Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jonathan Swift in Celbridge

Last evening I drove to Celbridge to see Jonathan Swift try to explain his relationship to the two women in his life, those he called Stella and Vanessa. Swift himself often made the same journey on horseback to visit Vanessa who resided for a time at Celbridge Abbey while he was in residence at Laracor, Trim.
Trim-born author Pat Dunne (right) has written "Only a Woman’s Hair" a thirty minute piece named after a lock of hair which was found in Swift’s desk and thought to have come from Stella. He originally performed this at the Trim Swift Festival but I didn't see it there because we were part of the same entertainment. He performed it last night in The Mill, Celbridge as a Heritage Week event.

Pat Dunne himself is originally from Trim but now resides in Celbridge.

There has been much speculation and many books written about the relationship - Did Swift marry Stella in secret? did he father a child: Was he homosexual? Was he Stella's cousin or even half brother? etc.

Pat deals with all the speculation as the Dean and leaves us in no doubt as to his real feelings but then appears to get caught by surprise at the end by the lock of hair and by a last letter from Vanessa. The performance was dramatic and engrossing and left me with the desire to read more about Swift and the women.

Leinster Leader notice of the event here.
Recent Meath Chronicle interview with Pat Dunne here.
An 1852 New York Times article entitled The Armours of Dean Swift (originally from the London Times) available here as a pdf.


BarbaraS said...

Sounds like it was a really interesting evening.

Have you heard about the Tara reading on Sunday at 3pm on the hill? At least I presume it is on the hill. Muldoon and Longley are reading and I'm hoping I might make it there...

Michael Farry said...

Yes, not sure whether it is on the hill open air or in the Centre there.