Exhibit Information

Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library & Museum

Address 40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023

Click here for quick directions
Phone Number 212-870-1630

Website http://www.lincolncenter.org

IRELAND AMERICA:

Opening: 14 MARCH 2011 - Closing: 13 AUGUST 2011

IRELAND AMERICA:

The Ties That Bind

 

On 17 March—St. Paddy’s Day!—it’s often said that We Are All Irish!

 

As Your Roving Arts-Reporter is writing this Communiqué, the Proudly American-Irish are bravely marching up Fifth-Avenue, the sounds of their Brass-Bands drumming against my windows.

 

But this year—2011—is different from all previous years, as We Are All Irish All Year!

 

The reason for this is that CULTURE IRELAND has conceived a year-long festival of Irish & Irish-American Arts & Performance—to be celebrated across the United States—under the metaphoric Banner of Imagine Ireland.

 

Initial unfurlings of that banner occurred just before St. Patrick’s Day, at the Library of the Performing-Arts, at Lincoln Center.

 

Ireland America: The Ties That Bind is a splendid new exhibition in the Oenslager-Gallery of the Library.

 

Most of the Irish-Immigrants who came to America—many in the wake of the dread Irish-Famine—brought with them little but their clothing & their Dreams

 

Even before the Potatoes became Poison, the Irish—long oppressed by their British-Overlords—had little enough to eat, little to wear, & little to hope-for in their Peat or Stone Huts.

 

What they did have, however, in abundance, was a love of Irish-Music, Poetry, Story-Telling, & Irish Dance!

 

These Cultural-Treasures & Traditions they brought with them from the Emerald-Isle to the initially-unfriendly shores of the United States. Where they were often confronted with: NO IRISH NEED APPLY!

 

Even though many willing Irish-Workers were regarded as Ignorant Bog-Trotters, even the simplest of the Irish knew how to dance & sing, to cheer-up himself, his family, & his neighbors through good times & bad.

 

In fact, it was that Inborn-Irish-Talent for Always-Vibrant & Often-Sentimental Performance that eventually endeared the new Irish-Americans to the Nation.

 

The Lincoln Center Exhibition is, in itself, also a kind Show, for you can see Performance-Posters, Photos of Major Irish-American Artists, such as John McCormack & Chauncey Olcott, as well as colorful costumes for distinctively Irish Performance-Arts, such as Riverdance.

 

What would Broadway have been, without the Genius of George M. Cohan? Not to overlook the even greater Genius of Eugene O’Neill!

 

For that matter, what would 19th-century American-Theatre have been without Dion Boucicault, who gave us Ireland-on-Stage in Melodramas such as The Colleen Bawn [1860], Arrah-na-Pogue [1865], & Conn, The Shaughraun [1874]?

 

Boucicault—who had previously made his name in Dublin, London, & in Paris, with such dramas as The Poor of London & The Poor of Paris—also obliged Manhattan with The Poor of New York.

 

Boucicault’s version of The Wearing of the Green is still sung today!

 

But the American-Theatre has also been enriched by Irish-Playwrights who did not emigrate to the United States.

 

Think of Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

 

Or of Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, & George Bernard Shaw. But—to achieve their greatest success—they had to go off to London.

 

Dublin offered too small an audience, if you were hoping for longer lives for your dramas.

 

Sam Beckett went all the way to Paris!

 

Sean O’Casey could be interviewed in his retirement, but in Torquay, not in Ireland.

 

Fortunately, even Irish-Playwrights who remained on the Emerald-Isle informed & influenced the developing American-Theatre, as did visits by the renowned Abbey-Theatre, who premiered their dramas.

 

Think of John Millington Synge!

 

I think also of Lennox Robinson, but I’m one of the very few Americans who does that now. Who now remembers his The Far-Off Hills? Or The Less We Get Together?

 

Both of which I saw years ago at the Abbey-Theatre. In Dublin…

 

This Multi-Media—there is also a Film-Component: Hidden Ireland—Exploration of Irish-Arts in America has been curated by Marion R. Casey—of NYU’s Ireland-House—who is a Professor of Irish-American-Studies there.

 

Prof. Casey was joined at the opening of the new show by Eugene Downes, direct from Dublin, here to help us explore the Story of Irish Theatre, Music, & Dance in America "for a New Generation.”

 

Downes is, in fact, the Chief-Executive of Culture-Ireland, which, of course, would like to lure Americans of all National-Origins, Ethnicities, & Genders to Visit the Irish at Home, as well as to rediscover the Cultural & Traditional-Riches that the Irish have brought to America.

 

Your Roving Arts-Reporter—as you may have guessed from the Family-Name: LONEY—is of Direct-Irish-Descent. He used to be a Regular at the Annual Dublin-Theatre-Festival & the Wexford-Opera-Festival—until he reached the Age of 74.

 

In Eire, when you are 74, you can No Longer Rent a Car!

 

Without a car, I cannot easily return to the Lakes of Killarney, the Rock of Cashel, the City of Cork, William Butler Yeats’ Tower, Augusta, Lady Gregory’s Estate at Coole, & More Castles than you can imagine…

 

Culture-Ireland could easily lure me back this coming Autumn to Dublin & to Wexford if they could do something about that Age-Limit for Car-Rentals.

 

Unless you are a First-Time Irish-American-Visitor to Ireland, you do not want to spend most of your time on a bus with a lot of other Irish-Americans, whose idea of a Good-Time is to sing Kathleen Mavourneen over & over again, on the way to Glendalough & the Vale of Avoca

 

Without a Rental-Car, how will I ever again see the Ancient-Ruins of Muckross-Abbey?

 

Or the nearby Muckross-House & Traditional-Farm, which has an Odd-Connection with the Loneys? They still send me the Muckross-Newsletter

 

Both Professor Casey & Culture-Ireland’s Eugene Downes have an interest in discovering or recovering the Narratives of Irish-Americans whose forebears emigrated to the United States.

 

So I might as well celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with a bit of Loney-History:

 

Until I began writing about my Memories of Growing-Up in the Great-Depression, I really had not thought very much about the fact that my Grandfather, Thomas Loney—born in Ireland in 1832!—was a kind of California-Gold-Rush-Pioneer, having come to the Gold-Fields of Nevada County in 1850, among the first to do so.

 

Certainly one of the first Irishmen there, although Orange, rather than Green

 

Still, until Eire got free of the English, they were all Irishmen on the Emerald-Isle.

 

When I first visited Muckross-House in Killarney & saw the Bourne-Portraits in the Salon, I realized that we had another Irish-Connection, in that my Grandfather worked for the Bournes as an Amalgamator at their North-Star-Mine in Grass Valley!

 

The Bournes owned both the North-Star & the Empire Mine. This made them Very-Rich, so, when their beloved daughter, Maude Bourne, married an Irish gentleman in Killarney, they bought a vast expanse of land as a Wedding-Gift. Later, the Couple made this Ireland’s first National-Park!

 

My cousin, Sharon Loney Gabler, is writing a Complete History of the Loneys, in Ireland & in California. She has even been to Ireland to photograph Loney-Family graves & collect documents.

 

I believe—when she is finished—that her record of an Irish Family Emigrating to Gold-Rush California might well be an important Document about Irish-Emigration to the United States in the Mid-19th-Century.

 

As for Irish-American Music & Singing, my father, Merton Loney was part of the Loney Brothers Quartet, which also included John Loney, Chris Loney, & Chester Loney!

 

All First-Generation Irish-Americans…

 

Irish Songs were favorites, but Stephen Foster’s Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair was also often encored. But The Little Brown Church in the Vale paled beside The Little Brown Jug

 

My father could even play Guitar & Harmonica at the same time!

 

None of those Loneys was ever able to visit Ireland, unfortunately.

 

I tried to make up for that loss…
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