Robert Greacen, Brief Encounters: Literary Dublin and Belfast in the 1940s (Cathair Books 1991), 47pp.

.. Robert Lynd, the gentle essayist and convert to Home Rule, whose father had been a minister at May St. Presbyterian Church. Lynd had found success in London. Rumour had it that he was a hard drinker who once said to a fellow boozer in a Fleet St. tavern: ‘do you realise that we are the kind of men our mothers warned us against?’ [10]

[Robert Greacen was deeply impressed by Forrest Reid’s Apostate.] But the novels, unlike Apostate, disappointed me. They seemed, for all their lyrical charm and their fastidious sentence construction, to be too limited. [...] outside the magic years of adolescence, Forrest Reid seemed to be at a loss. His adults did not rignt true. At the time I sensed this bu did not know why, for homosexuality was something I knew nothing about, not even the word itself. [10-12]

Sam [Hanna Bell] shared a flat with Bob Davidson in Wellington park in Belfast [...] still a remnant of Scots accent for he had been born of Irish emigrant parents in Glasgow where his father worked as a journalist [...] worked for the Canadian Steamship Co. in their Belfast offices and during the War years he was in Civil Defence [...] encouragement from Sean O’Faolain [...] through the good offices of Louis MacNeice [got] a permanent job in the BBC in N. Ireland [...] Summer Loanen (Mourne Presss 1943) [...] died 1990 [before] the film version of December Bride [...] The Hollow Ball, on football; A Man Flourishing, on 1798; ed. literary section of Ulster Tatler; commuted Belfast-Notting Hill Gate and later Belfast-Ballsbridge. [17-19]

Cecil ffrench Salkeld [...] father in law of Brendan Behan [...] 43 Morehampton Rd. [...] mother acted in the Abbey [...] married to Englishman in the Indian Civil Service; studied art in Kassel, Germany (of Grimm Bros. fame); spent much of his time in bed, reading, writing, and chatting; RHA; his local, Reddin’s Donnybrook. Kate O’Brien wrote of him: “He was a man of too many gifts—none of them sufficiently strong to control him. [...] He seemed to me to have a contempt for life—which in a man so gifted was especially sad. The invalidism of his later years was deplorable, but must have been an expression of wounded pride, a refusal to complete [...] Yet he must be said to have had a good life.’ Wrote and produced at the New Theatre a play, A Gay Goodnight, with an amateur company (the title from Yeats: ‘..The second best’s a gay goodnight and quickly turn away.’). [23ff] AND NOTE Salkeld lived with his mother Blanaid—a friend of Ernie O’Malley and others—at 43 Morephampton Rd.; he was a friend of Flann O’Brien and became a char., Cashel, in At-Swim-Two-Birds.

Valentin Iremonger, Dept of Ed., with Joseph O’Neill; lived in Sandymount; Member of the New Theatre, inclined to the Left; produced a collection, On the Barricades (New Frontiers Press) with Greacen; from Catholic Irish stock; learned Irish, and translated Michael McGowan’s The Hard Road to Klondike; Irish diplomatic service; also with Greacen, ed. Contemporary Irish Poetry (1949), for Faber—jocosely called Uncle Tom’s Cabin after Eliot—but without a contribution from Kavanagh. [26-27]

Mary Davenport O’Neill; posh Kenilworth Sq., Yeats’s consultant when writing A Vision; her Thursday At Home attended by Yeats, AE, et al. [28-29]

Joseph O’Neill; AE prefaced Land Under England: ‘.. how was I to know for all the torrent of picturesque speech and prodigality of humour, that, within that long head and long body, there were other creatures than those he exposed to me? [...] How was I to know that he had it in him to imagine and write Land Under England? [30]

Greacen married Patricia Hutchins [31]

Ussher described his essays as ‘philosophical belles lettres’; his articles appeared in New English Weekly, ed. AR Orage; Three Great Irishmen; The Face and Mind of Ireland; The Magic People (Jews).

Hubert Butler: An outspoken speech in Dublin in 1952 was considered by some to be an affront to Catholicism and, worse still, an insult to the Papal Nuncion who was present on the occasion. / This was when Hubert shocked the predominantly Catholic adience by speaking frankly of the forced conversion to Catholicism and the eventual massacre of thousands of Orthodox Serbs by the Croatian regime that collaborated with the Nazis. (Sean O’Casey refers to this incident in his autobiography.) The furore split the Kilkenny Arch. Society and forced Hubert to withdraw from it int the life of a scholarly squire. He set about writing a book—as Patricia had prescirbed years earlier—and this turned out to be Ten Thousand Saints. It meant further controversy, this time with the scholars rather than the saints of Holy Ireland. [35]

Greacen reviewed Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger for Cyril Connolly; Kavanagh was unimpressed by his degree of enthusiasm for it.

[ back ]
[ top ]