Ireland and the World of the 1950s
Thomas Kilroy A Memoir of the 1950s
This is, naturally, a selective memory piece about the 1950s, what it was like to be at University College Dublin, then what it was like to start a lifetime involvement in Dublin theatre. But to do this I need to go back further. One of the crucial facts about people of my generation is that we are the last generation to have experienced the War of Independence and Civil War, not as history, but as memory, through the memories of our parents, like my father’s story of his part in the burning down of Galway Gaol, as an IRA of ficer in 1921. My mother was a member of Cumann na mBan. Their stories were part of my childhood and this legacy, too, has coloured the experience of many others who grew up in the 1950s. I was a child of the Hitler War. When the Second World War started in September 1939, I was just a few weeks short of my fifth birthday. But where I came from, Callan, in County Kilkenny, the real news that month was not the outbreak of war but the All-Ireland Hurling Final in Croke Park on 3 September between the teams of Kilkenny and Cork. On that dark Sunday in 1939, a few days after the declaration of war, Kilkenny beat Cork by a single point. In keeping with the apocalyptic mood of the times, a severe thunderstorm broke over Croke Park in the second half of the match. It was said that...
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