Wilde About Art
Summer group show June 20 – July 19
Wilde about Art is an exhibition in Joan Clancy Gallery celebrating the fact that young Oscar Wilde and his family spent several months holiday in Dungarvan, Co Waterford every summer for several years from 1859 when Oscar was about five.
With new works by :
Dave West, Andrea Jameson, Blawnin Clancy, Paul Flynn, Paul Fallon, Ross Stewart, Rayleen Clancy, Chionaola, John Cullinan, Maderson, Katarzyna Gajewska and others.
“….One of the striking features of Oscar Wilde’s first court appearance in 1895 was the vigour with which he was attacked by Lord Queensberry’s counsel, Edward Carson. It need not have been so. Wilde and Carson were fellow Dubliners who had been students together at Portora and Trinity College. Wilde’s fiends suggested that he should enlist the able Carson as his lawyer, but Wilde airily declined, choosing instead a chivalrous old incompetent who know nothing of the sexual underworld in which Wilde dabbled. Carson was promptly snapped up by Queensberry, “college loyalty faded before Protestant morality”, and Wilde was summarily demolished in the witness-box.
But there was more to the Carson-Wilde relationship than that. In 1954, at the centenary of Wilde’s birth, an elderly Waterford solicitor named Morroe FitzGerald wrote a letter to The Irish Times from Westpark, Tramore (I knew the house well just before that time, for I often played there as a small boy). He recalled that back in 1919 he had prepared an old-age pension claim for a 75 year-old woman from Dungarvan, “a little wizened creature, but very alert…The only sign of advanced age was an extraordinary network of fine wrinkles which covered the skin of her face like a crackling on old china”. This lady announced that back in 1859, when she was fifteen, she had been employed as children’s nurse by Oscar Wilde’s mother. For in that year the Wilde family began coming to Dungarvan for several months’ holiday every summer. Oscar was then about five years old and was accompanied by his little playmate –Edward Carson.
When Micheál Mad Liammóir read this letter in The Irish Times, he commented: “Ah yes, dear boy, that would explain it all. Oscar probably upset Edward’s sandcastle.”
The old lady, incidentally, “survived the close cross-questioning of the Waterford Old Age Pension Committee” and got her pension…” Julian Walton
Julian Walton, Walton’s Waterford WLRfm.
Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (London 1987),
esp. pp 18, 414-15, 557.
The Irish Times: Letter to The Irish Times, August 28, 1954.