Here you can find information about different past events with a focus on Bowen.
Since 2022, the Elizabeth Bowen Society organises a birthday lecture on 7th June on the occasion of Bowen’s birthday to rejoice in her being very much present still today. The Society has also hosted an online event about Bowen’s Court, read more about it below.
Each year, on the second Sunday of September, an Evensong for Elizabeth Bowen takes place in St Colman’s Church at Farahy, Co. Cork, Ireland, close to the site of Bowen’s Court, the writer’s ancestral home, and the place where she and her husband, Alan Cameron, are buried. After a service conducted by Rev Dr Robert MacCarthy, former Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, an address is given by someone with an interest in Elizabeth Bowen’s life and work. This event is not organised by the Elizabeth Bowen Society.
This year’s Elizabeth Bowen commemoration service took place on Sunday 10th September and the address was given by one of the co-founders of the Elizabeth Bowen Society, Nicola Darwood. Here is a little review of the address written by Nicola herself:
“The service is held every year, on the second Sunday of September; if you happen to be near Farahy, do go if you can, it’s an experience not be to be missed. The church, built between 1720–1725, stands just outside the original boundary of Bowen’s Court and is a beautiful example of eighteenth century church architecture. It’s a very simple church, and on that Sunday afternoon it was bathed in early autumnal sunshine. Each year, an address is given by someone with an interest in Elizabeth Bowen’s life and work, and this year I was invited to speak. The service, led by the Reverend Dr Robert MacCarthy was magical; a sung choral evensong, sung by the Clerks Choral, which made the occasion really special. After the service, the congregation was invited to Doneraile Court, the former home of the St Leger family, and a house which was so familiar to Elizabeth Bowen. We were given a tour of the two rooms dedicated to Elizabeth Bowen, and shared many stories over a very welcome cup of tea.
The church and its churchyard, and Alan Cameron and Elizabeth Bowen’s headstone, connected me in a way to Elizabeth Bowen that, although I’ve read, re-read, and written on her work over so many years, I hadn’t experienced before. I spoke on the theme of encounters: Bowen’s first book of short stories of the same name (published 100 years ago); her encounters with Rose Macauley and the publisher, Frank Sidgwick; and my own encounters with her life and work. I spoke of Bowen’s connections to place and time (and thought, during the service, of her connection with St Colman’s), but also her enjoyment of humour and her use of wit. It was an honour to speak in Elizabeth Bowen’s church, to sit where she might have sat, and to feel something of the magic of this little church.”
Birthday Lecture 2023
Heather Bryant: “An Education of Her Own: The Teaching Life of Elizabeth Bowen”
On Wednesday 7th June 2023, on the occasion of Bowen’s 124th birthday, we celebrated her centenary with a wonderful talk by Heather Bryant. She is a poet, writer, and lecturer in the Writing Program at Wellesley College, and is the author of How Will the Heart Endure: Elizabeth Bowen and the Landscape of War.
We’re very happy to be able to provide a recording of this wonderful event, which is now available here.
On Sunday 11th September 2022 at 3.30pm took place the annual commemorative Evensong for Elizabeth Bowen. The address was given by Dr Martin Mansergh, about whom more information is available here.
Birthday Lecture 2022
Allan Hepburn: “Writing Circles: Correspondence between Elizabeth Bowen and Eudora Welty”
On Tuesday 7th June 2022, on the occasion of Bowen’s 123rd birthday, we hosted our first birthday lecture, in which Professor Allan Hepburn of McGill University talked about the letters between Elizabeth Bowen and Eudora Welty. Hepburn is the editor of several works on Bowen, such as the previously uncollected stories The Bazaar and Other Stories (2008), People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen (2008), Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen (2010), and The Weight of a World of Feeling: Reviews and Essays by Elizabeth Bowen (2016).
The event was held online and Professor Hepburn delighted the attendees with some fabulous photographs of the letters written by both authors and a truly fascinating talk about these women’s close and beautiful friendship.
On Sunday 19th September 2021, after Rev Dr Robert MacCarthy conducted the service to commemorate Elizabeth Bowen, the address, which was on the subject of Protestants and their place in southern Ireland (there wasn’t an exact title), was given by Right Reverend Michael Burrows, Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel, Ferns, and Ossory.
“An Evening at Bowen’s Court”
On Thursday 30th September 2021, the Elizabeth Bowen Society presented a virtual event with talks by writer and architectural historian David Hicks and by historian Ian D’Alton. Hicks delighted the attendees with an illustrated talk on Elizabeth Bowen’s ancestral home, followed by D’Alton’s short talk about Bowen’s Court (1942), the history of the Bowens and their big house of the same name in County Cork from their arrival in Ireland around the time of the Cromwellian conquest in the seventeenth century to Bowen’s inheritance and later loss of the family home.
You can see some of the pictures on this thread on X we posted at the time of the event.
On Sunday 20th September 2020, Dr Michael Waldron gave the annual address at the annual commemorative service for Elizabeth Bowen celebrated in St Colman’s Church, Farahy. Waldron is a curator at Crawford Art Gallery and art historian based in Cork, Ireland, with an interdisciplinary background which includes literary criticism.
You can listen to the full address and an interview with Waldron on the background to and content of his address conducted by Eoin O’Callaghan in the Episode 2 of out podcasts.
On Sunday 22nd September 2019, the address at the annual service to commemorate Elizabeth Bowen was given by Heather Bryant. Professor Eibhear Walshe of Univeristy College, Cork, wrote a few words about the Evensong:
“This year’s annual Elizabeth Bowen Commemoration was held in St Colman’s Church, Farahy on Sunday September 22. The guest speaker on the day was Professor Heather Corbally Bryant who is a Lecturer in the Writing Programme at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, USA. Professor Corbally Bryant is the author of How Will The Heart Endure, one of the most important studies of Bowen’s writings, and proved an eloquent and moving speaker. The theme of her lecture was the last year of Elizabeth Bowen’s life and, in particular, the final stages of her relationship with Charles Ritchie, who stayed with her right to the end and saw her through her final illness. Drawing on Sally Phipp’s memoir amongst other sources, Professor Corbally Bryant described Bowen’s funeral, and her very well received lecture had an added sense of poignancy as it was delivered in the place where Bowen was buried, surrounded by the beautiful ‘happy autumn fields’ of North Cork in full September sunlight.”