Thursday 18 July 2019

Lorraine brings Gorey folklore to life with new book about town

Lorraine O’Dwyer (centre), author of the new book ‘A Hidden and Sometimes Horrible (hi)story of Gorey pictured with Jacinta Fortune and Karen O’Raw at Gorey Visitors Centre
Lorraine O’Dwyer (centre), author of the new book ‘A Hidden and Sometimes Horrible (hi)story of Gorey pictured with Jacinta Fortune and Karen O’Raw at Gorey Visitors Centre

Cathy Lee

A new Gorey town historical and social guide book, entitled 'Gorey: A hidden and sometimes horrible (hi)story of Gorey', which focuses on hidden local stories of the 400 year old town, was launched at Gorey Visitors Centre.

The book is compiled and written by local tour guide, Lorraine O'Dwyer, and in 16 short chapters, it tells the story of Gorey and includes photographs and maps, highlighting the key moments in Gorey's history.

It also focused on how this history is still alive and well, and can be seen today.

'The book gives more of a slower ramble tour than a walking tour, with less focus on historical events and more on the stories of the town,' said author Lorraine O'Dwyer.

'You start seeing the layers of history that surround us all the time, the different incarnations that each building has had over the centuries,' she said.

It details the story of the Market House, The Railway hotel (now McGovern's pub) and the story of the railway, the 1798 rebellion and Gorey's gruesome connection, the famine and the Gorey workhouse and much more, such as a once-off visit from writer Jonathan Swift.

Some photographs included in the book were taken by Lorraine, but she also sourced some from the National Photographic Archive.

Lorraine has been working on the private tour company Gallivanting Tours as a guide for about three years now, and calls herself a folklorist, having been immersed in local storytelling knowledge since she was a young girl.

'It's all down to my parents in Courtown, Liam O'Dwyer and Anne Dunbarr, When I was growing up they restored old Victorian and Georgian houses, our family holidays were spent looking at antiques and going to auctions, it's hard not to have the interest in our family,' said Lorraine.

'But Gorey has always fascinated me because it's very unusual, it didn't grow organically, it was planned. You have structured streets where you can clearly see the old Victorian and Georgian elements as well as those that came later. You can see the labourers cottages as well as the grander houses on the Main street, it's kind of like a city condensed into a very small town,' she said.

Karen O'Neill, manager of Gorey Visitors Centre was on hand to officially launch the book, and she described it as an 'eye-opener'.

'Having done the tour, you look very differently at the town and see things you wouldn't have seen before. We get a lot of tourists here that want history, they'd like to be able to look around a gallery but now with the book, we're going to be able to use the street as a gallery,' said Karen.

The book, supported by Ireland's Ancient East is now on sale in the Gorey Visitors Centre for €10 and there are around 100 copies available at the centre.

Gorey Guardian