monuments and memorials
The author of a seminal work on Irish emigration will be honoured by having a road named after him in his hometown. Journalist John Healy was a crusading journalist who wrote “Nobody Shouted Stop” (also called “Death of an Irish Town”) in 1968; the work details the losses suffered by Charlestown, Co Mayo in the middle of the last century, as unemployment and emigration took its toll. Healy wrote for local Mayo newspapers before moving to the Irish Times, where his work helped keep the problems of his native region in national focus.
The town of Charlestown has fared well in the ensuing years, with a population of around 1,700, up from less than half that in the 1960s. While the economic boom that lifted Ireland’s fortune brought prosperity to the town, it was also aided greatly by Knock Airport – a development championed by the journalist.
The N5 Charlestown Bypass will be named “The John Healy bypass”, pending final approval by a full meeting of Mayo County Council in September. The move was proposed by Cllr Joe Mellett, who said, “He’s a guy that we can associate with especially in bad times. He made the rest of the country aware of what was happening then, but he would be delighted if he saw what was happening today. All Charlestown is proud of him, as are the people of Mayo”.
The 18-kilometre stretch of road is due to open in October.
A Cork monument honouring Irish emigrants isn’t getting enough attention, according to a report in the Irish Examiner. The newspaper reports that city councillors are concerned that the monument, which was launched in September, needs more promotion.
The Listening Post monument on Penrose Quay is comprised of four stainless steel posts, which play recordings of interviews with hundreds of emigrants, their descendents, people left behind and ship workers. Penrose Quay was a departure point for emigrant boats in the middle decades of the last century.
The monument was developed by sculptor Daphne Wright, Meridian Theatre Company artistic director Johnny Hanrahan and sound designer Dan Jones. The €100,000 project is the city’s first permanent sound installation.
But city councillors say not many have heard the Listening Post monument. “These are supposed to be listening posts. But I’ve never seen anyone listening to them”, the paper quotes Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom O’Driscoll. Mr O’Driscoll added the worthy project was suffering from a lack of promotion.
City manager Joe Gavin agreed to distribute brochures to Cork’s tourist offices and hotels. City arts officer Liz Meaney said the public reaction to the project’s launch was hugely positive.
An Irishman living in Northampton will lead a commemoration of Bloomsday at the grave of Lucia Joyce in Kingsthorpe cemetary in Northamption. Lucia Joyce, the daughter of exiled Irish writer James Joyce, spent many years in a mental hospital before her death in 1982. This will be the fourth Bloomsday the Irish Community Arts Project will spend at Lucia’s grave.
Organiser Peter Mulligan told the Irish Times,
The concept is that the Joyce family, like a lot of Irish people in Northampton, left Ireland for a better life elsewhere and we see Lucia as a focus for that. We relate her life to the Irish diaspora of which she was a part…
She’s buried among East Europeans, Serbs and Yugoslavs because she was born in Trieste. The nice thing is that she’s near the grave of (emigrant writer) Donall Mac Amhlaigh, who lived all his life here working on the M1, M6 and Milton Keynes.
For more information, contact the project.
An innovative monument to Irish emigrants was unveiled on Cork’s Penrose Quay on September 9th. “Listening Posts”, designed by sculptor Daphne Wright and writer Johnny Hanrahan, consists of four sleek metal posts positioned at the traditional point of departure for emigrant ships. The City Council’s press release explains,
While striking in themselves, these ‘posts’ function primarily as vessels for four multi-faceted sound scores. Using interviews with emigrants, their descendants, those they left behind, those who worked on the ship, those wishing to return and those who are glad they got away combined with marine, industrial, musical and abstract sound elements, Wright, Hanrahan and leading sound designer Dan Jones have built up rich, layered soundscapes each of which has its own internal logic and also contributes to the overall experience afforded by listening to all four posts.
The scores blend fragmented narratives embedded in emotionally intense soundworlds, musical clichés, Irish jokes and a range of instrumental and archival vocal gestures which have been manipulated to create a constantly fluctuating range of emotional tones.
The piece is firmly rooted in the history of emigration from Cork, but uses the specifics of that collective experience to explore broad themes of migration, displacement and self-re-invention. In this way it does justice to its commemorative function while also acting as an urgent, poetic commentary on the global issue of long-term migration.