Thursday 23 May 2019

History lecture all about the Queen of Connemara

Delia Murphy
Delia Murphy

The Queen of Connemara, Delia Murphy, will be the subject of the final talk in the current series of the Rathdrum Historical Society's spring lecture series.

Delia's niece, Carmen Cullen, will give a talk on Monday, May 13, entitled 'Hello Delia Murphy', which will be interwoven with family reminiscences and photographs, as well as commentary on Delia's life and songs. Carmen will also sing a selection of her aunt's songs and will be accompanied by Ashford guitarist Gerry Anderson.

Born in 1903 in Claremorris, Co Mayo, and known as the Queen of Connemara, Delia Murphy's father had made his money in the Klondyke and on his return bought the 'big house' Mount Jennings.

From her earliest days, she was attracted to the ballads she heard from wandering journeymen, minstrels and tinkers round their camp fires and she is credited with laying the ground-work for the Irish folk revival. From the 1930s to the late 1950s she had the nation singing along with songs such as If I were a Blackbird, The Spinning Wheel and Three Lovely Lassies.

While completing her B.Com degree in University College Galway, Delia met and married economics lecturer Thomas Kiernan. He began his diplomatic career when he was appointed Secretary to the Irish High Commissioner in London in 1924. From then on, he was Director of Programmes in Radio Eireann and Ambassador to Germany, Canada, The US and Australia on two occasions.

She worked fearlessly in the highly secretive and very dangerous 'spies parlour' escape network operated by Mons. Hugh Flaherty, the 'Scarlet Pimpernel of The Vatican' in German occupied Rome, during World War Two.

A Tipperary woman, Carmen lives in Bray and was Head of English in Coláiste Dhúlaigh Secondary School in Dublin for more than 20 years. She is now a full time writer, having written two novels, four collections of poetry and material now on the Applied Leaving Cert course. Her first novel Two Sisters Singing is loosely based on her iconic aunt Delia. She has been telling her aunt's story around the country since 2009.

The talk will take place in the RDA Annex, Rathdrum, at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 13.

Wicklow People