Sunday 21 April 2019

Glenmalure's hostel marks six decades

Jim Nolan and Éamon Ó Cuív
Jim Nolan and Éamon Ó Cuív
Séamus Byrne

Esther Hayden

A memorable afternoon of drama, music, poetry and storytelling took place in Glenmalure recently to celebrate six decades of Glenmalure Hostel.

The event was organised by Josephine O'Byrne and Tricia Boyle, members of the group of An Óige volunteers called Friends of Glenmalure Hostel. It was planned to commemorate the opening of the hostel at Baravore on Sunday, June 10, 1956, more than 60 years ago.

The hostel building had belonged to Dr Kathleen Lynn, a well known doctor in Irish medical and historical circles. She had used the hostel building for many years as her summer holiday retreat and upon her death in 1955, she bequeathed her house at 'the head of the glen' to An Óige so that many young people could come and enjoy the great outdoors and the wild beauty of Glenmalure.

On the opening day more than 60 years ago, former President of Ireland, Éamon de Valera had performed the opening ceremony. This time it was the turn of his grandson Éamon Ó Cuív, who was guest speaker on the day.

A large crowd gathered for the event, hostellers, local public representatives, visitors and local people including Mick Kenny, grandson of John Byrne, the first resident of the cottage. Zoë Devlin, niece of Dr Kathleen Lynn, Jim Nolan and many others who had been present at the opening ceremony in 1956 were among those who gathered.

The proceedings began with a wonderful play 'Yeats' Women', narrated by Glyniss Casson and Daniel Gleeson and accompanied by talented harpist Claire Roche. It outlined the women in the life of William Butler Yeats, in particular Maud Gonne Mc Bride, who also a former owner of the hostel at Baravore.

This was followed by an address from George King, former president of An Óige, who recounted the history of the hostel and paid tribute to the dedication of the small group of volunteers in their work to keep the hostel open. A special tribute was paid to the late Walter Meade, who worked tirelessly to fundraise, organise work parties and improve the facilities at Glenmalure Hostel.

Pat Dunne, of Glenmalure Pure Mile Group, also congratulated the group and thanked them for the use of the hostel premises and grounds to provide refreshments for local heritage events in Glenmalure.

A poignant address followed when Éamon Ó Cuív delivered the original speech made in Irish by his grandfather, the late Éamon de Valera in 1956.

In his own address he outlined the extraordinary life of Dr Kathleen Lynn a pioneering doctor of her time. He paid tribute to the many women like Kathleen Lynn who at that time, made great personal sacrifices to follow their nationalist beliefs and to pursue their vision of a more free and equal society for us all. He reminded those gathered of the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement, when women were awarded a vote for the first time.

While afternoon tea was being served by members of the Glenmlure Pure Mile group and assisted by An Óige volunteers, Eugene Fitzpatrick and his group of local traditional musicians and singers entertained the crowd with a wonderful selection of music and song. Local poet Seán Healy recited some of his own poetry about Glenmalure and sang some original songs.

Seamus Byrne, Ballyhad, whose ancestors were originally came from Bolenaskea, Glenmalure also entertained the crowd with interesting stories of his own family history and the characters of Glenmalure.

Josephine O'Byrne concluded proceedings by thanking all those who had prepared for, attended and participated in the celebrations. She presented Deputy O Cuív with a framed copy of his grandfather's speech. A presentation was also made to the Glenmalure Pure Mile Group for their assistance with the event.

The music and entertainment continued into the late evening. The hostel will be open for the summer months of June, July and August and at weekends throughout the year.

Wicklow People