Thursday, 22 September 2016

Riders to the Sea

For the sodding record, apparently too many people are actually not bothering to actually read the play Riders to the Sea, and are misquoting it.  It's in the public domain and available online.

I was actually quite shocked recently when I discovered the parallels with my life and that of JM Synge.  I was lucky, I got my Hodgkins Lymphoma almost 100 years later than him, the swelling in my neck went down with Chemotherapy, I didn't die of it.  I found it quite strange to read his biography online and realise how lucky I was.

from Stitches in Time

Stitches in Time
Lucy Adlington
p 289 -290
Guernsey sweaters - also known as ganseys - have long been associated with fishermen and seamen. Fanciful writers say the cable stitch on the gansey was invented to mimic the ropes that played such an important part in the lives of sea faring men. As families and communities evolved the basic pattern into new adaptations, a myth arose that a fisherman pulled from the sea could be identified by his individual sweater. This story was enhanced by the 1904 stage play by J.M. Synge, Riders to the Sea, in which the jumper in question is actually in simple stocking stitch. [gah, misreading of the play] There are no recorded instances of any such identification being made in real life. Ganseys are traditionally dark blue and they have no designated front, the repaired patch could be worn at the back where it would be less noticeable.
Aran sweaters are often an unbleached natural wool colour, patterned with honeycombs, cables and diamonds. Original Aran knits kept the water-resistant natural lanolin, rather than washing it out, making them more practical as outdoor wear.  Far from being an age-old pattern contemporary with the twining artwork of the Book of Kells, as one myth suggests, it is likely that Aran Sweaters really began life as a twentieth-century initiative to boot dwindling household budgets.

From Galway Women in the 19th Century

By Maureen Langan-Egan
P 9 - 10
“The destruction of the textile industries affected Galway, a noted ‘yarn county’, very badly.  Flax, in particular, was a very useful crop on small pieces of ground; no tithes were payable to the Established Church on income from its sales, and it was easier to spin than wool. ‘Bandle-linen’  (a poor-quality fabric) was widely made. Landlords had distributed spinning wheels (tuirni) and reels in Connacht, either free of charge or for a minimum charge.  Their motives were not altogether altruistic, for it was reported that ‘the women in many families spin more than the whole amount of the house and gardens’, which means that the income earned from spinning was greater than that earned from the produce of the gardens and the earnings of other family members; thus, landlords were assured of their rents. The linen industry declined after 1815, which marked the end of the Napeolonic [sic] Wars.  As regards woollen goods, Ireland had been able to supply its requirements in 1800, but by 1830 the industry was in ‘terminal decline’; tariffs were lifted in 1826, allowing cheaper imports.”

P 95-96 “an examination of the Regulations and Curriculum of the Dominican Convent Superior School (A Superior school taught at least one foreign language) in Taylor’s Hill, Galway reveal both its ethos and curriculum.  The Regulations stated:

Each young lady to approach the Sacrament of Penance once a month.
Out of school no pupil is to associate with a companion unless she have the sanction of her parents and the religious.
Each child to be provided with work materials, books, according to the list; and no one is to lend or borrow from another.
Silence to be observed during school hours.
Shoes to be changed before entering the school room and each pupil to be particular in making her salutation. (Polite greetings were the order of the day)
The lessons marked to be well studied at home and music pupils to practice one hour daily.
In 1858, the curriculum was set out as follows:
Daily Duties: Religious Instruction, English Reading, Parsing, Dictation, Needlework, Tables.

Alternate Duties:
Monday,              Grammar, Arithmetic, History
Wednesday,        Chronology French Conversation
Tuesday,              Sacred history, Geography, Spelling.
Thursday,            Mythology, French Dictation

Monday               English Letter
Tuesday               Object Lesson
Wednesday         Natural History
Thursday              Astronomy
Friday                   -
Saturday              Long Religious Instruction.

This plan had to be modified, as the pupils were ‘too backward for such a course’. Such a wide-ranging curriculum was rare.  There was an on-going debate about which subjects should be taught to girls, and there was much sex-stereotyping in the curriculum.

P 118
Members of all religious organisations worked actively to obtain relief from abroad, including £24,000 from Calcutta. [in the 1840s]