150th Anniversary Celebrations of George ‘AE’ Russell

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is holding a programme of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of poet, writer and painter George William Russell (otherwise known under the pseudonym Æ)

Two exhibitions are running concurrently at Armagh County Museum until 22nd April. ‘George Russell (AE) at 150 showcases works specially selected from two of Ireland’s largest AE collections, Trinity College Dublin and Armagh County Museum. ‘George Russell (AE) painter, poet and mystic‘ features the museum’s extensive collection of AE’s personal papers and effects and works of art, the largest outside the USA.

Two lectures will also take place at Armagh County Museum: ‘George Russell and the Role of Visual Art in the New Ireland‘ by Roisin Kennedy (29th March,11:30 am) and ‘His Opalescence: AE, writer, painter, mystic, champion of wisdom, sense and artistic vision during the Irish Revival‘ by Nichola Gordon-Bowe (22nd April,11:30 am).

Saturday 8th April sees a special AE Day at Brownlow House, including a walking tour and lectures from Professor Nicholas Allen (University of Georgia) and Professor Liam Kennedy (QUB).

Local poet Martelle McPartland hosts an open mic night on Monday 10th April at the Beehive Bar, Lurgan, with readers of all styles and experience welcome to share poetry in the esteemed building where George Russell was born. And on Tuesday 11th, Lurgan Library hosts an evening talk and discussion entitled ‘The Life and Times of a Lurgan Son: AE George W. Russell’, by John Donohoe.

Martelle McPartland will also be running a Schools Poetry Competition over the course of the celebrations, with five schools from the Lurgan area, the winner being awarded the George Russell Poetry Cup, kindly supplied by Brownlow House, at a ceremony in the Lurgan Town Hall in April.

Russell was born in William Street, Lurgan on 10th April, 1867. He lived in Lurgan until he was 11 years of age, before moving to Dublin with his family. There, Russell became a central figure in the Irish Literary Revival, and his pacifist ideals won him great fame throughout the world. It claimed that Russell’s lifelong belief in pacifism and reconciliation sprang from his disillusionment with the antagonism he witnessed in Ulster between people of opposing political beliefs. As well as writing his own poetry and plays, Russell also supported and sponsored the work of other aspiring writers such as Frank O’Connor, James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Helen Waddell and Pamela Travers.

Russell died in 1935. A blue plaque marks the site of his birth in William Street and a bronze bust, presented by the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society, resides in Lurgan Town Hall.

For further information about the celebrations, contact ABC Borough Council on 0300 0300 900 or email info@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk


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