Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Milton Keynes, Peter Pan, Michael Collins, The Seapoint Tragedy and James Joyce

Last night The year is 1971 posted these TV listing from Tuesday 15 June of that year, pointing out that:

Last week saw the last of the first series of And Mother Makes Three, this Tuesday it is replaced with the start of the fourth series of Father Dear Father.

But for some reason my attention was caught by the late-night programme on Thames:

11.30 Living Architects: Lord Llewelyn-Davies

Llewelyn-Davies? Could he be related to the Llewelyn-Davies boys who were adopted by the dramatist J.M. Barrie. This was relationship depicted in the film Finding Neverland, where Barrie was played by Johnny Depp, and the BBC drama serial J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys, where he was superlatively played by Ian Holm. (The whole series is on YouTube and you can buy the DVD for a few pounds.)

It turns out that Richard Llewelyn-Davies the architect was their cousin. His father and the boys' father were brothers.

That Wikipedia entry also reveals that the architectural practice founded by Lord Llewelyn-Davies was responsible for the master planning of Milton Keynes. As this involved the new city being built around the motor car, it was very much of its period.

But Richard Llewelyn-Davies' mother is more interesting than his father.

Moya Llewelyn-Davies was born Moya O'Connor, the daughter of the Irish nationalist MP James O'Connor. She was herself politically active, raising funds for Sir Roger Casement's legal defence and then campaigning for the commutation of his death sentence.

After the Easter Rising she provided a safe house for Michael Collins. It seems they became lovers, but the rumour that Collins was Richard's father was untrue.

And, as a little girl, Moya survived a dreadful calamity that destroyed her family. Choosing the Green tells the story:

John O’Connor  was a well-known journalist and Nationalist politician. He was the M.P. of West Wicklow and a family man who had a loving wife and five young children. This seemingly adoring family was torn apart when almost all of them were fatally poisoned. Only John O’Connor and one of his daughters survived.

The family story says that his children were sent to collect mussels on the seaside, but they decided to choose them from a pool closer to home instead. That pool was contaminated and when the family consumed the mussels, they were all killed. Moya, one of the daughters, did not join them for food due to a random (and lucky for her) family disagreement but O’Connor’s wife, his four other children, and one of their servants died shortly after the meal. The family is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery and their grave is massive and beautiful.

That brings us to another author of the period. The Facebook page for the cemetery says:

The Seapoint Tragedy, as it became known, shocked the people of Dublin and was spoken about for years. James Joyce, whose dad Stanislaus was at the funeral, immortalized it in his Ulysses when Bloom says: "Poor man O'Connor’s wife and five children poisoned by mussels here. The sewage."

It's a long way from Milton Keynes to Ulysses, but somewhere in here must be out Trivial Fact of the Day.

And to return to Father Dear Father, my readers may recall that its star, Patrick Cargill, was the uncle of the Surrey and England cricketer Robin Jackman.

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