The Tailor and Ansty


In the first half of the 20th century, the townland of Garrynapeaka, on the way into Gougane Barra, was home to The Tailor and Ansty, a well-respected married couple.

 

Anastasia (1872-1947) was from this valley and the Tailor Buckley ‘Tim’ (1863-1945) was born in Kilgarvan in Co. Kerry. He married into Ansty’s homeplace. He was a tailor but also a well-known and much respected conversationalist and story teller who conversed with many famous Irish writers and Gaelic scholars when they visited him in Garrynapeaka.

The Books


- A book called The Tailor and Ansty was written, unknown to the couple, by a regular visitor to their house, a journalist, Eric Cross. It was first published in 1942 and included many of the Tailor's stories and descriptions of everyday happenings in their lives. The book is full of entertaining anecdotes and the facts of rural life as understood by The Tailor and Ansty was accurate and valuable.

On publication, the book was banned by the strict Irish Censorship Board for "being in its general tendency indecent".

 

In his introduction to the second edition (1948) post-censorship, Frank O Connor describes the effect of the banning of The Tailor and Ansty with a vivid description of three priests visiting the couple and terrorising the Tailor into burning a copy of the book in his own fire.

It has now become a classic of folkloric literature.

The Tailor's motto was ‘Glac bóg an saol agus glacfaidh an saol bóg thú
(‘Take life fine and easy and life will be fine and easy on you.’)

- In 1978, Seanchas an Táilliúra (The Tailor's Stories) edited by Aindrias Ó Muimhneacháin, was published; the old stories included in this book had been collected by Séan Ó Cróinín of The Irish Folklore Commission in 1942.

- The Tailor's death is the subject of one of Sean O’ Faoláin’s most tender stories:
‘The Silence of the Valley’ (1947) from which the following excerpt has been taken:

''One clear star above the mountain wall gleamed.
Seeing it her eyebrow floated upward softly for sheer joy
‘Yes’ she said quietly, ‘it will be another grand day- tomorrow.’
And her eyebrows sank, very slowly, like a falling curtain."
 



The Play


Eamon Kelly and his actress wife Maura O’Sullivan played Tim Buckley and Ansty in a production for the Abbey Theatre which was later adapted successfully for RTÉ television by PJ O’Connor.

In the summer of 2005/2006 and 2008, The New Theatre company  and Gougane Barra Hotel brought the drama back to the valley with a very popular production of The Tailor and Ansty played by Ronan Wilmot, Yvonne Usher and Nuala Hayes.

 



The Tailor and his wife Ansty are buried in the cemetery in Gougane Barra with a headstone sculpted by their famous sculptor friend Séamus Murphy from Cork city who spent many happy times in their company in Garrynapeaka.

On his grave, the following quotation of the Tailor's is carved:
"A star danced and under that was I born."