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Irish in the Archives: An Enduring Relationship between Shakespeare, Ireland and Stratford-upon-Avon

Explore the rich literary links between Shakespeare and Ireland

Playbill for The Taming of the Shrew, 1888

In honour of St Patrick and in recognition of the strong Irish presence in the world’s largest Shakespeare archive, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is proud to present Irish in the Archives – a special event on 11 March at 5.30pm, showcasing the rich literary links between Shakespeare and Ireland.

Organised as part of the Trust’s new Shakespeare After Hours programme, visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of talks, readings and displays that explore the Irish connection between Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon. This special event will also include a delicious range of Irish refreshments as well as performances of traditional Celtic music and dance.

Explore Seán O’Casey’s use of Shakespearian dramatic composition in, for instance ‘Juno and The Paycock’ and W.B. Yeats’ vision for the Abbey Theatre being influenced by Frank Benson’s approach to theatre at Stratford. Other collections on display include Irish theatrical contributions from Sinéad Cusack and Siobhán McKenna performing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and from an earlier era, Bram Stoker managing Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre.

Contemporary Irish writers are also represented in the archives, such as Marina Carr, whose 2008 play ‘The Cordelia Dream’, originally staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company - was influenced by Shakespeare. Wider Irish literary interests are also reflected, including work by Louis MacNeice and Edna O’Brien amongst others in Stratford’s annual Poetry Festivals.

Jim Ranahan, Collections Archivist at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “Irish people across the world are just as attracted to Shakespeare as any others.  In Stratford, this is manifested in many ways and our archives reflect this. The event is a great opportunity to delve into Shakespeare’s influence on Irish culture and celebrate the rich literary links that extend across borders.”

As well as these dramatic links, the Trust’s collections reflect numerous personal links between Ireland and Stratford.  So, if you are curious as to why we have a map of the ‘Limerick and Belfast Direct Union Railway and Great Waterford, Kilkenny and Sligo Railway’, then join us for Irish in the Archives on 11 March 2017.  The event commences at 5.30pm and tickets cost £8, available to purchase online at www.shakespeare.org.uk/afterhours, or call 01789 204016.

For those unable to attend, the archives can be accessed free of charge by visiting the Shakespeare Centre on Henley Street, Statford-upon-Avon. These records, associated books and artefacts comprise the Trust’s own collections and those of the Royal Shakespeare Company and have been developed over many years through shared commitment to research. For more information visit www.shakespeare.org.uk/collections.

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