Wilde about Oscar’s visit to Theatre Royal in 1884

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Oscar Wilde visited Limerick in January 1884, speaking in the Theatre Royal for two nights. Five years before the Leader was founded, his appearance was advertised in the Limerick Chronicle
OSCAR Wilde didn’t get a roaring reception during his two talks in Limerick city more than a century ago, but a new symposium in his name is certain to change that.

OSCAR Wilde didn’t get a roaring reception during his two talks in Limerick city more than a century ago, but a new symposium in his name is certain to change that.

A day-long series of talks on the importance of the writer as an intellectual and cultural critic will be held in the University of Limerick on Wednesday next, June 12.

Wilde, who gave rise to some of the most famous quotations in literature, such as ‘I can resist everything except temptation’, ‘We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars’, and ‘Work is the curse of the drinking classes’, will have his work dissected by academics and experts on his work from across the world.

Entitled The Importance of Being Wilde, Dr Eoin Devereux, head of the sociology department in UL, said the day aims to contextualise Wilde’s work in relation to other scholars, literary writers, radical ideas, and avant-garde movements of his day. “Wilde was a literary writer, radical thinker, tragic-hero, wit and cultural icon all at once,” added Dr Devereux, who pointed out his little known visit to Limerick.

On January 8, 1884, Wilde appeared before a Limerick audience in the Theatre Royal on Henry Street. His lecture On the House Beautiful was, according to the Limerick Chronicle, sister paper of the Leader, “most fluently and agreeably delivered, and afforded much pleasure to those who heard it.”

Wilde appeared onstage again the following night to deliver a talk on Personal Impressions of America, where the audience was reported to be “select and small and would have dampened the ardour of many public speakers”.

He also made remarks relating to the Irish education system, “namely that of cramming youths with a number of facts and dates which are soon forgotten, instead of giving them a supply of artistic knowledge.”

His visit to Limerick was part of an Irish tour, after he travelled through the US and Canada, garnering numerous articles in this newspaper prior to his visit.

The Importance of Being Wilde will also feature a reading by the award-winning writer Keith Ridgway in O’Mahony’s bookstore at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.

The talks will run from 9am to 8.30pm in the Wood Room in Plassey House.