THAT perennial of this month’s teenagers’ trial – Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ – will be looked at in a far more favourable light next month when Monasterevin celebrates the works of this pillar of Victorian poetry with a dedicated festival over the last weekend in July.
Over the weekend of July 25-27 the town will host the 31st annual Hopkins Festival to celebrate the short life of a Catholic convert poet whose dedication to Jesuit humility meant he wasn’t published until 30 years after his death in 1889.
Hopkins spent the last five years in Dublin battling what we would now know as depression, and the only joy he seemed to have in this period was his visits to the Cassidy family in Monasterevin House.
The celebrations begin at 4pm on Friday, July 25 with an art exhibition entitled ‘Artists for Peace’ in the Mercy Convent on Drogheda Street, which runs throughout the Festival weekend.
That evening the Baronial Hall of Moore Abbey will ring out to the tones of tenor Dominic McGorian, accompanied by the piano of Count John McCormack from 8pm with a selection of classical, modern and traditional songs.
On the Saturday morning , again in Moore Abbey, lecture by academics and poets will explore Hopkins’ relationships and influences with TS Eliot and John Milton, before continuing in the afternoon in Monasterevin House – now the Presentation Convent – where appropriately the work of Hopkins as a poet of theology will be explored.
When Hopkins stayed at Monasterevin House, which is now the Presentation Order Generalate, he was a guest of the Casssidy family and it becomes the venue at 3pm on Saturday afternoon when James Harpur will read some of his poetry.
James will be followed at 4.15pm at the same venue for the very popular “My Favourite Hopkins Poem” event when members of the audience are invited to recite their choice of the poet’s work.
Ticket range from €5 for a single lecture, to €30 for the entire weekend, whilst entry to the art exhibition is free.
“Much work goes into the organising of this event each year and the festival would not be possible without the generosity of the sponsors: Schlötter Ireland DAC, Kildare County Council and Mason Hayes and Curran,” Hopkins Committee Chairman, Richard O’Rourke said this week.
“The art exhibition has proven to be a tremendous success and it is thanks to the hard work of Sr. Ann Scully that this has happened. The event has attracted an array of artists from near and far who are very talented and who have diverse and varied skills which adds to the wonderful range of work on display,” he added.
He went on to say that it would be very difficult to put on the Hopkins Summer Festival if it was not for the generosity and good will of the Presentation Order, the Sisters in Moore Abbey, the Sisters of Mercy and Monasterevin Community Centre.
“We are spoiled in Monasterevan to have four such wonderful venues and our thanks and appreciation is very real and genuine for the help and assistance extended to us by so many people and organisations.”