Lady Augusta Gregory - Privileged Background But Greatly Admired By Irish People
Lady Augusta Gregory had an Anglo-Irish landlord ancestry with a family estate consisting of 6,000 acres of land at Roxborough, Co. Galway. She was accustomed to life among the Galway gentry and when she married Sir William Gregory, a widower some thirty five years her senior, as the wife of a knight, she became entitled to be identified as ‘Lady Gregory’.
Her new husband possessed a huge estate at Coole, Gort, Co. Galway and Lady Gregory’s memory is perpetuated in Gort and also throughout the county of Galway.
Following the death of her husband in 1892 she began to take a greater interest in the land of her birth and read Irish history extensively. She also found a zest for the Irish language and became fluent in her native tongue and also gave Irish lessons to school children in the Gort surrounding areas.
Lady Gregory was now endearing herself to the local population and with great wealth from her inheritances, she had the means to invest great time in literature and the arts.
She was born Isabella Augusta Persse in 1852 and was educated at her home by private tutors. She was greatly influenced by the house nurse, a native Irish speaker who bestowed great stories of local history and legends.
During the Irish Civil War the family holding was destroyed by fire and young Isabelle was well aware of the plight of her neighbours from the many stories she heard from her nurse. The fame of Lady Gregory in modern Ireland can be attributed to her literature works.
Amongst her famous collections can found: ‘Spreading The News’; ‘Kincora’; ‘The Workhouse Ward’; and her gem ‘The Rising Of The Moon’.
These historic plays have been revived many times and were widely acclaimed by many generations of theatre audiences.
Other notable works of Lady Gregory include ‘Poets and Dreamers’; ‘Gods and Fighting Men’; ‘Kiltartan Poetry Book’; ‘Cuchulain of Muirthemne’; ‘A Book of Saints and Wonders’; ‘Kiltartan History Book’; ‘Our Irish Theater’; ‘A Chapter of Autobiography’; ‘Sir Hugh Lane’s Life and Achievement’; (he was a nephew of Lady Gregory).
Her final publication was ‘Lady Gregory’s Journals’ period 1916 - 1930 and published in 1946.
The Galway author had a long and often turbulent association with The Abbey Theatre, Dublin and was very influential in the productions staged at The Abbey. She was also a co-founder of The Irish Litereary Theatre in 1899 that had a short lifespan until 1902 and this was succeeded by the founding of The Irish National Theatre Society.
Most of Ireland’s prominent authors of the period regularly visited her at Coole Park, Gort and some penned great works whilst in residence.
Isabella Augusta Gregory, famous Irish author and playwright, died in 1932 from breast cancer and is buried at Bohermore. Co. Galway.