Wednesday, February 3, 2010
The first Boycott, the Belfast charioteer, a scarcely-known composer and little-known writer
I found the tiniest fugitive clip of the music of Ina Boyle, taken from a 1948 live recording with authentic coughing in the background. She was from Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, not far from where my mother grew up and my father now lives. She studied under Ralph Vaughan Williams, who counted her as a favorite student, and composed widely, including an opera, three ballets, orchestral, chamber and choral works. She spent five years setting an Edith Sitwell poem to music, only for the poetess to refuse to let her have the rights. Much work went unperformed and unrecognized. Once, she grew peas to pay the bills. I couldn't find any of her music currently recorded, which makes the short, haunting clip even more precious. I'd like to hear more.
I wasn't familiar with the writer Patrick Boyle, but the DIB entry sent me to a short story of his in the Field Guide Anthology of Irish Writing. The story, Myko, is a nice little dark account of a publican's attempt to defraud a tinker over the sale of a coffin, and has a good sting in its tale, Roald Dahl-style. Boyle was a bank employee (he declined to follow his family into the law because of his stammer) "who struggled to write in between working and drinking." In 1965, he sent in 14 short stories to an Irish Times literary competition and took the first 5 places. The DIB says his "reputation receded somewhat in later years", but based on Myko, he's certainly worth a read, and I shall seek him out.