Saturday, March 16, 2013

Different Time, Different Attitudes

In his book, Woodbrook, published in 1974, David Thomson writes of his memory of Douglas Hyde, then President of Ireland who used to be a frequent visitor in Lord de Freyne’s house in Frenchpark, Co Roscommon.

Thomson regrets that, on meeting him there, he did not listen more intently to the president whose conversation could have taught him more about Ireland than anyone else's; but the following passage is interesting, if only for the fact that if this was reported today the president would be a source of considerable scrutiny and serious doubt.

“And so it happens that my only memory of this great man is ludicrous………..It is of a game he played with the girls on all fours in the drawing room. He was over eighty but had no difficulty in getting down on to his hands and knees and as soon as they were ranged opposite him on theirs he would hold a bar of chocolate between his teeth like a cigar and they would crawl towards him and bite  off as much as they dared. It was somewhat messy because he had a bushy white moustache that drooped over the chocolate and his lower lip...”

On a slightly different note, I wonder if he ever used the elegant wash-stand that came from that house and is now my hall-table.

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