel: “There is no home, I acknowledge no community”. This might come in useful for my dissertation when I hope to interrogate his play The Home Place .
So I have not read any of my books and articles. But, perhaps time spent usefully away from the desk and the computer? Today, I bought garden compost. It is peat-based! In England people like me do not use peat-based compost as we know it lays waste vast areas of land, particularly in Ireland. Here, in Ireland, I could find nothing else in Woodies.
Bowen. E, Bowen’s Court, London, Vintage, 1999
Friel, B The Home Place, The Gallery Place 2005
Pine, R. Obituary, Brien Friel The Guardian 3/10/2015
Hardy, T, Far from the Madding Crowd 1874 Cornhill Magazine, Audio download narrated by Nathaniel Parker