Culture Night with The Dead

***I’ve been out of commission all weekend – nothing fun, just the tail end of sickness and lack of internet in my apartment – and unfortunately did not blog on Friday or Saturday. So I’ll try to get in three entries today.***

Friday, September 21, was Culture Night all across Ireland. Several incredible events took place in Galway, including a performance of one-man show The Dubliners Dilemma at NUIG and a live broadcast of Vinny Browne’s Arts Show from Charlie Bryne’s Bookshop.

I attended a presentation by the James Hardiman Library Archives and Special Collections at the Huston School of Film and Digital Media on campus. We discussed the playwright Thomas Kilroy and the Joyce/Barnacle family’s connection to Galway, and concluded with a screening of John Huston’s final film, The Dead, which is an adaption of the last story in James Joyce’s Dubliners.

One new piece of information I took away from the evening was that Michael “Sonny” Bodkin, one of Nora Barnacle’s childhood sweethearts and at least a portion of the amalgamation that becomes the Michael Furey character in The Dead, is buried in a tomb in “the old part” of Rahoon Cemetery. He was a student at Queen’s College Galway (later NUIG) and died in February of 1900, aged 19 or 20. James Joyce’s poem “She weeps over Rahoon” was inspired by Nora’s grief over Sonny Bodkin.

It was also reiterated that Brenda Maddox’s Nora is the seminal biography on James Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle, something I’ve heard from other revered sources. As for The Dead, both the story and the film, the book to read is The Dead by Kevin Barry because, as Huston School director Rod Stoneman put it, “he’s a Joycean.”

Professor Stoneman also noted that of John Huston’s 37 films, 34 are adaptations of plays or novels. He was a very literary director, and there was also some mention of a Fellini film (Time’s Shadow) that uses the same themes as The Dead and names its lead characters Mr. and Mrs. Joyce – I will need to explore that further.

The Huston School was much more cozy and inviting than I had imagined. I am very glad to have that resource on campus, and hope to be able to attend many more events there over the next year. As for Culture Night 2012, I don’t know how it was for the rest of the island, but in Galway, it was like a dream.