Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston is perhaps most memorable to the Irish for her role as Gretta Conroy in her father John’s film of the James Joyce short story “The Dead.” Here she recalls time her family spent in County Wicklow before moving to St. Clerans in Galway.
I have very early memories of that house. It was very large and drafty with an enormous kitchen and big gardens. The sort of things I remember are the small mishaps that happen to you when you’re a child – like getting my arm caught in the wringer of the washing machine. It was there that I learned how to ride. I had an old pony called Honeymoon, who eventually collapsed underneath me as I was cantering around the fields like one of those comic children.
Most of all, I remember one night when my parents came and woke my brother and me. We came down onto the front steps of the house and the sky was just full of shooting stars, meteors – it was one of the most beautiful things I can ever remember, lying in my father’s arms or my mother’s – I can’t remember who was in whose arms – and the sky being alive with falling stars.
There’s a line of Gretta’s – “We used to go out walking in the rain, Gabe. You know the way they do in the country?” Lines like that are so unmistakably Irish, if you’ve ever spent those long evenings there where it’s light until 11 o’clock at night or so. And it’s kind of misty and you put on your Wellington boots and go out with the dogs…So many times spent walking in the country – and it’s my whole experience of remembering a time when it was golden, the romance at that time, the first time you fell in love – all of that is somehow in my collective memory of Ireland. It is a very romantic country, very brutal and and very reticent and very passionate at the same time.
– September 1991, Patricia Harty
In Ireland, there is time for the exchange of ideas, and that’s how a culture is born. You sit down and talk about a subject, and maybe get drunk, and get to the heart of it. It becomes a search for truth. In America there’s no comparable search for culture. – March / April 1995, Paul Sheehan ♦