The Tailor and Ansty

The Tailor & Ansty

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

The books

The book ‘The Tailor and Ansty’ was written, unknown to the couple, by a regular visitor to their house, a journalist, Eric Cross, detailing many of the Tailors stories and  everyday happenings in their lives. The book is full of entertaining stories and his presentation of the facts of rural life as The Tailor and Ansty knew them was accurate and valuable.

The book was subsequently banned by the strict Irish Censorship Board in 1942.

In his introduction to the second edition (1948) of the book, Frank O Connor describes the effect of the banning of ‘The Tailor and Ansty’ by the Irish Censorship board 1942 for ‘being in its general tendency indecent’, and describes the reaction of the couple to three visiting priests who terrorised the Tailor into burning a copy of the book in his own fire.

After being banned for 10 years, it became available again and became a classic of folkloric literature.

The Tailors 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 Tailors Stories’) edited by Aindrias Ó Muimhneacháin, was published; the old stories in this book were 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 tenderest stories
The Silence of the Valley’ (1947)

''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."

Sean Ó Faoláin

The play

Eamon Kelly and his actress wife Maura O’Sullivan played Tim Buckley and Ansty for the Abbey Theatre, a production 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 Gernapeaka.

The quote from his grave being,
"A star danced and under that was I born."